- As a journalist, your only space is at the edge. You have to be constantly feeling the heat. Go back one more step, and you may cease to be effective. There are no safe options, and no prizes for popularity and if you’re not making certain people uncomfortable by your presence, you are probably doing something wrong. The struggle for change is a never-ending process that requires you to be constantly alert, and forever swimming against the current. It is a lonely, stressful, tiring and immensely gratifying journey. These are the words of Shahidul Alam Alam the renowned photographer, social entrepreneur, founder and managing director of the Drik Picture Library and creator of Pathshala South Asian Media Institute in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which has trained hundreds of photographers.
Last fall young students took to the streets of Dhaka to demonstrate for better road safety after a bus killed two students. In the following protests more than 100 people were injured as police fired teargas and rubber bullets and crowds of people attacked protesters and photographers.
After days of live reporting in social media from the streets and just hours after giving an Al-Jazeera interview about the protests, the 63-year-old photographer was picked up from his home in the capital, Dhaka, on the evening of Sunday 5th August by at least 20 plain clothed police officers. Arrested and charged under section 57 of Bangladesh’s Information Communications Technology Act, a broad law against electronic communication that “tends to deprave or corrupt” or prejudices the image of the state. Human Rights Watch has called the law “draconian”.
After more than 100 days in Keraniganj prison he was finally granted bail in November. The international community of photojournalists, intellectuals, Nobel Laureates and authors like Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein and Arundhati Roy, United Nations, Amnesty International amongst others have condemned the arrest and called on Bangladesh to drop all charges against Alam.
In December Shahidul Alam (b.1955) was named Person of The Year by Time Magazine togheter with a group of international colleges who are taking a great risk pursuing essential stories and speaking up. He will be a part of a seminar about the security of journalists and the increasing number of threats and dangers visual reporters face around the world.
HOUSE OF LITERATURE - EGALIA