Bangladesh: Nominee for Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC)

Bangladeshi activists have been campaigning to stop the nomination of Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, Special Adviser to the PM.
At a time when the OIC is trying to reinvent itself and to shift the media stereotype of Muslims, appointing someone with the record of Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury will be a regressive measure.
The Bangladeshi community is alarmed at their government's decision to nominate Mr. Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, a controversial figure and alleged war criminal, for the position of the Secretary General of the OIC.

The petition can be viewed at

The complete list of signatories is available at:

This petition has been cited in

Background material on Mr. Chowdhury's alleged role in war crimes is available in an article by Mr. Naeem Mohaiemen, "War Criminal to Head Islamic Conference? Bangladeshis Oppose Chowdhury Nomination," published by

Another perspective can be found in the article below:

Should a Mafia Don lead World Muslims?
A War Criminal Nominated to Head the OIC
by Dr. Abdul Momen

While the world is increasingly demanding the punishment of war criminals and murderers across the nations, the Bangladesh government has nominated an alleged murderer and war criminal as the next Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). This has caused uproar in the Bangladesh society and divided the nation. All the major political parties of Bangladesh, irrespective of rank and file, demanded the government to withdraw the nomination of Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, a known gangster. Even many members of the ruling party are very critical of such nomination. Although during the last 32 years, he is mostly involved in Mafia business as per reports, many however, wish that once he becomes the leader of the Muslim world, he would change and would become an angel overnight!

Bangladeshis Oppose the Nomination

All the leading dailies of Bangladesh published reports on the nominee’s criminal records and linkages. In a bid to curb such negative publicity, the government however, threatened the editors of three leading dailies, the Daily Star, the Prothom Alo and the Janakantha with intimidation and arrest warrants. But such press harassment did not cow down everyone. The foreign press, even the Muslim WakeUP of New York published a story titled “War Criminal to Head Islamic Conference: Bangladeshis Oppose Chowdhury’s Nomination” [July 15, 2003]. In addition, nearly 300 Bangladeshi intellectuals, professors, engineers, doctors, lawyers and other professionals living across all the five continents submitted an international appeal to the Foreign Ministers of OIC countries to dump the candidacy of Mr. Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury (SQC), a political advisor to Bangladesh Prime Minister, Begum Khaleda Zia. They argued that in the current media bashing, the election of SQC, a reputed war criminal and an alleged well-known God Father of various crimes ranging from arms smuggling, kidnapping, election doctoring to cool-blooded murders would add up fire to the fuel and will surely cause more harm to the Muslim ummah worldwide. Given his questionable character and past record, he would be unable to lead the Muslim ummah in these days of ‘conflict of civilizations, mistrust and fear’. Many of these professionals have been passing increasingly difficult time since 9/11 as a small gang of terrorists has hijacked their religion of peace, Islam. Are they afraid of yet another hijacker in the making?

The Bangladeshi newspapers are replete with stories of murder, kidnapping, illegal arms and drugs smuggling cases against Mr. Salahuddin Quader Chowhury with verifiable documentation. For example, in the murder case of Nathun Chandra Shaha, case number FIR U/S/302/129 (13)/298/BPC, Mr. Chowdhury and his associates were found guilty. However, he escaped punishment as he was absconding at the time. Therefore, newspapers belonging to different opinions and shades, echoed objection to his nomination. The Shaptahik 2000 in its headline titled “Coalition government put image of the country under threat by nominating a despised politician like SQC’ [June 13, 2003] strongly opposed it. Here are some examples of headlines. The Daily Janakantha titled “Nomination of SQC is a disgrace to Bangladesh” [June 4, 2003]. The Daily Juganthar wrote “11-party demands Cancellation of SQC’s nomination’ [June 3, 2003]. The Daily Star headlined “AL urge the Government to drop SQC’s nomination’ [June 2, 2003]. The AL is the single most largest party in the country. These are just a few headlines on SQC.

