December 15, 2018

Press Freedom

Bangladesh

Bangladesh September 7, 2005

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:

Less than two months since our last letter to you, we write again, appalled at the continuing and officially sanctioned episodes of violence directed at journalists in Bangladesh . By the count of the International Federation of Journalists from May 2004 to May 2005, 6 journalists were killed, 320 were tortured, 55 were injured in assaults and 405 received death threats. This record is an outrage, and it makes Bangladesh one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists trying to do their legitimate work.

Perhaps the most blatant recent incident came on July 7, when according to Reporters Without Borders, nine photographers working for national daily newspapers were beaten by members of Bangladesh ‘s National Security Intelligence agency (NSI) in Dhaka . Witnesses said the violence began when Enamul Kabir , a photographer for Janakantha, tried to take photos of graffiti on the exterior of the NSI building. Intelligence agents dragged him into the building and beat him. Hearing of this, eight other photographers of various publications rushed to the agency, and were beaten in turn. Police arrived in two vans, but refused to intervene. According to the photographers, police officers were laughing as they watched the outrageous scene.

At least, as appalling was the episode on August 9 when Shahidul Alam Talukder, a parliamentary representative of the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in the southern city of Baufal, attacked Manjur Morshed , a correspondent for the national daily, Jugantor, beating him with a cane and leaving him severely injured. According to Morshed, after an article in Jugantor implicated Talukder in a corruption scandal, ten of his accomplices kidnapped Morshed and took him to Talukder, who personally administered the beating. Talukder denies the whole story, but according to Reporters Without Borders, his supporters have continued to threaten local journalists, and BNP partisans slaughtered a goat to celebrate their victory. Again, police refused to protect journalists. One officer, Nur Mohammad, reportedly went to the homes of several correspondents to threaten them with false charges if they continued to protest Talukder’s actions.

The litany of violence continues. There was the case of Shimul Chowdhury , a reporter for the daily, Ajker Barta, assaulted by a businessman connected to the BNP, and the beating of Fakrul Akanda , a photojournalist for the national daily, Ajker Fagaj, by BNP members at a district executive committee meeting of the party. Rafiqul Islam , correspondent for the daily, Amar Desh, was attacked on July 6 by a group of men believed to be activists of the student wing (JCD) of the ruling party. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Rafiqul, who had reported on alleged extortion by JCD cadres, suffered back pain and breathing problems and was hospitalized.

Your Excellencies, the pattern is as ugly as it is obvious. We urge you once again to take every step to stem the tide of violence against journalists in Bangladesh , beginning by ordering your own party members and the police and intelligence agents of Bangladesh to stop harassing independent journalists and protect their legitimate rights. It is deplorable when criminals target and harm journalists involved in uncovering their actions. But it is a tragedy when the police, intelligence agents and the ruling party act to silence and intimidate the press. It is essential that the leaders of Bangladesh make it clear that journalists are to be protected and free to do their work.

 

Respectfully yours,
Larry Martz
Norman A. 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

Minister’s Secretariat

Old Sangshad Bhaban

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

Permanent Representative

Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh to the United Nations

227 East 45 Street, 14 th 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,

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