AFRAID: Muhammad Ruhul Khandaker
A PERTH student facing the death penalty in his home country of Bangladesh over a Facebook post says his story should serve as a warning to all international students.
Curtin University tutor and doctoral student Muhammad Ruhul Amin Khandaker, 29, said an innocent online post had turned into his worst nightmare.
Mr Khandaker, who is too afraid to return to his homeland, has been charged in absentia and sentenced to six months jail for failing to appear in court.
He had been asked to explain to the High Court in Bangladesh why he should not face trial for posting a comment on Facebook that was deemed to be insulting to the country’s Prime Minister.
In August last year, Mr Khandaker copied from another website, and pasted on his Facebook wall, a comment about the road accident death of acclaimed Bangladeshi filmmaker Tareq Masud.
It said: “Tareq Musad died as a result of government giving licence to unqualified drivers. Many die, why does not (Bangladesh PM) Sheikh Hasina die?”
Mr Khandaker, who has lived in Perth since April 2009, said he feared for his parents, aged 59 and 54, and his two brothers and a sister, who remained in Bangladesh.
“I am speaking to them regularly,” he told The Sunday Times yesterday.
“They are also passing their time worrying they worry about my safety and security as well as theirs.
“For now, they are OK but they are passing their time with a lot of worries that anything can happen at any time.
“I don’t dare to go home now. I am really scared to go back home because my friends and family are very worried about me if I go back.” He said he wanted to show his friends how people were responding to the news of Masud’s death.
But the comment was believed to have been leaked by one of Mr Khandaker’s former university colleagues in Bangladesh, and after receiving widespread media coverage, the High Court demanded answers.
Mr Khandaker said yesterday he was too frightened to use Facebook any more and urged other international students to learn from his experience.
“What has happened with my Facebook, I could never think of so I am really sorry to say that I don’t dare to write anything else in Facebook, or even send some messages to my friends also,” he said.
“I don’t think that Facebook is the problem, but the thing is the way we interpret it and others should be careful, knowing my situation.”