The OIC Nominee Not a New Criminal

Two years ago in 2001, when he was not nominated as the OIC’s next Secretary General, there had been frequent stories on him as well. For example, the Daily Star reported on May 30, 2001 that “SQC Detained, Arms Seized from his Residence” after the murder of a student leader in front of his house. The Daily Purbokone reported “BNPs’ Student Front leader Shot Dead, SQC Detained, Killer Weapon Seized from his Goods-Hill residence’ [May 30, 2001]. The Daily Ajker Kagoj headlined “14 cases including 5 murder cases against SQC” [June 1, 2001]. In another headline it stated “SQC’s Goods-Hill Residence: A Hill of Horror, Slaughtering Field” [June 1, 2001]. “Nitol was Killed After He Refused to Join SQC's Group in Exchange of Half Million Taka” reports the Daily Ajker Kagaj on May 30, 2001. "BNP's Student Leader Killed by Bullet Shot from SQC's Residence: SQC Arrested, Huge Arms Recovered” headlined the Daily Janakantha on May 30, 2001. "SQC and 13 Others Arrested on Charge of Murder” reports the Daily Azadee on May 30, 2001. "SQC and His 6 Accomplices Arrested When Trying to Flee After Killing” writes the Daily Bhorer Kagaj on May 30, 2001.

His name also came up in 2002. For example, "Top Terrorist Bachaiya Disclosed Arms Connection: Named SQC as Godfather” reports the Daily Azadee on November 28, 2002. "New AK-47 Recovered from Raozan, Top Terrorist Bachaiya Says He Carried Out Orders of SQC in Committing Crimes” reports the Daily Bhorer Kagaj on November 28, 2002.

However, his role in 1971 was worse. The Dainik Bangla, another leading daily wrote on January 8, 1972 “SQC and his father used to pick up and bring hundreds of young men to their Goods Hill Bangalow in Chittagong and torture them brutally”. A book 'Chronicle of Bengalee's Freedom Fight' by Mahbub-ul-Alam recorded in detail how SQC was involved in killing innocent people in 1971. In another book titled “The Killing Fields and Torture Center of Chittagong” Shakawath Hussain Monju, a researcher talks about how the SQC’s residence Goods-Hill was a center of torture in 1971. It tells the stories how liberation fighters were hung from the ceiling and beaten to death. The National People’s Investigation Commission also declared him a ‘war criminal’.

So it appears that the political parties and intellectuals of all shades are not opposing him because of ‘opposition politics’ as the Bangladesh government claims but because of the character and criminal record of its nominee. At least 23 cases were filed against Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury between September 1 2001 and November 20, 2001 in only one police station in his hometown in 2001. The cases are listed in Table 1 below with dates and case numbers. The Khaleda Zia government has not dismissed these cases yet but frozen them temporarily as he is now a Parliamentary advisor to the Prime Minister with the rank of a Cabinet Minister.

Should the Muslim Leadership Leave It to Nominating Country?

If the leaders of the 57-member OIC countries leave the case of SQC on the nominating government and remain blind to the character of SQC, they will surely make a blunder. If 1% of the allegations that were made against SQC were true, it would weaken his credibility and effectiveness as the top boss of the OIC. Unless the Muslim leadership clean out their own backyard by themselves, they will lose their sense of high moral ground. It would be an irony if the OIC elects such a known criminal and a gangster as their next Secretary General. This will definitely add disgrace to the OIC itself and would undermine its credibility. Therefore, the Muslim leadership should ask the nominating government to drop the candidacy of this alleged criminal. It is irony that a person like SQC who lacks balance and has the habit of making derogatory remarks on women, education, religion and minority has been nominated to lead the Muslim ummah. Reportedly, last year, it was agreed in principle that the next OIC Secretary General would be from Bangladesh, the 3rd largest Muslim country.

OIC Needs Dynamic Leadership

Bangladesh has many decent and respectable candidates that can lead the OIC. But if the current government fails to present a decent and a dynamic candidate, the other OIC members should come forward for the sake of Muslim ummah and may propose new candidates that can command international respect and support at this critical time. It is time for the Muslim leadership to wake-up. Mere dua on Friday prayers for the welfare of the ummah is not enough to change the future of Muslims, one of the poorest groups in the world with ever rising unemployment, instability, hatred and frustration.

