Public discussion at University of Queensland

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15 August, 2011
For Immediate Use

UQ to host international photojournalist advocate?s public discussion



Portrait of Shahidul Alam by Tom Hatlestad

Internationally renowned Bangladeshi photographer, writer and activist Dr Shahidul Alam will lead a free public discussion next week, hosted by The University of Queensland?s Centre of Communication and Social Change, School of Journalism and Communication.
Dr Alam will discuss the role of ?the visual? in communication for social change at the James Birrell Room of the UQ Staff Club on Tuesday August 23 at 5.30pm.

Who: Internationally renowned Bangladeshi photographer, writer and activist Dr Shahidul Alam.
What: Public lecture on the role of ?the visual? in communication for social change.
When: Tuesday August 23 at 5.30pm for a 6pm start.
Where: James Birrell Room of the UQ Staff Club, The University of Queensland.
Cost: Free.
Dr Alam flyer final


Presentation at Museum of Brisbane Amnesty Press Release
Kelly Higgins-Devine interviews Shahidul Alam
The Audio file of the ABC Radio interview




Learning Rights to Make a Difference

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Awards Ceremony
Award ceremony Invitation card

Learning Rights to Make a Difference

Human Rights Training for Journalists in Bangladesh

Monirul Alam of Prothom Alo Newspaper talks about his project on drug addiction. Photo (c) Saikat Majumder/DrikNews

Drik and INTERNEWS network request the pleasure of your company at the Awards Ceremony of ?Learning Rights to Make a Difference? a human rights training for journalists in Bangladesh on Thursday 11 August, 2011 at 5:00 pm at Drik Gallery, Dhaka.



Facilitator Sanaiyya Ansari with participants of workshop. Photo (c) Habibul Haque/DrikNews

Participating organisations:?Daily Shokaler Khobor,?Daily Sun,?Prothom Alo,?The Independent,?Independent Television,Diganta Television,?Odhikar,?New Age,?The New Nation,?The Daily Ittefaq,?Dhaka Courier,?UNB,?BLAST,?Daily Inquilab,ASK,?Boishakhi TV, BNHRC



Manjurul Ahsan Bulbul the CEO of Boishakhi Television, giving feedback to the participants as Shahidul Alam (centre) and Rezaur Rahman (right) of Drik look on. Photo: (c) Saikat Majumder/DrikNews

The event will be live-streamed on Drik TV
Chief Guest
Dr. Mizanur Rahman
Chairman, National Human Rights Commission, Bangladesh
Guest of Honour
Mr. Nurul Kabir
Editor, New Age
Selected work of the 17 mainstream journalists who participated in the human rights training course will be presented at this event.
Programme
Drik Gallery, Dhaka ? 11 August 2011 ? Thursday
5:00 pm (GMT +6): Audiovisual Documentation of ?Learning Rights to Make a Difference?
5:05 pm: Welcome by Shahidul Alam
5:15 pm: Presentation of Electronic Report
5:20 pm: Speech by participant (electronic)
5:25 pm: Speech by participant (print)
5:30 pm: Speech by participant (photography)
5:35 pm: Speech by Guest of Honour
5:45 pm: Speech by Chief Guest
5:55 pm: Awards Presentation
6:20 pm: Vote of Thanks by Shahidul Alam



Facilitator Sanaiyya Ansari summing up one of the sessions. Photo: (c) Qamruzzaman/DrikNews

Journalists play an important role as both, providers of information to the public and as a resource for human rights defenders demanding accountability amongst all those who wield power in the public and private domain. Shahidul Alam, Managing Director of Drik at the opening address of the training course said, ?With Bangladesh gaining geopolitical importance, many forces are at play and human rights violations have dramatically escalated with perpetrators operating with impunity. Trained journalists will play a vital role in challenging the abuse of power.?



Trainer Shahidul Alam critiquing the work of participants. Photo: (c) Saikat Majumder/DrikNews

Journalists? right to information and the right to report are the lifeblood of their profession. However, reporting on human rights issues that plague any country is a formidable task for many. The journalists often come under threats and unwarranted arrests leading to abuse by the very authorities that have been elected to provide and protect their human rights.
Drik as a premier visual media communication provider and an organisation committed to social justice, has always aspired to make Bangladesh a country where people can exercise their right to express dissent peacefully, where information will flow freely and where knowledge and skills needed for individuals to attain their full potential are made available.



Trainer Reaz Ahmed, news editor of the Daily Star in a heated debate with the participants. Photo: (c) Qamruzzaman/DrikNews

The Learning Rights to Make a Difference, human rights training was thus formulated in partnership with Internews Network to train Bangladeshi journalists to learn new skills and examine in depth the special role accurate, fair and professional reporting and analysis play, in upholding human rights and supporting the peaceful resistance to human rights abuses.
The first part of the course from 19-21 July was instructional which used creative, interactive teaching methods, including presentations and discussion by guest lecturers and exchanges with human rights defenders, activists as well as victims. During the second part of the programme the participants were assigned to report on human rights issues under the supervision of trainers and mentors. The final part of the training was a review programme on 8-9 August where the assignments were openly evaluated by the trainers, mentors and the participants themselves.



Freelance photojournalist Prito Reza (left), Monirul Alam of Prothom Alo (centre) and Ahmed Rezwanul Zaki of Independent Television watching Prito's photo essay on access to health services. Photo: (c) Qamruzzaman/DrikNews

It is expected that the training will help the journalists contribute towards greater transparency and accountability leading to a more participatory democracy where rights of all citizens are respected.

