August, 5th, 2018. A group of plainclothes officers entered Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam’s apartment. A violent arrest caused by the “provocative comments” of the artist.

It was around 10 pm, on August 5th, when thirty plainclothes officers entered Shahidul Alam’s home, to arrest him. A few hours before, the photographer had published a video on Facebook, voicing his opinion on the student demonstrations in Dhaka. A reaction soon repressed by the government, sending officers to apprehend Shahidul after concealing the arrest by putting tape on the surveillance video cameras. “I was not in the flat, but I heard a scream and I ran down to find out what had happened”, Rahnuma Ahmed, Shahidul’s partner explained “We heard from the security guards that he had been forced into a car, taken by the Detective Branch of Dakha”. Shahidul Alam is now on a seven-day remand, accused to have damaged the image of the State, through his video.

From outrage to imprisonment

Shahidul Alam – photographer, human rights activist, and founder of multimedia organisation Dirk – was documenting, the days preceding his arrest, the demonstrations led by thousands of teenagers in Dhaka, as they fought for a better road safety. A unanimous reaction sparked by the death of one teenager on the city’s roads. On Sunday, when the tensions between demonstrators et the government heightened, the police force attacked the crowd with rubber bullets and teargas. An event that deeply moved the photographer, who confessed his feelings to Le Monde soon after : “The Bangladi people are sick of it. They are tired of corruption, censorship, and forced disappearances”. A brave outcry which precipitated the events of these last few days.

Amnesty International, alerted by the violence of the arrest, demanded Shahidul’s immediate release. “His arrest marks a dangerous escalation of a crackdown by the government that has seen the police unleash violence against protestors”, Omar Waraich, the South Asia director of the organisation explains. “The Bangladeshi government must end the crackdown. The students have a right to peaceful assembly and physical security”. While the photographer’s moving reaction provoked a shocking violence, it is important to broadcast it, to highlight the abuses of the Bangladesh government. #freeshahidulalam.

Shahidul Alam emmené au tribunal, 6 août 2018.