Saturday, December 09, 2006

Irwin Cotler Joins Shoaib Choudhury's Defence (Terry Glavin)

Following up my earlier post Irwin Cotler defends Salah Choudhury ...
I see that the Canadian journalist, academic, & blogger Terry Glavin already broke the news in his own way. This news is good enough that it deserves more than one telling. And, under the circumstances, a Canadian ought to have pride of place.

--Jeff Weintraub
Terry Glavin (Chronicles & Dissent)
Friday, December 8, 2006
Irwin Cotler Joins Shoaib Choudhury's Defence

The Honourable Irwin Cotler (MP Mount Royal), a world-renowned humanitarian and civil-rights scholar, and one of the best and brightest legal minds in the English-speaking world, is now standing as counsel for our brother in Bangladesh, Sallah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury.

I’ve written about Choudhury’s case here and harangued this weblog's readers about him here and here, and I’ve lost count of the letters I’ve written on Choudhury’s behalf. I’ve made a bit of a nuisance of myself about the whole thing, quite honestly. My fellow Eustonians in Canada, perhaps especially Nav Purewal, Amiel Pariser, Jim Monk, Bob Lane, Mark Fournier and Jack Cunningham, also took up Choudhury’s case.

Now we have something to be happy about.

Professor Cotler’s commitment to stand as Sallah Choudhury’s counsel in any international tribunal or proceeding that may arise as a consequence of his persecution stands as part of a distinguished record of solidarity that Cotler, our former Minister of Justice, has offered prisoners of conscience. He has acted as counsel for Nelson Mandela, Andrei Sakharov, Jacobo Timmerman, Aleksandr Nikitin, Mukhtar Pakpahan and Saad Edin Ibrahim.

Cotler rose in the House of Commons in Ottawa yesterday and put the Government of Bangladesh on notice:

Mr. Speaker, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, a Muslim Bangladesh journalist and editor of a daily Bangladesh publication, is standing trial on charges of treason, sedition and blasphemy for promoting Muslim, Christian and Jewish dialogue, peace with Israel and seeking to attend a conference in Israel for the promotion of peace. Mr. Choudhury has also been personally beaten, his life threatened and his office vandalized while none of the perpetrators have been brought to justice and a former Bangladesh home minister has indicated that there is no basis for the charges. As counsel for Mr. Choudhury and as one who, while as minister of justice, was engaged in a joint Canada-Bangladesh rule of law project, I call upon the Bangladesh authorities to respect the rule of law, to review and, as appears just and appropriate, to drop the charges while working to apprehend those who have violated Mr. Choudhury's rights.

The Honourable Irwin Cotler, who knows a thing or two about decency and solidarity, is now a friend of Shoaib Choudhury. All of us in Canada owe Cotler an enormous debt of gratitude for standing up for him, and I’m sure the news will come as great comfort to Shoaib, and to Shoaib’s friends everywhere. I'm thinking particularly of Ami Iseroff in Israel, and in America, Dr. Richard Benkin and our good comrade Jeff Weintraub.

To all concerned: Shalom, salaam, síocháin. I'll be raising a stout glass to the lot of you this evening.