On 4 March 2020, the government denied the appeal of singer Shariat Boyati (real name Shariat Sarkar) to be released on bail.
Boyati has been charged under the Digital Security Act because of his performance held in Dhamrai, Dhaka on 24 December 2019. The charge was based on the complaint claiming that the performance had hurt the Islamic religious sentiment. The use of Digital Security Act relates to the live concert being recorded and broadcasted on YouTube.
“Freedom of artistic expression is a human right guaranteed in Bangladesh and internationally,” said Dr Srirak Plipat, Freemuse Executive Director. “Yet, Shariat Boyati’s right to free artistic expression has been illegitimately restricted and this violation resulted in the artist’s detention. Bangladesh must do better in protecting its citizen’s human rights to cultural expression and release Shariat unconditionally.”
In the email exchange with Freemuse, Boyati’s lawyer, Abdullah Al Noman said that a Division Bench of the High Court Division heard Boyati’s Bail Petition and issued a rule asking the government to explain in two weeks why the artist should not be granted bail. The government issued their reply after three weeks, stating that Boyati cannot be released on bail, because the investigation is ongoing, and it will be completed shortly.
Boyati’s lawyer appeared before the High Court on 5 March 2020 and requested an upgrade of the case in the daily cause list for the Bail Petition and Government Reply hearing. The High Court Division rejected the request and stated that the case will emerge in the daily cause list during the first week of April.
Freemuse demands that Shariat Boyati will be immediately released from jail and the charges against him will be dropped. We call on the Bangladesh government to ensure the release of Shariat Boyati according to international human rights.