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Indefinite strike threatened if Henry, Imtiaz not released within 24hrs

  • Published at 10:32 pm May 15th, 2019
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Protest for the release of Poet Henry Sawpon and Lawyer Imtiaz Mahmud at Shahabagh on wednesday, May 15, 2019 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Poet Henry Sawpon was sent to jail in a case filed under the Digital Security Act

A platform of writers, artists, journalists have given ultimatum of 24 hours to release Poet Henry Sawpon and Lawyer Imtiaz Mahmud.

They have, otherwise threatened to go on an indefinite strike from Friday 4pm at the Shahbagh intersection.

Protesters, under the banner ‘Shahbagh against Repression’, formed a human chain on Wednesday in front of the National Museum demanding unconditional release of both detainees, detained under the Digital Security Act. 

They also demanded the abolishment of this law terming it as ‘inhuman’.

While addressing the human chain, the platform's convener Robin Ahsan said: “Law administration of Bangladesh is walking in the backward direction. After getting death threats, Henry Sawpon went to the law enforcement agency for security. Police, dressed in civilian attire, picked him up from his house in name of providing security.”

“Henry stayed in Barisal as he loved his birth place, while we all came to Dhaka for a better life. He always has written against communalism. But the administration of Barisal is none but ignorant,” he added.

Robin urged the government to release Henry unconditionally along with the other detainees confined under Digital Security Act.

Terming Henry’s arrest as illegal, Poet Sarder Faruq said: “If there is only one person who raised question against communal powers in Barisal, he is Poet Henry. When communal people set afire Henry’s house, he was injured. But he does not fear raising voice against communalism, or corruption. All he did was raising voice against corruptions of churches' Bishops.”

Poet Shaheed Kayes said: “There was no contempt of religion in Henry’s facebook post. The case against him is a set-up.”

He demanded Henry’s unconditional release, withdrawal of false case, abolishment of Digital Security Act. He also demanded to bring back the person, who threatened Henry, to book.

Filmmaker Abu Sayed said: “How does the government formulate such act and causing people are suffering? We have to find out the best way to a solution.” 

Dramatist Ananta Hira, also a friend of Henry said: “I urge the poets and writers of Barisal to march towards churches. We will march towards all the churches of the country and force them to release him.”

In the meantime, the court did not grant bail to Supreme Court lawyer Imtiaz Mahmud, who was also detained under the Digital Security Act.

Lawyer Hasan Tarek Chawdhury said: “Government has made the law enforcement agencies as killer force.”

Terming the Digital Security Act as a black act, the lawyer said: “Detained Imtiaz had posted a facebook status against ethnic violence on 2017. A case had been filed against him that time under section 57 of the defunct ICT Act. Even the court did not grant him bail.”

“Government is doing these to stifle the voices of protest,” he added.

A person named Shafiqul Islam has filed a lawsuit against the lawyer Imtiaz for his writings in facebook posts which claimed to be provoked violence in Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Writer Dipankar Gautam said: “Bank robbers and those involved with food adulteration are not being arrested in our country but the innocents being detained.”

Poet Henry Sawpon was sent to jail in a case filed under the Digital Security Act accusing him of hurting religious sentiments.

Monday’s arrest of the Barisal-based poet Henry came at a time when local police had allegedly refused to accept a general diary the poet wanted to lodge after receiving life threats from some unknown people on last Saturday.