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Reading Time: 5 minutes “Chobi Mela continues the way it began,” writes Shahidul Alam. “Unyielding to power.” He’s referencing the very first Chobi Mela festival, which opened in Dhaka, Bangladesh back in 2000. Alam and Robert Pledge had painstakingly put together an exhibition on Bangladesh’s 1971 war, which a government minister – phoning at midnight – wanted to censor; rather than comply and remove the offending prints, Alam and Pledge moved the entire exhibition to a new venue, which opened at 3pm the next day.
“That is how we’ve always done it,” writes Alam, the founder of Chobi Mela. “Against the odds, facing the storm, with the wind against our face.”
Though he doesn’t mention it outright, it’s difficult to read his comments now without also thinking of Alam’s own recent experience, in which he spent 107 days in Dhaka Central Jail last year. The 63-year old photographer and Drik Gallery director was arrested on 05 August after stating in an interview with Al Jazeera that the wave of student protests in Bangladesh last year was a reaction to government corruption. He 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 – and was held for more than 100 days.
Reading Time: 6 minutes The World Press Photo Foundation has announced the six talents from Asia in its ongoing 6×6 Global Talent Program. Aimed at picking out under-recognised visual story-tellers from around the world, the 6×6 programme is now on its sixth and final region in its first cycle. The photographers picked out this time are: Amira Al-Sharif, Yemen; Azin Anvar Haghighi, Iran; Saumya Khandelwal, India; Senthil Kumaran Rajendran, India; Shahria Sharmin, Bangladesh; and Yan Cong, China.
The image-makers were recommended by an international group of over 100 nominators, and selected by a jury comprised of: Ammar Abd Rabbo (Syria), photographer and journalist; NayanTara Gurung Kakshapati (Nepal), photographer and curator; Claudia Hinterseer (Netherlands), senior video producer South China Morning Post; and Kazuma Obara (Japan), photographer.
Reading Time: 3 minutes Dawoud Bey, Jess T. Dugan, Rosalind Fox Solomon, Shahidul Alam, and Zadie Smith have been announced as the honourees of this year’s Infinity Awards, organised by The International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York.
American photographer Dawoud Bey will be presented with the Art award, Jess T. Dugan with Emerging Photographer, and Zadie Smith with Critical Writing and Research, for her piece in the New Yorker titled Deana Lawson’s Kingdom of Restored Glory. This year’s jury was composed of: Erin Barnett, director of exhibitions and collections, ICP; David Gonzalez, co-editor, Lens Blog; Kristen Joy Watts, editor of @design, Instagram; and Rhea L. Combs, curator of film and photography, National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Reading Time: < 1 minute 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.
Reading Time: 2 minutes Award-winning photographer Shahidul Alam has spent over 100 days in jail, but – according to Reuters and several Bangladeshi newspapers – has finally been granted bail by the High Court this morning. “We’re delighted that ultimately the court has granted him bail,” said his lawyer Sarah Hossain in the Reuters’ report, adding she expected her client to be out soon.
The 63-year-old photographer and activist was arrested at his home in Dhaka on 05 August, and was charged the next day with 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 the interview, he stated that these actions stemmed from anger about widespread government corruption, and the charges mean he faces up to 14 years in prison.
Reading Time: 3 minutes Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam has been given the Humanitarian Award at this year’s Lucie Awards. The award was given on 28 October in recognition of Alam’s prestigious career in photography and activism, which has seen him documenting the democratic struggle to remove Bangladeshi dictator General Hussain Muhammad Ershad in 1984, publishing a celebrated book My journey as a witness, and taking the last official portrait of Nelson Mandela in 2009. In addition, Alam set up the award-winning Drik picture agency, the Chobi Mela festival, and the South Asian Media Institute.
Alam is currently in prison in Bangladesh, having been arrested on 05 August and charged with violating Bangladesh’s Information and Communication Technology Act. The Lucie Foundation took the opportunity to join the many international voices speaking out against his incarceration, which include Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, and Index on Censorship.
Reading Time: 7 minutes 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.”
Reading Time: 8 minutes 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”.