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Amnesty worried over detention of artists in Bangladesh

  • Published at 02:52 pm January 21st, 2021
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UK-based rights group urged Bangladesh govt to guarantee the right to freedom of artistic expression

Amnesty International has expressed deep concerns over the recent “arbitrary” detention and other forms of harassment of artists, who are facing increasing attacks on their right to freedom of expression, in Bangladesh.

In a statement released on Thursday, the UK-based human rights organization also urged Bangladesh authorities to drop all charges against artists Anonno Mamun, Shaheen Mridha, Rita Dewan, Ahmed Kabir Kishore and Mushtaq Ahmed.

“Bangladesh must uphold its obligations under international human rights law and guarantee the space of artistic and creative expression without the fear of retribution,” the statement said.

Last December, director Anonno Mamun released the trailer for his latest movie “Nabab LLB.” 

In the movie, actor Shaheen Mridha, who plays the character of a police officer, is seen grilling a female rape survivor seeking legal remedies.

“The movie scene, which unambiguously featured the conduct of a rogue police officer harassing a female rape victim with intrusive questioning, is a bitter reality that female rape victims in Bangladesh are routinely subjected to,” Amnesty International said. 

However, following the release of the trailer, on December 25, 2020, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police Cyber Crime Unit filed a case against both artists and arrested them under the Pornography Control Act 2012, alleging that the scene contains ‘very offensive gestures and obscene language’ which will create ‘negative perceptions about policing among the public’,” the statement read.

“The right to freedom of artistic expression and creativity is enshrined both in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and in the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) — Bangladesh is a state party to both instruments,” Amnesty said. 

It continued: “Article 19 (2) of ICCPR stipulates that the right to freedom of expression includes the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, including in the form of art. According to Article 15 (3) of the ICESCR, state parties are required to ‘respect the freedom indispensable for…creative activity.”

Bangladesh’s Constitution also guarantees people’s right to freedom of expression [Article 39],” it added.

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