Shuddhashar stands with the international community to demand the immediate release of Shahidul Alam and to drop all the cases against him. Shahidul, a Bangladeshi photojournalist with international recognition, was seized from his home by plainclothesmen on August 5. He was blindfolded and dragged into a van. This occurred only a few hours after Shahidul’s live interview with Al Jazeera concerning the ongoing student protests about road safety in Bangladesh, which began after the two teens were killed in a road accident. Shahidul claims he has been tortured in jail.
Shahidul has been charged under Section 57 of Bangladesh’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act. This restrictive law regulating online speech that “harms” the state’s ideology has been used to crack down on artists, writers, and activists. It is used to intimidate and silence voices of dissent in Bangladesh.
Shahidul’s arrest under Section 57 is not unique. Countless have been arrested in Bangladesh and accused of harming the government. These arrests reveal the growing authoritarianism of the current government and its censorship of citizens. The government is trying to consolidate its power by silencing citizens who exercise their rights by holding their government accountable.
Shahidul’s arrest is not unique, but his international fame is. His immediate release has been demanded by ten Nobel laureates, numerous internationally renowned writers and organizations. Shahidul’s case has gained the international attention that many others arrested in Bangladesh also deserved. We stand by that international community to demand that the Bangladesh government immediately does what is right for Shahidul and to immediately change its practices of censorship.
Shuddhashar urges the government of Bangladesh to urgently release Shahidul Alam and drop all the cases against him and preserve freedom of press in Bangladesh. Only in this way, can Bangladesh be the strong democratic nation it was founded to be.