Entertainment

Konnie Huq ‘appalled' by Bangladesh's detention of photographer Shahidul Alam

The Blue Peter presenter has added her voice to the campaign for Mr Alam's release.

Television presenter Konnie Huq said she has lost pride in her Bangladeshi homeland following the arrest of renowned photographer Shahidul Alam.

Mr Alam – famous for chronicling human-rights abuses – was arrested by the Dhaka metropolitan police on August 5 for allegedly damaging “the image of the nation”.

The photographer, who has covered Bangladesh’s use of death squads and the Rohingya refugee crisis, has been a vocal supporter of student protests in the country.

Many students were arrested following demonstrations over the deaths of two students killed by a speeding bus.

Mr Alam is accused of contravening Bangladesh’s Information and Communications Technology Act for an interview he gave to Al Jazeera.

In a short video, former Blue Peter presenter said she was “really appalled at the treatment of Shahidul Alam”.

Ms Huq attended a demonstration against Mr Alam’s incarceration outside the Bangladesh High Commission in London on Friday.

She said: “To be taken by force and put into prison just because of your beliefs is something that I did not think the Bangladesh government was capable of.

“In recent years it has transpired that that is not the case at all and people are beginning to think of my country, that I used to be very proud of, as one with an objectionable government.”

She added: “I really hope he gets freed. I just want justice.”

She has been a vocal supporter of the campaign for the photographer’s release on social media.

In August she tweeted that she was “sickened and upset” by his ongoing detention.

Her sister, MP for Ealing Central and Acton Rupa Huq, has also campaigned against Mr Alam’s ongoing detention and wrote to staff at the Foreign Office asking them to work for his release.

She tweeted on Friday: “Glad to hear Foreign Office are raising human rights abuses with authorities in Bangladesh in response to me #FreeShahidulAlam letter to minister @MarkFieldUK.

“One wonders if repressive government feels more able to get away with stuff now eyes of the world diverted to Rohingya.”

Film-maker Steve McQueen, dancer and choreographer Akram Khan and artists Anthony Gormley and Anish Kapoor are among the many high-profile figures calling for his release.

Mr Alam’s career as a photojournalist has spanned 40 years and as well as covering major news events in Bangladesh and surrounding countries, he also founded the Pathshala South Asian Institute of Photography in Dhaka.

In a statement made to Rupa Huq, Foreign Office minister Mark Field said the issue had been raised by the UK Government with the Bangladeshi minister for foreign affairs.

Ms Karim said:  “Field said the government should investigate unlawful violence against ‘protesters and journalists and hold the perpetrators to account’.”

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