At 10pm on 05 August, photographer and social activist Shahidul Alam was arrested at his home in Dhaka. The next day he was charged for violating Section 57 of Bangladesh’s Information and Communication Technology Act (ICT), after giving an interview to Al Jazeera on the current wave of student protests in Bangladesh against unsafe roads, in which he said that these actions stemmed from anger about widespread government corruption. He now faces up to 14 years in prison.
According to Amnesty International, which has taken up the photographer’s plight, Section 57 is a “draconian law” that has been used against well over 1000 people since it was introduced in 2006. “Police do not need arrest warrants or official permission to prosecute,” explains the organisation. “Those accused are mostly denied bail pending their trial and kept locked up for months with no official verdict. Shahidul himself was denied bail on 10 September 2018. Those arrested are often journalists who’ve published articles criticising the government.”
Born in 1993 in the Philippines, Ezra Acayan has won the 2018 Ian Parry Scholarship Award for Achievement for his series Duterte’s War On Drugs Is Not Over, which records the fall out from the war on drugs which President Rodrigo Duterte announced in 2016.
Threatening those connected to drug consumption and sales with the death penalty, Duterte urged members of the public to kill suspected criminals and drug addicts, and allowed the police to act with brutality. In the two years since, an estimated 20,000 people have been murdered and a state of emergency has been declared. The United Nations has appealed to the Philippine government to investigate extrajudicial killings and to prosecute the perpetrators, while the International Criminal Court has announced preliminary examinations into killings linked to the campaign.
Tough and hard-hitting, Acayan’s images aim to “illuminate the violent acts carried out in the Philippines as well as the questionable methods of Duterte and the police”.
Bangladeshi photographer and Drik Gallery director Shahidul Alam has reportedly been denied bail by a court in Dhaka.
Various local media outlets, including United News of Bangladesh, The Daily Star, and Bangla Tribune, have all reported that Judge KM Imrul Kayes of Dhaka Metropolitan Session Judge’s Court passed the order on 11 September. Public Prosecutor Mohammad Abu Abdullah moved against the bail petition, while Barrister Sarah Hossain stood for Alam – who filed the bail petition through his lawyers on 28 August, asking for it to be granted as he is ill.
Photographer Shahidul Alam has been imprisoned by Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court for spreading “false and harmful information” against the government after remaining in police custody for seven days.
He was placed before authorities around 3pm on Sunday 12 August, and charged under section 57 of the Information and Communications Technology Act, Moshiur Rahman, deputy commissioner of police, told the Bangladeshi title The Daily Star. His lawyer and his family members were not informed about the court hearing.
In a letter submitted by investigating officer Mr Arman Ali, the 63-year-old was accused of giving “false and harmful information through Al-Jazeera, various electronic media, and his Facebook timeline, which led to deterioration of the law and order situation in the country, and created fear and terror in the minds of the public”.
Shahidul Alam, one of the world’s leading figures in photography, and a social activist who has been a harsh critic of the government in his native Bangladesh, has been arrested in Dhaka for making “provocative comments” following mass protests that have brought parts of the country to a standstill over the past week.
According to his partner, Rahnuma Ahmed, at least 30 plainclothes officers entered his home in the capital at around 10pm on Sunday, and sped him away in a car. He was officially arrested the next day. Alam had posted videos on Facebook and was interviewed by Qatar-based television station Al-Jazeera about the protests, which he said stemmed from anger about widespread government corruption, and not just the bus accident that initially sparked them.
“This isn’t something new or something connected to a particular part of the country,” says Sarker Protick, speaking about his recent work, Of River and Lost Lands, which deals with the contemporary relationship between people and nature in Bangladesh, in the context of the devastating damage and loss of land caused each year during monsoon season. “The seasonal rising and falling of the many rivers in our country is part of our culture. It’s the first thing we learn at school; we are a country of rivers. Music, poetry, philosophy, folklore, religion – all have key elements connected to the river.” Protick’s photographs, on show at Hamburg Triennial of Photography as part of Enter, curated by Emma Bowkett and Krzysztof Candrowicz, were all made along the powerful Padma River. “When the famous Ganges flows over the border from India into Bangladesh, it becomes the Padma; a river that many along its banks depend on for their livelihood, but paradoxically the river is also the main cause of destruction.”
Born in Australia in 1969, Patrick Brown lived in the Middle East and Africa before his family settled in Perth, Australia. Drawn to documentary photography, and influenced by the images of war and civil unrest from the 1980s and 90s, he returned to Africa and spent six weeks documenting the work of an Australian surgeon in Malawi. Brown joined Panos Pictures in 2003, and has shown his work in institutions such as the International Center of Photography in New York, and Visa Pour l’Image in France; he works for organisations such as The New Yorker, TIME, Newsweek, National Geographic, GEO Germany, OXFAM, Human Rights Watch, and The Red Cross. Brown focuses on documenting issues across Asia, and has been nominated for the World Press Photo of the Year for an image showing the bodies of Rohingya refugees laid out after the boat in which they were attempting to flee Myanmar capsized about eight kilometers off Inani Beach, near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. BJP: Your image is quite oblique, you have to look again to see what’s actually being shown. Why …
“Coming back to photojournalism after a couple years of academic hiatus, I wanted to invest my time in projects that could affect change. Simply telling a story in an editorial doesn’t accomplish that,” says Anastasia Taylor-Lind about her determination to cover the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar for Human Rights Watch. The organisation’s mandate is to gather evidence of crimes against humanity and share those records with governments, international agencies and the public. Doing so means relying on collaborations between a diverse group of professionals, including visual storytellers.
Launched on 11 December, a brand new biannual, Clove, has a refreshing take on art and culture. Founded by London-based, British-Indian journalist Debika Ray, the magazine focuses on creative work from South Asia and its global diaspora. “My impression was always that, in Western media, there was a narrow frame of reference when it came to covering parts of the world beyond North America and Europe,” says Ray, who until recently was senior editor at the architecture and design magazine Icon. “Stories from South Asia or the Middle East are often handled in a distant way, focusing on problems or crises and how people battle against odds to overcome things. I wanted to tell stories from those parts of the world in a way that were instead built on their own merit.”
Hadi Uddin grew up surrounded by photography – his father owned a commercial studio and both technical skill and the ways of the darkroom were second nature by the time he took his place by Uddin senior’s side. He’s now found work as a fashion photographer – and a unique vision in his personal work