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US to Bangladesh: Drop all Charges against Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury


By Dr. Richard L. Benkin n from chicago USA: Last week, the United States overw-helmingly approved House Resolution 64 expressing the “sense of the US Congress” that the Bangladeshi government must drop all charges against journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury. The vote was 409 to 1. Because the measure picked up the formal support of the US State Department even before coming to Congress for a vote, it indicates that support for Shoaib has become the official position of the United States.
Such resolutions carry no formal sanctions but are intended to send a strong message from which, if ignored, provides the basis for specific action. Several Bangladeshi officials have admited that case has no basis in fact or law and is being prosecuted only to placate extremists. Failure by the government to drop the case thereby undermines its effort to paint itself as a “moderate Muslim” government and an ally of the US in the War on Terror. The implications are not lost on US lawmakers.
It is never an accident who speaks in favor of a bill. A review of the speeches and speechmakers offers a clue as to what might happen if this “strong statement,” is ignored. First, all of the speakers emphasized that ending Shoaib’s prosecution is part of the greater fight against extremism; that is, the War on Terror, which many members of the US government and military have noted now overwhelms all others in Washington. One member of the US intelligence community told me, “That’s our Number One issue. Once something is seen as part of that fight, it stays on everyone’s radar screens.” Second, numerous speakers and observers of the case noted that support for Shoaib is bi-partisan and would be policy of Democratic and Republican administrations equally.


 
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