Good news: Shahidul Alam walks free after over 100 days in Dhaka prison

Shahidul free

“Shahidul is free !! ধন্যবাদ !!! Thank you for your support!!” – message from Dhaka. Best news of the day 🙂

 Press statement from the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and
South Asia Media Defenders Network

Dhaka, November 20– After day-long wrangles today between his lawyers and jail authorities in Dhaka over purported “discrepancy” in the prison’s address, internationally acclaimed Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam was set free on bail to joyous scenes this evening.

As he symbolically held his camera aloft this evening, Alam’s release capped a dramatic legal struggle which lasted the duration of his detention — 108 days for alleged violations of the country’s sweeping Information Communication and Technology Act and allegedly bringing the national government into disrepute with his criticism of last August’s crackdown against students protesting traffic violations.

Shahidul free-Pedro Meyer

Flanked by his lawyer Sara Hossein (left) and partner Rahnuma Ahmed, surrounded by joyous friends, a beaming Shahidul finally walks free. Photo shared on Instagram by @pedro_meyer Mexico/ FotoMuseo 4 Caminos/ Fundación Pedro Meyer@ pedromeyer.com

“We celebrate Shahidul’s release as an example of justice being delivered, despite many delays at different levels,” said Sanjoy Hazarika, International Director of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), the international civil society group.  Dr Alam was granted bail by the high court last week but his release was delayed by government appeals against his release and procedural wrangles.

“Shahidul wishes to thank everyone in Bangladesh and abroad for their unflagging support and he is very glad to be free again,” said his lawyer, Sara Hossein.

CHRI and the South Asian Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN) urged the Bangladesh Government to drop the cases against Alam, who has long been a vivid and renowned documenter of his country’s struggle for liberty and equality. His work was showcased at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London last April. CHRI stressed that Bangladesh’s media had publicly denounced the ICT act, calling it inimical to press freedom

SAMDEN has campaigned extensively for Alam’s release and Hazarika, who is co-convenor of the forum, called it “among the best pieces of news we have had for many months and underlines the importance of collaborating across geographies for the common cause of a free media”.

The “Free Shahidul” campaign was joined by UN officials, Nobel Prize Winner Amartya Sen, media leaders and human rights groups..

Earlier in the day, lawyers for Dr. Alam had said that his release on bail by a High Court order had been blocked by jail authorities citing “the petty issue of discrepancy in jail address”.

For more details, contact

Sanjoy Hazarika, International Director, CHRI, at sanjoy@humanrightsinitiative.org or

Richa, Media and Communications officer, CHRI at richa@humanrightsinitiative.org (+91 8527770292)


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