Contacts With Senators Needed To Help Salah Chowdhury In Bengladesh

Posted: 4/11/2007 9:18:00 PM
Author: Dr. Richard Belkin
Source: This appeal was originally posted by Scholars For Peace *In The Middle East

Dear Friends,

As you know, the US House passed a resolution demanding an immediate end to Salah Choudhury's persecution by a 409-1 margin. It was the culmination of years of activity and the basis for further action on behalf of this courageous individual. Things are moving well, but there is a potential new threat on the horizon. Fortunately, we are in the process of catching it early, and you can help.

One of the strongest motivators for the Bangladeshis in this entire affair has been the knowledge that tariff relief and their holy grail of a Free Trade Agreement with the United States will remain forever elusive so long as they maintain the charges against Choudhury and fail to live up to their promises in this regard; so long as they continue to appease the Islamists in their midst. The US imports roughly 70 percent of everything Bangladesh exports, and so trade with the US is critical to them. We are continuing along these lines toward a successful conclusion, but a bill recently introduced in the Senate threatens all of it, though unintentionally.

Senate Bill 652, introduced by Gordon Smith (R-OR) is a good bill in its conception--provide tariff relief to less developed countries and so help them develop economically and socially, develop free markets, and take part in the international market. Unfortunately, one of the countries it slates for relief is Bangladesh. Certainly, if Bangladesh lives up to its promises with regard to Shoaib, it is a more likely candiate. But right now, it is in violation of an overwhelming sense of the Congress, and has not kept its promise to the US. It also continues to harass this anti-radical journalist even while claiming to be a "moderate Muslim country." We need to see that specific language is placed in the legislation rendering Bangladesh ineligible for tariff relief as long as the charges against Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury remain.

Right now, the bill rests with the Senate Finance Committee, and I am beginning my effort to make the members aware of this matter so that the bill is fixed before it is debated by the full Senate or goes on to a similar process in the House. If the Committee members are contacted by their constituents as well, it will make my contact that much more effective. If you want to help Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury while making this a good bill for the US, you can if you live in any one of the following states:

Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah. Washington, West Virgina, Wyoming.

Senators from these states are on the Senate Finance Committee. If you live in these states and can phone or fax them about Senate Bill 652, please reply to me and I will send you "scripts" for phone calls and faxes, along with contact numbers and the name of the Senator(s) from your state on the Committee. It would be even better if you could get neighbors and other residents of your state to do the same. Of course, people will veer from the scripts if they wish; I provide them as guides, as information, and as tools you can use as you wish. BUT PLEASE CONTACT YOUR SENATOR ABOUT THIS IMMEDIATELY.

Already, the Bangladesh Supreme Court hearing that is to rule on Shoaib's motion to drop the charges (with some optimism) has been postponed three times since this bill was introduced. With a little effort, you can make an enormous difference for Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury--an anti-Islamist Muslin who refuses to be driven out of the Muslim world where he wants to defeat our enemies. Please contact me about this and request any additional information you want.

Thank you.

Dr. Richard L. Benkin

Special Advisor to The Intelligence Summit on Bangladeshi Affairs