A Struggle for Democracy: RPS Fellow detained

04 October 2018

In the Media

Universities, galleries, museums and organisations across the UK are displaying a single image by the renowned photographer Shahidul Alam from 8th-28th October. This mass action is in solidarity with Shahidul, and to raise awareness of the movement to free him.

Dr Shahidul Alam is an internationally recognised and award-winning photographer, human rights activist and digital pioneer.

On 6th August this year, Shahidul was charged and imprisoned under Section 57 of Bangladesh’s Information and Communication Technology Act after giving an interview to Al-Jazeera on the current wave of student protests in Bangladesh. 

Section 57 of the ICT Act carries a minimum sentence of 7 years and a maximum of 14 years in jail. Amnesty International considers Shahidul a prisoner of conscience, detained for nothing but the legitimate use of his freedom of expression, and therefore calls for his immediate and unconditional release.

Participating venues are asking visitors to add their voice to the campaign demanding Shahidul’s immediate release, by emailing support for Shahidul to Bangladeshi authorities via Amnesty International at www.amnesty.org.uk/actions/free-shahidul-alam

The images displayed across the UK are from the exhibition recently shown at Drik in Dhaka, Bangladesh: A Struggle for Democracy - A Photo Journey by Shahidul Alam.


About Shahidul Alam 

Dr Shahidul Alam is a Bangladeshi photojournalist, teacher and social activist. He has been a photographer for more than forty years, and his work has been widely published and exhibited. Shahidul founded some of the most influential photography organisations in Asia including the Drik Picture Library, the Pathshala South Asian Media Institute in Dhaka and Chobi Mela International Photography Festival in 1999. 

Among many accolades, Shahidul is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society and visiting professor at the University of Sunderland. He has chaired the World Press Photo jury and his photography has been exhibited and published across the world. In October 2018, he is due to receive a Lucie Award, honouring his international achievements in humanitarian photography.

His book My Journey as a Witness has been described as “the most important book ever written by a photographer” by John Morris, the former picture editor of Life Magazine

We are supporting the campaign

The Society has joined calls by intellectuals and civil rights groups for the release of Honorary Fellow Shahidul Alam following his detention and alleged torture in Bangladesh.

Michael Pritchard FRPS, the Society’s director of education and public affairs, said: ‘The Society is extremely concerned about the arrest of its Honorary Fellow Shahidul Alam, an internationally respected photographer and activist. We have made representations to the Bangladeshi authorities and look forward to his release.’

Participating venues:

For updated information and participating venue list, visit www.autograph.org.uk/events/a-struggle-for-democracy

Autograph Side Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne 
Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool
Impressions Gallery, Bradford
The Photographers’ Gallery
Redeye: The Photography Network
New Art Exchange, Nottingham 

Photo North Festival, Harrogate


Nottingham Contemporary

Breeze Creatives, Newcastle upon Tyne 

Pop Recs, Sunderland 

Swadhinata Trust, London

Royal Photographic Society

Sunderland Culture



University of Sunderland

Ulster University 

University of Lincoln

University of Wolverhampton

London School of Economics and Political Science

Nottingham Trent University 

Edinburgh Napier University 

Coventry University
Royal College of Art
Northumbria University 
University of South Wales
Manchester Metropolitan University
University of Cumbria
University of Plymouth
Blackburn College
University of Gloucestershire

Birmingham City University

University of Salford
Northern School of Art
Anglia Ruskin University



Photo Romania Festival
Galerie Lichtblick/Kolga Tbilisi Photo, Georgia
RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.  
Encontros da Imagem - International Photo Festival, Braga, Portugal

This project has been initiated by the Northern Centre of Photography, University of Sunderland, Autograph (London) and Drik Picture Agency (Dhaka, Bangladesh).

Website: www.autograph.org.uk/events/a-struggle-for-democracy

Picture copyright: Shahidul Alam, Smriti Azad, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1994. Image courtesy of Shahidul Alam and Drik