Crime & Justice

Bangladesh teacher arrested for controversial Facebook post

Dhaka, June 18 (efe-epa).- Bangladesh on Thursday arrested a university teacher under the controversial Digital Security Act over a Facebook post that allegedly criticized a former health minister and senior Awami League member who died during Covid-19 treatment.

Kazi Zahidur Rahman, a computer science and engineering teacher of Rajshahi University, was arrested from his home, Tarikul Islam, a deputy police commissioner, said.

“The teacher was arrested after a lawyer filed a case against him under the Digital Security Act. He was accused of giving objectionable post over (Mohammed) Nasim, our former health minister. The issues that he mentioned may deteriorate law and order situation,” said Tarikul, without mentioning what the accused had written in the post.

Nasim, who served as the health minister between 2014 and 2019, passed away on Saturday at a Dhaka hospital, where he was undergoing treatment for Covid-19.

He was admitted to the hospital on June 1 after having tested positive for the coronavirus. He also suffered a stroke after being admitted.

He is the senior-most ruling party politician to die of Covid-19 in Bangladesh, where the virus has claimed over 1,300 lives.

Rahman is the second university teacher to be arrested under the Digital Security Act for criticizing Nasim.

Earlier on Sunday, a female a lecturer at northern Begum Rokeya University was arrested for a Facebook comment against Nasim.

Bangladesh approved the controversial law in September 2018, which penalizes “negative propaganda” against Bangladesh’s liberation war or former-president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Journalists and editors have criticized the law claiming it would curb freedom of expression.

Rights group Amnesty International said more than 1,000 cases have been filed under this act since it was implemented in October 2018.

The cybercrime tribunal has dismissed more than 200 cases for lacking sufficient evidence into the allegations.

The number of cases has surged during the coronavirus outbreak.

Police charged 41 individuals under the act between Apr. 1 and May 6, according to Human Rights Forum Bangladesh, a coalition of 20 nonprofits.

The accused include 20 journalists, a blogger, and a cartoonist, with some of them already detained. EFE-EPA

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