Shahidul and other Drik photographers attacked outside polling station

Drik photographers Shahidul Alam, Parvez Ahmed and Sumon Paul, along with writers Rahnuma Ahmed and Mahtab Uddin Ahmed went to the Dhanmondi Government Girls High School polling centre at 8:15am on 30 December 2018. The accreditation cards of the photographers issued by the Election Commission which authorized them to take photos, were visible. Shahidul Alam and Rahnuma Ahmed cast their votes, and when they had come out of the voting centre, a group of men approached photographer Shahidul Alam and demanded that he stop taking photographs. When asked what authority they had to prevent him from taking photographs, one of them, claiming he was the chairman of the Press Council, showed a laminated card around his neck with the Awami League’s boat symbol, but could not show any official documentation from the Election Commission. When Shahidul showed his press accreditation issued by the Election Commission, which authorized him to take photos, the group ignored it, became aggressive and accusing Shahidul of ‘treason’, started pushing him out. The other Drik members gathered upon which they started beating the photographers and trying to confiscate their equipment. One of them snatched away the mobile phone from Parvez Ahmed. Shahidul and Parvez were roughed up. Shahidul has been injured in his back.

Screen grab of attacker with Shahidul’s mobile phone

Upon trying to upload the photographs and videos of the attack, it was discovered that Shahidul’s verified Facebook account has been hacked. Misleading messages are currently being posted from his account.

While police were present, they made no attempt to prevent the attack. No military personnel were seen.

Behind the Scenes: Time Person of the Year 2018

Person Of The Year

Moises Saman photographing Shahidul Alam on Dec. 5 on his Dhaka, Bangladesh, rooftop

Irfanul Islam: My quiet friend

Irfanul Islam

The moon was low over the city lights at 4:30 in the morning in Mexico City. A dull orange thin sliver, it too was in mourning. I was heading to the airport, but had just heard the news. Rahnuma had been keeping me updated. Ever since Irfan’s disappearance, we had feared the worst, but hoped upon hope that this time it would be different. They had the money, why did they need him? The news hit very hard.

I had joined the Bangladesh Photographic Society in 1984. Irfan had been part of our small administrative team. After serving as secretary general and three terms as president, I left the BPS to start up the Drik agency. Irfan soon decided to follow me to Drik. He worked in the darkroom with Anisur Rahman. The giant prints we had made in those days of Bangabandhu, in that tiny darkroom, with improvised troughs and hand mixed chemicals, were the handiwork of these two fine technicians.

Quiet and somewhat reclusive, Irfan was also slightly self-conscious as he had a mild stammer. He was a photographer, though he was not employed as one at Drik. He still joined us on photo shoots. He made friends easily with his disarming smile, but was less comfortable with more public roles. Once we closed the wet darkroom at Drik, a lab technician was no longer needed. Given his interest in photography, we tried Irfan out at our school of photography, Pathshala, but it was Drik, where he felt at home, and while he was not normally the person to say no or be defiant, this was one instance where he put his foot down. He was not going to budge from Drik. We had to find a new role for him. Continue reading “Irfanul Islam: My quiet friend”

How many more Avijit's must we mourn?

Mourning Avijit Roy

Avijit Roy, wife Rafida Ahmed Banya and daughter Trisha in holiday in New Orleans
Avijit Roy, wife Rafida Ahmed Banya and daughter Trisha in holiday in New Orleans

It was a few yards away from where Dr. Milon had been killed. Then it had been?suspected the police were involved. This time, the police were a silent witness. Blogger and human rights activist Dr. Avijit Roy and his wife?Rafida Ahmed Banna?were returning home after visiting the Amar Ekushey Book Fair. Their ricksha was stopped, they were dragged out and Avijit was hacked to death. Banya?was severely injured and lost a finger.? Continue reading “How many more Avijit's must we mourn?”

And Yet She Smiles

And yet she smiles. Gang raped numerous times as a child. Forced into pick pocketing. Caned till she was unconscious. Sold to a madame. Hajera Begum’s life has little that would give cause to smile. Yet she smiles. She cries too. Not because of the gang rapes, or the beating, or the many years she lives in the streets as a rag picker, but when she remembers that a man who worked in an NGO, refused to work in her team because she was a sex worker.

It was that moment that Hajera decided she would make sure it was different for others like her. She had earlier set up a self-help group for sex workers, but eventually, with the help of some university students and other friends and a generous journalist, set up an orphanage for abandoned kids. They are mostly children of sex workers. Some are children of drug addicts. A few are children of parents who simply couldn’t afford to keep them. Hajera and her thirty children live in five small rooms near Adabor Market 16, on the edge of Dhaka. Run entirely by volunteers, she has only one paid staff, the cook. “What will I do with a salary” she says. We share what food we have. I have a roof over my head and I have my children.
Remarkably, Hajera is not bitter. While she remembers every detail of her nightmarish life, she also remembers the friends who believed in her, and helped her set up the orphanage. Instead of remembering that she is incapable of bearing children because of brutal unwanted sex, she basks in the warmth of the 30 children who now call her mother.

Hajera and peer sex workers at Crescent Lake. Dhaka Hajera (right) and her friends by Crescent Lake in the parliament grounds. 1996. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World[/caption] Continue reading “And Yet She Smiles”

Mishu in police custody

File photo of Moshrefa Mishu, president of Garment Workers Unity Forum.
File photo of Moshrefa Mishu, president of Garment Workers Unity Forum.

Moshrefa Mishu, president, Garments Sromik Oikko Forum, who was leading the fast-unto-death hunger strike of Tuba Group workers demanding 3 months arrear wages, festival allowance & overtime since July 28 was picked up by police today post-midday. She is being held by Detective Branch police at Minto Road. There is concern for her safety as?she has been remanded (Bangladeshi euphemism for police torture) earlier, and has narrowly escaped attempts on her life. Please raise your voice to demand her immediate release, and immediate payment of all workers’ dues.
Saydia Gulrukh (sitting) in Badda Thana where she was detained after being beaten by police and government thugs. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
Saydia Gulrukh (sitting) in Badda Thana where she was detained after being beaten by police and government thugs. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

Yesterday the 6th August, police and government goons carried out an unprovoked attack on garment workers and activists.
Armoured truck outside Tuba Garments
Armoured truck outside Tuba Garments. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

More?Photos at Tuba Garments
Related links:
Earlier updates on Mishu by Rahnuma Ahmed
Statement of protest for earlier arrest of Mishu
Earlier hospitalisation of Mishu after being beaten?by police
 

Black July

30 Years Ago: An unprecedented look at Black July (via Ground Views)

Photo by Natalie Soysa, for Groundviews In August this year, Groundviews will launch a compelling collection of content to commemorate 30 years since Black July. The content will feature original podcasts, photography and writing on a dedicated website?

Continue reading “Black July”

In Defense of Hezbollah, a ?Terrorist? Organization

We had gone past the iconic shelled out buildings of central Beirut. It was soon obvious we were in Hezbollah territory. My guide and guardian angel Yasmine had told me about how the city was clearly divided, but I hadn’t expected as clear a demarcation as the one I’d seen in Falls Road in Northern Ireland many years ago.

Yasmine, my guide and guardian angel, walking me safely through the streets of Beirut. June 2009. ? Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
Yasmine, my guide and guardian angel, walking me safely through the streets of Beirut. June 2009. ? Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

Continue reading “In Defense of Hezbollah, a ?Terrorist? Organization”