JMIC partner detained in Bangladesh

Dr. Shahidul Alam, internationally renowned photographer, activist and founder of Drik and Pathshala South Asian Media Institute, was forcibly abducted from his house in Dhanmondi, Dhaka, after 10 pm on Sunday 5 August.

Later, Additional Commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DB) Abdul Baten quoted to UNB (United News of Bangladesh) that a team of Detective Branch (DB) of police has detained Shahidul from his Dhanmondi residence for interrogation over his Facebook posts on the ongoing student protests and   an interview with Al Jazeera regarding student protests currently taking place in Dhaka. 

Alam’s partner Rahnuma Ahmed (writer and columnist) described the incident of forceful abduction at a press conference early Monday. “Shahidul was abducted from his house. It was a bit after 10 pm. I was not in the flat but I heard a scream and I ran down to find it out. We heard from the security guards and our landlord that he has been forced into a car, a ‘Hi-Ace’ car they said. There have been about 30-35 men in plain dress. According to the guards, they claimed to be from the Detective Branch (DB). They had forcefully taken away the CCTV camera footage, they put scotch-tape on the CCTV camera.” 

Later on Monday afternoon Shahidul was taken to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court in Old Dhaka. A police official reportedly stated that Alam was being investigated for “giving false information to different media and for provocative comments.” On his way to the lower court – where he is expected to be charged under Section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act – Alam reportedly stated that he was beaten while in custody. 

“I was hit (in custody). (They) washed my blood-stained “Punjabi” and then made me wear it again,” said Shahidul Alam as he was taken to a Dhaka court for remand hearing, reports Shafiqul Alam (AFP bureau chief in Dhaka). Shahidul Alam was placed on 7-day remand in a case filed against him under Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act. 

The High Court (HC) Division on Tuesday directed the government and the inspector general of the police to immediately ensure health examination and treatment of detained acclaimed photographer and rights activist Shahidul Alam at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Hospital. 

Regarding the HC order, Deputy Commissioner of Detective Branch (DB) of police Mashiur Rahman said, “I haven’t officially received the order yet. Once I get it, I will choose a suitable time during office hours to send him to hospital.” Wednesday afternoon Alam was finally taken to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Hospital for medical treatment. His family and colleagues met him outside the hospital before he was escorted back to the DB office. 

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Amnesty International and PEN International are among the international organisations demanding Shahidul Alam´s unconditional and immediate release. JMIC supports these demands and is deeply concerned about the situation of our partner over many years, says Director Elisabeth Eide. 

Photo copied from Facebook showing Shahidul Alam (in the middle) when he was brought to court Monday

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