Release Abul Kalam Immediately

Shafiur Rahman
4 min readDec 31, 2020


Award-winning photographer Abul Kalam, arrested 28 December.

On the morning of 28th December 2020, an award-winning photographer and Rohingya refugee, Abul Kalam, set out to take photographs of buses departing the Kutupalong camps for Bhasan Char. He was apprehended and then taken to the Camp-in-Charge in Camp 2W Block D5 of Kutupalong and subsequently to the Camp-in-Charge of Kutupalong Registered Camp. He was reportedly beaten when he was apprehended.

Abul Kalam was detained at the Kutupalong police barracks until late afternoon of Wednesday 30th December. According to Bangladeshi law, a person in custody should be brought before the courts within 24 hours. This was not the case for Abul Kalam and, at the time of writing, he has been detained for more than 60 hours. This is a clear violation of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and the directives of the High Court Division of the Supreme Court in BLAST v Bangladesh (55 DLR 363).

Photography is not a crime. Abul Kalam was taking photographs of buses on their way to Bhasan Char. He was doing so in a public place, albeit in a refugee camp. The relocation to Bhasan Char is a widely publicized programme of the Bangladesh government. It is by no means a secret and has been extensively covered in the media.

Abul Kalam is 35 years old and lives in Kutupalong Registered Camp. He has been a refugee for 28 years. He originally came from Borgozbil, Maungdaw, Myanmar. He is a prolific photographer and has documented refugee life throughout recent years. His images have appeared in many publications, and he recently won two prizes in the Rohingya Photography Competition. He is married and has four children. Two of his children are very young.

We, the undersigned, call upon the authorities to release Abul Kalam unconditionally and without further delay.

Dr C R Abrar, academic and migration rights expert, Dhaka

Dr Simon Adams, Executive Director, Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

Professor Shapan Adnan, SOAS, University of London, UK.

Hana Shams Ahmed, Graduate Programme, Social Anthropology, York University.

Kamal Ahmed, Independent Journalist and Author

Farida Akhter, Women’s movement activist, Bangladesh

Shahidul Alam, Bangladeshi Photojournalist

Laetitia van den Assum, diplomatic expert & former Netherlands’ ambassador

Jamal Benomar, Former UN Under-Secretary General

Simon Billenness, International Campaign for the Rohingya, USA

Beyond Borders Malaysia

Liza Boschin, RAI Documentary Maker & Photographer, Italy.

Professor Bina D’Costa, Dept. of International Relations, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, Australian National University

Cape Diamond, Journalist, Myanmar

Nigel Edwards QC, Barrister, Head of International Law, Human Rights and Civil Liberties, 33 Bedford Row, London.

Mark Farmaner, Director, Burma Campaign UK

Peter Gabriel, Musician & Human Rights Activist, Founder of WITNESS

Professor Penny Green, Professor of Law and Globalisation at Queen Mary University of London

Jamila Hanan, Activist, UK.

Mohammad Rakibul Hasan, Photojournalist, Zuma Press.

Mubashar Hasan, Author & Researcher, Sydney, Australia

Megan Hirst, Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers, London.

Barrister Sara Hossain, Honorary Executive Director, BLAST.

Shireen Pervin Huq, Coordinator, Standing with Rohingya Women & Founder Member, Naripokkho

Dr Patricia Hynes, Reader in Forced Migration, University of Bedfordshire

Nabila Islam, Researcher, Brown University, USA.

Bianca Jagger, Founder, President and Chief Executive, Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation. Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador. Member of the Executive Director’s Leadership Council of Amnesty International USA

Ali Johar, Co-director of Rohingya Human Rights Initiative, India

Adilur Rahman Khan, Advocate, The Supreme Court of Bangladesh and Secretary General of International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).

Tun Khin, President, Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK, London.

Lynn Lee, Filmmaker, Hong Kong

Dr Ronan Lee, Visiting Scholar, Queen Mary University of London

Rezaur Rahman Lenin, Academic Activist, Dhaka

James Leong, Filmmaker, Honk Kong

Nay San Lwin, Co-founder, Free Rohingya Coalition

Advocate Shabnam Mayet, Protect the Rohingya, South Africa

Jonathan Miller, Foreign Affairs Correspondent, Channel 4 News

Edith Mirante, Project Maje, USA.

Professor Nayanika Mookherjee, Department of Anthropology, Durham University

Malik Mujahid, Burma Task Force, USA

Dr Sadaf Noor, Researcher, University of Durham

Wai Wai Nu, Founder and Executive Director of Women’s Peace Network

Pascal Nufer, Swiss National Television, Switzerland

Tara O’Grady, Human Rights Sentinel, Ireland

Professor Ilhami Alkan Olsson, Director, Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Istanbul

Professor John Packer, Director of the Human Rights Research and Education Centre (HRREC), University of Ottawa.

Dr Ambia Perveen, Chair, European Rohingya Council

Shafiur Rahman, Documentary maker and organiser of the Rohingya Photography Competition, UK

Mahi Ramakrishnan Investigative Filmmaker, Malaysia

Restless Beings, UK

Thomas Sadoski, Actor, USA

Jelia Sane, Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers, London.

Sharifah Shakirah, Founder & Director of Rohingya Women Development Network (RWDN)

Professor Dina M Siddiqi, Faculty of Liberal Studies, New York University

Greta Van Susteren, Voice of America

Abolfazl Talooni, Filmmaker, London

Ai Weiwei, Artist


Dr Maung Zarni, Co-Founder, Free Rohingya Coalition

For more information:

Shafiur Rahman | |