Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has extended his support to acclaimed photographer Shahidul Alam who has been in prison since August 5 following his criticism of the government in a television interview.
Amartya said, ‘Freedom of expression, including through photojournalism, is extremely important for democracy. We have good reason to admire the work that Shahidul Alam has been doing with great skill and courage for many years.’
‘His work should receive praise and appreciation, rather than being ground for harsh treatment.’ he added.
Amartya made the statements on Saturday during a campaign organised by Indian photographers in support of Shahidul, said a release issued by Drik Picture Library Limited on Sunday.
Amartya joined other Nobel laureates, global intellectuals, activists, academicians and journalists from across the world, who have either expressed concerns or demanded Shahidul’s immediate release since his arrest three weeks earlier.
Shahidul, 63, was detained by plainclothes police from his home after giving an interview to Al Jazeera about student protests which he documented and discussed in Facebook Live.
A Dhaka metropolitan magistrate’s court on August 12 sent Shahidul to prison after he was produced before the court following interrogation in custody for seven days.
Shahidul’s arrest has drawn wide condemnation from local and international rights groups, professionals and intellectuals, including Nobel laureates archbishop Desmond Tutu, Tawakkol Karman, Mairead Maguire, Betty Williams, Oscar Arias, Richard J Roberts, Jose Ramos-Horta, Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Joseph Stiglitz and Muhammad Yunus.
Globally renowned intellectuals Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, Naomi Klein, Vijay Prashad and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and several hundred nationally and internationally acclaimed citizens and rights activists alongside three UN human right experts also joined the Nobel laureates.
Shahidul is a recipient of multiple awards, including Shilpakala Padak (2014). The Lucie Foundation announced this year that he would be receiving the distinguished Humanitarian Award 2018.
Shahidul is also a human rights activist and the founder of Drik Picture Library Limited and Pathshala South Asian Media Institute which has trained hundreds of photographers.
The Chobi Mela photo festival, which he started in 1999, brings photographers from around the world to Dhaka.
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