Dear Senator Cornyn,
I'm a happy constituent and supporter, and I'm looking forward to supporting your reelection in 2008.
I'm writing in regard to Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, a journalist in Bangladesh who is facing a criminal trial beginning tomorrow for a variety of charges that come down to, in my opinion, advocating relations with Israel and criticising Islamic radicalism. He himself is a Muslim, one of the "moderate voices" that is so necessary in this day in the Muslim world. If convicted, and conviction seems likely, he faces a sentence of death. The death sentence can be commuted by the President of Bangladesh if there is a "national interest", or so I am led to believe.
I recognize that Bangladesh is an important partner in the current conflict against terrorism, and that USAID has indicated that they will be sending up to $175 million in health aid alone to Bangladesh in the next five years, in addition to other foreign aid committments we have there. It would seem that sparing the life of a moderate Muslim, potentially a leader for Bangladesh that offers a worldview other than radicalism would be "in the national interest" of both Bangladesh and the United States. Executing someone for publishing the very things the US is trying to promote abroad would seem to be a fairly retrograde move for both the US and Bangladesh.
I am writing the US Ambassador in Dhaka as well as your office, and I'll be praying for the guy as well. Any help you could offer in this regard would be appreciated.
Darren Duvall, MD
This is a travesty in the making. I sincerely hope the United States steps in here and makes it clear in no uncertain terms what's going to happen to the checks flowing from Foggy Bottom (the home of the State Department) if this guy is executed. He's already been imprisoned and beaten for expressing an opinion that differs from the Islamists', if they take his life they should kiss our aid good-bye, as far as I am concerned. Bangladesh has already seen Islamist bombings, this is a choice-point for them. If their justice system becomes a tool of the Islamists as well, it seems that we know what side they're on.
Seems a shame that the same year the Nobel Peace Prize winner comes from Bangladesh this happens, but neither of those decisions are in the realm of US control. We sure can control where our money goes.
I don't do this often, but if this seems rotten to you, write your Congressman as well.