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: â€ â€œI 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 Starâ€¦. In fact, it was because of the contents of his personal blog and some SMSs he had sent recentlyâ€¦. Following my discussions with the authorities and because of the caretaker governmentâ€™s commitment to the policy of freedom of the media, it was agreed that he would be released tonight.â€ Full statement is not online on DS website yet.