In a statement issued on Wednesday, they said that the 'unexpected decision' was an attack on the freedom of thought and speech
Thirty-four citizens have harshly criticized police’s last-minute withdrawal of permission to hold an event with Indian author and social justice activist Arundhati Roy at the Krishibid Institution in Dhaka’s Farmgate.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, they said that the “unexpected decision” was an attack on the freedom of thought and speech.
Roy arrived in Dhaka on Monday to attend the Chobi Mela International Festival of Photography and took part in a discussion on Tuesday.
Her event was scheduled to be held at the Krishibid Institution Tuesday afternoon. But Dhaka Metropolitan Police in the early hours withdrew its permission given to organize the program over “unavoidable circumstances.”
The festival organizers later in the day managed to book the convention hall at the Midas Centre in the capital’s Dhanmondi as an alternative venue. But that approval was too briefly withdrawn, before the organizers managed to persuade the Midas Centre authorities to hold the event in the evening.
The 34 citizens in their statement on Wednesday condemned police’s decision, saying the law enforcement agency obstructing Arundhati Roy’s program was equivalent to an attack on citizens’ rights.
“We think all organizations and citizens have equal rights to organize cultural programs,” said the signatories, that included lawyers, teachers, human rights activists, journalists, writers and researchers.
They also said that this incident, centring famous novelist Roy, had tarnished Bangladesh and the government’s image before the eyes of the international community.
The signatories included Badruddin Umar, Dr Akmal Hossain, Meghna Guhathakurta, Khushi Kabir, Lucky Akter, Noor Khan, Md Sazzadur Rahman, Dr Ali Riaz, Muktasree Chakma Sathi, Jyotirmoy Barua, Kallol Mostofa, Tanzim Uddin Khan, Samina Lutfa, Souvik Reza, Swadhin Sen and Amir Abbas.
A number of civil society members on Tuesday had also condemned the polics decision to cancel its approval.