Activist artist Shahidul Alam continues to be detained in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Despite the worldwide wave of protest that his imprisonment has triggered over the last two months, the Bangladeshi government refuses to release Shahidul. The photographer was arrested on August 5 in Dhaka, following public statements in support of student protestors. Many artists, intellectuals and activists have expressed their indignation all over the globe, giving birth to the #FreeShahidulAlam movement.
The Bangladeshi government is ignoring these voices. A court in Dhaka declined to hear Shahidul’s bail petition on September 11, more than one month after he was forced out of his house by the police.
On September 17, an appeals court ordered Shahidul moved to a “first division” facility - where he can be guaranteed a bed, chair, table and better food - despite the government’s attempt to block it. The government charged him under Section 57 of Bangladesh’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act, which criminalizes the spreading of information that “prejudices the image of the state or a person”
Shahidul’s case is one of several recent cases in Asia and Southeast Asia that raise serious concerns about censorship and freedom of speech. Solidarity has been widely demonstrated through international media outlets and inter-regional art projects, such as the large-scale installations by the Photo.circle project on the streets of Kathmandu, Nepal.
In 2015, NYU Florence with LPD invited Shahidul to talk about Hajera’s Family, a photo exhibition on the life experience of a Bangladeshi sex worker.
NYU Florence supports the #FreeShahidulAlam campaign and expresses profound solidarity to all artists and intellectuals whose freedom is denied for political reasons.
Here we present a video from Shahidul’s presentation of his exhibition in November 12 at Villa Sassetti, NYU Florence: