maandag 19 november 2007

Campagne voor journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury uit Bangladesh

Zowel Amerikaanse congresleden als organisaties voor persvrijheid zetten zich al jaren in voor de Bangladese journalist en uitgever Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, die zich tegen het gevaar van islamitisch extremisme en voor verdraagzaamheid uitsprak in zijn krant, en bovendien pleitte voor erkenning van Israël. Toen hij in 2003 het vliegtuig naar Israël wilde nemen om in Tel Aviv een schrijverssymposium over de rol van cultuur in vredeswerk toe te spreken, werd hij op de luchthaven van Dhaka gearresteerd, omdat het inwoners van Bangladesh verboden is om Israël te bezoeken.
We berichtten al over hem op 13 oktober 2006: Bangladesh Journalist Choudhury on Trial for Supporting Israel
Een nieuwe campagne van zijn steungroep poogt bedrijven aan te spreken die handel drijven met Bangladesh. Iedereen kan zijn zaak steunen door brieven en mails te sturen naar de genoemde bedrijven.
November 15, 2007, was supposed to be just another one of the seemingly endless string of pro forma court appearances for Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury.  It was his 36th in the 31 months since his release from prison.  They are pure harassment carried out in a deliberate effort to silence him.  They are draining his physical, financial, and emotional resources and all have the same tedious and soul-numbing pattern :  Shoaib is called to appear as the court opens; he is forced to sit for hours upon hours; and finally, the judge tells him that he is ordered to return in another few weeks.  Bad enough; but November 15 was not more of the same.  After making Shoaib wait for several hours -that did not change- Judge Azizul Haque berated him because the Supreme Court had not yet heard him appeal.  He then went to the Public Prosecutor and asked him what he thought should be done.  Ehsanul Haque Shomaji replied that the judge should revoke his bail.
Now, government spokesmen have been telling to leave them be, that the matter is in the hands of the court, and that the government really cannot interfere.  That certainly does not sync with what happened on November 15!  The military-backed government's action was illegal, as well, since bail is guaranteed under Bangladeshi law while the appeal is pending.  But little has been done in Shoaib's case that accords with the law; radical Islamists still rule the roost in Dhaka, and call the tune to which the government dances  lies and transparent delaying tactics.  They have told me explicitly that they plan to 'wait us out' on this.
Eventually, Shoaib's bail was restored, but only until December 13 when he again faces potential re-incarceration.  That will be the fifth attempt to throw him back in prison since we secured his release.  Even though the judge and public prosecutor acted in gross violation of Bangladeshi law, the government refuses to take any action.  All of it underscores Shoaib's precarious position while the admittedly false and capital charges remain pending.  It brings home starkly how his freedom--perhaps his life--remain in danger.  But each one of you can do something to help Shoaib and the cause of justice.
Garment exports to the West, especially the United States, are the lifeblood of the Bangladeshi economy.  The holiday shopping season is upon us, and retailers depend on these sales for their economic health.  I do not like the word, boycott, but I do have a choice where to spend my own money.  Personally, I do not want to support an economy that openly supports radical Islamists (the government has admitted numerous times that this is the sole reason why the charges remain) and oppresses heroes who oppose the radicals.  Everyone can exercise that same choice.  I have listed the top importers of Bangladeshi textiles below and am asking everyone to contact each of them.  (If you are not in the US, write to the top importers in your country or we can help you identify them if you want.)  Tell them that you will refrain from patronizing them until they either stop purchasing Bangladeshi goods or until Bangladesh drops the admittedly false charges against Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury - a man who has been honored for his fight against radicals and his support of interfaith understanding by the US Congress, European Parliament, Australian Senate, and others; who has been awarded numerous international prizes for his struggle.  Yet, the Bangladeshi government -in defiance of them all- still harasses this man and threatens him with a potential death sentence for those same efforts.  Remind them that there are plenty nations who would love to supply them with their textile products.  Why do they choose to buy from Bangladesh when it gives aid and comfort to our enemies.
Each of you can be a human rights champion by doing that; you can do even by getting others to do the same.  The Bangladeshi government has turned a deaf ear to international pleas for justice, appeals to human rights and a free press, and even requests by the United States Congress.  They have spurned offers to help them with various problems they face, all because they refuse to "anger the [Islamist] radicals," as they have told me again and again.
H. Lee Scott, Jr.                                                             Bob Walton
President and Chief Executive Officer                               Chairman, Board of Directors
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.                                                     Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
702 S.W. 8th Street                                                       702 S.W. 8th Street
Bentonville, Arkansas 72716
                                           Bentonville, Arkansas 72716
Phone: +1-479-273-4000                                                 Phone: +1-479-273-4000
Wal-Mart's Global Ethics Office:
Congressman:   John Boozman (R AR-3) He also was the Republican floor leader for HR64 on Shoaib's behalf.
Senators:          Blanche Lambert Lincoln (D) and Mark Pryor (D)
Robert J. Fisher
Chairman of the Board of Directors and Interim Chief Executive Officer
Gap, Inc.
Two Folsom Street
San Francisco, CA 94105

Phone: 650-952-4400
The Gap's Board of Directors:
Corporate Compliance Department:
Congressmanwoman:  Nancy Pelosi (D CA-8)  She is also Speaker of the US House.
Senators:                   Diane Feinstein (D) and Barbara Boxer (D).
Philip H. Knight                                                 Mark Parker
Chairman of the Board of Directors                      President & Chief Executive Officer
Nike World Headquarters                                   Nike, Inc. Nike, Inc.
One Bowerman Drive                                         One Bowerman Drive
Beaverton, OR 97005-6453
                                 Beaverton, OR 97005-6453
Phone: 1-800-344-6453                                      Phone: 1-800-344-6453
Nike's Corporate Responsibility Governance:
Congressman:   David Wu (D OR-1)
Senators:          Ron Wyden (D) and Gordon Smith (R)

Mackey J. McDonald                                         Eric C. Wiseman
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer                  President and Chief Operating Officer
105 Corporate Center Blvd.                                105 Corporate Center Blvd.
Greensboro NC 27408
                                       Greensboro NC 27408
Phone: 336.424.6000                                         Phone: 336.424.6000
Cindy Knoebel, Vice-president for corporate communication:
Congressman:  Coble (R NC-6)
Senators:         Elizabeth Dole (R) and Richard Burr (R)
Emanuel Chirico
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation
200 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016
Phone: 212-381-3500
Fax: 212-381-3950
Congresswoman:           Carolyn B. Maloney (D NY-14)
Senators:                      Charles Schumer (D) and Hilary Rodham Clinton (D)
This is something everyone can do, and Shoaib is depending on us all.  He has stood up against those who would kill us, even at the risk of his own life.  Let us all stand with him.  The time is right.  Bangladesh has refused the carrot; perhaps it is time for the stick.
Dr. Richard L. Benkin
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury's Brother and Defender

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