Chinese force banning of Tibet exhibition in Dhaka

Bangladeshi authorities called in police over the weekend to prevent today’s opening of a photographic exhibition about Tibetans in exile that Chinese diplomats wanted banned.

The photojournalism event had been organised by Students for a Free Tibet with support from the Drik network. Dhaka Special Branch police officers moved in to bar visitors after the head of Drik, Shahidul Alam, refused to cancel the event.

Entitled “Tibet 1949 – 2009”, the photo exhibition intended, “to portray, in whatever small fraction, the journey of Tibetans from their homeland to exile.” The exhibition was expected to run from 1-7 November.

According to reports from Alam had earlier been contacted by Qian Kaifu, Cultural Counsellor of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Bangladesh, who asked him to cancel the exhibition, suggesting that the Bangladesh-China relationship would be affected if the show went ahead.

Alam says he was offered partner opportunities in China in return, but reminded Mr Kaifu that Drik was an independent gallery, unconnected with the government of Bangladesh. Alam says he was called the next day by the Bangladesh ministry of culture saying “China is a friend, you mustn’t show pictures of the Dalai Lama.”

When he declined again, the Special Branch were called in. Drik was founded 20 years ago to encourage local photographers and journalists to report on Asia in a way that transcends typical disaster and war reporting from Western media.
Drik network website (