Bangladesh: Urgent call to support journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

English PEN is calling for all charges against Bangladeshi journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury to be dropped. Choudhury is charged with sedition, due to his alleged association with Israel and his criticism of the spread of Islamic militancy in Bangladesh in his writings. The charge carries a maximum penalty of death or 30 years imprisonment.

 

Choudhury, editor of the tabloid weekly Blitz, was reportedly arrested by security personnel at Zia International Airport, Dhaka, on 29 November 2003, en route for Israel to participate in a conference of the Hebrew Writers Association. Choudhury was planning to address their writers’ symposium in Tel Aviv entitled ‘Bridges Through Culture’ on the subject of the role of the media in establishing peace. Bangladesh has no diplomatic relations with Israel and travel to Israel is illegal for Bangladeshi citizens.

 

Intelligence forces claim that documents found in Choudhury’s briefcase – in particular the text of his speech and reports on the human rights situation in Bangladesh – are evidence of sedition.  He is accused of having links to an Israeli intelligence agency. English PEN, however, believes that Choudhury’s arrest should be seen as punishment for exercising his human right to freedom of expression.

 

Choudhury has been freed on bail since 2 May 2005, following appeals from PEN USA in Los Angeles, of whom he is an Honorary Member, and other organisations.

 

Choudhury is known for his work to improve relations between Muslim countries and Israel. He has written against anti-Israeli prejudices in Muslim countries and, most controversially, about the rise of al-Qaeda in Bangladesh.

 

The offices of Choudhury’s newspaper were bombed in July 2006, and Choudhury was badly beaten in an attack on the newspaper in October 2006, allegedly involving members of the ruling Bangladesh National Party. His attackers branded him ‘an agent of the Jews’. These attacks were carried out with impunity.

 

The next hearing of Choudhury’s case is in late April 2007 and English PEN is advised that international campaigning on his behalf is very likely to have influence in the next few weeks. We therefore urge you to send the Bangladesh authorities an immediate appeal (see below) and also to sign the electronic petition that has been launched on his behalf by Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. (Click here for the petition).

 

For further information on the case, including extracts from Choudhury’s writing, see: http://www.interfaithstrength.com/

 

Please send appeals:

 


  • Protesting the charges against journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury and calling for them to be dropped, in accordance with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

  • Expressing your concern for the safety of Choudhury and requesting that he be provided with immediate and effective police protection.

 

Addresses:

 

Prof. Dr. Iajuddin Ahmed

Honorable President and Chief of the Caretaker Government

People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Banga Bhaban

Dhaka-1000

Bangladesh

 

Cc: Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed

Chief Advisor, Caretaker Government

People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Chief Advisor’s Office

Old Sangshad Bhaban

Tejgaon

Dhaka, Bangladesh

Fax: 880-2-811 3243 & 880-2-811-1490

 

It may be most effective, however, to forward these appeals care of the Bangladesh High Commission in London:

 

Mr Ashraf Uddin

Acting High Commissioner

High Commission for the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

28 Queen’s Gate

London SW7 5JA

Fax: 020 7225 2130

Email: bdesh.lon@dial.pipex.com

 

 

Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/bangladeshurgentcalltosupportjournalistsalahuddinshoaibchoudhury/

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