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Bangladesh: Police prevent Tibet photo exhibition

November 5, 2009
November 1, 2009

Dhaka, Nov 1 ( -- Police prevented
Drik Gallery in Dhanmondi from launching an
exhibition, titled 'Into Exile: Tibet 1949 – 2009', on Sunday.

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.
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