December 17, 2018

Press Freedom

Bangladesh

Bangladesh January 9, 2006

H.E. Iajuddin Ahmed Chowdhury
President
People’s Republic of Bangladesh
Fax:  (011.88.02)  86-63-00

H.E. Khaleda Zia
Prime Minister
People’s Republic of Bangladesh
Fax:  (011.88.02)  81-32-43/ 44

Your Excellencies:

Since our letter of September 9, 2005, protesting a wave of officially sanctioned violence against journalists by Bangladesh’s National Security Intelligence agency (NSI) and others, we are gratified that the level of outrage from these sources has apparently diminished.  However, it has been replaced by a new wave of terror aimed at the press by Islamic terrorists, which the government has shown no interest in curbing.

According to Reporters Without Borders, at least 50 journalists and 10 publications have been threatened by terrorist groups in the past four months because of supposedly “anti-Islamic” articles. The Committee to
Protect Journalists reported on December 8, 2005, that the militant group, Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), had threatened to kill 22 journalists in four Bangladeshi towns and cities, and to blow up the Chittagong press club. Similar threats have been received by the press club in Faridpur and
the daily, Ajker Barta, in the southern town of Barisal, among many others. And on November 17, 2005, Gautam Das, a reporter for the Dhaka-based daily,
Shamakal, was found strangled to death in his bureau office. According to Media Watch, Das had recently written about the activities of Islamic militant groups.

News organizations and press clubs have reportedly increased their security precautions in response to the threats, but have received little or no official support. Meanwhile, the secret services continue to harass publications that fail to reflect the government line. On December 22, for example, the National Security Intelligence chief summoned the editors of the private press agency BDNEWS after the agency disclosed that the telephones of some of the leaders of the ruling Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, were being tapped.  

Your Excellencies, the policy of repressing and failing to protect the independent media is deeply counter-productive. Not only does it stifle free speech and democratic progress in your country, it undermines the
support your government needs from free nations around the world. We urge you to reverse your opposition to press critics and direct your police and
secret services to provide security for journalists and press organizations threatened by terrorists.

Thank you for your attention to this serious matter.  We hope you will
respond.

Respectfully yours,
Larry Martz
Norman Schorr

Co-chairmen, Freedom of the Press Committee
cc:

H.E. Iajuddin Ahmed Chowdhury
President
President’s  Secretariat
Bangabhaban
Dhaka  1000, Dhaka Division
People’s Republic of Bangladesh
Fax:  (011.88.02)  86-63-00

H.E. Khaleda Zia
Prime Minister
Old Sangshad Bhadban
Prime Minister’s Secretariat
Tejgaon
Dhaka
People’s Republic of Bangladesh
Fax:  (011.88.02)  81-32-43/ 44

Ahmad Tariq Karim
Ambassador of Bangladesh to the U.S.A.      
Embassy of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh         3510 International Drive, NW
Washington, DC  20007
Fax:  (202) 244-5366

Ambassador Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury
Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh to the United Nations
227 East 45 Street, 14th Floor
New York, NY  10017
Fax:  (212) 972-4310

Harry Thomas, Jr.
U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh
Embassy of the United States of America
Madani Avenue, Baridhara

Dhaka  1000
Bangladesh
Fax:  (011.88.02)  882-3744

Mahbubul Alam
Editor
The Independent
32 Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue
Karwan Bazar, Dhaka-1215
Bangladesh
Fax:  (011.88.02)  912-7722

The Editor
Banglar Bani
Fax:  (011.88.02 )  86-17-72

The Editor
Dainik Ingilab
Fax:  (011.88.02)  83-31-22/ 7-72

The Editor
Ittefaq
Fax:  (011.88.02)  86-57-76