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Bangladesh 24 September 2004

A journalist viciously beaten

Reporters Without Borders has expressed outrage at the impunity with which journalists are being routinely attacked in Bangladesh after a gang of drug traffickers viciously beat a daily newspaper correspondent leaving him unconscious in the road.

Azaharul Islam Montu, working for Grammer Kagoj in Ashasuni Upazila, Satkhira district in the southwest of the country, was attacked and left seriously injured on 19 September 2004. Despite the seriousness of the assault, those responsible looked like getting away with it because of the protection of powerful local figures, said the international press freedom organisation.

Local gangsters attacked journalists who challenge them with impunity every week, the organisation said, adding, "The government should act to halt this violence against journalists or lose all international credibility."

Montu was taken to hospital badly injured after being found unconscious in the road just a few days after his newspaper Grammer Kae had carried his report into local drug traffickers.

According to information obtained by Reporters Without Borders, police on 22 September refused to open an investigation into the assault. It appeared that a deputy in the ruling nationalist BNP party had used his influence to ensure that police did not investigate the case. He reportedly insisted that he would "settle things amicably" with the journalist.

Reporters Without Borders has recorded more than 20 physical attacks and threats against journalists originating with the BNP or its different arms since the start of the year. Political militants and criminals who attack journalists do so almost invariably with complete impunity.

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