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Another Irrelevant Victim?

Tanya Greene,
Advocacy and Policy Counsel,
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July 14, 2011

After his sister’s death in the September 11 attacks at the World Trade Center, once-avowed white supremacist Mark Stroman shot and killed Waqar Hasan, who was Pakistani, and Vasudev Patel, an Indian immigrant, during a series of convenience store and gas station rampages in Texas. Rais Bhuiyan, a Bangladeshi Muslim man, was also shot and partially blinded by Stroman, who shot the men to vent his anti-Arab sentiment. Stroman was convicted of murder and awaits his execution by the state of Texas, scheduled for next week, on July 20.

But Rais Bhuiyan opposes the execution. In fact, he is part of a movement for clemency for Stroman because he believes “in order to live in a better and peaceful world, we need to break the cycle of hate and violence.”

Instead, Bhuiyan is seeking to engage in a victim-offender reconciliation dialogue with Stroman, a right guaranteed to crime victims in the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Per the Texas legislature, Bhuiyan has the right to “victim-offender mediation coordinated by the victim services division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.”

Bhuiyan believes such a dialogue would be beneficial given Stroman’s evolution over the years from a hate-monger to a more thoughtful person filled with regret for his actions, which Stroman himself has talked about at length in The Execution Chronicles. Bhuiyan reasonably believes that working with Stroman can help both men, as well as the families of Hasan and Patel, and would be a big step toward society as a whole achieving a world without hate.

The State of Texas does not hesitate to use crime victims to pressure decisionmakers to convict, sentence to death, and carry out executions. Why only then?

In this case, we have a survivor of a vicious attempted homicide who has forgiven his would-be killer and who wants to take advantage of the state’s own offering of victim-offender services to exchange ideas and heal wounds. We have a survivor who firmly believes that the man the state seeks to execute is no longer the same man who shot him because he looks like the 9/11 hijackers.

Thus far, the State of Texas has not responded to Bhuiyan’s requests to meet with Stroman. Contact Texas Gov. Rick Perry and urge him to honor Bhuiyan’s request to grant clemency to Stroman to live out the rest of his life in prison, and to allow for continued victim-offender understanding and healing.

In Connecticut recently, the legislature unfortunately decided that the voice of a single victim in support of capital punishment was more important than those of the many, many more who spoke out against it. We can’t let that happen now in Texas. We must instead insist that Rais Bhuiyan is not another irrelevant victim to be ignored by the state — and that the wishes of this victim are heard.

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