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‘Shilpir Pashe’, a unified body against oppression faced by artistes, organised the solidarity event where they urged that the targeted media campaign against artistes be put to a halt.

Shahriar Kabir further said, “Women are facing discrimination and being oppressed in different ways in our male-dominated society. This has turned into a social disease. Recently what happened with actress Pori Moni is extremely unfortunate and condemnable. It’s hard to believe that something like this has happened in Bangladesh. There would have been nothing astonishing if that had happened under Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

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"People irrespective of religion, caste, gender and ethnicity will live with equal rights and dignity in the country that snatched its freedom at the cost of three million lives. We find shortage of words to condemn this when such incidents recur in the country. We’re extremely shocked with what happened with Pori Moni. This calls for a unified protest. Fight against fundamentalism must be continued.”

Film director Aparajita Sangita raised question about the role of Bangladesh Film Artistes’ Association. “Why did they not stand by an artiste? Why did they postpone her (Pori Moni’s) membership even before the allegations against her are proved? What’s their job?”

News agency UNB adds: The event was joined by a large group of noted cultural activists who echoed the unity against oppressions through a protest rally, songs and dance recitals, poem recitations, live paintings and street plays.

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Eminent thespian Mamunur Rashid, Secretary General of Bangladesh Group Theatre Federation Kamal Bayezid and Ganajagaran Mancha activist Akramul Haque spoke at the event. Voicing their concerns Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee President Shahriar Kabir, human rights activist and Nijera Kori coordinator Khushi Kabir virtually joined and spoke, expressing their solidarity with the protest.

“Throughout history, we have seen how the cultural activists have played vital roles in every political and social revolution - however, they rarely received their deserved recognition for their contributions to society. Many of our folk singers and artists from other sectors have been bullied, imprisoned and tortured, which is unacceptable and I sincerely implore everyone to stand with these artists against these oppressions,” Mamunur Rashid said at the event.

Mostofa Monon, writer-director and the convener of Shilpir Pashe, read out the demands during the event, “No artistes should be humiliated via any unlawful legal proceedings, no artist should be subjected to moral policing, cyberbullying, or media scrutiny, and the Supreme Court’s directive on search, arrest and remand should be followed,” he stated.

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Kamal Bayezid mentioned how the pandemic financially devastated many artists and their families. He asked for ensuring the rights of the artists and also asked for special incentives for the ailing artists.

As part of the protests, theatre troupe BotTola performed a play titled “Rater Rani”, written and directed by Kazi Roksana Ruma. Theatre Bayanno staged Ekti Shahoshi Phul Dekha Jai, written and directed by Mizanur Rahman, while theatre group Prachyanat staged “Morol Policing”.

Songs were performed by popular band Samageet and vocalists Kafil Ahmed, Arup Rahee, Vobo Shatabdi, and popular singer Farzana Wahid Shayan (joined virtually), among others. In addition to the musical performances, dance recitals by Theatre Bayanno and Kazi Raihan were also part of the event.

Mustafa Kamal Roni, Misbahil Mokar Robin, Tuku Mazniul, Poly Parvin, Biplob Mozumdar and others recited poems at the event, while artists Sharmin Eti and Habib Pappu crafted a painting, depicting how today’s societal and political systems see artists as jokers.

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