On 20 November 2018, human rights defender and photographer Shahidul Alam was released from Dhaka Central Jail in Keraniganj, following 108 days of detention. The High Court had granted him bail on 15 November 2018. Shahidul Alam was detained at his home by members of the Detective Branch of Police on 5 August 2018. He appeared in court the following day, where he was charged with “spreading propaganda and false information against the government”.
Shahidul Alam is an award-winning photographer, academic and human rights defender. In 1998, he founded Pathshala South Asian Institute of Photography. Pathshala has trained hundreds of photographers and helped in diversifying methods of highlighting human rights violations in the country. The defender is also a director of Chobi Mela, a festival of photography in Asia. His recent photography exhibitions have exposed human rights violations suffered by victims of extra-judicial killings, Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi migrant workers abroad.
While I welcome the release of the human rights defender, I strongly condemn the unjust imprisonment Shahidul Alam and the lack of investigation of allegations of torture while in detention. I call on Bangladesh government to drop all charges against Shahidul Alam and uphold its international commitments to protect the right to freedom of expression.