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Bangladesh 10 September 2003

Journalists roughed up by pro-government lawyers

Reporters Without Borders today deplored the manhandling by pro-government lawyers of a dozen journalists, mostly photographers, in court buildings in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, on 6 September and said it was greatly concerned about growing violence against journalists in the country.

A dozen photographers were taking pictures of a brawl between lawyers supporting the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party and others backing the opposition Awami League when they were attacked, their equipment damaged and film destroyed. Two photographers were taken to hospital with minor injuries.

Reporters Without Borders called on Prime Minister Khaleda Zia to investigate the incident and punish those responsible. It charged that the media were being frequently attacked by the government and its supporters in the unstable political climate and said Bangladesh was one of the few countries where journalists were targeted on a daily basis by the government and security forces.

It also reiterated its concern about summary legal proceedings such as those against journalist Hiramon Mondol, whose trial on trumped-up charges began on 1 September.

The photographers injured in the courthouse attack were Mohammed Hasan (Bhorer Kagoj), Subir Kumar (Ajker Kagoj), Shafiqul Alam and Indrajit Ghose (both of News Today), Feroz Chowdhury (Prothom Alo), Mahbub Hossain Nabin (Jugantor), Shambu Nath Nandi (Bangladesh Observer) and Shafiqul Islam (Kagoj), along with Bhorer Kagoj reporter Russell Akhter.

The Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) and the Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ) called for a demonstration in front of the National Press Club today (10 September) to protest against the violence.

Reporters Without Borders has recorded 51 physical attacks on journalists in Bangla Desh so far this year, including a dozen murder attempts, as well as 50 death threats, 13 arrests, 14 unjustified prosecutions and five kidnappings.

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