The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins the Bangladesh Manobodhikar Sambadhik Forum (BMSF) in demanding the immediate release of journalist Rabiullah Robi arrested on August 19, accused of violating religious sentiment.
Robi, news editor of the Bangla-language daily Inqilab, was arrested in a midnight raid at the newspaper office at RK Mission Road, Dhaka. This followed the filing of the case by the Acting Additional Inspector General of Police Pralay Kumar Joardar.
Inqilab published a report on Pralay Kumar Joardar on August 18, raising several allegations and claiming he had created an "unofficial Hindu League" in the police force. Joardar filed a case against the paper accusing them of hurting religious sentiments, attempting to create disorder in the administration and violation of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act.
Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate remanded Robi in police custody for five days on August 20.
In a statement, the BMSF has demanded his immediate release and a judicial inquiry into the issue.
Jane Worthington, the IFJ Asia Pacific acting director, said: “The arrest and custody of Rabiullah Robi is a greatly concerning development and the IFJ calls for his immediate release and access to due judicial process in this matter to determine the legitimacy of the charges.”
She added: “It is the function of a democracy that independent media should be allowed to report freely on any issue. In this case, Bangladesh’s law enforcement agencies should not have the right to shut down independent media voices directing legitimate inquiry at them. The IFJ also calls for a thorough investigation into the actions of the police in this matter.”
It should be noted that police had raided Inqilab's office and sealed its press in January 2014 after the paper had report a claim that Indian troops were participating in the joint forces operations in Bangladesh. The paper had issued a rejoinder apologising for the story.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0950
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries
Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific
Find the IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific