Thursday, July 14, 2011

Shooting survivor sues Gov. Perry over violation of Victims’ Rights, demanding stay of Mark Stroman execution

A man who survived being shot in the face in 2001 is to sue Texas Governor Rick Perry and other officials today [Thursday 14 July] , demanding respect for his rights as a victim of violent crime. Rais Bhuiyan is expected to file the suit at Travis County Courthouse, Austin, TX, at 10 a.m. local time.

Mr Bhuiyan was shot by Mark Stroman in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.  Fueled by his addiction to methamphetamine, which he used to medicate his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Mr Stroman was close to the edge when he caught his girlfriend having an affair. Then came 9/11, and he responded to the fact that his half-sister was killed in the World Trade Center by setting out to take revenge on “Arabs”.  Mr Stroman killed two innocent men and tried to kill Mr Bhuiyan.
The previous Dallas District Attorney pushed forward with the death penalty without consulting the victims for their views. Mark Stroman’s lawyers put up a desultory defense, and he was on death row in record time – convicted after less than a day.
Due to his strong religious belief in the importance of forgiveness, Mr Bhuiyan never wanted to see Mark Stroman die.  Supported in his campaign by the families of the two other victims, Mr Bhuiyan has recently criss-crossed Texas in search of a politician willing to listen to him.
“Along with families of the other victims in the case, I have been ignored and sidelined, year after year," he says. "My parents taught me to believe passionately in compassion and respect. If Governor Perry really means it when he says victims’ rights are a priority, we need action rather than hollow words.”
Mr Bhuiyan was kept in the dark for a decade concerning his entitlements under the Texas Victims’ Bill of Rights.  He has belatedly learned of his rights, every one of which has been ignored.  He has the right to mediation with Mark Stroman, who is willing to meet with him and apologize for his crimes, but the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has not responded to the request.
"The State of Texas has failed him as a victim," says Khurrum Wahid, Mr Bhuiyan's lawyer. "We often hear, 'What about the rights of the victim!' The victim has rights even when his voice is not one of vengeance, but one of forgiveness.”
This has been just one part of a catalogue of failings, which also included a lack of meaningful mental health assistance with the trauma he suffered after being shot in the face. "After suffering such a traumatic experience, surely we should respect Mr Bhuiyan, rather than traumatise him again," says Mr Wahid.
Earlier this year, Governor Perry decreed that April 10-16, 2011, would be Victims’ Rights Week:  “I encourage all Texans,” he said, “to join in this effort by learning more about victims’ rights and supporting victims of crime whenever possible.  We can help our fellow Texans on the road to recovery with compassion and respect.”
With Mark Stroman’s execution scheduled for 20 July, time is now extremely short.


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