While the world is attuned to Paris Hilton’s petty predicament, time is running out for Mohiuddin “Din” Ahmed, who is set to be deported by US Homeland Security to Bangladesh for immediate execution, as early as later this week, for a crime that he did not commit.
Actor/Activist Martin Sheen has released the following statement: “I support Amnesty International and the Conference of Catholic Bishops, on both sides of the border, in their efforts to help Din Ahmed find safe haven in Canada.
The death penalty is wrong and Din Ahmed received that death penalty during an, in absentia trial, which is doubly wrong. I urge the US State Department and the Dept. of Homeland Security to work with Canada in the hope of finding a humanitarian solution to this life and death problem.” With the celebrity endorsement of Actor/Activist Martin Sheen, traffic at the website www.FreeDin.org has increased exponentially.
The website has been established to assist people in obtaining information about Din’s predicament, so that they may contact their Senators and Congressmen/women, to voice their objections to Homeland Securities deportation of Din. 9th Circuit Judge U.S. District Court Judge Gary Feess, has already ruled that Homeland Security has deceived the United States Congress in Din’s matter.
However, with Din’s family in tears, Judge Gary Feess will once again rule the fate of Din, later this week, which may result in Din’s immediate deportation to death.
PERSONAL STATEMENT FROM MR. MOHIUDDIN AKM AHMED, better known as, Din.
As I prepare for this next stage in my life, I look back on the surreal road, which brought me to this point.
By way of background, I joined the Pakistan military in 1966, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1967. At that time Bangladesh did not yet exist as an independent country. After the war of liberation with Pakistan, I was held in confinement in a Pakistani concentration camp from 1972 to 1974. I was then repatriated to Bangladesh in 1974. I then honorably served in the Bangladesh military from 1974 to 1975. Thereafter, I served in the diplomatic service until 1996.
The events leading up to the coup in 1975 are well known to all of the Bangladeshi people, and the events cannot be denied. In 1974, Sheik Mujibur declared a national emergency and suppressed all democratic activities, and opponents. Freedom of speech was taken away from Bangladeshi citizens, and all fundamental rights were suspended. In January 1975, one-party rule under BAKSAL was introduced, and Sheikh Mujibur became Prime Minister.
By all reasonable and accurate accounts, Bangladesh was then suffering through a period of famine, poverty, and political instability. Those familiar with this period in Bangladesh’s history remember that Bangladesh was a dictatorship. One need only open a Bangladeshi newspaper from 1972 to 1975 to appreciate that Bangladesh my country was then a dictatorship.
People of Bangladesh cannot deny the difficulties of that period in our history. Nor can they rewrite that period, and transform it into a renaissance of freedom and democracy. Those who attempt to do so are not being historically accurate.
It was during those times that I served honorably as a Major in the Bangladeshi army – First Bengal Lancers Regiment. As a newly promoted major with no role in the war of National Liberation and with a posting to the Lancer’s regiment without any required training and experience, I was treated as an alien and I had no power to change or influence the course of events on August 15th, 1975. And, as any good soldier, I did have a healthy respect for the military chain of command. On the night of the Coup on August 15th 1975, I was on normal night maneuvers, when I was notified by superior officers, that a peaceful coup would occur within hours. Myself, and others, believed that the orders we received were lawful, and that that they were transmitted through the appropriate chain of command. My orders were clear, and the results of refusing a lawful order were equally clear, including military arrest, and facing a firing squad.
Of course, the political history of Southeast Asia and Pakistan suggested to all of us that peaceful coups were possible, and that the peaceful transition from dictatorship to multi-party rule was possible without bloodshed. At that time, there were no reasons for me to believe that the coup would be anything other than peaceful.
Again, those of us who followed orders that evening were under the impression that a peaceful coup was in motion to remove the existing government, and set up a new national government with honest and efficient politicians whose first interest was that of the people of Bangladesh. The hope was that a peaceful transition to a multi-party democratic system would occur.
Regarding my orders, I was commanded to position my troops at a crossroad, which I understood to be located more than a mile from one of the prime minister’s homes. I was to supervise my troops at this roadblock, and await further orders. At no time was I, or my troops, involved in any violence. The statements that I was present in Rahman’s house at the time of his death are utterly false. These are claims made by people loyal to the slain prime minister and his surviving family.
It is an unfortunate and regrettable fact that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and many members of his family and political party were killed during the 1975 coup. I do not believe that the loss of life was contemplated that night, nor justified. I’m told the killings took place when Rahman’s private army shot back and a massacre took place. But I don’t know for sure what happened that night because I was over a mile away.
After the coup many countries including China and Saudi Arabia recognized the new government of Bangladesh. Moreover, the entire political outlook of Bangladesh switched from a one-party authoritarian rule to a multi-party system modeled after the West.
After the coup, the new government, through an ordinance, indemnified all military officers for their actions. The ordinance provided that no member of the military, including myself, would face criminal prosecution or liability before any Court in Bangladesh. This ordinance was later ratified by more than a 2/3 majority of members of the Bangladesh parliament, thus making this clause a part of the Bangladeshi constitution.
After the coup, I proudly represented Bangladesh in the Diplomatic corps, and in highly responsible positions. It was my great honor to serve the Bangladesh people in Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and Thailand.
For those who may not know, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s surviving daughter, Sheikh Hasina, later rose to leadership in the Awami League, and eventually ran for Prime Minster, seeking to overturn the constitution, which protected members of the military who served in 1975. In 1991 Sheikh Hassina lost an election bid due to the fact that public opinion was against what was widely perceived as her platform of revenge. In subsequent years, from 1991 to 1996, Sheikh Hasina modified her objective and rhetoric. Sheikh Hasina changed her colors and claimed to be seeking reconciliation, and offered forgiveness in the hopes of gaining votes.
With her new platform of reconciliation and forgiveness, Sheikh Hasina became Prime Minister in 1996. Those statements of reconciliation and forgiveness were disingenuous, however, as one of her first official acts as prime minister of Bangladesh was to overturn the constitutional protections provided to myself and others. She accomplished this by leading the repeal of the indemnity act in parliament without the constitutionally required 2/3rds majority. Sheik Hasina then spearheaded the prosecution of all of the military officers who served in 1975 and who were serving abroad as diplomats. Of course, officers who served in 1975, but who later joined Hasini’s Awami league, were free from prosecution. Clearly, the condition to avoid prosecution was to acquiesce to Sheikh Hasina party and political goals. I’ve always been an apolitical person so I did not enjoy her protections.
By many accounts, the Court in Bangladesh, which was convened to judge myself and others, was NOT free of political influence. This is evident from numerous newspaper reports of the time. In fact, the lawyer appointed to defend my rights before the Bangladeshi Court was chosen by Sheik Hasina’s party. A review of the Court transcripts shows that my lawyer did not object to any evidence presented against me, nor did he provide any exculpatory evidence. Even other lawyers defending the other defendants were openly harassed and threatened with dire consequences including one lawyer who was stripped and beaten by a partisan crowd within the Court premises itself. Eyewitness testimony claimed I was in the prime minister’s home at the time of the shooting, which I was not, and some witnesses even claimed I was in two places at once. There was also the problem with my name, Mohiuddin Ahmed, which is a common name in my country. There was testimony in court about more than one Mohiuddin Ahmed and much confusion as to who, exactly, was being being discussed. The government even presented a witness against me claiming to see me at the palace. Even though he did not even join the army until a month after the coup. There was never any physical evidence to tie me to the killings, only double and triple hearsay about an event 21 years earlier. Sadly, eyewitness testimony in Bangladesh can be bought for less than 100 dollars.
I was not in Bangladesh at the time of this 1996 trial. I knew I would not have received a fair trial if I had been there and probably would have been beaten or possibly been even killed. So I was convicted in absentia and, because I was not there at the time of the death sentence verdict, I do not have the right to appeal. Therefore if I am sent back to Bangladesh I expect to be tortured and hanged quickly upon my return.
At the time of the trial I was lawfully visiting my son who was going to college in America. I did not enter America illegally and I never overstayed my visa the entire 10 years I have lived and worked here legally. For a decade I have lived a very quiet modest life in California. As part of her propaganda campaign against me Hasina has been spreading lies and claiming I have millions of dollars in foreign bank accounts, a Pakistani passport, and ownership in foreign nightclubs. I have none of these things and these lies would all be laughable if the reality was less grave. I am an innocent man fighting for my life. I have independent proof that have never left America since the day I arrived here in 1996. I have independent proof that I have lived an extremely modest life and I challenge anyone to prove otherwise. The internet is a wonderful thing but people are using it to change my words and spread lies.
Now, over the years, the Supreme Court in Bangladesh has repeatedly recused itself from hearing any appeals arising out of that show trial. To use their term, in 1999, the Supreme Court in Bangladesh expressed its “embarrassment” regarding the verdict. At one point even the chief justice of the Bangladeshi Supreme Court presiding at the time questioned why the Bangladeshi government wanted to figuratively shoot the gun on the Court’s shoulders. In other words: why does the government want to use the courts to do their dirty work?
As I sit in prison in San Pedro, California, I ask the Department of Homeland Security / Immigration and Customs Enforcement to stay my deportation on humanitarian grounds and allow me to be deported to a country that does not believe in torture or the death penalty because if I am returned to Bangladesh I will be hanged without the chance to appeal.
Staying my deportation is within the discretion of the Dept. of Homeland Security. I ask that the DHS use those powers to spare my life. A simple check of the US State Dept. Report on Bangladesh, or a review from Amnesty International and others will easily confirm that Bangladesh was, and still is, plagued by corruption, torture, extra-judicial murders and a judiciary system that is controlled by politics. I don’t have a chance in Dhaka as you can see from the links below.
US State Dept Report on Recent Conditions in Bangladesh
United Nations Human Rights Current Report on Bangladesh
I have to ask you: How is it possible for me to have had an honored, 20-year, diplomatic career, under eight successive Bengali administrations, to then suddenly be labeled a killer and “terrorist”? The answer is revenge and politics.
Each time I was sent by Bangladesh to be their emissary in a foreign land the government of Bangladesh said: “This is a good man. This is an honorable man. This is the best man we have to represent our interests in your country. You can trust this man.” For 20 years the governments of Bangladesh saw me in this light. Well I tell you, I am still that man of honor even though Bangladesh has been plunged into the darkness of revenge and corruption that is blinding the people of Bangladesh from the historical truth about the beginnings of our nation.
For ten years I legally worked in America. I never broke any laws in America and paid my taxes as I watched over the care of my family. They gave me strength during these very difficult times. But now I need the strength of others. I need a nation to see that there is a humanitarian solution to this long political nightmare.
Please help me. I am not a terrorist. I am an innocent man.