Friday, February 25, 2011

Letter to the Guardian, UK on alleged torture of a Bangladeshi MP

In recent days, the Guardian newspaper of UK and some internet sites have been carrying out stories of alleged torture of Mr. Salauddin Quader Chowdhury at the hands of the RAB. While I am against any form of abuse and torture against anyone, I feel that some hard facts need to be disclosed about Mr. Chowdhury's crimes. Here below is a letter sent by the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Bangladesh Expatriates Council to the Guardian.

February 25, 2011

The Editor,
The Guardian
London, UK

Subject: Letter to Editor: Alleged torture of a Bangladeshi MP

Dear Editor,

Your coverage on Bangladeshi MP 'tortured' by British-trained paramilitary unit - has drawn our attention. While torture in any form is unacceptable and should never be tried by any government it is a sad reality of our time that all governments - illiberal and liberal democracies alike, including the British government, are guilty of this crime. In the aftermath of 9/11, tens of British Muslims were tortured by the police interrogators during their detention in the UK prisons, mostly young Muslims on mere suspicion of being 'terrorists'. Suffice it to say that during George W. Bush's era, esp. in the days following 9/11 hundreds of Muslim residents of the USA were rounded up and tortured during their police detention. Many were even sent to countries like Egypt and Jordan for ‘extraordinary rendition.’ And who is not aware of the war crimes of the Anglo-American occupation forces after the fall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq! Even the journalists covering the war there were shot at and killed.

Sadly, Bangladesh is not immune from such charges of torture against some political prisoners. Of particular curiosity is the case involving Salauddin Quader Chowdhury (MP-BNP from Chittagong). From the internal evidences we have been able to collect from the Human Rights Commission in Bangladesh and other agencies, there seems to be much doubt as to the veracity of the claim of torture against Mr. Chowdhury. Mr. Chowdhury is a sociopath and has a history of lying, bragging and deception, let alone with a criminal past which saw his own hands used for torture and murder of Bangladeshi people during and after 1971 Liberation War. We are told that in its arrest of Mr. Chowdhury, the government of Bangladesh is simply fulfilling an electoral pledge made to its citizens to try people suspected of committing war crimes during the Liberation War. As noted above, Mr. Chowdhury is one such character.

It is disgrace to the memory of lakhs of martyrs in Bangladesh to see a war criminal-suspect like Mr. Chowdhury ever elected as an MP. But politics is always full of surprises and his political rehabilitation, although unfortunate, should not surprise us all. Like many of his victims, my family would have loved to see him reformed and repentant, but it seems expecting such from a sociopath and a crime boss is like asking for miracles. His political rehabilitation has only emboldened his criminal mindset giving him the aura of being untouchable by law and justice.

Of particular and personal tragedy is the crime he and his son Fayyaz committed against my family during April-June of 2005. As Prime Minister’s adviser on parliamentary affairs, Mr. Chowdhury abused his political standing to victimize my family in Chittagong, Bangladesh. Armed with hundred of goons, his son Fayyaz Chowdhury, a British citizen of dual nationality, broke into my parental properties in Khulshi, Chittagong on April 8, 2005. They illegally evicted 16 tenant families from our compound. The matter of his crime was widely reported in all Bengali newspapers in Dhaka and Chittagong. All our pleas to him met deaf ears. Even my face-to-face meeting with him in the last week of April in the Prime Minister's Office did not stop him from lying and further harming us. Within days, his goons demolished 9 houses built nearly 50 years ago by my father. Months later, only after direct involvement of the Metropolitan Police, which hitherto had avoided confronting Mr. Chowdhury, his son and goons – afraid of losing jobs, were we able to retake possession of our properties. But the damage was already done. Even to this day, his criminal syndicate is active and continues to harass my family members in Khulshi, Bangladesh. It is worth noting that we were not the only ones that fell prey to his land-grabbing crimes; there are too many of those victims in Rangoonia, Chittagong. Afraid of being further victimized by his crime syndicate, they are still afraid to talk.

Had Mr. Chowdhury been remorseful and made a sincere effort to right the wrongs committed by him, his son and his crime syndicate, his victims could have felt some sadness for his alleged plight at the hands of the RAB today. But who would feel compassion for a murderer, land-grabber, Mafia boss whose crimes have erased their sense of security and happiness? As such, no one really takes his allegations against RAB seriously. As a matter of fact, his imprisonment, no matter how late, can only bring some relief and solace to so many of his victims, and there are plenty, who see the Hands of Provision in his imprisonment. While the door of repentance and reparation is never closed, the sooner the better! It is high time for his family to right the wrongs perpetrated by him and his son.

The Guardian could better serve the interest of its readers by interviewing the victims of Mr. Salauddin Q. Chowdhury's crimes than shedding tears for a remorseless criminal.

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