After reporting that the Chinese government was pressuring the government of Bangladesh to stop a photo exhibition on Tibet, this blog received a few comments on the situation.’
I am amazed that someone would trade their freedoms of expression for some short term gain.
Will the people of Bangladesh take the same approach for the suppression of Uyghur people in Eastern Turkestan (aka Xinjiang)?
Will they ignore the plight of fellow Muslims to be denied the right to observe Islam, or is the reward from the Chinese thugs that good as to make them forget their brethren?
The situation deteriorated even further as reported here.
An hour before the launch, scheduled for 5pm, police shut the gates preventing public from entering the gallery, said Drik authorities. Drik managing director Shahidul Alam said Bangladesh Police Special Branch spoke with him and asked him to stop the exhibition citing a “government order”.
Alam said, although the police officers could not produce any document of the order, they threatened to shut down the show by force if the organisers did not do so willingly.
According to DrikNEWS, representatives from the Chinese Embassy requested the the weeklong photography exhibition be cancelled.
Drik authorities said they came under pressure for last two days to close down the exhibition.
Alam told bdnews24.com, “The day before yesterday (Friday), two officers from the Chinese Embassy came and asked us to cancel the exhibition.”
“After that I also received a series of phone calls from the ministry of cultural affairs and from a number of MPs.”
“On Saturday, officers from the Special Branch of police came and exerted pressure to stop the exhibition according to a ‘government order’. I wanted a written copy of the government order but they refused to show me.”
Officer-in-charge of Dhanmondi police station Shah Alam told bdnews24.com, “They organised the exhibition without any permission.”
He said “all such exhibitions” had been held with prior permission in the past.
However, officials of Drik—a world- renowned photo library, media and communication organisation—said they have arranged countless minor and major exhibitions over the past 20 years and never needed any permission.
On Sunday, at 5.44 pm, Professor Muzaffar Ahmed, chairman of Transparency International Bangladesh and chief guest at the launch, informally inaugurated the exhibition on the street outside Drik Gallery as police continued to block the gates to the premises.
In a short speech, Muzaffar focused on the importance of freedom of expression.
He said, “The ideal of one world that the United Nations talk about will only be established when the right to freedom of everybody’s expression is protected.”
Drik authorities said the exhibition will continue, on the street in front of Drik Gallery, from 3pm to 8pm until Nov 7.
Please contact the contact the US State Department and let them know about the abuse of people’s rights at the behest of the Chinese Communist Party. Another point to make would be to make sure that a note about this should be placed in the next annual report on Human Rights for both Bangladesh and the People’s Republic of China.
Another contact would be the Embassy of Bangladesh to the US in Washington DC. On their front page they have a link to a story “Bangladesh returns to democracy.” Please ask the Ambassador what democracy means if Bangladeshi citizens and officials can be bullied by a foreign government in their own country? If the police can be tempted to intimidate it’s citizens by a foreign government, how can that be democratic – the foreign government doesn’t pay the bills and make democratic decisions – citizens do. If the police can intimidate citizens into changing their behaviors, what freedom is that?