New Delhi: Condemning the detention of photographer Shahidul Alam in Dhaka, a group of photographers, filmmakers, artists and journalists from India have released a statement which demands his “immediate, unconditional and honourable release”.
The statement, noting that the photographer was picked up by the Dhaka police for criticising the government, highlights how the “legitimate criticism” is “the inalienable right of every citizen in a democracy”, adding how Alam’s detention is a “worrying sign” that Bangladesh is moving towards becoming an autocracy.
Noting with alarm that reports indicate that Alam “showed signs of physical harassment that could amount to torture”, and that this group, which includes Pablo Bartholomew, Ronny Sen, Raghu Rai, Orijit Sen and Sanjay Kak, among others, “will continue to draw attention to Shahidul Alam’s condition and shame the Bangladeshi authorities on every available international forum until Alam’s liberty is restored”.
The full statement has been reproduced below.
We, the undersigned, photographers, filmmakers and artists, in India, are deeply concerned and agitated by the news of the arbitrary and unreasonable detention of our colleague, friend and mentor, the photographer and educator Shahidul Alam, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, under provisions of the draconian ICT act.
We demand his immediate, unconditional and honourable release from detention. We totally refute the allegation that Shahidul Alam committed any crime by highlighting the utterly reasonable and peaceful protests by schoolchildren and young people in Dhaka against the lethal malpractices in the transport sector that have resulted in unnecessary deaths. Legitimate criticism of, and disagreement with government action is the inalienable right of every citizen in a democracy, and if that is what Shahidul Alam is being prosecuted for then it is a worrying sign that the state in Bangladesh is slipping towards autocracy.
Shahidul Alam did what any citizen with a conscience would have done. And we stand resolutely by him.He has used his voice and his lens as an instrument that intervenes with precision and compassion in a situation that requires urgent attention.
We note with concern the reports that indicate that when Shahidul Alam was produced for custody he showed signs of physical harassment that could amount to torture. Right now Shahidul Alam’s physical safety is of the paramount importance and we believe that this can be guaranteed only by his immediate release from detention.
We will continue to draw attention to Shahidul Alam’s condition and shame the Bangladeshi authorities on every available international forum until Shahidul Alam’s liberty is restored to him and until the state in Bangladesh decides to listen and be sensitive to the demands of the young people who have had to assemble on the streets of Dhaka to protect and preserve their life and bodily safety as they go to and from school and university.
Amar Kanwar, Filmmaker and Artist, New Delhi
Anita Dube, Aritst, New Delhi. Curator – Kochi Muziris Biennale,
Anjali Monteiro and KP Jayashankar, Filmmakers and Academics, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
Arundhati Ghosh, India Foundation for the Arts, Bengaluru
Bharti Kher, Artist, Gurugram
Chandan Gomes, Photographer, New Delhi
Dayanita Singh, Photographer and Artist, New Delhi
Gauri Gill, Photographer and Artist, New Delhi
Gulammohammad Sheikh, Artist, Vadodara
Ina Puri, Curator, New Delhi
Ishan Tankha, Photographer, New Delhi
Moinak Biswas, Filmmaker, Professor, Jadavpur University, Kolkata
Moushumi Bhowmik, Musician, Writer Kolkata
Natasha Gunwale, Curator and Writer, Pune
Orijit Sen, Graphic Designer, Artist, Goa
Pablo Bartholomew, Photographer, New Delhi
Pallavi Paul, Filmmaker, New Delhi
Paranjoy Guha Thakurata, Journalist, New Delhi
Prashant Panjiar, Photographer, New Delhi
Raghu Rai, Photographer, New Delhi
Rahaab Allana, Curator, Editor, Publisher, Alkazi Foundation, PIX Magazine
Raqs Media Collective, Artists and Curators, New Delhi
Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, filmmakers, Dharamshala
Riyas Komu, Artist, Mumbai. co-founder, Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Mumbai
Ronny Sen, Photographer, Kolkata
Rosalyn D’Mello, Art Critic, New Delhi
P. Sainath, Journalist, Founder-Editor, Peoples’ Archives of India
Pallavi Paul, Filmmaker and Artist, New Delhi
Sabina Gadihoke, Filmmaker, Professor, A.J. Kidwai Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
Sadanand Menon, Critic, Chennai
Sanjay Kak, Filmmaker, New Delhi
Shohini Ghosh, Filmmaker, Professor, AJ Kidwai Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
Siddharth Varadarajan, Journalist, Founding Editor, The Wire, New Delhi
Skye Arundhati Thomas, Writer, Mumbai
Sohrab Hura, Photographer and Artist, Gurugram/New Delhi
Sonia Khurana, Artist, New Delhi
Sonia Jabbar, Photographer and Writer, Nuxalbari, West Bengal, New Delhi
Sunil Gupta, Photographer, Curator, New Delhi
Vaishna Roy, Journalist, Chennai