A Bangladeshi man who's lived in Los Angeles for more than a decade has given up his fight against deportation. The man faces execution in Bangladesh for a crime he says he did not commit. The case has gripped the Bangladeshi community in Southern California because it involves the assassination of that country's revered first president. KPCC's Frank Stoltze reports.
Frank Stoltze: Rouben Mohiuddin is exhausted. He fought his father's deportation for months and when all appeals were denied, he worked to get him into Canada. All along the U.S. government showed no interest in allowing his father political asylum or in sending him anywhere but Bangladesh – to his likely execution.
Rouben Mohiuddin: There's definitely some other thing behind the scenes that we don't know about, maybe regarding United States foreign policy or whatnot. And my father has sort of become a pawn in all of this. I'm completely numb. I don't know what to say or how to feel.
Stoltze: Now, his father, a former Circuit City TV salesman and Bengali language interpreter in West L.A., has told Rouben to give up the fight. He doesn't want to put his wife and two children through any more emotional anguish.
U.S. government officials say little publicly about the case. Immigration authorities argue the 61-year-old Mohiuddin Ahmed is a terrorist because he was duly convicted in Bangladesh of helping assassinate the country's first president in 1975.
Ahmed, an army major at the time of the killing, maintains that he merely supervised a roadblock, and that he did not get a fair trial. Human Rights Watch has raised concerns about his in-absentia conviction, held amid political rallies calling for his execution.
Mohammed Abdul: This picture right here, the ruling party...
Stoltze: Outside downtown L.A.'s Roybal federal building, Mohammed Abdul expressed his support for Ahmed in one of his last appeals.
Abdul held up an old Bangladeshi newspaper with pictures of those political rallies against Ahmed in the capital city of Dhaka. Ahmed's case has attracted intense interest among Bangladeshis, including the more than 35,000 who live in Southern California. Many endorse the idea of his execution, including Saidur Rahman, a Buena Park shoe store manager whose son interpreted for him.
Saidur "Patel" Rahman (with son Shamser Rahman translating from Bengali to English): He is a traitor of our nation. He killed the father of our nation and not only that, he is behind the destruction of Bangladesh as well. Ya know how our country is backward, it's because of him.
Stoltze: While Mohiuddin Ahmed has always maintained his innocence, the man who once served as a diplomat for Bangladesh sounded a fatalistic tone even before he stopped fighting his deportation. In an interview with KPCC from the immigration detention center in San Pedro, he called himself a victim of corrupt Bangladeshi politics.
Mohiuddin Ahmed (in earlier interview): If I have to die, I have to die. Death will come one day. Today or next day. Many people have given their lives because they have become victims of politics so, maybe I am one of those victims.
Stoltze: Ahmed's attorney says the battle for Ahmed's life shifts to Bangladesh now. He concedes the family's had a hard time finding a Bangladeshi lawyer to represent a man many view as a political pariah. The Bangladeshi government has not guaranteed an appeal for Ahmed, who could face execution within days of his return.