Breaking News

Arrest of Shahidul Alam is an attack on rights in Bangladesh | Letters | World news

Category: Political Protests,Politics

The arbitrary arrest by Bangladeshi police of Shahidul Alam, an internationally recognised photojournalist, has outraged the world community (Photographer arrested over ‘provocative comments’, 7 August; Editorial, 9 August) and must be rectified immediately. This action is in serious breach of conventions of international human rights, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the international covenant on civil and political rights, and the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights.

Alam has been detained by the police. The one and only reason he was arrested is that he gave an interview to al-Jazeera in which he expressed views critical of the Bangladeshi regime’s brutal repression of public demonstrations in Dhaka, and had allegedly posted equally critical statements on Facebook.

The Dhaka Tribune reports he was abducted from his home on 5 August for his “provocative remarks”. He has subsequently expressed concerns for his life. Limping as he was dragged into court, he shouted: “I asked for a lawyer, wasn’t given one. I’ve been assaulted. My bloodstained shirt was washed and put back on me and I was threatened that if I didn’t testify as they directed, I would be further … [rest unclear].”

He appeared in Dhaka additional chief metropolitan magistrate’s court two days later, accused under Section 57 of the infamous Information and Communication Technology Act (under constant criticism by the International Commission of Jurists for the violation of human rights and the right to free expression of all accused under the act) for online speech that “hurts the image of the nation”.

Alam’s arrest must be seen in the context of the ongoing commission of illegal and violent acts perpetrated against demonstrators by the government and its extra-governmental actors. These acts include the use of rubber bullets fired indiscriminatingly into crowds, alleged rapes, and killings. International NGOs such as Unicef and Amnesty International have issued statements condemning this, and others will surely follow suit.

A free press is a fundamental and essential element of all democracies. Its repression cannot be taken as anything but the efforts of authoritarian regimes to deny the world insight into its operations and policies. The attack on Alam at once brutalises this person and destroys the right to a free press. We condemn his unjust treatment unequivocally.

Joseph Stiglitz Nobel laureate in economics
Binayak Sen National vice-president, People’s Civil Liberties Union (India)
Angela Y Davis Distinguished professor emerita, history of consciousness and feminist studies, University of California, Santa Cruz
Ilina Sen Professor, Advanced Centre for Women’s Studies, Tata Institute for Social Studies, Mumbai
Judith Butler Maxine Elliot professor, University of California, Berkeley
David Palumbo-Liu Louise Hewlett Nixon professor, Stanford University
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak University professor, Columbia University
Antjie Krog Writer
Gioconda Belli Writer
Dr Costanza Caraffa Director, Photothek des Kunsthistorischen Instituts in Florenz- Max-Planck-Institut
Shamoon Zamir Director, Akkash: Center for Photography, NYU, Abu Dhabi
Nassar Issam Professor of history, Illinois State University
Rosalind C Morris Professor, Department of Anthropology, Columbia University

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

Do you have a photo you’d like to share with other Guardian readers? Click here to upload it and we’ll publish the best submissions in the letters spread in our print edition


Source link

No comments