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HEADLINES

Dear America

Dear America

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 29th when the flight number 021 of Virgin Atlantic Airways was touching the ground of Dulls Airport, it was heavy rain in Washington. There had been ongoing construction at various part of Dulls International Airport. We were taken to the immigration desk, where information on formalities for the arriving passengers was on display at many large television sets. Officers were vigorously helping everyone in completing formalities as quick as possible. Possibly, in less than half an hour, most of the passengers were already outside the airport. My Jewish brother Dr. Richard Benkin, who arrived at the same airport from Chicago, was waiting at the exit gate for me. As we saw each other, we hugged. This was the second time of our meeting. Earlier, Dr. Benkin visited Bangladesh in January this year on a 10-day tour. Both of us went outside and rode on a luxurious Lincoln sedan car to reach Capitol Hill Suite, where we decided to stay. In Washington, Capitol Hill is the most important area, where the Capitol Hill, White House and many of the offices are located. This is rather comparatively a quite area, with few numbers of vehicles. In fact, Washington is not over trafficked or over crowded like New York. On my arrival, while we both were on the car, Brother Richard told me about several important engagements that I was having during this 7-day shuttle trip.

After 24 hours on board, naturally human being might feel a somewhat tired. However, possibly, seeing Dr. Benkin and the wonderful Washington, I forgot the fact of the long trip. We became active right from the first moment.

Next morning we met HRCBM chief Amalendu Chatterjee at a hotel over breakfast. Although couple of hours later, his organization were scheduled to hold a program in Washington, Mr. Amalendu was not showing any sign of hurries while talking to us. This is no doubt, the best example of Bengali hospitality. The other person who also joined us at the breakfast was Bangladeshi columnist Shahriar Kabir. Interim government in Bangladesh had recently dropped the sedition charge against Kabir, brought against by the previous BNP-Jamaat Coalition government. Kabir told us that 68,000 acres of Hindu properties had been so far grabbed by Jamaat men in past five years. As evidence to his statement, Shahriar Kabir refereed to a study by eminent economist Abul Barakat. I asked him, what about grabbing of Hindu properties by Awami League leaders. He was showing a kind of unwillingness to say a single word on that, although I knew for sure that Vested Property Act has given the opportunity to a large number of influential people from most of the political parties in grabbing properties of religious minorities in Bangladesh.

Unfortunately, intellectuals in Bangladesh are extremely political biased. They never want to tell the truth by taking a non-partisan stand. It is always that most of the statements regarding repression of minorities or grabbing their properties had been dirtied with nasty political bias.

Right after meeting HRCBM leader Amalendu Chatterjee, we went to New York Hilton Hotel to meet my counsel and internationally acclaimed lawyer Professor Irwin Cotler, MP. Earlier, Mr. Cotler has defended figures like Nelson Mandela or Andrei Sakharov. When I reached Hilton Hotel, I saw Professor Cotler waiting for me at the hotel lobby. 

In the afternoon, we went to the exhibition and conference of HRCBM. A number of Congress members attended the conference as guest speakers. But, Dr. Benkin and I had not that much of time to seat and listen to lengthy lectures. We had to meet some of the Congressman. So I went to see Congressman Steve Rothman. Washington traffic stopped him from seeing me on time. Rather he was late by 40 minutes. But, each of the members in his office were busy in attending us with all their hearts. Mr. Rothman saw me and held my hands to lead me to his private room. I found an excellent human being in Mr. Steve Rothman. Right after the meeting, we went back downstairs to HRCBM event. In several minutes, Congressman Mark Steven Kirk and his aide Andrea Hoffman arrived. He hugged me strong and almost shouted with all his joy and excitement. As if, he saw his own brother after so many years. Should there be no Congressman Kirk, I was not in Washington for sure, but inside the solitary confinement in Bangladeshi prison. Mr. Kirk championed in getting me released of prison being approached by his own constituent Dr. Benkin. HRCBM leader Kanchan Bannerjee approached the Congressman to deliver his lecture in HRCBM program. However, he said, “no I have come here to meet Shoaib, not to give lecture.”

Anyway, as I requested him, he agreed and went inside the hall room to say something. At one stage, he called me to the speaker’s dais and asked me to say something. I had nothing inside to say, except to express my gratitude to this angel of salvation. To me Mark Steven Kirk is the angel, who saved my life.

This write up shall continue for 12 consecutive issues.
Posted on 09 Aug 2007 by Root
 
 
 

 
 



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