A chorus for the release of Rohingya photographer Abul Kalam is growing louder day by day. Well-known Bangladeshi and international human rights figures, lawyers, academics, filmmakers, photographers, journalists and human rights organisations want Abul Kalam, an award-winning photographer and Rohingya refugee, who set out to take photographs of buses departing the Kutupalong camps for Bhashan Char, to be released soon.
Thirty-three intellectuals signed a petition to press the Bangladesh authorities to ensure unconditional release of Abul Kalam without further delay.
According to reports, Kalam was apprehended and then taken to the camp-in-charge of Camp 2W Block D5 of Kutupalong.
The signatories alleged that the photographer, who had been taken to the camp-in-charge of Kutupalong, was beaten soon after he was detained.
According to latest report, Abul Kalam is still lodged at at the Kutupalong police barracks.
Signatories include Dr CR Abrar, executive director of Dhaka University’s Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU); photojournalist Shahidul Alam; Barrister Sara Hossain, honorary executive director of Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST); Shireen Pervin Huq, coordinator, Standing with Rohingya Women and founder member of Naripokkho; Laetitia van den Assum, diplomatic expert and former Netherlands ambassador; and Simon Billenness of the International Campaign for the Rohingya, USA.
They alleged that authorities flouted Bangladeshi law that makes it mandatory for law enforcement agencies to present a person in custody before the courts within 24 hours. Authorities made exception to Abul Kalam.
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), it further adds.
Signatories alleged that the Bangladesh government is publicising the relocation through media.
They expressed concern over detention of Abul Kalam, 35, an inhabitant of Borgozbil, Maungdaw, Myanmar, who has been a refugee himself for 28 years, and lodged in custody for nearly four days. A prolific photographer, who has documented persecution of refugee life in recent years, Kalam’s images have appeared in many publications.