Today, following international pressure, a court in Bangladesh has granted bail to Shahidul Alam. He hopes to be released by Sunday, after spending 104 days in jail. MEP Marietje Schaake (D66/ALDE) initiated the European Parliament resolution to call for his release. Shahidul Alam is a renowned photographer and activist who stands accused under the ICT Act for online speech that “hurts the image of the nation”.
Marietje Schaake: “Today the European Parliament stands united in condemning the detention of Shahidul Alam. We welcome his announced release and call for all charges against him to be dropped. He has stood up for the voiceless, and his case was used by the Bangladeshi authorities to set an example and stifle any form of criticism. He should have never have been arrested in the first place. Freedom of expression, both online and offline, must be guaranteed. With elections coming up in December, this is even more essential. We urgently call on the Bangladeshi government to revise the infamous ICT Act and the Digital Security Act, which are used to penalise free speech, including on social media.”
Marietje Schaake emphasises that Alam’s arrest must be seen in the wider context of the ongoing backsliding of Bangladesh when in relation to democracy, the rule of law and human rights: “There is a discernible pattern of harassment, arrests and forced disappearances such as of former Ambassador Maroof Zaman. We urgently call on High Representative Mogherini to assess the compliance of Bangladesh under the ‘Everything But Arms’ scheme, under which the country benefits from the most favourable trade relations with the EU.”
Earlier in November, Marietje Schaake asked parliamentary questions on the case of Maroof Zaman.