Rushad Faridi, assistant professor at the Economics Department of DU, called for a mass movement against the act
University Teachers’ Network has demanded the abolition of the Digital Security Act and the immediate and unconditional release of those arrested under this law.
The platform of progressive public and private university teachers made the demand on Monday at a sit-in protest against the law.
Around 30 protesting teachers and activists joined the program, held at the base of the Central Shaheed Minar.
Samina Luthfa, an associate professor at Dhaka University’s (DU) Sociology Department, said: “It is important to speak up against such a law and we have to do it so that the Digital Security Act is scrapped for our security and safety.
“We will be able to survive if the law is abolished after forcing the government to do so. This is why we have to be vocal against irregularities and corruption.”
“Professionals like teachers, doctors, and police do not have the right to speak,” she pointed out.
Md Tanzimuddin Khan, associate professor at the International Relations Department of the same university, shared his colleague’s sentiments.
He said there had been an institutionalized attempt to seize people's freedom of expression.
“Those who have been lying since the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country by saying they were well equipped to combat the crisis are the culprits,” he said.
Instead of using the Digital Security Act against those liars, it was being used against people who were vocal against abductions, extrajudicial killings and corruption, added Tanzimuddin.
Terming it a black law, the DU teacher said it needed to be abolished to protect people’s right to speak, given that the state was very alert to protecting corrupt politicians and bureaucrats.
Rushad Faridi, assistant professor at the Economics Department of DU, called for a mass movement against the act.
He said: “A country where an act exists that includes repressive non-bailable penalties for at least 14 offences is not liveable.”
A person can be imprisoned for two to three months for even an indirect post on social media, he added.
Leaders of some left-leaning student bodies expressed their solidarity with the demands of the teachers.
Many of the teachers uploaded their photos holding placards, stating they wanted the law to be abolished on Facebook.
Meanwhile, a group of Rajshahi University (RU) teachers also staged a sit-in at the Shabash Bangladesh Chhattar of the university voicing similar demands.
A Begum Rokeya University teacher, an RU teacher and a few others were either arrested or detained after cases were filed against them under the Digital Security Act for reportedly defaming Awami League leader Mohammed Nasim after his death and for being critical of the government on various issues.
The Digital Security Bill, 2018, was passed in Parliament on September 19, 2018, to deal with cybercrimes, including hurting religious sentiments, negative propaganda against the Liberation War and Bangabandhu, illegal activities in e-transactions and defamatory speeches, despite widespread concerns about the measure expressed by various quarters and especially journalists.