Subcontinental drift

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By Salil Tripathi

Does the controversial book about Bangladesh?s war of liberation uncover new truths, or simply reverse old biases?

It is an article of faith in Bangladesh that three million people died in its war of independence in 1971. At that time, the population of the former East Pakistan (which became Bangladesh) was about 70 million people, which means nearly 4% of the population died in the war. The killings took place between 25 March, when Pakistani forces launched?Operation Searchlight, and mid-December, when Dhaka fell to the invading Indian Army and the Mukti Bahini forces (who was aiding whom depends on which narrative you read? India?s or Bangladesh?s). As per Bangladesh?s understanding of its history, the nation was a victim of genocide. Killing three million people over 267 days amounts to nearly 11,000 deaths a day. That would make it one of the most lethal conflicts of all time.
One of the most brutal conflicts in recent years has been in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the International Rescue Committee reported that 5.4 million people died between 1998 and 2008. A more thorough Canadian analysis now concludes that the actual figure is about half. At 5.4 million deaths, the daily death toll would be around 1,500; at 2.7 million, around 750. Was the 1971 war up to 15 times more lethal than the Congolese conflict?
A history of violence: A scene from the bloody conflicts of the 1971 Bangladesh war. Photo: Getty Images
A history of violence: A scene from the bloody conflicts of the 1971 Bangladesh war. Photo: Getty Images
It is an uncomfortable question. Many Bangladeshis feel that raising such a doubt undermines their suffering and belittles their identity. But a thorough, unbiased study, going as far as facts can take the analysis, would be an important contribution to our understanding of the subcontinent?s recent history.
Continue reading “Subcontinental drift”

PRESIDENTIAL CLEMENCY

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But, will the people forgive the President..?

By rahnuma ahmed

The president has granted clemency to AHM Biplob, son of Laxmipur ruling party leader Abu Taher, a death row inmate, convicted of kidnapping and murdering advocate Nurul Islam on September 18, 2000, who was then organising secretary of Laxmipur BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party).
But will the people forgive the President? This is the question that grips politicians, lawyers, intellectuals and activists as they discuss and debate, that arouses common people’s passions as they argue and pass judgment, even those who are opposed to the death penalty in principle, as I am. The ruling party’s electoral pledge to establish the rule of law now rings hollow. Absolutely. Finally.
Since July 14, when presidential clemency was granted to Biplob.
Ruling party leaders insist that president Zillur Rahman has acted in accordance with his constitutional powers. Part IV, section 49 says, “The President shall have [the] power to grant pardons, reprieves and respites and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or other authority.”
But surely presidential pardons must necessarily be exercised with discretion? With caution? Only in cases where there is reasonable ground to assume that a miscarriage of justice has occurred? To prevent it from happening?
That, however, is not the case. The truth can no longer be hidden. It has been exposed as it was bound to, revealing the corrupt arrogance of ruling party talking heads who prove yet again to be blind to the absolute misery of common people devastated ever more by killings. By senseless road accidents.? By sexual assaults,?rapes, mob attacks leading to deaths. By extra-judicial killings.
Continue reading “PRESIDENTIAL CLEMENCY”

We Protest

?Into Exile ? Tibet 1949 ? 2009,? an exhibition organised by the Bangladeshi chapter of Students for a Free Tibet, in partnership with Drik, was symbolically opened by Professor Muzaffer Ahmed, former chairman of Transparency International?Bangladesh, on 1 November 2009. Despite pressure on Drik to cancel the exhibition, first by officials of the Chinese embassy in Dhaka, and later by Bangladesh government officials, special branch, police, and members of parliament, the opening took place outside, on the street, as Drik’s premises had been locked up by the police. The police had insisted that we needed official permission to hold the exhibition but were unable to produce any written document to that effect.

Police enters Drik's premises even after exhibition is cancelledPolice insisted on entering the private premises of Drik even after they were unable to produce any documentation to show they were authorised to do so. A day after blocking the entrance to the gallery to prevent an exhibition on Tibet from taking place, police said they had orders from the Home Ministry to guard the place for seven days. Dhaka, Bangladesh. November 2, 2009. ? Shehab Uddin/DrikNews/Majority World

We went ahead with the opening as it is part of Drik’s struggle for the freedom of cultural expression. We are particularly affronted at being asked by officials of a foreign state, to cancel the exhibition. We strongly believe that governments should have the courage to present their views at cultural platforms and to try and convince people by arguing their case, in other words, acting democratically, rather than using intimidation and heavy-handed tactics.

Shahidul with police 7067 Tibet Exhibition SeriesShahidul Alam insisting that police leave the premises of Drik and not intimidate visitors to the gallery. Police positioned themselves outside the gate leaving some of their riot gear prominently displayed inside. Upon further resistance the riot gear was removed. 2nd November 2009. Dhaka. Bangladesh. ? Saikat Mojumder/DrikNews/Majority World

The forced closure of Drik affects many people, which includes members of the public, clients and those working at Drik. Public interest is our concern. We also want to continue working as an internationally acclaimed media organisation with both national and international commitments. Hence, having registered our indignance, at the actions of the Bangladesh government, and those of Chinese embassy officials we will be closing the exhibition 2 November 2009.
We express our thanks to members of the public and the media, for being present at the street opening, for demonstrating their deep disgust at governmental interference, and at their show of solidarity.

Stop Press: Police have been evicted from Drik and have positioned themselves outside the gate.