University teacher jailed for Facebook remark on PM in Bangladesh

Jahangirnagar JU

A Dhaka court today jailed a Jahangirnagar University teacher for three years over a sedition suit filed for commenting on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Facebook.

Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Nazmul Haque Shyamal handed down the penalty to Ruhul Amin, a lecturer of Institute of Information Technology, in absentia.

The court in its judgment said the punishment of the convicted, rigorous imprisonment of three years, will be effective from the day of his arrest or surrender.

According to the prosecution, the teacher posted a Facebook status in August, 2011 relating to road crashes and accusing the government of awarding drivers with licenses without tests.

After the status was published, Sheikh Shariful Islam, a leader of Jahangirnagar University unit of Bangladesh Chhatra League, lodged a general diary with Ashulia Police Station.

Later, Assistant Superintendent of Police (Dhaka range), Manwar Hossain, filed a sedition lawsuit with the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court in Dhaka.

On January 29, 2012, Abdus Salam, assistant superintendent of police (Dhaka range) and also the investigative officer of the case, pressed charge of the case before the court.

Many netizens were observed to express shock and bafflement on social media, questioning the real scenario behind freedom of speech and democratic norms in Bangladesh. The journalist David Bergman, while expressing his reaction to the news, said, “You cannot be serious. Three years in jail apparently for criticizing the Bangladesh prime minister on Facebook! … Well I suppose he was lucky: last year someone got a sentence of 7 years imprisonment. If you criticize the courts, these days, there is a real risk of a contempt charge; and if you criticize the prime-minister, in an electronic medium, a prosecution under the Information, Communications and Technology Act is in the offing.”

Source: Daily Star