Shahidul Alam: Bangladesh frees famend photographer on bail


A well known determine within the South Asian journalist neighborhood, Alam was arrested on August 5 following an interview with Al Jazeera about scholar protests over avenue security, throughout which he accused the federal government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of clinging to energy by “brute drive.”

Alam, 63, was free of Dhaka Central Jail on Tuesday evening after being granted bail final week on prices of spreading rumors and false info by way of textual content messages and inciting violence in opposition to the state.

He advised AFP he hoped his launch would “sign freedom for a lot of others” additionally detained in the course of the demonstrations. “It’s a implausible feeling to be free in a free nation, respiration free air. However I hope for freedom for everybody else,” he stated.

The protests kicked off within the crowded capital Dhaka in late July after a privately-operated bus ran over a bunch of scholars, killing two and injuring a number of others.

Hasina, whose authorities has dominated Bangladesh since 2009, prompt her political rivals had used the protests to whip up public anger in opposition to the federal government forward of a basic election due in December. The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Occasion, led by former prime minister Khaleda Zia, denied involvement.

Political feuding between the 2 leaders has overshadowed Bangladesh for many years.

On-line supporters had used the hashtag #FreeShahidulAlam to name for his launch and that of different activists imprisoned in the course of the crackdown. Whereas being bodily escorted to court docket in August, Alam claimed he was tortured by police, an allegation authorities denied.

A joint assertion signed by 25 human rights organizations, together with the Committee to Defend Journalists and Amnesty Worldwide, had known as for Alam’s “instant and unconditional launch,” slamming the allegations in opposition to him as “a blatant violation of his proper to freedom of expression.”

Amnesty Worldwide Deputy South Asia Director, Omar Waraich, advised CNN “It’s fantastic to see Shahidul Alam launched on bail, he ought to by no means have been arrested within the first place. The costs in opposition to him, and others who’ve been locked up for peacefully exercising their human rights, needs to be instantly and unconditionally dropped.”

In October, Bangladesh handed a controversial new digital safety legislation that rights teams concern might be used to additional erode press freedoms and dissenting voices on-line. The Digital Safety Act combines the colonial-era Official Secrets and techniques Act with new measures empowering police to make arrests with out a warrant.

Bangladesh ranks 146th within the Reporters With out Borders world press freedom index, behind international locations similar to Myanmar, Cambodia and South Sudan. It has slipped from 118th when the index started in 2002.

The introduction of the brand new legislation got here amid what campaigners allege is a widening repression of opposition voices forward of the elections.

In a report launched earlier this month, the Dhaka-based Odhikar group highlighted a worrying spate of what it known as “enforced disappearances” of opposition leaders, college students and activists.

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