Former Awami League General Secretary, current Presidium member and Public Administration Minister Syed Ashraful Islam, died in a Bangkok hospital on 3 January 2010. He was 68 years old. He was born on 1 January 1952. He left a daughter, Reema Islam, many relatives and party workers. From the hospital, he was elected as the candidate for Kishoreganj in the recently held eleventh general parliamentary elections.
Following his wife, Shila Thakur’s death on 24 October 2017, Syed Ashraf became ill too. He was suffering from lung cancer.
Syed Ashraful Islam, who had been in the UK for a long time, retuned to Bangladesh in 1996 and got elected as the Member of Parliament for the Awami League in Kishoreganj-1 constituency. He was re-elected in 2001, 2008 and again in 2014. He became the General Secretary of the party following his strong leadership during the army backed caretaker government regime. Syed Ashraful Islam MP was Public Administration Minister at the time of his death. He had previously served as Local Government Rural Development Minister, Airline and Tourism Minister.
Following the assassination of Bangabandhu and four national leaders including his father Syed Nazrul Islam, in 1975, he came to the UK and engaged in community activism. He was at the forefront of campaigning against racism, for equal rights, employment opportunities, housing, education and health issues. During his time as the Education Secretary and later on as the Chairperson of Federation of Bangladeshi Youth Organisations (FBYO) he was instrumental in organising an Education Conference in East London which resulted in a 5 years Tower Hamlets Initiative that launched Bengali Educational Needs in Tower Hamlets (BENTH) in 1984. Also, he was St Katharine Ward Labour Party election agent during a by election after Cllr Sadique Ahmed’s death and the current Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs became a councillor and later Syed Ashraful Islam became Chairman of St Katharine’s ward. In 1990s Syed Ashraful Islam actively supported the formation of the UK chapter of Nirmul Committee and later on sat on the executive body of National Coordinating Committee of all pro-liberation forces.
Members of UK Nirmul Committee said we have lost a genuine, honest and a unique national leader. He was a man of integrity, honesty and of unique personality. We have lost a good friend and a staunch supporter of our campaign against the rise of religious fundamentalism & extremism.
The communique was signed by Hon President Ishaque Kajol, Chairperson Nooruddin Ahmed, General Secretary Jamal Khan, Vice Chairpersons Harmuz Ali, Syed Enamul Islam, Matiar Chowdhury, Nilufa Yesmin Hasan, Syed Anas Pasha, Hifzur Rahman khan (Birmingham), Golam Mostafa Chowdhury (Manchester), Asst Gen Sec Smriti Azad, Treasurer Shah Mustafizur Rahman Belal, Organising Secretary Ruby Hoque, International Sec Pushpita Gupta, Press & Publication Sec Md Anamul Haque and Executive Members Syed Elahi Haq Shelu (Birmingham), Anjumanara Anju and Salma Akhter Jusna.