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Bangladesh 30 May 2002

Five attacks on journalists within 48 hours

"In spite of statements made by the authorities at the highest level, political violence, notably attacks on journalists, continues in Bangladesh. Once again, Bangladesh has confirmed its position as the most aggressive country towards journalists", states Robert Ménard, Secretary-General of Reporters Without Borders (RSF - Reporters Sans Frontières). The organisation and the Bangladesh Centre for Development, Journalism and Communication (BCDJC) have written a joint letter of protest to Home Minister Altaf Hossain Chowdhury, following attacks carried out by members of the political party in power and by the police force on five journalists. "We demand that those party members responsible for these attacks are punished. The climate of impunity that reigns in Bangladesh is the main threat to press freedom", say Robert Ménard and Nayeemul Islam Khan.

According to information gathered by Reporters Without Borders and BCDJC, Syed Mobin Bin Asad Zillu, a photographer who works for the daily Prothom Alo and the local paper Dainik Chandnibazar in Bogra (in the north of the country), narrowly escaped being kidnapped on 29 May 2002. The kidnap attempt was orchestrated by Zahirul Islam Bedha, a businessman and vice-president of the local section of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP, ruling party). The photographer was leaving the city’s central police station when two armed men tried to force him to get onto a motorcycle. Mr Zillu managed to fight off his attackers and alert passers-by who overpowered one of them, who turned out to be the BNP politician Mr Bedha. He was taken to the police station where he hit and threatened to kill the Prothom Alo photographer. Having handcuffed Mr Bedha, police discovered that he was in possession of a revolver. He has been kept in police custody and Mr Zillu will press charges.

On the same day, three crime reporters were victims of an attack by traffic police in Dhaka. A. Q. M. Shakawat Hossain of the Dainik Banglabazar Patrika, Halim Mohammad of the Ajker Kagoj and Mumtaz Uddin of the Dainik Matribhumi were assaulted by the policemen when they arrived on the scene of a crime. The journalists had actually caught the policemen in the act of receiving a bribe from a driver. The three injured reporters were admitted to a clinic in the city, while representatives of the Crime Reporters’ Association demonstrated in front of Khilgaon police station. The accused men’s superiors announced that they would face rapid disciplinary action.

And finally, on 28 May, five unknown assailants armed with sticks and knives carried out a brutal attack on Nazmul Imam, correspondent of the Dainik Manabzamin in Kushtia (in the south-west of the country). Mr. Imam was being driven through the town in a rickshaw, when the men stopped the vehicle and grabbed the reporter’s mobile telephone. One of them shouted, "Get the journalist!" The unknown assailants beat and stabbed the reporter, cutting off his right thumb. The doctor who examined Mr. Imam later said he had received eleven stab wounds, and local journalists have described the attack as "attempted murder". Police have arrested three suspects, but have not confirmed whether or not they were involved in this ferocious attack or whether it was linked to articles written by Nazmul Imam. Journalists in Kushtia have called for the arrest of those responsible.

In this country
10 October - Bangladesh
Government challenged over torture of editor in Sylhet
19 September - Bangladesh
Cartoonist arrested over harmless play on name Mohammed
7 September - Bangladesh
Condemnation of closure of CBS News
29 August - Bangladeh
Government urged to lift censorship and guarantee journalists’ safety
12 May - Bangladesh
Authorities free journalist and human rights activist Tasneem Khalil

in the annual report
Bangladesh - Annual report 2008
Bangladesh - Annual report 2007
Bangladesh - Annual report 2006

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Mission report : A call to end violence and impunity
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