Friday, January 9, 2009

Bangladesh peace advocate turns 44

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, internationally acclaimed award winning anti-jihadist journalist and peace advocate turns 44 on January 12.
Choudhury was arrested on November 29 2003 at Zia International Airport in Dhaka [Bangladesh] on his way to Tel Aviv for attending a peace conference. BNP led Islamist Coalition government brought sedition, treason and blasphemy charges against him and he was tortured and detained in Dhaka Central Jail for 17 months. It is learnt that a section of influential Islamist leaders having close link with the BNP led Coalition government alongwith a controversial Home Secretary named Omar Faruk, who was reportedly a member of the advisory council with Jamaat-e-Islami played key role in bringing this false charge against Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury.
BNP led coalition government even denied to allow Choudhury to attend his mother's funeral on bail on parole.
Due to unrelenting effort by Dr. Richard L Benkin, a peace activist in United States and member of the US Congress Mark Steven Kirk [Rep], Choudhury was released on bail on April 10, 2005. Later US Congress passed a resolution [HR 64] demanding immediate dropping of the false charges as well as according security to this courageous Bangladeshi journalist as well as stopping all forms of intimidition tacktics on him.
But, in July 2006, office of Weekly Blitz [], a newspaper edited by Choudhury was bombed by the members of Khatmey Nabuat Movement. Later in the same year, on October 5, members of cultural front of Bangladesh Nationalist Party, led by Helal Khan and Babul Ahmed attacked the office of Choudhury, physically assaulted him and looted cash and valuables from the office. No legal action was taken against the culprits as they were sheltered by influential people in power.
Information Advisor in the millitary backed interim government in Bangladesh, Barrister Moinul Hussain tried to suffocate the voice of Weekly Blitz and listed Choudhury along with 1680 journalists and media personnel in Bangladesh as 'non journalist' and instructed the Press and Information Department [PID] to refrain from issuing Press Accreditation card to these journalists. Moinul Hussain even sent his man to the office of Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury with the threat of harrassing him through the members of armed forces.
On March 18, 2008 members of Rapid Action Battalion [RAB] led by Captain Shafiq abducted Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury at gun point and looted cash and valuables from the office of Weekly Blitz. Despite numerous complaints, millitary controlled regime did not take any action against the members of RAB nor the looted cash and valuables had ever been returned. Furthermore, the same government withdrew police protection from the residence of Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury ignoring the Resolution passed in the US Congress.

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury has received a number of international awards for his courageous stand against radical Islam. He is the first journalist in Bangladesh who forecasted rise of Islamist millitancy in madrassas. Choudhury's newspaper Weekly Blitz continues to confront radical Islam and Islamist millitancy.
This Bangladeshi peace advocate will turn 44 on January 12 2009. Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is happily married to Shahnaj Choudhury Happy. The couple has two children Priyanka Choudhury and Hanzalah Choudhury.