The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is shocked and concerned by recent reports emerging from Bangladesh that at least 10 journalists were brutally assaulted by National Security Intelligence (NSI) forces last week while they protested the arrest and assault of their colleagues.
According to these reports, the problem began when members of the NSI physically attacked Sheikh Enamul Kabir as he took photographs of political graffiti that was written on the boundary wall of the NSI complex at Segunbagicha on Thursday, July 7. He was then arrested and taken into custody with another colleague, Sheikh Mamun, who had also been assaulted for objecting to Kabir’s arrest.
In response, a group of 15 to 20 journalists from various publications assembled outside the NSI headquarters to protest. It is alleged that NSI personnel attacked the group with bamboo sticks and iron rods, leaving 10 protesters injured, two of them critically.
“To prevent a journalist from doing his job through physical intimidation is a low act in itself. To then viciously attack a group of protesters exercising their right to freedom of expression is absolutely deplorable,” said IFJ President Christopher Warren.
Local members of the media community have been outraged by the attacks. In response, hundreds of journalists staged a sit-in demonstration in front of the National Press Club office on Friday, July 8. The protesters demanded that the NSI members responsible for the attacks be punished and the victims of the attack be duly compensated.
The IFJ joins the Bangladesh Journalists’ Rights Forum (BJRF), and other local organisations in condemning the acts of the NSI and urges the Bangladeshi government to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.
In another blow to media freedom in Bangladesh, warrants for arrest were issued against the editors of two Bengali-language daily newspapers in a defamation suit filed by a member of the ruling Bangladeshi Nationalist Party (BNP).
Nasiruddin Ahmed Pintoo, MP, filed two cases stating that the newspapers had published reports implicating him and his two brothers in the murder of Sagir Ahmed, a leader of BNP’s youth front.
“At a time when the IFJ is campaigning for the decriminalisation of defamation, these developments in Bangladesh serve as a timely reminder of the disproportionately severe reprisals faced by journalists in some countries,” said Warren.
“The Bangladeshi government should heed the simple message of our campaign – don’t jail journalists.”
For further information, please contact Christopher Warren on +61 411 757 668.
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries