Bangladeshi lensman Alam behind bars

- AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, DHAKA
Police told the local Daily Star newspaper that Alam would be kept in prison until the completion of the probe into his charges

Aug 14, 2018-Award-winning Bangladesh photographer Shahidul Alam was in jail on Monday, 10 days after being arrested following an interview with Al Jazeera about massive student demonstrations, police said.

Alam, 63, who accused police of assaulting him in custody and was earlier sent to a hospital for a check-up following an order from the high court, was taken to a magistrate’s court late on Sunday. “The court then sent him to jail,” police official Moshiur Rahman told AFP.

Another police officer told the local Daily Star newspaper that Alam would be kept in prison until the completion of the probe into his charges.

Alam was accused of making “false” and “provocative” statements on Al Jazeera and on Facebook Live as tens of thousands of students protested in Dhaka in late July and early August. He also published photos of the demonstrations.

Alam told Al Jazeera that the protests were the result of pent-up anger at an “unelected government... clinging on by brute force” that has looted banks, gagged the media and is steeped in corruption.

He is being investigated for allegedly violating Bangladesh’s internet laws, enacted in 2006 and sharpened in 2013, that critics say are used to snuff out dissent and harass journalists.

Alam—whose work has appeared widely in Western media and who founded the renowned Pathshala South Asian Media Institute—faces a maximum 14 years in jail, along with others who have been charged with breaching the laws in the wake of the protests.

The renowned photographer told reporters outside court last Monday that he had been beaten so badly in police custody that his tunic needed washing to get the blood out.

New York-based Human Rights Watch and London’s Amnesty International have demanded his release, and on Monday United Nations human rights experts echoed these calls.

“The arrest and alleged ill-treatment of Mr. Alam is extremely worrying and takes place in a general context of a crackdown against young students and others calling for better public governance, reforms and justice in Bangladesh, including media workers and other civil society,” said the experts in a statement.

Published: 14-08-2018 08:53

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