Calling for the release of Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam

Free Shahidul Alam Today: Statement by the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development, Free Press Unlimited, and the World Press Photo Foundation

Shahidul Alam, internationally renowned photographer and activist, was forcibly taken from his home in Dhaka on 5 August. He was arrested and charged under Bangladesh’s ICT law for his public statements on recent protests. Nearly two months later, he remains in jail. The Prince Claus Fund, Free Press Unlimited and the World Press Photo Foundation call for his immediate release.

Shahidul Alam is a photographer, a champion of photography in Bangladesh and South Asia, and a global leader in photography. His book My Journey as a Witness has been described as “the most important book ever written by a photographer” by John Morris, the former picture editor of Life Magazine. He founded the multimedia and photo agencies, Drik Picture Library and Majority World, Pathshala South Asian Media Institute, as well as the biennial photography festival Chobi Mela. He is also a new media pioneer and an advocate for positive social change.

Shahidul Alam has chaired the World Press Photo Contest jury, been a long-standing partner of the Prince Claus Fund for 15 years and has also worked with Free Press Unlimited for many years.

We, the Prince Claus Fund, Free Press Unlimited and the World Press Photo Foundation, have been witness to his invaluable contributions in the world of photography and photojournalism and know him personally as a modest individual who has worked tirelessly for his community. In addition to his own accomplishments, he has made it his life’s work to support others by sharing his vast knowledge and generosity of spirit.

We call on the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina Wazed to adhere to its obligations under international law to release Shahidul Alam and to promote an environment in which media professionals are protected.

Please join us by signing this petition in support of Shahidul Alam:

“I have had the honour to know Shahidul and his work since my first days at the Prince Claus Fund in 2006. We have collaborated on projects to train rural video journalists, to preserve and document cultural heritage and oral histories… No one has done more to raise the profile of South Asian photographers and photojournalists.” - Joumana El Zein Khoury, Prince Claus Fund director.

“Shahidul is a personal friend, a great friend to our organization and a legend in world photography. He is highly respected by all who know him for his decades-long commitment to the arts, education, journalism, and photography. Nobody should be detained for their human rights, especially the right to peacefully express their views.” - Lars Boering, Managing Director World Press Photo Foundation.

“Through his photography, Shahidul has managed to speak for the poor, the underprivileged, the oppressed and the less in the society of Bangladesh. He has been detained without bail for nothing more than doing this job; giving voice to the concerns of students. Now is the time to raise our voice and show our support for Shahidul.”- Free Press Unlimited, Leon Willems.


Minister of Home Affairs
Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal
Salutation: Honourable Home Minister

Inspector General of Police
Mohammad Javed Patwary
Salutation: Dear Inspector General

And copies to: Political Affairs Advisor to Bangladesh
Prime Minister H.T. Imam

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.


Al Jazeera – Why did Bangladesh Arrest Shahidul Alam?

New York Times – An Acclaimed Photographer in Bangladesh Says He Was Tortured

The Guardian – The Guardian View on Shahidul Alam

NRC – Betogende jongeren leggen hoofdstad Bangladesh plat na busongeluk

Art Net – Anish Kapoor, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Other Leading UK Art Figures Join Outcry Over Jailed Photographer Shahidul Alam

The Times – MP urges aunt to release Bangladesh photographer Shahidul Alam

British Journal of Photography – Shahidul Alam denied bail in Bangladesh

The Daily Star – Shahidul Alam: His Journey as a Witness


Note for the Editors. For more information please contact:

David Campbell
Director of Communications, World Press Photo Foundation | +31 6 46 24 17 47

Sarah Smith
Coordinator Communications, Prince Claus Fund | +31 20 3449 169