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Bangladesh 18 March 2003

Detained Reuters stringer reports about police torture

Detained Reuters stringer Enamul Haque Chowdhury was tortured by police, he reported on 16 March in a written petition to Dhaka judge Jahangir Alam. He said the police blindfolded him with a piece of black material, gave him electric shocks to his body and threatened to kill him by holding a revolver against his temple if he refused to sign the written statement they put before him. When he refused to sign, the police started to torture him again. At one point, he virtually lost consciousness and collapsed to the ground. Chowdhury said the torture lasted from 13 to 16 December 2002. The statement he finally signed on 17 December was not his, he said. He was not allowed to read it and no one told him what was in it. In his petition to the judge, he asked that the statement be withdrawn. The judge registered Chowdhury’s petition but no date has been set for a hearing. In this statement, Chowdhury had admitted to reporting "false information" about the attacks of 7 December 2002 on cinemas in the northern city of Mymensingh with the aim of discrediting the information minister. He also said in the statement that he did this at the behest of Saber Hossain Chowdhury, an opposition leader.


Journalist Dilip Kumar Shah was set free on bail on 8 March after being held in the Khishoreganj district prison for five days. His release was the result of a meeting between a delegation of local journalists and the district police chief. After it was explained to him that a false accusation was made against the journalist, the police chief said any police officer involved would be punished.

03.06.2003 Journalist freed but another arrested and six more attacked

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) today welcomed the release of Reuters stringer Enamul Haque Chowdhury after nearly three months in prison but deplored the arrest of Dilip Kumar, correspondent of the daily Prothom Alo in Nikli (in the northern district of Kishoreganj), and physical attacks on six reporters by police and Islamist militants.

It called on interior minister Altaf Hossain Chowdhury to free Kumar, who was arrested after reporting on violence during recent local elections. The organisation also welcomed the suspension of four policemen who beat the reporters and demanded an investigation into an attack on journalist Rafiqul Tuhin in the northeastern town of Habiganj.

Chowdhury, who works for the government news agency Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha as well as for Reuters, had been arrested on 13 December last year after writing about bomb attacks on four cinemas in the town of Mymensingh and was badly tortured by his interrogators. The authorities also twice defied orders by the High Court to free him from a Dhaka prison. A week before he was released, one of his lawyers, Tanjib-ul Alam, told Reporters Without Borders that he feared he would be arrested again if he was freed on bail.

Kumar was arrested at his home in Kishoreganj district on 3 March after a complaint against him by members of the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) who accused him of "violence" and "vandalism." He had recently reported on violent incidents and fraud in local elections, angering BNP officials who then filed a bogus complaint to get him jailed.

Police beat five journalists at the entrance to a Dhaka hospital on 4 March.  Monir Hossain, correspondent of the daily paper Sangram at the hospital, was attacked by four men who pretended to be journalists. Colleagues intervened and the men were arrested. But journalists Abu Saleh Akand (Sangram), Osman Gani Babul (ABAS news agency), Latif Rana (the daily Mawroze) and Abu Sufian Titu (Bangladesh Today) then saw police take bribes from the attackers in exchange for freeing them.  When the reporters protested, police clubbed them. The injured journalists, helped by a journalists’ association, got the policemen suspended.

Rafiqul Tuhin, correspondent of the daily Janakantha in the northeastern town of Habiganj, was attacked on 1 March by supporters of the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami, which is part of the ruling coalition.  He was starting up his motorbike in front of the offices of the local paper Dainik Bani, when a gang of 20 people armed with knives and hockey-sticks attacked him. He received serious injuries to his head, hands and knees and was taken to hospital.  A few days earlier, he had reported on a rape involving a Jamaat-e-Islami activist. He then got death threats. None of the attackers have been arrested.

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