Amnesty calls for Shahidul’s release, end to crackdown

Desk Report, Today Times


Amnesty International on Monday said the government “must immediately and unconditionally” release Shahidul Alam, a well-known photographer and activist, who was detained by plainclothes policemen after giving an interview to Al-Jazeera English on the current wave of student protests.

“Shahidul Alam must be immediately and unconditionally released. There is no justification whatsoever for detaining anyone for solely peacefully expressing their views. His arrest marks a dangerous escalation of a crackdown by the government that has seen the police and vigilantes unleash violence against student protestors,” said Omar Waraich, Amnesty International’s Deputy South Asia Director.

Omar Waraich said the Bangladeshi government must end the crackdown on the student protestors and people speaking out against it.

“The students have a right to peaceful assembly and physical security. These rights should be respected and protected, and there should be an immediate and effective investigation into the use of force by police, the violent actions of pro-government vigilantes who also attacked the students, and why the police did nothing to stop them.”

At least 115 students were injured over the weekend as the police resorted to grossly excessive force, including firing rubber bullets and tear gas at thousands of overwhelmingly peaceful student protestors, said the AI.

The students also came under attack from pro-government counter-demonstrators, AI claimed.

Thousands of Bangladeshi students have taken to the streets of Dhaka to demand safer roads after two teenagers were killed and 13 others injured while waiting at a bus stop outside a college when a speeding bus hit them.

“As Bangladesh heads towards elections later this year, it is crucial that the government adheres to its international obligations, including the protection of the rights to freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly and security of persons,” said Omar Waraich.

A court here on Monday placed Shahidul Alam, Managing Director of Drik Gallery and Chairman of Pathshala South Asian Media Institute, on a seven-day remand for interrogation in a case filed under the ICT Act.

Dhaka Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Asaduzzaman Nur passed the order after hearing a remand petition filed by the Detective Branch of police.

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