The 57-member OIC countries have a total population of nearly 1.4 billion, five times more of the U. S. However, their combined GDP is only one­third of that of the U. S. in spite of their having many critical resources. The GDP of the U.S. is $9.6 trillion while that of the OIC is barely $3.5 trillion. The per capita income of the OIC member countries is very low---- around $2,700 per annum vis-à-vis $35,000 for the U. S. Moreover, the Palestinian issue is becoming more complex that needs balanced approach. Under the circumstances, the Muslim leadership has to take proactive and matured steps for which they need a dynamic leader. Otherwise, they will only lament and curse their own fate in no time. Remember, God helps those who help themselves.

Table 1: List of Criminal Cases against SQC in 2001, the Bangladesh Nominee to head the OIC

Case #1 Police Station: Raozan General Diary 339/ Dated 9/9/01

Case #2 Police Station: Raozan Case No 12/ Dated 22/9/01

Case #3 Police Station: Raozan Case No 14/ Dated 22/9/01

Case #4 Police Station: Raozan Case No 16/ Dated 24/9/01

Case #5 Police Station: Raozan General Diary 934 Dated 25/9/01

Case #6 Police Station: Raozan Case No 17/ Dated 26/9/01

Case #7 Police Station: Raozan Case No 18/ Dated 26/9/01

Case #8 Police Station: Raozan General Diary 1078/Dated 29/9/01

Case #9 Police Station: Raozan Case No 03/ Dated 02/10/01

Case #10 Police Station: Raozan Case No 06/ Dated 07/10/01

Case #11 Police Station: Raozan Case No 08/ Dated 07/10/01

Case #12 Police Station: Raozan General Diary 250/Dated 07/10/01

Case #13 Police Station: Raozan Case No 12/ Dated 11/10/01

Case #14 Police Station: Raozan General Diary 580/Dated 16/10/01

Case #15 Police Station: Raozan General Diary 750/Dated 20/10/01

Case #16 Police Station: Raozan Case No 20/ Dated 20/10/01

Case #17 Police Station: Raozan Case No 23/ Dated 25/10/01

Case #18 Police Station: Raozan Case No 27/ Dated 30/10/01

Case #19 Police Station: Raozan General Diary 127/Dated 04/11/01

Case #20 Police Station: Raozan General Diary 184/Dated 05/11/01

Case #21 Police Station: Raozan General Diary 216/Dated 06/11/01

Case #22 Police Station: Raozan General Diary 341/Dated 10/11/01

Case #23 Police Station: Raozan Case No 11/ Dated 15/11/01

Source: From the record of Raozan Police Station, Chittagong, Bangladesh.

Note: Raozan is the hometown of SQC from where he got elected.

Article added on 9 October 2003

Salauddin Quader Chowdhury [Translation of a Dainik Bangla article on a gruesome crime allegedly committed by Mr. Salauddin Quader Chowdhury]


An article from a mainstream Bangla (Bengali) daily newspaper, published in April 1972, provides an example of Mr. Salauddin Quader Chowdhury's alleged cruelty and role as collaborator of war crime. Today Mr. Chowdhury is not only a free man but also an advisor to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Mrs. Khaleda Zia. He is also the Government of People's Republic of Bangladesh's nominee for the position of the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Conference. According to the article, Mr. Chowdhury participated in the brutal murder of Mr. Natunchandra Singha, the founder of a well-known girl's school in Bangladesh.

Mr. Chowdhury is one among the many war criminals who remain at large in Bangladesh. The failure of various Governments of Bangladesh, starting from the first Awami League regime to the present regime, to put to a trial war criminals is testimony to the utter disregard for the principles of justice. It is hoped, however, that the war criminals who committed crime against humanity during Bangladesh's war of national liberation should be brought to justice. This can only be done if there are social movements and organized collective efforts to this bring about. The international progressive community should the effort of the people of Bangladesh who seek justice.

The following translation of the article induced several end notes that have been added for the benefit of readers who may be unfamiliar with Bangladesh. End notes are indicated by numbered brackets in the text.

