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Journalists threatened at Narail:
On 28 August, RIFAT BIN TOHA, correspondent of dainik Janakantha in Norail, south west of Bangladesh, receives death threat from Mufti Imranuzzaman, officer of Al-Markajul - an Islamic organisation and brother in law (sister's husband) of Mufti Shahidul Islam, MP of Islami Oikkyo Jote - a member of the ruling party alliance. The journalist receives the threat due to publish a report about militants after the series bomb attack across the country. He published a report headed 'banned Al-Haramain operate with anonymous name in Narail' in Dainik Janakantha on 20 August.
After the report publihed, the correspondent was threatened differently. On 28 August, Kashem, Abdullah, Mamun led by Imranizzaman went to the journalist's house and asked for an explanation of the report. At a stage, Mufti Inmranuzzaman became angry and started reviling him. Imranuzzaman also said, I can kill you now if I want. But I give you 24 hours to publish a protest report. If you do not do so, then I will kill you." The group threatened the family members of the journalist, too.
On 17 August after the countrywide bomb attack by Islami militants, for the first time a journalist receive death threat for reporting. But there are several serial reporting about the bomb attack. Different sources from Narail said that they are not surprised in this news. Free journalism is at a stake in different activities of MP and his groups.
Rifat bin Toha was away of home for eighteen months due to have death threat on August 2002. Thugs of Mufti Shahidul Islam earlier assaulted him due to writing reports in Dainik Janakantha on September 2001. On 5 July of 1997 some criminals had beaten him by the order of an Awami League leader Khairuzzaman. He had to stay away of the town for 9 months at that time.
Follow up: Hearing of Shamsur Rahman murder case on 27 August:
On 27 August, tomorrow is the next date of hearing of Shamsur Rahman murder case. Earlier, 21 August was the date of hearing, but date later changed to next 27 August.Sajed Rahman, younger brother of Shamsur Rahman, and also staff correspondent for Daily Janakantha in Jessore, says they are going to apply in the High Court to shift the case to Jessore court instead of Khulna. They feel insecurity in attending Khulna court for hearing. They are waiting to get court papers in hand to apply to the High Court.
7 Journalists receives death threat letter, extortion case against three:
On 24 August, seven journalists received death threat in seven separate letters by post in Bagerhat, south of Bangladesh. The journalists are Hasanul Qaiyum of the Manabzamin, Ahad Haider of the Prothom Alo, Rob Molla of the Janmabhumi, Babul Sarder of the Janakantha, Nihar Saha of News Network of Bangladesh (NNB), Zakaria Mahmud of the Amar Desh and Azadul Huq of the Sangbad.
The letter says, 'be careful, if you write anything about our MP, we would break your legs and hands. We will blow off your press club, newspaper offices, if you do not follow our instruction'. They mentioned about the use of cadres of Ahle Hadith Andolan (an Islamic extremist group) in the destruction they planned.
Babul Sarder, general secretary of Bagerhat Press Club, has made a police complaint with the Bagerhat police in this connection. He also sought police protection. Police assured to look into the case with deep concentration.
On the other hand, Younus Mirza, a former staff of a daily Dakkhin kantha, which is owned by M A H Selim, local MP of BNP- the ruling party, filed a case of extortion against three journalists named Ahsanul Karim Hasan, Ahad Hayder, Nihar Ranjan in the Bagerhat Magistrate court. Younus is also a witness of a defamation case filed against Dainik Prothom Alo and Dainik Manobzamin on 23 August in Bagerhat. Younus claimed that he was beaten and threatened on 27 August night by accused for being a witness of the case and demanded Taka twenty thousand as extortion.
On 17 August, different newspaper published a report of a torture of two young sisters at a vacant home, which was owned by a BNP-MP M A H Selim. Younus Mirza filed the defamation case for the aforementioned published report.
Bagerhat court ordered the Bagerhat police station to investigate the case filed by Younus. An emergency meeting of journalists was also held at the Press Club on 30 August, afternoon to discuss the situation. The inspector of Bagerhat police station said each of the letters of threat has been photocopied as evidence and they are investigating the matter to track down the senders.
Three journalists received death threat in Khulna:
On 20 August, Sheikh Abu Hassan, president of Khulna Press Club, Liakat Ali, editor of Daily Purbanchal and Rafiul Islam Tutul, correspondent for Daily News Today in Khulna has received a death threat letter by post. The letter reads that you all working hard with journalist Belal murder case, if you take further steps in this regard you will be killed. It is very easy to kill you.
Khulna Press Club general secretary Faruk Ahmed put a primary complaint with Khulna central police. Khulna Press Club, Khulna Metropolitan Union of Journalists has condemned the threat and sought security to the government.
Khulna is the city in the south of Bangladesh where at least four journalists were killed last three years. In March 2002, Harunur Rashid Khokon, staff reporter for Daily Purbanchal; in January 2004, Manik Saha, BBC stringer and staff correspondent of Daily Sangbad and New Age; in June 2004, Humayun Kabir Balu, editor of Daily Janmabhumi-publish from Khulna; and, in February 2005, Sheikh Belal Uddin, staff correspondent for Daily Sangram in Khulna.
