In a joint statement on Tuesday, 438 Indian photographers, artists, filmmakers, curators and writers appealed to Bangladesh authorities to release internationally acclaimed photographer Shahidul Alam, remanded in police custody.
‘We are deeply concerned and agitated by the news of the arbitrary and unreasonable detention of our colleague, friend and mentor, the photographer and educator Shahidul Alam, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, under provisions of the draconian ICT act,’ they said in the statement.
‘We demand his immediate, unconditional and honourable release from detention’, they said.
‘We totally refute the allegation that Shahidul Alam committed any crime by highlighting the utterly reasonable and peaceful protests by schoolchildren and young people in Dhaka against the lethal malpractices in the transport sector that have resulted in unnecessary deaths,’ they added.
‘Legitimate criticism of, and disagreement with government action is the inalienable right of every citizen in a democracy, and if that is what Shahidul Alam is being prosecuted for then it is a worrying sign that the state in Bangladesh is slipping towards autocracy,’ they said.
‘Shahidul Alam did what any citizen with a conscience would have done. And we stand resolutely by him,’ they said.
‘We will continue to draw attention to Shahidul Alam’s condition and shame the Bangladeshi authorities on every available international forum until Shahidul Alam’s liberty is restored to him and until the state in Bangladesh decides to listen and be sensitive to the demands of the young people who have had to assemble on the streets of Dhaka to protect and preserve their life and bodily safety as they go to and from school and university,’ read the statement.
The signatories include filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, film director Kiran Rao, journalist and photographer Ankit Agrawal, journalist Namrata Joshi, BBC India editor Soutik Biswas, photographer Raghu Rai, writer and teacher Aveek Sen, Jamia Millia Islamia professor Anugyan Nag, Jadavpur University professor and writer Moinak Biswas and Jamia Millia Islamia professor and filmmaker Shohini Ghosh.
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