Nipironer Biruddhe Shahbagh, a platform of writers, artists, and journalists, yesterday issued a 24-hour ultimatum demanding unconditional release of poet Henry Sawpon and lawyer Imtiaz Mahmud.
Otherwise, they will go for an indefinite sit-in from 4pm tomorrow at Shahbagh intersection.
Robin Ahsan, convener of the platform, gave the ultimatum at a human chain in front of the national museum, demanding unconditional release of the duo detained under Digital Security act.
They also demanded the abolishment of this act.
Robin Ahsan said, “Law and administration of Bangladesh are going in reverse. After getting death threat Henry Sawpon went to law enforcement agency seeking security. But some plain-clothes police officials picked him up from his house in the name of providing security.”
“Henry stayed in Barishal as he loved his birth place, whereas, we all shifted to Dhaka in hope of a better life. He has always written against communalism,” he added.
Robin urged the government to release Henry and all other detained under Digital Security Act, unconditionally.
Poet Sarder Faruq said free thinkers like Sawpon and Imtiaz Mahmud are being held as there was an attempt to create an “environment of fear.”
“Detaining such liberal people creates fear, so that the artists remain silent about the ongoing disorder taking place across the coutry,” he added.
Poet Shaheed Kayes said, “There was no contempt of religion in Henry’s Facebook post. The case against him is nothing but a conspiracy.”
He demanded Henry’s unconditional release, withdrawal of false case, abolishment of Digital Security Act and bringing those who threatened Henry to book.
“How does the government formulate an act that makes citizens suffer? We have to find a solution to this,” said filmmaker Abu Sayed.
Dramatist Ananta Hira, also a friend of Henry, urged the poets and writers of Barisal to march towards the church concerned with the demand of Henry’s release.
Mentioning Digital Security Act as a repressive law, a lawyer named Hasan Tareq Chowdhury said, “This is a black law and government has formulated such law to supress the voice of protest.”
“You [government] will have to suffer as well if you do not remain in power,” said Abdul Baten, teacher of a private university.
Lackavalier Gomes, a priest of a Barishal Catholic church, filed a case with Kotwali Police Station on Tuesday noon against Henry Sawpon, 48; Alfred Sarkar, 52, and Jewel Sarkar, 40, for hurting religious sentiments through comments on social media.