Shahidul Alam is a photo journalist and a human rights activist in Bangladesh. March 22, 2010 the Bengalese authorities closed the Drik Picture Liary in Dhaka, where the exhibition Crossfire, about excessive police violence against opponents of the regime, took place. A day after the closure of Crossfire Alam wrote a personal report for the Power of Culture.

Widespread condemnation closure photo exhibition in Bangladesh

March 2010 -

"It's ok for them to be killing people, but it's not ok for us to be showing this," I say as the police are closing the gates of the Drik building. The show Crossfire, a euphemism for extra-judicial-killings, was due to open on the 22nd March 2010 and continue till the 31st March. The event would also mark the launch of the South Asian Media Academy. Crossfire is an allegorical representation of the killings by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), a special force, which was created on the 26th March 2004. Previously the New York Times published the pictures. The exhibition was put together by the well-known Peruvian curator Jorge Villacorta.


Mahasweta Devi unlocks Shahidul Alam's handcuffs. Photo: Saikat Mojumder

Police officer Shahjalal, who arrived on the premises after an official from the RAB media cell rang Alam asking about the show, said that the exhibition would create unrest, and that Drik did not have permission to show the work. Nurul Kabir, editor in chief of the New Age newspaper, and guest speaker said that democratically oriented people should be protesting against the killings, not against the exhibition which shows it. Writer and activist Mahasweta Devi symbolically opened the exhibition by unlocking a pair of handcuffs, which I had attached to my wrists. Then I shouted "Freedom!"

Dutch Ambassador Alphons Hennekens was disappointed to find the gates closed and said: "This is not good for Bangladesh’s image. I do hope that we can convince the authorities to open these gates again." Lawyers condemned the forced closure of the Drik Gallery on Monday as illegal and a violation of fundamental rights. Rokunuddin Mahmud, a senior lawyer said, "The police action is unlawful. Drik has permission to run a photo gallery. It is not necessary for them to get permission in relation to every fresh exhibition."

The opening and the police intervention have been livestreamed at