Return of Whistle Blower from Exile
- Saleem Samad
- Toronto, Canada
- an Ashoka Fellow is a leading investigative journalist and specialises on ethnic conflict and Islamic terrorism in the region. A whistle-blower of the secret arrival of the remnants of the Jihadist fleeing Afghanistan after its NATO invasion. His articles in TIME magazine, Tehelka.com and Daily TIMES on the export of Jihadists with full knowledge of the Bangladesh security services invited him trouble. He was twice detained and tortured by military security service (DGFI). He was imprisoned in 2002 for making a documentary for British Channel 4 on the rise of home-grown Islamic vigilante and appalling religious freedom situation. His detention and torture by dreaded DGFI invited international uproar and was released in early 2003. After his release DGFI kept him under surveillance. In 2007 the military-controlled government unilaterally relieved him of sedition charges and two foreign journalists. He has co-authored books and published numerous articles on conflict, terrorism, forced migration and ethnic crisis. After 5 years of painful life in exile he has planned to return home soon. Presently he is living in exile in Canada and unable to return home in fear of persecution.
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is an award winning anti Jihadist Muslim journalism in Bangladesh. He is the editor of Weekly Blitz. This newspaper has both print and online edition reaching mostly policymakers, politicians, entrepreneurs, students, think tanks, civil and millitary officials, clergies and cross section of people in the world. Online edition of the only anti Jihadist newspaper in the Muslim world is available online on http://www.weeklyblitz.net
Journalist, writer, poet, author, political analyst and peace activist, Choudhury, started his career in journalism in 1989 as the Correspondent of TASS, state news agency of Soviet Union. Later he was promoted as the Chief Correspodent of Itar-Tass in Bangladesh.
On November 29, 2003, he was arrested at Zia International Airport in Bangladesh on his way to Israel to attend a peace conference. Choudhury was tortured, imprisoned and denied medical treatment in prison. Government brought sedition, treason and blasphemy charges against him for confronting religious extremism, advocating inter-faith dialogue and demanding relations between Dhaka and Jerusalem. He was released on April 30, 2005 after imprisonment of seventeen months. Although released on bail, Choudhury continues to face sedition, treason and blasphemy charges and the trial continues in a court in Dhaka. Sedition bears capital punishment [death penalty] according to law in Bangladesh.
Choudhury is the recipient of PEN USA Freedom to Write Award in 2005; American Jewish Committee’s Moral Courage Award in 2006; Monaco Media Award in 2007 and Key to Englewood City [USA] in 2007.
He has written a number of books on various issues. His latest book titled ‘Injustice and Jihad’ was published in October 2007. Italian publication house Neftasia Editore has published Choudhury’s book titled ‘Non Sono Colpevole’ in May 2008.
Choudhury is writing a book titled ‘Inside Madrassa’, which contains descriptive and elaborate information on condition of Madrassas in Bangladesh, Pakistan and other Muslim nations. This book is a result of comprehensive research by Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury for several years.
Office of Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury’s newspaper, Weekly Blitz was bombed by Islamist millitants in Dhaka [Bangladesh] in July 2006.
On October 5, 2006, armed terrorists attacked the his office and physically assaulted him.
On 18th March 2008, members of Rapid Action Battalion [infamous of extra-judicial murders] abducted Mr. Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury at gun point from his office. He was blind-folded and physically assaulted. Because of quick actions by US Peace Activist Dr. Richard L Benkin and Rep. Mark Steven Kirkand other esteemed members of United States Congress, Choudhury escaped RAB’s deathtrap.
On February 22, 2009, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury’s newspaper office was once again attacked by the armed thugs belonging to ruling party. He and his staffs were physically assaulted and the attackers looted his laptop along with two manuscripts of his un-published books.
The Torture of Tasneem Khalil
A reporter for the respected English language newspaper The Daily Star, Tasneem Khalil also worked on projects for Human Rights Watch and was CNN’s news representative in Bangladesh. On May 11, 2007, the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) arrested Khalil, apparently for his outspoken criticism of the military’s role in extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests, and other abuses. Khalil had also publicly expressed concern through his blog and in newspaper interviews that the military was using the interim government as a cover for de facto army rule.
Khalil paid a heavy price for exercising his right to freedom of expression. His case is a window into a system where the security forces routinely commit arbitrary arrests and torture. While the government has sought to claim the mantle of reform, cases such as this, and the government’s failure to stop them and punish those responsible, belie such claims.
Tasneem, his wife Shuchi and their son Tiyash had to leave Bangladesh as refugees. With impressive speed, Sweden offered the family political asylum, where they now live.
Tasneem Khalil was photographed 48 hours after his release from DGFI custody with bruises on his body resulting from torture. © 2007 Human Rights Watch.
CONDEMNED CARTOONIST ARIFUR REHMAN
September 2007, the military-based government in Bangladesh jailed Arifur Rahman, a cartoonist for a Bengali daily newspaper, Prothom Alo. The cartoon, published in a supplement of the newspaper, and subsequently banned, was said to have offended religious sentiments. Extremists organized furious protests around the country. Fitting nicely into a caricature commonly made in the West, some began to demand the execution of the cartoonist.
The editor of Prothom Alo apologized profusely to sections of the Muslim clergy, saying that it was a “mistake” to publish the cartoon and that no offense was intended. Photos of him holding the hands of religious leaders and begging for forgiveness, in the company of government mediators, were published widely to placate the extremist reaction.
The first concerns the clergy. The photo of the editor of the most-circulated Bengali newspaper pleading for mercy provides a telling symbol of which direction the balance of power may be tilting in a historically moderate Muslim society. We waited for a moderate section of the clergy to emerge, but alarmingly, there was none.
Police disperse a rowdy protest against the cartoon. Image (c) The Daily Star
Second, the role of the government-promptly banning the publication, arresting the cartoonist and jailing him without charges, sponsoring a formal apology by the editor-leaves open questions. Was it a pragmatic move that averted instability, or was it symptomatic of a wider problem, especially when one considers that the government’s anti-corruption and political reform drives have been lenient with members of Islamist parties while cracking down hard on the mainstream political leadership?
No major newspaper came out to defend basic rights. No editorial spoke of the integrity of the media. No commentary and op-ed was published that took a principled stand. No prominent lawyer took the risk to point out what the constitution allows a cartoonist to do. In the age of fear and self-censorship, the only voice in support of fundamental rights was in a handful of blogs.
Muslim Extremism in Bangladesh
The Sariot Pur representative of The Daily Prothom Alo Mr. Sottojit Ghosh was threatened to kill by the Local Muslim Mayor Abdul Rob
Munshi. On 18-01-09 last Sunday evening from cell number+88 01712732501 he was threatened to kill. Relating to this a General
Diary was filed in Palong Police station. Mr,Sottojit Ghosh was threatened to kill because he published news which goes against Local
Muslim Mayor Abdul Rob Munshi.
On last 16th January a meeting was held against the war criminal and with the demands of local freedom fighters in Upazilla parishod. The organizers invited the Local Muslim Mayor Abdul Rob Munshi but he did not come to the meeting. Instead of attending to the meeting he spread bad thing about the honorable freedom fighters. Relating to this one news was published in Daily Prothom Alo (18-1-09) For this news subsequently this Hindu Minority journalist was threatened to kill by the Local Muslim Mayor Abdul Rob Munshi.
CDA demands to the present government to deal with any kinds of threat against the minorities of Bangladesh as soon as possible. We also request to the Internatonal leaders to bring t this issue to USCRIF, Minority forum of UN and enforce Bangladesh government to take actions against the perpetrator as soon as possible.