CJFE protests attacks on journalists in Bangladesh

Tuesday, June 15, 1999

CJFE protests attacks on journalists
in Bangladesh

Her Excellency Ms Sheikh Hasina
Prime Minister of Bangladesh
Prime Minister's Office
Old Airport Road, Tejgaon
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Fax: +88 2 813 244 / 811 015 / 813 243

15 June 1999

Your Excellency,

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-governmental organization which promotes free expression worldwide, strongly condemns the recent attacks on journalists by police in Bangladesh.

On the morning of 11 May, a female BNP activist was almost stripped of her clothing and others were assaulted by police while journalists attempted to photograph the incident. Baton wielding policemen assaulted photojournalist Borhanuddin of "ManobJamin", Habib of "Ajker Kagoj", Emran of "Daily Star", Abutaher Khokan of "Financial Express", Joy and Farid of "Janakantha", Sanaul Haq of "Independent" and Khaled Haider of "Dinkal". In another incident, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets in front of the BNP office, leaving twenty people injured. Photographers Tapan Dev ("Khabar") and Gulam Mustafa ("Sangram"), and reporters Azmal Haq Helal ("Matribhumi") and Ziaur Rahman Madhu ("Banglar Bani") received rubber bullet injuries.

We cannot allow such acts of violence to go unchecked. To do so would have the effect of silencing the media and infringing upon individuals' rights to freely impart and receive information, as guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As such, we demand immediate action against the police officers who were involved in the incident of May 11, 1999.

The CJFE would like to remind you of the agreement you made with opposition leader Begum Khaleda Zia in a common statement issued during the 1996 general election campaign to support press freedom. Surely this must extend to the protection of journalists in Bangladesh. Journalists are not free to do their job effectively if they are constantly worrying about safety issues. As such, we respectfully insist that the safety of journalists and their vehicles be ensured while carrying out their duties. Dissemination of information is crucial to a free society, but without a free media, this ideal is strongly compromised.

The CJFE asks that you inform this office and the public of your progress in the action against the police officers involved as well as proposed measures to ensure the safety of Bangladeshi journalists.

Sincerely,

Wayne Sharpe
Executive Director

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