Nov 03, 2009

Tibet: Police Prevent Photo Exhibition

Active ImagePolice prevented Drik Gallery in Dhanmondi from launching an exhibition, titled 'Into Exile: Tibet 1949 – 2009', on Sunday [1 November 2009].
Below is an article published by BDNews 24:

The exhibition was organised by 'Students for a Free Tibet', and includes some very rare photos of the Dalai Lama's journey into exile.

An hour before the launch, scheduled for 5pm, police shut the gates preventing public from entering the gallery, said Drik authorities.

Drik managing director Shahidul Alam said Bangladesh Police Special Branch spoke with him and asked him to stop the exhibition citing a "government order".

Alam said, although the police officers could not produce any document of the order, they threatened to shut down the show by force if the organisers did not do so willingly.

According to DrikNEWS, representatives from the Chinese Embassy requested the the weeklong photography exhibition be cancelled.

Drik authorities said they came under pressure for last two days to close down the exhibition.

Alam told, "The day before yesterday (Friday), two officers from the Chinese Embassy came and asked us to cancel the exhibition."

"After that I also received a series of phone calls from the ministry of cultural affairs and from a number of MPs."

"On Saturday, officers from the Special Branch of police came and exerted pressure to stop the exhibition according to a 'government order'. I wanted a written copy of the government order but they refused to show me."

Officer-in-charge of Dhanmondi police station Shah Alam told, "They organised the exhibition without any permission."

He said "all such exhibitions" had been held with prior permission in the past.

However, officials of Drik—a world- renowned photo library, media and communication organisation—said they have arranged countless minor and major exhibitions over the past 20 years and never needed any permission.

On Sunday, at 5.44 pm, Professor Muzaffar Ahmed, former chairman of Transparency International Bangladesh and chief guest at the launch, informally inaugurated the exhibition on the street outside Drik Gallery as police continued to block the gates to the premises.

Activists were seen demonstrating in support of the show.

In a short speech, Muzaffar focused on the importance of freedom of expression.

He said, "The ideal of one world that the United Nations talk about will only be established when the right to freedom of everybody's expression is protected."

Drik authorities said the exhibition will continue, on the street in front of Drik Gallery, from 3pm to 8pm until Nov 7.