Reporters Without Borders wrote to Bangladeshi interior minister Lutfozzaman Babor today urging him to call the security forces to order and put a stop to a wave of police violence against journalists.
"The role of the police is to protect a country’s citizens and ensure their safety," the press freedom organisation said. "It is unacceptable that they should physically attack journalists who are doing their work. The Bangladeshi press already has enough difficulties without having to deal with police violence as well."
One of the latest cases occurred when police barred Arifur Rahman, a staff journalist with the national daily Prothhom Alo, from entering a ruling party office while covering parliamentary elections in Narsingdi, near Dhaka, on 28 May. Rahman asked why he was being denied entry, and suddenly found himself being beaten by police officer Sharifullah Chowdhury Masud. Other policemen joined in, shouting that journalists’ pens could run dry but the police would always be able to use their batons.
Six press photographers were attacked by police while covering student riots the same day near Dhaka university. The six - Wahid Hassan Raja of the daily Bhorer Kagoj, Nayeem Parvez of the daily Amar Desh, Shamim Mansur of the daily Jugantor, Kajol Hazra of the daily Samakal, Julhas of the daily The Independent and Tarikul Islam Pintu of the TV station ATN Bangla - were charged by anti-riot police and beaten with batons.
Reporters Without Borders also asked the Bangladeshi authorities to investigate recent cases of threats and attacks against journalists coming from other quarters.
It cited the case of Abu Sayeed Ahmah, the deputy editor of the daily Ajker Protibha, who received a telephone threat on 15 May saying that his newspaper would be bombed in reprisal for a report criticising the administration of a university.
It also cited the case of Manunur Rashid Rabi of the Daily Nayadiganto, who was seriously injured on 26 May in the western district of Gangni Upazila in an attack by a criminal gang led by Amirul Islam. Rabi was beaten about the head because of a report he wrote about drug trafficking.