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Detained Bangladeshi photographer sent to hospital

Shahidul Alam was taken by police and allegedly tortured in custody after criticising the government.

A prominent Bangladeshi photographer seized by police and allegedly tortured after criticising a violent government crackdown on protests was transferred to a hospital for medical treatment.

Shahidul Alam was taken to the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Hospital for care on Wednesday following an order to police from the High Court a day earlier.

"He will undergo necessary tests at the hospital and a new course of action will be taken according to their advice," police official Moshiur Rahman was quoted as saying by the Dhaka Tribune newspaper.

Alam's wife petitioned the court challenging the legality of her husband's arrest and asking he be given medical treatment after allegedly being beaten in custody by police.

At least 20 plain-clothes officers picked up Alam, 63, at his Dhaka home late on Sunday, hours after his critical comments were.

Road rage

Demonstrations began in Bangladesh after a speeding bus killed two teenagers on July 29. Tens of thousands of students came out on the streets over nine days, pressing the government to make the country's chaotic and lethal roads safer.

Police and unidentified men were filmed beating protesters as well as journalists. 

Hasanul Haq Inu, Bangladesh's information minister, said on Wednesday he didn't believe the torture allegations but said if they prove to be true, those responsible would face charges. 

"Our law says if he is beaten in custody, the responsible police officer will be prosecuted," Inu said.

Condemnation

South Asians for Human Rights, a regional network of human rights defenders, condemned Alam's detention and alleged torture.

It denounced the "flagrant violation of the human rights of media personnel and peaceful protesters by both state and non-state actors".

"We urge the government of Bangladesh to cease arbitrary detention and torture, as well as attacks on peaceful protesters or those expressing their opinions," it said on its website.

"We demand the government of Bangladesh assure Alam's safety, allow a medical examination, and facilitate his quick release. We also demand a transparent and impartial inquiry into attacks on journalists and protesters, and an investigation into the circumstances of Alam's detention and torture." 


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