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Rohingya Activists and Allies Demand: Release Abul Kalam Immediately

Press Release:

31 December 2020 

Contact: Shafiur Rahman | shafiur@gmail.com | Twitter

Summary: Well known Bangladeshi and international human rights figures, lawyers, academics, filmmakers, photographers, journalists and human rights focussed organisations are calling for the release of talented, young Rohingya photographer Abul Kalam.  

On the morning of 28th December 2020, Abul Kalam, an award-winning photographer and Rohingya refugee,  set out to take photographs of buses departing the Kutupalong camps for Bhasan Char. He was apprehended and then taken to the Camp-in-Charge in Camp 2W Block D5 of Kutupalong and subsequently to the Camp-in-Charge of Kutupalong Registered Camp. He was reportedly beaten when he was apprehended. 

Abul Kalam was detained at the Kutupalong police barracks until late afternoon of Wednesday 30th December. According to Bangladeshi law,  a person in custody should be brought before the courts within 24 hours. This was not the case for Abul Kalam and, at the time of writing,  he has been detained for more than 60 hours. This is a clear violation of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and the directives of the High Court Division of the Supreme Court in BLAST v Bangladesh (55 DLR 363). 

Photography is not a crime. Abul Kalam was taking photographs of buses on their way to Bhasan Char. He was doing so in a public place, albeit in a refugee camp. The relocation to Bhasan Char is a widely publicized programme of the Bangladesh government. It is by no means a secret and has been extensively covered in the media. 

Abul Kalam is 35 years old. He has been a refugee for 28 years. He originally came from Borgozbil, Maungdaw, Myanmar. He is a prolific photographer and has documented refugee life throughout recent years. His images have appeared in many publications, and he recently won two prizes in the Rohingya Photography Competition. He is married and has four children. Two of his children are very young. 

We, the undersigned,  call upon the authorities to release Abul Kalam unconditionally and without further delay.

Dr C R Abrar, Executive Director, Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU), University of Dhaka

Kamal Ahmed, Independent Journalist and Author

Shahidul Alam, Bangladeshi Photojournalist

Laetitia van den Assum, diplomatic expert & former Netherlands’ ambassador

Simon Billenness, International Campaign for the Rohingya, USA

Beyond Borders Malaysia

Liza Boschin, RAI Documentary Maker & Photographer, Italy.

Professor Penny Green, Professor of Law and Globalisation at Queen Mary University of London

Jamila Hanan, Activist, UK. 

Mohammad Rakibul Hasan, Photojournalist, Zuma Press. 

Barrister Sara Hossain, Honorary Executive Director, BLAST.

Shireen Pervin Huq, Coordinator, Standing with Rohingya Women & Founder Member, Naripokkho

Dr Patricia Hynes, Reader in Forced Migration, University of Bedfordshire

Bianca Jagger, Founder, President and Chief Executive, Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation. Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador. Member of the Executive Director’s Leadership Council of Amnesty International USA

Adilur Rahman Khan, Advocate, The Supreme Court of Bangladesh and Secretary of FIDH.

Tun Khin, President, Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK, London.

Lynn Lee, Filmmaker, Hong Kong

Dr Ronan Lee, Visiting Scholar, Queen Mary University of London

Rezaur Rahman Lenin, Academic Activist, Dhaka

James Leong, Filmmaker, Honk Kong

Nay San Lwin, Co-founder, Free Rohingya Coalition

Malik Mujahid, Burma Task Force

Advocate Shabnam Mayet, Protect the Rohingya, South Africa

Dr Sadaf Noor, Researcher, University of Lancaster

Professor Ilhami Alkan Olsson, Director, Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Istanbul

Professor John Packer, Director of the Human Rights Research and Education Centre (HRREC), University of Ottawa.

Dr Ambia Perveen, Chair, European Rohingya Council

Shafiur Rahman, Documentary maker and organiser of the Rohingya Photography Competition

Mahi Ramakrishnan Investigative Filmmaker, Malaysia

Professor Dina M Siddiqi, Faculty of Liberal Studies, New York University

Greta Van Susteren, Voice of America

Wai Wai Nu, Executive Director of the Women’s Peace Network

Adem Carroll- Justice For All

Fmr Ambassador William B. Milam- retired diplomat

WITNESS

Dr Maung Zarni, Co-Founder, Free Rohingya Coalition

For more information: Shafiur Rahman | shafiur@gmail.com | twitter

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