[Translated Text]

Documents on Bangladesh War of Independence, Volume VIII, p. 576
Dhaka, Bangladesh: Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh, Ministry of Information

Headline: "Danbeer Natunchandra Singha Could Not Live"
Source: Daink Bangla [1]
Dated: April 13, 1972

Danbeer Natunchandra Singha: Brutally Killed on This Day Last Year by the Pakistani Army

His sole wish was that he could breathe his last breath in his homeland. His wish was fulfilled. He did die in his homeland. But his life ended in the brutal way, something which no one could even imagine.

Last year, on April 13th, not far from Chittagong [2], he was killed in his near his house in Kundershari. This is the case of the founder of Kundershari School, Mr. Natunchandra Singha.

In early April the city of Chittagong fell to in the invading Pakistan army. On the 13th of the month, the Pakistan army attacked Kundershari. Mr. Natun Singha was then praying at the temple. After the Declaration of Independence [3], about 47 university professors and their spouses sough refugee in Kundershari. Prominent among them were: Syed Ali Ahsan, Dr. A.R. Maillik, Dr. Anisuzzam, and Dr. Quershi. On his way to Agartalla, Mr. M.R. Siddique had also sought refugee in Kundershari.

Upon hearing the news of the Pakistan army's advancement everyone started leaving Kundershari for India. When other asked Mr. Natun Singha to join them, he refused. He told them that would rather die in his homeland. He refused to change in his mind despite repeated pleas. On April 13th [1971] the Pakistan army entered Kundershari's buildings.

The men had already left. Mr. Natun Singha was then praying in the temple. One Salauddin dragged him outside. The temple was destroyed in front of Mr. Natun Singha. Then he was brutally killed. Even a Major [of the Pakistan Army] shot three bullets at him, Salauddin used his own revolver to shoot again at Mr. Natun Singha. He fell down. His body lied there face down for three more days.

Brief Biography

Natun started working in 1901. He was orphaned in his childhood. He left his home at the age of eight. He went to Burma [4] when he was nine. He worked there in a retail store. In 1922 he returned to Chittagong and got married. Subsequently he left for Calcutta. In 1946 he established a pharmacy.

He performed sacred religious duty from Boiddonath temple in Bihar. In 1947 he returned back to Chittagong.

Kundershari School

He was unable to educate his own daughter. As a result, he held a grievance. At that time there was not any school in Razaoon Union [5], He founded Kundershari Girls School to create an opportunity for female education. It was a residential school. Girls from not only the Raozan Union but throughout the country came to study at the school. The school had its own post-office, direct telephone line, water pump, generator, bus, and so forth. Property worth approximately Taka 200,000 were destroyed there.

[1]. Daink Bangla was a major Bengali (Bangla) daily newspaper published from Dhaka, Bangladesh in the 1970s.
[2]. Chittagong is the major port city of Bangladesh.
[3]. Bangladesh's Declaration of Independence was announced on March 26, 1971.
[4]. Also known as Myanmar.
[5]. Union is an administrative entity.

[This document was translated by Tanweer Akram and Asif Saleh]

Article from BERNAMA added on 13 October 2003.

October 09, 2003

Malaysia To Propose Candidate For OIC Secretary-General's Post

PUTRAJAYA, Oct 9 (Bernama) -- Malaysia will propose a candidate for the post of OIC secretary-general when the incumbent, Abdelouahed Belkeziz, leaves the post next year.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar told Bernama here Thursday that many Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) members had asked Malaysia to put up a candidate.

He declined to say who Malaysia's candidate might be, saying that he would be an "experienced and qualified" person.

"Malaysia will propose a candidate for the OIC post when the current secretary-general's term expires next year," Syed Hamid said.

When asked whether Malaysia would propose "a former prime minister" to lead the Islamic organisation, Syed Hamid firmly said there was no such possibility.

There has been talk recently that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad would be offered the post due to the respect and goodwill that he enjoys in the Islamic world.

A meeting of OIC foreign ministers will discuss the issue of the secretary-general's post, which is decided on the basis of consensus among member countries.

Bangladesh has offered Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's parliamentary secretary, Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, for the post.

Chowdhury has been seeking the support of Arab countries, but there have been some voices of opposition to his candidacy within Bangladesh over his past political career.

However, Chowdhury's supporters point to his articulate position on contemporary international issues and the high government position that he currently holds.