Press freedom compromised in Bangladesh

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned the violent closure of a journalism seminar and consequent harassment of media workers in Bangladesh.

On April 13, 2006 a journalists’ seminar organised by the Debidwar Press Club was forcibly foiled by a group of men allegedly sent by the local Bangladesh National Party (BNP) leader and Member of Parliament, Manjurul Ahsan Munshi.

Entitled ‘Torture against Journalists in home and abroad and, remedy’, the seminar was shut down when 12-15 people stormed the hall shortly before the forum was due to begin, forcibly removing guests from their seats and confiscating broadcast equipment.

Senior journalists and media personnel were verbally assaulted during the altercation, including Daily Amader Shomoy editor, Nayeemul Islam Khan. Islam Khan was later unsuccessful in an attempt to resolve the dispute with MP Manjurul Ahsan Munshi via telephone. According to other journalists, attempts to contact local police were also unsuccessful.

Manjurul Ahsan Munshi has a history of violence against the media. Just three days earlier he was convicted of harassing Debidwar Press Club member and journalist for the Daily Prothom Alo, Atiqur Rahman Bashar. Munshi was sentenced to six months imprisonment but was later granted bailment from the High Court.

“Any attempt to silence journalists is not only an attack on our profession but also on the underlying principles of press freedom. We fully support our Bangladeshi colleagues in speaking out against this oppression. It is essential that all journalists are free from political interference when carrying out their duties, “ said IFJ president Christopher Warren.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries