A number of eminent citizens yesterday condemned the withdrawal of permission for a venue that was earlier granted for a talk by acclaimed Indian author and activist Arundhati Roy, as part of the ongoing international photography festival Chobi Mela.
According to festival organisers, the talk was scheduled to be held at 6pm yesterday at the Krishibid Institution in the capital's Khamarbari, and permission was taken from authorities for the event. But on Monday night, Dhaka Metropolitan Police withdrew the permission citing “unavoidable circumstances”.
“We believe that this undemocratic and arbitrary decision of withdrawal is a clear example of the shrinking space for freedom of speech, a key constitutional commitment and core value of the spirit of Liberation War of Bangladesh,” a written statement said, adding that the incident “demonstrates a gross abuse of power and cowardly intolerance of free speech.”
The session, titled “Utmost Everything”, was eventually held last evening at alternate venue Midas Centre.
The signatories to the statement include Hafizuddin Khan, Sultana Kamal, Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury, Dr Iftekharuzzaman, Dr Shahdeen Malik, Prof Anu Muhammad, Robaet Ferdous, Dr CR Abrar, Meghna Guhathakurta, Sara Hossain, Syeda Rizwana Hasan, Md Nur Khan, Sanjeeb Drong, Jyotirmoy Barua, Rezaur Rahman Lenin, Manzoor Hasan OBE, Professor Firdous Azim, Bashirul Haq, and Anusheh Anadil, among others.