The full op-ed follows:
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Who is ‘Sunita Paul’?
“SUNITA PAUL” is an “Indian journalist” who has been writing inflammatory articles on Bangladesh in little known foreign online outlets. “Sunita Paul” is also a plagiarist – a cheat.
“Sunita Paul” has caused quite a stir recently because her articles make extraordinary claims, based on anonymous sources and apparent hearsay, about the political situation in Bangladesh. Extraordinary claims without much factual support require a significant leap of faith by the reader. Whether they should be believed completely depend on her credibility.
The very persona of “Sunita Paul” is somewhat of a mystery. “Sunita Paul” is listed as a writer for the Weekly Blitz, the tabloid run by Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury. She also rather coincidentally writes in a number of online publications – American Chronicle, Global Politician and Asian Tribune – that also publish Mr. Choudhury’s articles. She holds strongly negative views about Bangladesh, and has published articles maliciously claiming Bangladesh to be anti-American, anti-Western, and anti-Semitic.
On March 30, 2008, “Sunita Paul” published an article in the Asian Tribune entitled “They Hate US-West Too.” By “they,” she refers to Bangladesh. In the opening sentence of the article, she makes this extraordinary charge: “Bangladesh, although demanding to be a moderate Muslim nation, is in reality a notorious Jew hater and anti West and anti American nation.”
She goes on to write that “people of Bangladesh in general are West and US haters and the only reason for them for sending their children to these countries are for mere money making.”
Note that she is not pointing towards any particular group or party, she is charging Bangladesh as a country, and all Bangladeshis as “Jew hater and anti West and anti American nation.”
The thrust of that article is to push Bangladesh to change its policy toward Israel. She questions whether the United States should do business at all with Bangladesh. She writes: “Can we raise a plain question as to whether the Jewish business communities and friends of Israel like United States should patronize Dhaka economically to sharpen and strengthen their anti Semitic and anti US sentiments?”
While writing inflammatory articles on Bangladesh, “Sunita Paul” often uses unverifiable sources for her claims, uses unchecked propaganda, and most notoriously, steals from other people’s work and claims them as her own.
When a journalist is engaged in plagiarism – that is when a journalist makes false claims of authorship – the remainder of that journalist’s work should be viewed with extreme suspicion. Plagiarism is dishonesty. And “Sunita Paul” is a plagiarist. She is a cheat.
On February 6, “Sunita Paul” published an article in the online publication American Chronicle with the breathless headline “Ruling party getting set to try Bangladesh Generals.” Now, if the claim in the article’s headline were true, this would be big news.
However, the article was thin on backing up the main charge in the headline. As one reads further through the long article though, one comes across a number of paragraphs that seemed very familiar to this author. For a very good reason. The paragraphs were originally written by me in two October 2007 articles. [The articles, titled”Banking: Junta Edition” and “In Denial” are available at:http://www.e-bangladesh.org/2007/10/page/4/]
“Sunita Paul” copied, word for word, five paragraphs that I had written in 2007 and passed them off as her own writing in 2009. No citation was given, nor did she put the passages in quotations. In other words, she has stolen someone else’s words and claimed them as her own. Not only did she plagiarise, she also used copyrighted material without the author’s consent.
It is clear that “Sunita Paul” is a “journalist” with an agenda – an agenda that wants to portray Bangladesh negatively in the West and in the United States. A “journalist” with such a political agenda is no journalist at all. In addition, she is a cheat. Her journalistic ethics are in serious question.
Yet, a number of prominent people in Bangladesh, including the leader of the opposition in Parliament, have cited the articles of “Sunita Paul” that fuel unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about the recent massacre at Pilkhana. The same person who wrote malicious propaganda against Bangladesh is now being given credence in spreading unsubstantiated conspiracy theories that will hamper fair, neutral investigation of the BDR massacre. It should however be clear to everyone that this so-called journalist’s agenda is counter to the best interests of the people of Bangladesh.
Given the corrosive agenda of “Sunita Paul” and her proven plagiarism, the reader should question her breathless articles on Bangladesh.
Mashuqur Rahman is a blogger and a member of the Drishtipat Writers Collective.