Tuesday, February 28, 2006



Here I am the Southern Belle and I’m supposed to be sounding off on men, how to get them and what to do with them once you’ve got them.  

Instead I’m going to ask you to send letters to save the life of a journalist living in a country you may never see.  But can you resist the chance to save a life, just by writing a few letters?

Last year as a member of PEN USA I took on the job of special “minder” to a Bangladeshi editor and journalist who’d been arrested at the airport in Dhaka on November 29, 2003 on his way to Israel address a conference on the role of the media in bringing about peace in the Middle East.  He was thrown into jail in Bangladesh, not the best place to be, and languished there for 17 months.  Then on May 2005, following appeals from around the world including a focused campaign by PEN USA, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury was released on bail.  And on November 9th Pen USA made him their recipient of the 2005 Freedom to Write Award.

Things were looking up.  In October 2005 he was again allowed to publish his Bangladeshi Weekly Jamjamat and The Weekly Blitz, an English language tabloid.  You can check out the latest edition at http://www.weeklyblitz.net/blitzV21/  You’ll learn about what people in Bangladesh are concerned about and see for yourself that Choudhury is against violence.  He risks his life to write against terrorism.  He even publishes American Richard Benkin’s series on saving the Temple Mount in Israel.    

Although he is out of jail, his life is still in jeopardy.  He goes on trial in the next few days or weeks (we don’t have the date yet) and sadly sedition is a capital offence in Bangladesh.  So his life is in danger.

Here’s what you can do:  Write the Prime Minister (a democratically elected woman,) the Minister of Home Affairs and/or the Bangladeshi Ambassador.  I’ll give you the addresses and phone numbers.  I’ll even give you a letter you can copy.  Here it is:
Your Excellency,
I am writing to you on behalf of Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, who is currently out on bail after 17 months in prison on unproven charges of “sedition.”  I am concerned that these charges against him have not yet been dropped.  Choudhury was arrested for the peaceful expression of his opinions; a right guaranteed by Article 19 the United Nation’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  His message is that of peace and cooperation between all people and a rejection of violence.
After many hearings and postponements of his court date, Choudhury is again scheduled to appear in the High Court.
Bangladesh is a great democratic nation whose people have the reputation for tolerance.  I respectfully request that you urge your government to drop the sedition charges against Mr. Choudhury.
That’s it.  All you have to do.  Here’s where you send the letter with 84 cents in stamps:

Begum Khaleda Zia
Honorable Prime Minister Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh
Prime Minister's Office
Old Sangshad Bhaban


Md. Lutfuzzaman Babar
Minister of Home Affairs
Bangladesh Secretariat
Building 4
Dhaka - 1000


Ambassador Shamsher M. Chowdhury, BB
Bangladesh Embassy
3510 International Drive NW
Washington, DC 20008
Telephone : (202) 244 - 0183

You can even Fax him at :(202) 244 - 5366

You don’t have to write them all, but the more letters you send, the better chance he has to walk free.  Please forward a link to this blog to ten friends.  I can’t promise instant riches if you do or bad luck if you don’t, but it’s got to be good for your karma.  

Friday, June 24, 2005
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