Friday, May 11, 2007

Free Tasneem

We heard earlier today that Tasneem Khalil, a young Bangladeshi journalist and a fellow blogger (Tasneem's blog), was picked up by the army in the early hours of the morning from his home in Dhaka. What is his crime? Why has he been arrested?

Bangladesh's unelected regime says it wants to curb corruption and institute reforms. But sacrificing liberty to get better governance will result in a loss of both. And in any case, it is hard to imagine how a young journalist can be involved in corruption that the regime says it is uprooting. We suspect that the arrest has a lot more to do with his reporting of extra-judicial killings carried out by various state agencies.

This gross violation of a fundamental right has been reported around the world. Fellow bloggers have initiated a campaign to free him (examples: Unheard Voices, Shahidul and Mash). Our thoughts are with his family. We hope that with strong international pressure and, more likely, through appropriate back channel negotiations, Tasneem will be free soon.

But there are many others currently under detention who don’t have friends in western capitals to call the CNN or the nation’s top officials. What will happen to them?

We don’t want to see another Faujistan in Desh. Let's stop the creeping dictatorship now so that we don't have to face a bitter generation-long conflict later.

Update: Anonymous comments have been posted at a number of blogs claiming that Tasneem has 'confessed' to sending 'seditious SMS'. How dumb do the army intelligence think people are?
Update 2: He has been freed.