Speakers from the rally also demanded justice for the attacks on students launched by law enforcers and ruling party Awami League’s affiliated fronts yesterday, adding that attackers who assaulted journalists should be brought to trial
Writers, artists, students, teachers, and cultural activists held a solidarity rally demanding the unconditional release of internationally renowned photographer Shahidul Alam and other detained protesters.
Speakers from the rally also demanded justice for the attacks on students launched by law enforcers and ruling party Awami League’s affiliated fronts on Saturday, adding that attackers who assaulted journalists should be brought to trial.
At the protest, social activist and prominent photographer Taslima Akter Lima said: “Shahidul, who has always spoken up about any kind of democratic issue, was detained for giving an interview to Al Jazeera.”
“No one is allowed to speak against the government in recent times, which proves that there is no freedom of speech,” Taslima added.
Activist Shirin Haque said: “This is not the behaviour of a cultured state. Those who fought for our country in 1971 are hurt witnessing such incidents. They do not want the country to be in such a condition.”
Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) director Advocate Sayeda Rezwana Hasan said: “Protesters, activists, and professionals have been attacked in recent times. I demand the unconditional release of Shahidul Alam along with the protesters who were detained recently as well as during quota reform demonstrations.”
Coordinator of Drik Gallery and Pathshala South Asian Media Institute SM Rezwanur said: “Shahidul was detained for practicing his democratic right of freedom of speech. I want his unconditional release.”
Dhaka University Department of Sociology Associate Professor Samina Lutfa said: “We have been experiencing repression throughout the state for the last two months.”
“Those who were involved in the recent movements were attacked and harassed with false cases, but police along with the ruling party’s ‘helmet battalion’ who repressed the protesters remain free now. I demand justice,” the sociology teacher added.
Jahangirnagar University professor and renowned economist Anu Muhammad said: “During the student protests, law enforcers played the role of Chhatra League wearing uniforms, while Chhatra League activists played the role of police without them.”
He added that the government was irresponsible, and said: “If the government had played a responsible role, they would have become stronger by supporting the protesters. Instead, government forces assaulted and repressed protesters and journalists during the movement.”
“The Government is trying to frighten the citizens of Bangladesh, but in reality, they are the ones who are scared,” he added.
Bangladesh can only be freed from repression after the release of Shahidul Alam and the detained protesters, Anu claimed.
Among others present at the rally were: DU Professor Fahmidul Haq, Associate Professor Md Azam, Tanjimuddin Khan, Gonosonghoti Andolon coordinator Zonayed Saki, and Convener of Progressive Students’ Alliance Golam Mostofa.