Arundhati, Noam Chomsky urge govt to release Shahidul Alam

Arundhati, Noam Chomsky urge govt to release Shahidul Alam

Dhaka, Sep 8 (Just News): Five acclaimed authors from India, US and Canada, including Arundhati Roy and Noam Chomsky, have urged the Bangladesh government to release noted photographer Shahidul Alam and drop all cases against him.

“We urge the government of Bangladesh to urgently release Shahidul Alam and drop all the cases against him,” they said in the statement.

The authors jointly issued a statement in support to Shahidul for the second time on September 5.

The signatories in the statement are: Indian author Arundhati Roy; American linguist, philosopher Noam Chomsky; Canadian author, social activist and filmmaker Naomi Klein; American playwright, performer and activist Eve Ensler; and Indian historian and journalist Vijay Prasad.

“In 1971, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the leader of Bangladesh's freedom movement and father of the current Prime Minister, said - I have given you independence, now go and preserve it. We urge Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed to honour her father's words. To preserve independence means to preserve the freedom of the press. Free Shahidul Alam,” the statement read.

Shahidul Alam, 63, an internationally acclaimed photographer, is now in Dhaka central jail in a case filed under the controversial Section 57 of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act for “spreading propaganda and false information against the government”.

Shahidul was picked up by law enforcers from his home in the capital’s Dhanmondi area on the night of August 5. The following day, police filed the case against him.

He was placed on a seven-day remand after police produced him before a Dhaka court on August 6, seeking a 10-day remand.

In court, Shahidul said he was tortured in custody. Police, however, denied the allegation.

On completion of his seven-day remand, Shahidul was denied bail and sent to jail by a Dhaka court on August 13.

On September 4, a judge of the High Court bench felt “embarrassed” to hear Shahidul's bail petition in the case against him.

The bench, however, did not disclose a reason for it.

The High Court on September 5 directed the government to give first-class division facilities in jail to Shahidul Alam.

Earlier on August 10, the group of writers issued their first statement in support of Shahidul, saying “The government of Bangladesh must immediately release him, drop all charges and negotiate in good faith with the students.”

“Anything less than that stands as a rebuke to justice and liberty, decency and hope for a better future,” the statement added.

Many notable personalities, including Nobel Laureate Dr Amartya Sen along with 11 other Nobel Prize winners, have also called for immediate release of Shahidul Alam.