Where's Amnesty Internatrional?


The Daily Scorecard website has found a case of outrageous human rights violations of apparently no concern to Amnesty International (which has lately called Gitmo the Gulag of the World).

What was my "crime"? Being a living contradiction: a Zionist and a devout Muslim living in Bangladesh, the world's second—largest Muslim country.

As a journalist, I counteracted the biased "news" that promoted hatred of Israel and Jews; condemned terrorism, promoted the free exchange of ideas and urged Bangladesh to recognize Israel. My colleague, Dr. Richard Benkin, and I worked together and saw the start of real debate. We were ecstatic and hopeful.

But on November 29, 2003, police grabbed me as I was about to board a plane for Tel Aviv, at the invitation of Dr. Ada Aharoni, to address the Hebrew Writers Association on the media's role in creating cultures of peace....

The following day I appeared before the metropolitan magistrate, where my lawyer sought bail and the police requested I be remanded for interrogation. The matter was decided before it began.

MANY PEOPLE know my story, my imprisonment beyond legal limits, the sedition charge and denial of due process. Only now can I convey the barbarism to which I was subjected in the name of interrogation — falsely in the name of Islam and Bangladesh.

I was continuously blindfolded, made physically and mentally weak from the ordeal, thrown in a cell for the insane and denied a bath or basic hygiene. Only after international outrage was I placed in Cell 15 which, though reserved for notorious criminals, was a slight improvement for me.

My situation became more precarious with every passing day. My health deteriorated markedly and I was denied much—needed medical care. Only my faith, conviction and supporters prevented me from succumbing to the despair. My fellow prisoners called me "friend of the Jews."

Outside, police ransacked my home and office and seized my property, not even sparing my daughter's personal computer. They mistreated my mother and wife. My family was deprived of a living; our businesses were closed and looted. Their severe economic constraints were made worse by the ongoing legal bills. We sold off assets to survive. Dr. Benkin sent us money while my family tried frantically and in vain to secure bail.

In August, my mother died of a massive heart attack. The pain of my imprisonment and the uncertainty of ever seeing me again proved too much.

My worst moments came when the temporary bail that would allow me to attend my mother's funeral was revoked. I cried for hours, alone in my prison cell. The prime minister ordered an inquiry into the matter, but was ignored. My family was told that government "higher—ups" were the culprits.

Thomas Lifson   5 25 05