Eminent citizens and rights activists on Tuesday condemned the withdrawal of permission earlier granted to hold a talk noted author and activist Arundhati Roy at Krishibid Institution.
They, in a joint statement, termed the withdrawal of the permission ‘cowardly and unjustifiable’ and said that the talk was arranged on the occasion of Chobi Mela X, an international photography festival organised by Drik and Pathshala.
‘We believe that this undemocratic and arbitrary decision of withdrawal is a clear example of the shrinking space for freedom of speech, a key constitutional commitment and core value of the spirit of liberation war of Bangladesh,’ the statement reads.
‘We are disturbed as the withdrawal of the permission by the police in the historically important month of independence of Bangladesh without giving any particular reason and on a flimsy pretext of “unavoidable circumstances” is absolutely unacceptable. It demonstrates a gross abuse of power and cowardly intolerance of free speech,’ it says.
‘We are surprised that those who made this decision failed to realise that it also badly tarnished the image of the government in the eye of the international community,’ reads the statement.
‘Proud of Bangladeshi peoples’ unqualified commitment to freedom of speech and their long history of welcoming
writers and poets from all corners of the world, we are particularly
shocked that such action should be taken just two days before the historic March 7 and a only few weeks before the 48th anniversary of our independence,’ it continues.
Hafizuddin Khan, Sultana Kamal, Zafrullah Chowdhury, Badiul Alam Mazumder, Iftekharuzzaman, Shahdeen Malik, Anu Muhammad, Afsan Chowdhury, Robaet Ferdous, Chowdhury R Abrar, Shireen Huq, Meghna Guhathakurta, Asif Nazrul, Sara Hossain, Shapan Adnan, Zakir Hossain, Adilur Rahman Khan, Shamsul Huda, Syeda Rizwana Hasan, Shahnaz Huda, Nur Khan, Sanjeeb Drong, Ilira Dewan, Jyotirmoy Barua, Omar Tareq Chowdhury, Rezaur Rahman Lenin, Manzoor Hasan OBE, Firdous Azim, Bashirul Haq, Masud Khan, Muktasree Chakma Sathi and Anusheh Anadil singed the statement.
The organisers of Chobi Mela 2019 on Monday evening were forced to stop all preparations at Krishibid Institution auditorium in the capital to stage the talk by Arundhati Roy as police asked them not to prepare the stage at the venue.
The talk was later held at MIDAS Centre in the city at the scheduled time.
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