Saturday, July 03, 2010

Press Freedom and Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina

File Photo: Assassinated journalist Manik Saha, Khulna


S. M. ANWAR HOSSAIN

THE PRIME minister, Sheikh Hasina, on Wednesday told the parliament that a total of 14 journalists were murdered by the criminals during the five-year rule of Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led alliance government between 2001 and 2006. However she did not mention the number of the death journalists during her earlier and current term. She also didn't mention how many TV Channels and newspapers were closed in Bangladesh during the ruling of her party Bangladesh Awami League.

She also mentioned that apart from these deaths, some 384 journalists were repressed by police and RAB and the then ruling party or arrested during that period, replying to a question from Meher Afroz of Gazipur-5.

The Prime Minister named the killed were : Harun-Al-Rashid of the Daily Purbaanchhal in Khulna, Sukur Hossain of Dainik Anirban in Khulna, Syed Faruk Ahmed of Pubali Barta in Srimangal, Manik Saha of BBC in Khulna, Humayun Kabir Balu of Janmabhumi in Khulna, Kamal Hossain of Ajker Kagoj in Manikchhari in Khagrachhari, Sheikh Belal Uddin of Dainik Sangram in Khulna, Enamul Islam Ena in Kushtia, Golam Mahfuz of Muktakantha in Comilla, Gautam Das of Dainik Samakal in Faridpur, Navil Abdul Latif of New Age in Dhaka, Chancal Kumar Singh of Janmabhumi in Satkhira, Dipankar Chakravarti of Dainik Durjoy in Bogra.

The actual figure says, 30 Journalist have been killed since last 17 years in Bangladesh. The killed journalists and writer are 1) Manik Saha (Khulna), 15 January, 2004, 2) Humayun Kabir Balu(Khulna), 27 June, 2005, 3) Shamsur Rahman Cable (Jessore), 16 July, 2000, 4) Harun-ur-Rashid Khokon (Khulna), April, 2003, 5) Saiful Alam Mukul (Jessore), 30 August, 1998, 6) Dipankar Chakrabarty (Bogura), 20 October, 2004, 7) Goutam Das (Faridpur), 8)Sheikh Belaluddin (Khulna), 2005, 9) S.M. Alauddin (Satkhira), 19 June, 1996, 10) Golam Mazed (Jessore), 11) Mir Ilias Hossen Dileep (Jhenidha), 15 January, 2000, 12) Shukur Ali alias Shukur Hossen (Dumuria-Khulna), 5 July, 2002, 13) Nahar Ali (Dumuria-Khulna), 18 April, 2001, 14) Ahsan Ali (Rupgonj-Narayangonj), 20 July, 2001, 15) Kazi Md. Kamruzzaman (Nilfhamari),1996, 16) Syed Faruk Ahamed (Shrimongol-Moulobhi Bazar), May, 2002, 17) Bazlur Rahman (Chuadanga), 18) Kamal Hossen (Khagrachari), 21 August, 2004, 19) Anwar Apolo, 20) Abdul Latif Nabil, 21) Zamaluddin (Rangamati), 5 March, 2007, 22) Nurul Islam Rana (2009, Uttara-Dhaka), 3 July, 2009, 23) M.M.Ahsan Bari (2009, Gagipur-Dhaka), 26 August, 2009, 24) popular writer Dr. Humayun Azad (Dhaka University), 27 February, 2004, 25) Sarwarul Alam Noman (Mymensing), 1995, 26) Faruk Hossen (Jessore), 27) Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury (Jessore), 1994, 28) Rezaul Karim Reza and 29) Abdul Hannan(2009, Demra, Dhaka). 30) Foteh Osmani 29th April 2010 (Sylhet).

A large number of newsmen have reportedly come under attacks by lawmen and influential quarters, which has hampered press freedom and harmed the people’s right to know even during the elected government of Sheikh Hasina that assumed office on January 6, 2009 after a two-year rule of the military-controlled interim government of Fakhruddin Ahmed. It has been reported that journalists of both the print and the electronic media are facing the wrath of the ruling party activists apparently for reporting on incidents of tender manipulation, extortion, land grab and other irregularities. Many journalists in different areas have gone into hiding for fear of life.

Two hundred and thirty journalists were attacked or harassed — three of them were killed, 71 wounded, 36 assaulted and 68 threatened — while they discharging their duties after the Awami League-led government had assumed office, said a recent report by human rights watchdog Odhikar.

‘Persecution and intimidation of journalists will be stopped. All false cases filed against them will be withdrawn,’ said the Awami League’s manifesto for the 2008 elections which led the party to power with an overwhelming majority.

The information minister, Abul Kalam Azad, during the question-answer session in the parliament early October, admitted that the government had failed to bring the killers of journalists to justice. But the government is trying to bring them to book, he said. ‘We have also asked the local administration to take appropriate measures to stop the recurrence of unfortunate incidents such as killing of journalists and attack on them anywhere in the country,’ the minister said in October 2009. Till today, first day of July 2010, nothing has happened.
We remember the violent attack and torture on Tasneem Khail, Daily Star, Ahmed Nur, Editor Sylhet, FM Masum New Age and Jahangir Alam Akash, Songbad, Rajshahi by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB and DGFI). We remember the closure of Facebook, Closure of TV channels Jamuna TV and Channel 1. We have seen how government closed the national daily newspaper the daily Amar Desh. And finally the torture on its editor Mahmudur Rahman, still is in jail.

Free flow of information is the basic for a sustainable democracy. With an overwhelming majority in the parliament, if the government led political party Bangladesh Awami League try to forget its election manifestos, will be unable to build a sustainable democracy. #

Anwar Hossain is media activist and edits a blog Long Live Press Freedom. He with Journalism Media and Communication, Stockholm University, Sweden


First published in a blog Long Live Press Freedom!, July 01, 2010