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Rohingya Photojournalist Released on Bail from Bangladesh Prison, Still Faces Charges

FILE - Reporters cover proceedings outside a court in Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 3, 2016. A Bangladeshi journalists group is expressing outrage over the recent detention and one year sentence given to Bangla Tribune correspondent Ariful Islam.

A Burmese photojournalist has been released on bail from a Bangladeshi prison, but he still faces charges and up to three years in prison.

Bangladeshi authorities arrested Abul Kalam, Dec. 28 as he was photographing buses taking Rohingyas from the Kutupalong camp to a new camp on the island of Bhasan Char.

In an appearance in court Dec. 31, officials charged Kalam, a Rohingya refugee, with assaulting and interfering with public officials, charges that could carry a three-year prison sentence, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reported.

RSF says the real reason for Kalam’s arrest was “the local authorities are annoyed by his coverage of their handling of the Rohingya refugee issue, in particular, the forced transfer of the refugees to Bhasan Char.”

Authorities moved the first group of more than 1,600 earlier this month to an island in Bay of Bengal

The group is calling for all charges against Kalam to be dropped.

In early December the Bangladesh government began sending some Rohingya refugees to Bhasan Char island, despite calls from human rights groups to halt the process.

Government officials say relocating the Rohingya refugees to Bhasan Char will ease overcrowding in the camps, which were set up to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya, a Muslim minority that fled violence in neighboring Myanmar in 2017.