The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns a violent attack in which at least 25 journalists were injured by members of the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in a demonstration against harassment of journalists in Kashita on May 29, 2006.
“We call on BNP members to cease any further attacks on journalists and demand that those responsible for the violence be reprimanded,” said IFJ president Christopher Warren.
Mizanur Rahman Bhija, news editor of Kushtia-based Dainik Kushtia, was critically injured in the attacks and hospitalised for treatment.
Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) president and editor of the Bangladesh Observer, Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, BFUJ treasurer Farzi Azmol Hossain, former vice-president of Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ), Saiful Islam and DUJ general secretary Omar Faruk, were all seriously injured.
According to BMSF (the Human Rights Journalist Forum of Bangladesh), the attackers beat the journalists’ leaders then proceeded to set fire to the convention stage, and vandalised furniture, minibuses and a motorcycle of photojournalist Jamil Hasan.
The journalists’ demonstration was in protest against the harassment of four journalists who were forced to flee Kushtia earlier in the month after being accused of extortion by BNP member Shahidul Islam.
“The fact that these attacks occurred at a meeting protesting against harassment of journalists is grimly ironic and demonstrates a blatant and outrageous disregard for press freedom and journalists’ rights,” Warren said.
The four journalists, Hasan Jahid, Dainik Manavjamin correspondent, Al-Mamun Sagar, Dainik Jugantor correspondent, Munshi Tarikul Islam, Dainik Samakal correspondent, and Manjur Ahsan Chowdhury, had returned to Kushtia for the demonstration but subsequently fled fearing further attacks.
“The IFJ is calling on the government of Bangladesh to protect the media’s right to inform the public and ensure the safety of all journalists working in Bangladesh,” Warren said.
For more information please contact IFJ Asia Pacific +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in over 110 countries