New York, August 5, 2018–A group of men who said they were from the detective branch of Dhaka police today took Shahidul Alam, a photographer, commentator, and the founder of the Bangladeshi multimedia organization Drik and Pathshala Media Institute, from his home, hours after he posted a video to Facebook about protests in the city, according to news reports. At least five journalists were attacked at the student protests, including a photographer for The Associated Press who was briefly hospitalized, according to the AP.
“Bangladesh authorities must immediately release Shahidul Alam without charge,” said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Steven Butler in Washington, D.C. “Authorities should also ensure that Alam and all journalists covering unrest in Dhaka are able to work without fear of attack or arrest.”
Security guards at Alam’s apartment building were cited in reports as saying that a group of at least 40 people, who said they were from the detective branch, forcibly pushed the photographer, screaming, into a car. The group allegedly broke the building’s CCTV cameras and disconnected its intercom system, before taking him away, according to the same report. A few hours before, Alam posted a video on the protests to Facebook and was interviewed by Al-Jazeera.
Local news reports differed in their accounts of the arrest. The United News of Bangladesh reported that police said Alam was detained for questioning over his Facebook post. The Daily Star cited a deputy commissioner who said police were investigating reports of his detention.
CPJ’s calls to the Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner’s phone and detective branch went unanswered and an email to the metropolitan commissioner did not receive an immediate response. CPJ’s call to the additional commissioner was disconnected after the person who answered said he could not confirm the arrest. CPJ’s call to the Dhanmondi police station went unanswered.
CPJ has documented multiple attacks on journalists in recent weeks in Bangladesh.