Signatories: “We condemn the massive violation of the rights of Shahidul Alam”

The arbitrary arrest by Bangladeshi Police of Shahidul Alam, an internationally recognised photojournalist, has outraged the world community and must be rectified immediately. This action is in serious breach of conventions of international human rights, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Alam has been detained by the police. The one and only reason he was arrested is that he gave an interview to Al Jazeera, in which he expressed views critical of the Bangladeshi regime’s brutal repression of public demonstrations in Dhaka, and had allegedly posted equally critical statements on Facebook.

The Dhaka Tribune reports he was abducted from his home on 5 August for his “provocative remarks”. He has subsequently expressed concerns for his life. Limping as he was dragged into court, he shouted: “I asked for a lawyer, wasn’t given one. I’ve been assaulted. My bloodstained shirt was washed and put back on me and I was threatened that if I didn’t testify as they directed, I would be further … [rest unclear].”

He appeared in Dhaka Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court two days later, accused under Section 57 of the ICT (the infamous Information and Communication Technology Act, under constant criticism by the International Jurists’ Commission for the violation of the Human Rights and the right to free expression of all accused under the Act) for online speech that “hurts the image of the nation”. Alam has now been sent to prison (August 13) till the probe against him is completed and this will undoubtedly be a prolonged process. If convicted, he will face a sentence of 14 years–our intervention is needed now.

Alam’s arrest must be seen in the context of the ongoing commission of illegal and violent acts perpetrated against demonstrators by the government of Bangladesh and its extra-governmental actors. These acts include the use of rubber bullets fired indiscriminatingly into crowds, alleged rapes, and killings. International NGOs such as Unicef and Amnesty International have issued statements condemning this, and others will surely follow suit quickly.

A free press is a fundamental and essential element of all democracies. Its repression cannot be taken as anything else but the efforts of authoritarian regimes to deny the world community insight into its operations and policies. The attack on Shahidul Alam at once brutalises this person and destroys the right to a free press. We condemn his unjust treatment unequivocally.

Original Signatories:

Joseph Stiglitz Nobel laureate in economics
Binayak Sen National vice-president, People’s Civil Liberties Union (India)
Angela Y Davis Distinguished Professor emerita, University of California, Santa Cruz
Ilina Sen Professor, Tata Institute for Social Studies, Mumbai
Judith Butler, Maxine Eliot Professor, University of California, Berkeley
David Palumbo-Liu, Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor, Stanford University
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, University Professor, Columbia University
Antjie Krog, Writer
Gioconda Belli, Writer
Dr. Costanza Caraffa, Directir, Photothek des Kunsthistorischen Instituts in Florenz-Max-Planck-Institut
Shamoon Zamir, Director, Akkash: Center for Photography, NYU, Abu Dhabi
Nassar Issam, Professor of History, Illinois State University
Rosalind C Morris, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Columbia University

