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Bangladesh 2 September 2005

Threats against seven journalists who criticised ruling party legislator

Reporters Without Borders reiterated its fears about the safety of journalists in Bangladesh today after seven journalists in the southern city of Bagerhat received identical letters on 24 August threatening them with violence if they continued to criticise Mah Selim, a parliamentary representative of the ruling Bangladesh National Party (BNP).

"It is outrageous that journalists have yet again been targeted by the BNP," the press freedom organisation said. "We call on the authorities to devote all the necessary resources to investigating this case. It is vital that measures are taken against those responsible for these threats so that journalists can work normally."

The journalists who received the letters were Hasanul Qaiyun of the daily Manabzamin, Ahad Haider of the daily Prothom Alo, Rob Molla of the regional daily Dainik Janmabhumi, Babul Sarder of the daily Dainik Janakantha, Nihar Saha of the News Network of Bangladesh (NNB), Zakaria Mahmud of the daily Amar Desh and Azadul Huq of the daily Sangbad.

Each got a personally-addressed copy of the same letter, which threatened to break their hands and legs if they continued to write anything about Selim and warned that members of the radical Islamist group Ahle Hadith Andolan would be used to carry out the threats.

The targeted journalists had all reported on 17 August that two young sisters were tortured in an unoccupied house belonging to Selim.

Bagerhat press club general secretary Babul Sarder filed a complaint about the threats at the city’s police station and demanded police protection. The police promised to investigate the case.

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