Acclaimed photographer Shahidul Alam’s immediate release has been demanded by 426 academicians and professional staff of Australian universities.
In a statement they also condemned his detention, torture and planned prosecution.
On Friday, they sent the statement to home minister Asaduzzaman Khan, the Australian High Commissioner in Bangladesh and the Bangladesh High Commissioner in Australia.
They also condemned the recent violence against peaceful student protesters, and journalists covering these protests, according to a Drik press release issued on Saturday.
Shahidul Alam is adjunct professor at Australia’s RMIT University.
The signatories endorsed the Amnesty International’s call to the Bangladesh authorities to ‘immediately and unconditionally release Shahidul Alam, who is a prisoner of conscience, and drop all charges as he has been detained solely for peacefully exercising his human right to freedom of expression.’
‘Ensure that activists, human rights defenders, journalists, academics and members of the political opposition and other members of the public are able to peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association,’ they said.
Shahidul Alam, 63, is in jail after a seven-day remand.
He was picked up from his residence by plainclothes police on the night of August 5 soon after he gave an interview to Al Jazeera about the student demonstrations, which he documented and commented about it on Facebook live.
His arrest drew condemnation from local and international rights groups.
Shahidul Alam was remanded in police custody by a court for violating controversial laws on internet speech.
He was accused of making ‘false’ and ‘provocative’ statements as tens of thousands of students protested in Dhaka to demand improvements to road safety and an end to corruption.
Shahidul Alam’s arrest capped a turbulent week in Bangladesh as students poured onto the streets in Dhaka and elsewhere after two teenagers were killed by a speeding bus.
The protests lasted nine days, and more than 150 people mostly teen students were injured in attacks.
Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters and mobs allegedly aligned with the government attacked demonstrators, journalists and even the US ambassador’s car.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Country