Meena Alexander, Distinguished Professor, City University of New York, USA
Charles Armstrong, Korea Foundation Professor of History, Columbia University, USA
Sai Balakrishnan, Assistant Professor, Harvard University
Ian Balfour, Professor, York University, Canada
Nick Bartlett, Assistant Professor, AMEC, Barnard College, USA
Bilap Basu, Campaign for Victims of Racist Police Violence (KOP)
Nico Baumbach, Associate Professor, Columbia University, USA
Joel Beinin, Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History, Stanford University, USA
Susan Bernofsky, School of Arts/Writing, Columbia University, USA
Moinak Biswas, Jadavpur University, India
Phillippe Bruiere
M. Castro Varela, Professor, Alice Salomon University, Berlin
Lalitha Chamakalayil, Researcher, Germany
Partha Chatterjee, Senior Research Scholar, Columbia University, USA
Farooq Chaudry, Producer, United Kingdom
Youssef Cherif, Political Analyst, Tunisia
Meryem Choukri, Germany
Yvette Christianse, Professor, USA
Mrs. Clare Cody-Richardson
Jennifer Clifton, Professor of Rhetoric and Writing Studies, Univ. Texas at El Paso, USA
Rebecca Comay, Professor of Philosophy, University of Toronto, Canada
Todd Davies, Lecturer, Stanford University, USA
Colin Dayan, Professor of Law, Vanderbilt University, USA
Rachel Deghati, Writer and Director, Webistan Photo Agency, Paris
Dr. Michael Evans, Delta College, USA
Barbara Fields, Professor of History, Columbia University, USA
Alwin Franke, Columbia University, USA
Cynthia Franklin, Professor of English, University of Hawai’i, USA
Juan Garcia Renteria, Mexico
Ms. C. Gaubert, Akram Khan Company, United Kingdom
Todd Gitlin, Professor of Journalism and Sociology, Columbia University, USA
Dr. Laura Gonzalez, University of Texas at El Paso, USA
Nacira Guénif, Professor, Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint Denis, France
Arun Gupto, Professor of English, Institute of Advanced Composition, Education, Nepal
Akhil Gupta, Professor of Anthropology, UCLA, USA
Marilyn Hacker, Professor (Emerita), CUNY Graduate Center, USA
Leila Haghighat, Germany
Michael Harris, Professor of Mathematics, Columbia University, USA
Miss Jan Hart, United Kingdom
Salah Hassan, Assoc. Professor, Michigan State University, USA
Mr. Yeoh-Shiuh Hsu, USA
Andreas Huyssen, Professor Emeritus, Columbia University, USA
Laura Jaffe, Professor, Syracuse University, USA
Rebecca Jordan-Young, Associate Professor, Barnard College, USA
Fady Joudah, USA
Karuna Karki, South Asian Foundation for Academic Research (SAFAR)
Udeep Khadka, South Asian Foundation for Academic Research (SAFAR)
Mr. Akram Khan, UK
Shamus Khan, Professor and Chair of Sociology, Columbia University, USA
Catherine LaSota, Assoc. Director, Center for the Study of Social Difference, Columbia University
Thomas Lay, USA
Rezaur Rahman Lenin, Academic Activists, Law, Life, Culture, Bangladesh
Tobias Linnemann, University of Oldenburg
Reinhold Martin, Professor of Architecture, Columbia University, USA
Christine Maupetit, Director of Legacy Projects, UK
Jamaal May, Professor of English, Wayne State University, USA
Rachel McDermott, Professor, Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures, Barnard College, USA
Phillip Metres, Professor, John Carroll University, USA
D. Max Moerman, Professor, Bernard College, Columbia University, USA
Suneela Mubayi, PhD, Arabic Literature, New York University, USA
Debashee Mukherjee, Assistant Professor, Columbia University, USA
Michael Nagler, President, Metta Center for Nonviolence, USA
Ms. Karthika Nair, Writer, France
Kartik Nair, Assist Professor, Temple University, USA
Luis Ortiz, Germany
Sandeep Parmar, Professor of English, University of Liverpool, UK
Parveen Parmar, Assoc. Prof., Chief, Division of Global Emergency Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, USA
Hannah Patel, UK
Shankar Paudel, Center for Advanced Studies in South Asia (CASSA)
Christopher Peacock, Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University, USA
Theo Peierls
Sheldon Pollock, Raghunathan Professor of South Asian Studies, Columbia University, USA
Bibhushana Poudyal, South Asian Foundation for Academic Research (SAFAR)
Wayne Proudfoot, Columbia University, USA
Shiva Rijal, Lecturer, Central Department of English, Tribhuvan University
Bruce Robbins, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University, USA
Navina Sarma, Germany
James Schamus, Professor, Columbia University, USA
Avinoam Shalem, Professor, Columbia University, USA
Dr. Anoordadha Iyer Siddiqi, Barnard College, Columbia University, USA
Sangita Sigdel, Director, Center for Advanced Study in South Asia, Nepal
Shelley Silver, Assoc. Professor, School of the Arts, Columbia University, USA
Carolina Tamayo Rojas
Mai Tassinari, USA
Roozbeh Tazhibi, Germany
Karen VanDyck, Professor of Classics, Columbia University, USA
Kamala Visweswaran, Professor, UC San Diego, USA
Julie Webber, Professor, Illinois State University, USA
Mr. Nathan White, UK

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