Free Tasneem Khalil [UPDATED]

According to information received by the expatriate Bangladeshi organization Drishtipat, the journalist, blogger and researcher Tasneem Khalil may be released from military custody in Dhaka this evening after being taken last night from his home by the military. Drishtipat is running updates here. Tasneem writes for the Bangladesh Daily Star, is a stringer for CNN and has also carried out research for Human Rights Watch. He is also a blogger, and his site offers interesting perspectives on the political upheaval Bangladesh is currently undergoing, as well as features on social and environmental issues. Tasneem is 26 years old, married and a father of one. We stand in solidarity.

Tasneem’s work with international news and advocacy organizations has resulted in a very rapid spread of the news of his detention, which will be an embarrasment to the Bangladeshi military authorities. HRW has released a statement with an account of the nocturnal visit from agents claiming to be with the “joint task force.” HRW links to a 2006 report on torture and extrajudicial killings by the Bangladesh Rapid Action Battalion to which Tasneem contributed. All this contributes to the obvious fears for him and reminds us of the peril faced by others who may not have the benefit of such a rapid international outcry.

UPDATE: Tasneem Khalil was released this evening, local time. Per Drishtipat:

Update 9:11:33 pm BDT
Tasneem is meeting with Mahfuz Anam in his office alone. Staffers in office say he looks physically ok, but badly shaken up. He is being taken home to his wife by DS staff after the meeting with MA.

Note also this earlier update:

Update 7:10:15 pm BDT
Senior Daily Star office are huddled in office, including Mahfuz Anam. MA has released a statement. Excerpts: ” “I contacted the authorities concerned and was informed that him being questioned was not due to his journalistic work and had nothing to do with his functions at The Daily Star…. In fact, it was because of the contents of his personal blog and some SMSs he had sent recently…. 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.” Full statement is not online on DS website yet.

11 thoughts on “Free Tasneem Khalil [UPDATED]

  1. Rezwan, another Bangladeshi blogger, has a long list of other bloggers who have been talking about this. It’s wonderful that they are — one might imagine that the arrest of a prominent blogger might have a certain chilling effect. He also has lots of updates there.

    • Also, an earlier SM post related to current (or almost current) Bangladeshi politics is here.
  2. He seems to have been released. From the Drishipat blog

    Update 9:11:33 pm BDT Tasneem is meeting with Mahfuz Anam in his office alone. Staffers in office say he looks physically ok, but badly shaken up. He is being taken home to his wife by DS staff after the meeting with MA.
  3. Thanks for covering this, Siddhartha, and for the accompanying commentary and statement of solidarity. And thanks, Amardeep for the link. Would not have known of all this otherwise. Thankfully, Tasneem seems to have been released, as voiceinthehead mentions, but developments in Bangladesh bear careful watching. I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t know as much about this as I probably should.

  4. Thank you for posting this, had no idea, I don’t think the mainstream press in India, let alone in the US mentioned this. Always inspiring to read about everyday folks standing up to authoritarianism.

  5. Thanks for this post, Siddhartha. It is sad how little coverage Bangladesh gets in mainstream West Bengal bangla media, except Taslima perhaps. I sent out a few emails to Calcutta-based newspapers. I am not very optimistic. But with the cricket series going on, there is a significant Indian media presence in Bangladesh and someone might pick it up.

  6. Thank you very much for your support for Tasneem’s release.

    While the Bangladeshi press kept mum (probably because of self censorship and the timing of publications) the Bangladeshi blogs broke the news within a couple of hours of the incident. Because of widespread amplifications we could get this heard to media, some US congressmen (through Diaspora bloggers) and pressuring the Bangladesh Government. Emails, blog posts demanding release of Tasneem were flying everywhere. Many Bloggers at a Bangla blogging platform suspended regular postings and declared that they will only write about Tasneem Khalil. A South Asian group Blog Pickled Politics was mobilizing a demonstration outside the Bangladesh embassy in London and an e-petition to UK Government. Some bloggers were knocking media sources like BBC through personal contact, why they were not picking up the story, which they did eventually.

    The support for Tasneem was overwhelming and not any country specific. According to Technocrati about a 100 blog posts were created for Tasneem within 24 hours. This shows the blogs (and media) working together can counter the forces of oppression.

    A commenter (Jason Paz) posted this in the Global Voices:

    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?”

    Yes you bloggers have done it. Take a bow.