Shahidul Alam has been released from jail

Shahidul Alam pictured at the Pathshala South Asian Media Institute campus, image courtesy of Pathshala

The award-winning photographer was finally freed this evening after 107 days in jail

Bangladeshi photographer and social activist Shahidul Alam was freed from Dhaka Central Jail at on 21 November, after being locked up for 107 days for spreading “propaganda and false information”.

The 63-year old photographer and Drik Gallery director was arrested at his home in Dhaka on 05 August, and was charged with violating Section 57 of Bangladesh’s Information and Communication Technology Act (ICT), which has been used in more than 20 recent cases involving journalists, most of them related to news-reporting, according to Bangladeshi paper The Daily Star.

Alam was arrested after he stated in an interview with Al Jazeera that the the wave of student protests in Bangladesh against unsafe roads was a reaction to pent-up anger at government corruption. Alam was initally denied bail on 11 September, and was finally granted bail from the High Court five days ago. 

Alam told AFP he hoped his release would “signal freedom for many others” also detained during the massive student demonstrations. “It is a fantastic feeling to be free in a free country, breathing free air. But I hope for freedom for everyone else,” he said.

He later released a statement via the FreeShahidul Facebook page which reads: “Never thought Dhaka traffic, winter smog, and the incessant honking of horns could be so attractive. Never realised how powerful the combination of a brilliant and tenacious legal team and a wonderful group of passionate, obstinate, creative, and freedom-loving people all over Bangladesh and across the globe could be. Never appreciated the meaning of the word ‘Freedom’ to such an extent.

“I am out, but I remember the friends who are still in Keraniganj Jail and the stories they shared. I miss the sparrows that befriended me, but find myself wrapped in your warmth. It was in Keraniganj that they told me, ‘It is only in jail that you find out who your real friends are.’ For all of you who stood by me through these difficult 107 days, a salute of solidarity and a huge hug of friendship. A just and peaceful world remains attainable. Democracy continues to be worth fighting for. Together, we are a formidable force and we shall certainly overcome.”

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