Vent House of Amnesty International brought together comedians, cartoonists, journalists, bloggers, musicians, poets, activists and live performance artists to promote freedom of expression and reflect on the role Government and the People can play to protect this right
To commemorate World Press Freedom Day, Amnesty International in partnership with the Edward M Kennedy Center hosted a campaign event of arts and performances in defence of freedom of expression in Dhaka yesterday. This is the first time Amnesty International has hosted such an event in Bangladesh.
Vent House of Amnesty International brought together comedians, cartoonists, journalists, bloggers, musicians, poets, activists and live performance artists to promote freedom of expression and reflect on the role Government and the People can play to protect this right.
Celebrated photographer Shahidul Alam, stand up comedians Yamin Khan and Ahmad Ashik, cartoonist Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy, journalists Shuprova Tasneem, Ayreen Khan, Syed Tashfin Chowhdury, media personality Iresh Zaker, blogger and activist Fahmidul Haq, artists Liza Hasan, Reetu Sattar, Sayeef Mahmud, and Aabir Khalid, signed up for the Amnesty campaign event.
There were performances by indigenous rights activist and musician, Sham Sagor Mankin, singer and songwriter Armeen Musa and her band Ghashforing Choir, young poetry collective The Versemongers, and activist Samina Luthfa Nitra.
Amnesty International has been supported by a wide range of international artists, including Coldplay, Russell Brand, Jimmy Carr, Jon Stewart, John Oliver, and Stephen Colbert, in defending freedom of expression around the world.
“The event is part of Amnesty International’s continued campaign for reclaiming freedom, which includes the right to freedom of expression in countries where people are met with heavy punishment for peacefully sharing opinions,” said Saad Hammadi, South Asia Campaigner of Amnesty International.
“People cannot freely express themselves without protection from the State. Censorship of information and the fear of reprisals dwindles quality of life, integrity, and their accountability to the public,” said Saad Hammadi.
Panelist Ayreen Khan emphasized the role of government and religion in suppressing freedom of expression, while Iresh Zaker talked about a bold show of his that couldn’t be aired for being, well, too bold!
Armeen Musa talked to Dhaka Tribune Showtime about the value of such events.
“For me personally, seeing the presentation of Tanmoy (Cartoonist) regarding the declining presence of political cartoons in newspapers, was a realization of how we are censoring everything in our national dailies: from opinion and humour, to criticism,” she said. “It's important to hear about the effect of censorship each industry is facing in our country.”
The event also launched a hashtag campaign, #YoursPeacefully, to remind the government that peaceful exercise of freedom of expression must not be criminalized.
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