Bangladesh: Head Teacher Arrested for Possessing "Lajja"

WLUML allies

Press Release

We, the undersigned strongly protest the arrest of Mr. Yunus Ali, the Head Teacher of KC Technical and Business Management College of Pirojpur, on 4 January, 2012. Mr. Ali was arrested or having allegedly kept a copy of writer Taslima Nasreen's novel "Lajja" ("Shame") in the college library. This arrest is a clear breach of the right to freedom of speech and shows the presence of a broad range of communal and generally reactionary forces in our society.

We believe that the banning of books clearly violates the right to freedom of thought and expression, which constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic and pluralistic society during the information age of the 21st century and is enshrined in the Constitution of Bangladesh.[1]  Dissenting ideas and opinions should be faced through a healthy debate, not censorship and arrest. A state’s weakness, intolerance and imprudence are revealed when a literary work is banned in this manner.

Only a tolerant, secular and democratic atmosphere will ensure maximum participation of everyone in public life, enrich our culture and maintain the spirit of the liberation war. On this basis, we demand that all charges against Head Teacher Mr. Yunus Ali be immediately dropped.

Signed by:

  1. Sultana Kamal, Executive Director, Ain O Salish Kendro
  2. Hameeda Hossain, Chairperson, Human Rights Activist
  3. Khushi Kabir, Coordinator, Nijera Kori
  4. M. Zafar Iqbal, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology
  5. Anu Mohammad, Jahangirnagar University
  6. Gitiara Nasreen, Dhaka University
  7. Sonia Amin, Dhaka University
  8. Ferdousi Priyobhashini, Human Rights Activist
  9. Sara Hossain, Advocate, Supreme Court
  10. Dina Siddiqi, Hunter College, New York
  11. Meghna Guhathakurta, Research Initiatives Bangladesh
  12. Bina D’ Costa, The Graduate Institute, Geneva
  13. Shapan Adnan, Independent Scholar
  14. Zakir Kibria, Solidarity Workshop
  15. Faustina Pereira, Advocate, Supreme Court
  16. Robaet Ferdous, Dhaka University
  17. Asif Saleh
  18. Jyoti Rahman, Editor, Drishtipat Writers’ Collective
  19. Sultana Begum, Human Rights Activist
  20. Khodeja Sultana, Human Rights Activist

[1] Article 39 (Freedom of thought and conscience, and of speech) says “Freedom of thought and conscience is guaranteed” and that “the right of every citizen of freedom of speech and expression; and freedom of the press, are guaranteed”.