2018: Bangladesh: Shahidul Alam

Photographer and writer Shahidul Alam was arrested, accused of “making provocative comments” and “giving false information to media. Norwegian PEN believes he was arrested for having criticised the government’s handling of student-led protests about road safety.

Prime Minister
Sheikh Hasina
Old Sangsad Bhaban
Tejgaon, Dhaka-1215

Oslo 14th November 2018

Dear Prime Minister,

Norwegian PEN is urgently concerned about the welfare of photographer and writer Shahidul Alam, who is being held in detention with deteriorating health.

Alam was forcibly taken from his home by plainclothes police officers during the night of 5th August 2018 and brought before a lower court in Dhaka the next day, where he was accused of “making provocative comments” and “giving false information to media, contrary to section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology Act of 2006, as amended (ICT Act).” If convicted Alam faces up to 14 years in prison.

The arrest and accusations came shortly after Alam gave an interview to Al Jazeera in which he criticised the government’s handling of student-led protests about road safety. Norwegian PEN has reason to believe he is being kept in detention solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression.

As a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Bangladeshi authorities have an obligation to secure the right to freedom of expression including peaceful criticism of political authorities under Article 19.

Norwegian PEN calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Shahidul Alam, and for an independent investigation to be held into the allegations of torture, in which those found responsible are brought to justice.

Yours sincerely,

Ms Johanne Fronth-Nygren
Member of Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN

 

Copy:

Minister of Home Affairs Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal
Inspector General of Police Mohammad Javed Patwary
Sahidur Rahman, Honorary Consul, Bangladeshi Honorary Consulate in Oslo
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs