A wave of Islamist and Maoist bombings struck a harsh blow against a country already mired in endemic political violence. Once again this year the press was not spared. Three journalists were killed and at least 95 physically attacked. The ruling conservative alliance accuses the independent press of every ill.
The government - an alliance of conservatives and Islamists - which for a long time played down the presence in the country of Jihadist groups, has been forced to recognise the extent of the danger. After a series of suicide bombings against judges, police officers and journalists, the Interior Minister Lutfuzzaman Babar acknowledged that it represented a “challenge”. However it was this minister and his predecessor who led a crackdown against journalists and human rights activities who were investigating this new threat.
Elsewhere, 55 news correspondents were singled out for harassment for writing articles considered “non Islamic” by armed groups. Militants of ruling parties were also not to be outdone. Engaging in threats, beatings, burnings and abusive judicial complaints, deputies and ministers will go to any lengths to silence the press. Threats forced more than 70 journalists to flee their local areas during the year.
Despite the violence and harassment, the media, particularly the national dailies, continue to investigate the corruption and nepotism that undermine society. Outside of the BBC World Service, there are few independent FM radio stations. The country has four privately-owned TV channels, but keeping their licences depends on their demonstrating a certain compliance with the government.
Violence against the press is particularly virulent in the south-western Khulna region where Maoist armed groups attack “class enemies”. Two journalists were murdered there in 2005.
Journalists themselves are not exempt from criticism, particularly over the politicisation of some media and corruption linked to the low salaries journalists receive.
Bangladesh report 2006 Bengali