May 12, 2007

Tasneem Khalil Freed at last

At about 11 PM Bangladesh time on the 11th of May Tasneem Khalil released by joint forces about 22 hours after being picked up. Drishtipat Blog has time line of events.

At last we have some press about Tasneem Khalil in Bangladesh. Bangladeshi news papers ran the story of his release. There was a silence during the day (in those few News papers who have midday publications)

* The New Age


* The Daily Amader Shomoy

* The Daily Prothom Alo

Mahfuz Anam, the editor of his employer the Daily Star has released a press statement which says:
"I contacted the authorities concerned and was informed that him being questioned was not due to his journalistic work ...In fact, it was because of the contents of his [Tasneem] personal blog and some SMSs he had sent recently, where views were expressed which were completely his own and had nothing to do with his work at this paper."
So Mahfuz Anam disowned him. And he also said:
Following my discussions with the authorities and because of the caretaker government’s commitment to the policy of freedom of the media, it was agreed that he would be released tonight [Friday].
I, however could not find any report on Tasneem in the Daily Star. I may be worng.

My question is what was in his personal blog that led to his arrest? Most of his articles were published elsewhere.

Many Bangladeshi blogs have received anonymous comments (including one in my blog - yes I don't delete comments) which tried to say that Tasneem is engaged in subversive activities to the state and that is the reason for his detention. Well I don't know how our respected Mr. anonymous got this much of insider information of the Joint forces, but even if it is true should not it be notified to the press by the Joint forces? I mean people should not have any problem if well documented convictions are there. The problem is that we have seen instances of framing a few political leaders with false cases. In current situation (state of emergency) anyone can get picked up by the joined forces without citing any reason. Links with the foreign intelligence units or you name what can be discovered later to justify that. I am talking about possibilities not criticizing.

The Blog Herald says:
One of the great things regarding citizen journalism is the fact that ordinary individuals can inform anyone connected to cyberspace about the latest events happening in their part of the world.

Unfortunately it seems that certain governments do not fully appreciate dissenting viewpoints, and apparently in Bangladesh the authorities are out to intimidate these independent voices.

Although this story goes to show the world how the blogs (and media) working together can counter the forces of oppression, it should also remind those in the west that freedom of speech is not yet universal, not to mention how fortunate some of us are to live in nations promoting liberty throughout their societies.
Yes It was the voices of Blogs that could create a buzz for release of Tasneem Khalil. Many Bloggers at Bangla blogging platform "Bandh Bhanger Awaaj" suspended regular postings yesterday and declared that they will only write about Tasneem Khalil.

Thanks everybody for your support. Because of quick actions by the bloggers we could push this to media, some US congressmen and the Bangladesh Government. Pickled Politics was organizing a protest at Bangladeshi embassy London. Really remarkable how quickly Tasneem was released.

But the worrying thing we get from this is that he was arrested because of the contents of his personal blog. So Bloggers in Bangladesh are now in the focal point. This creates an enormous responsibility on the bloggers who should counter check their facts before writing anything as they will be under scrutiny. And still they should not be intimidated to tell the truth because they will always have people who support freedom of speech and are against oppression without documented conviction.

Update: A commenter (Jason Paz) in Global Voices post on Tasneem Khalil:
It is of the utmost importance that we ordinary bloggers speak out against the injustice done Tasneem Khalil. Each of us may only have a small readership, but the effect can be worldwide having an impact on Bangladeshi officials.

Oppressors thrive picking off individuals in the darkness of night.
We want them to know the whole world is watching.
We want their kids to confront them over breakfast. “Daddy, did you do this?”
Salute to this spirit.


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