Left political leaders, rights and cultural activists, writers, university teachers and students on Saturday demanded immediate and unconditional release of acclaimed photographer Shahidul Alam and all the detained students who had taken to the streets demanding safe roads.
Condemning the attacks on the student protesters across the capital Dhaka and elsewhere in the country, they said that Shahidul Alam was arrested for venting his views about what he saw during the recent students’ protests.
They said that Shahidul Alam was arrested in violation of the spirit of the Liberation War and the Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression.
They said that by curbing freedom of expression the government was violating
the spirit of the Liberation War.
They said that the government took no interest to take action against helmet wearing goons who attacked students and journalists during the school children’s demonstrations for safe roads shouting ‘We want justice.’
Speaking at a rally organized under the banner of Lekhok-Shilpi-Chhatra-Shikhak O Sangskritikarmi at Shahbagh in front
of the National Museum in the capital, they demanded exemplary punishment of the helmet wearing attackers.
Among the over 300 participants were left politicians, rights and cultural activists, writers, university teachers, photographers, students and common people holding placards demanding release of Shaidul Alam and the detained students.
The rally participants were holding placards with the inscriptions ‘Protesters Are Heroes’, ‘We Want Freedom of Expression’, ‘We Want A Safe State For All Even For the Ministers, MPs and the Police.’
Some of placards reminded the government, ‘The Constitution Guarantees Our Right to Expression,’ ‘Government You Obey the Law First’, ‘Free Prisoner of Conscience Shahidul Alam,’ ‘The Attackers Are Free, The Victims Are in Jails Under Whose Instructions?’ and ‘Free Our Children,’ ‘Is My Child the Next Target?’
Addressing the rally Communist Party of Bangladesh president Mujahidul Islam Selim said Shahidul Alam broke no law of the land and committed no offence.
Quoting from the country’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s March 7 speech Selim said that he taught people to fight injustice.
Sleim said that the government and its law enforcement agencies violated the law by detaining Shahidul and the students after implicating them in fabricated cases and torturing them in custody,’
Jahangirnagar University teacher Anu Muhammad said that the government was trying to unleash a reign of panic as they were in fear of losing power.
He demanded arrest of helmet wearing attackers on students and journalists.
He criticized Chhatra League activists and the police for attacking school children.
Anu said that during their anti-school children actions, the police looked like Chattra League activists wearing police uniforms and the activists of Chhatra League behaved like police without uniforms.’
Ganasanghati Andolan chief coordinator Zonayed Saki said the method in which Shahidul Alam was picked up from his residence was in gross violation of the law.
Ganatantrik Biplabi Party general secretary Moshrefa Mishu said that the present government’s authoritarian actions put even military autocrat HM Ershad in shame.
Supreme Court lawyer and Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers’ Association chief executive Syeda Rizwana Hasan said Shahidul Alam was arrested to gag him in violation of the Constitution of the Republic.
She demanded the release of Shahidul Alam and all the detained student protesters and the restoration of citizens’ unfettered fundamental rights to live and enjoy their rights.
The rally was addressed, among others, by Dhaka University teachers, Tanzimuddin Khan, Fahmidul Huq and Samina Lutfa, Jahangirnagar University teacher Sayeed Ferdous, Chittagong University teacher GH Habib, Central Women’s University vice chancellor Parvin Hasan, Hill Women’s Federation president Nirupa Chakma, photographer Golam Mostafa, lawyer Hasnat Qayum and rights activist Sherin Huq.
School children took to the street for nine days since July 29 demanding road safety and justice for two fellow students who were killed by a speeding bus at Kurmitola in the capital earlier in the day.
Shahidul Alam and at least 37 others, mostly student protesters, were arrested and the police
lodged at least 34 cases against them but no case was recorded against the helmet wearing attackers who swooped on students and journalists.
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