Follow up: Murder anniversary of Journalist Kamal:
On 22 August was the first murder anniversary of journalist Kamal Hossain in Khagracchari, one of the Chittagong Hill Tract districts in the east of Bangladesh. He was working for Daily Ajker Kagoj and Daily Chattagram Mancha as their Manikcchari correspondent. His family members still face death threat if they initiate any step with the murder case. Journalist Kamal Hossain was killed on 22 August in 2004 forcedly taken under gunpoint and slaughtered in a jungle near his home.
His younger brother Jahid Hossain filed a case with the police immediately after the murder. Police detained at least 19 people in the following months. Finally, on January, police could arrest the prime suspect Milon Tripura. The investigation officer has submitted a charge sheet on 7 February accusing 26 people in connection with the murder. Seven of them are absconding. Two of them are on bail and they are threatening Kamal's family members to withdraw the case. One senior newsman from Daily Chattagram Mancha said there is a possibility to transfer the case into speedy trial court shortly. He also expresses his unhappiness about police's pace of hunting criminals of the case.
Bomb hurled at Daily Mathabhanga office:
On 22 August, a group of armed cadre hurled bomb at the Daily Mathabhanga office in Chuadanga, north of Bangladesh, to create panic among people and also to hurt the editor of the newspaper, Sarder Al Amin. Editor Sarder Al Amin is safe but the office had some few destroys. The bomb, however, was not that strong for massive destruction. The editor says some unidentified people had been threatening him for last couple of days. That is why he used to come to office in different times after evening.
The bomb misses the target of the office of the editor and hit at the newspaper office wall. Sarder Al Amin did not file any case with the police as he said he has no confidence on police. He pointed out on their failure to uncover the criminals who killed several journalists in Khulna and other districts. The editor said requesting anonymity that underground extremist group hurled the bomb when he refused to publish their statement in the newspaper. He could not mention which underground extremist group they belonged to.
Government banned a documentary film 'Karnafulir Kanna':
On 20 August, government banned a documentary film 'Karnafulir Kanna' (Cry of the river Karnafuli). Renowned classic filmmaker Tanveer Mokammel directed the film on socio-economic situation of Chittagong Hill Tract people. An official memo issued from the Ministry of Home Affairs noticing to ban the film - its all copies, screening, sales & distribution and storing.
The official memo says the film is a threat on the Bangladesh's socio-political friendly situation as the film describes 'controversial' matters, which goes against country's goodwill and interest. Tanveer Mokammel says there is nothing in the film that could harm country's or nation's social-political friendly circumstances. It is made with based on oral interview of Hill Tract people where they spoke about their socio-economic situation. He says it is funny to ban something in the world of technology. Expressing his anger on the government decision, he says people feel attraction on any banned item, banned film always gets popularity.
Tanveer Mokammel says he think as a filmmaker he should have the freedom to speak about problem, both in identifying it and also looking for a solution of it. It is also his right as a citizen of Bangladesh. He said if you put your entire problem underneath your carpet, no solution would come up. He will, however, writ in the High Court very soon against the government's decision to ban the film.
This filmmaker has two other previous experiences of banning film. One of his films 'Nodir Nam Modhumoti' (Name of a river Modhumoti) took two years to get certificate. And another film 'Smriti Ekattor' (Memories of Seventy One) never gets certificate of screening in last ten years.
Earlier, a group 'Parbatta Chattagram Somo Adhikar Andolan' (Equal Rights Movement in Chittagong Hill Tract) issued a press release on 5 August demanding to ban the documentary, Karnafulir Kanna. The press release said this documentary is full of anti-state elements. After fifteen days of issuing the statement, government initiated issuing the official memo of banning Karnafulir Kanna.
Daily Prothom Alo reporter gets death threat:
On 20 August, Faruk Hossain Chowdhiry, Pabna correspondent of the daily Prothom Alo, north of Bangladesh, gets letter of death threat. His family member discovers the letter came through the window with a stone breaking the window-glass of his home in Majumderpara in Radhanagar of Pabna.
Journalist Faruk was not home at that time. But he immediately contacted with the police super after getting the news from his family. He also put a primary complaint with the Pabna central police station and sought security.
BNP MP’s torture on journalist protested:
Two separate meetings held at Baufal and Patuakhali protesting torture on a journalist Manjur Morshed on 9 August, at Baufal upazila headquarter by BNP lawmaker Shahidul Alam Talukder, MP. In Baufal a protest meeting held at local press club about 3pm while Professor Aminul Islam, President of Baufal Press Club was in the chair. Patuakhali district journalists Abu Jafar Khan, Swapan Banerjee, Golam Kibria, Md. Jafar Khan addressed the meeting.
The Patuakhali Press Club arranged a protest meeting at its hall room at 7pm on 11 August while Swapan Banerjee, Vice President of the press club presided over the meeting. Press Club members Abu Jafar Khan, Md. Jafar Khan, Jakir Hossain, Nirmal Kuman Rakhit, Md. Jalal Ahmed, Fayejur Rahman, Golam Kibria, Sohrab Hossain, K B Das and Kaiyum Ahmed Jewel, Jahirul Islam, Litom Banik addressed among others in the meeting.
AL leader Jalil criticizes govt for harassing journalists:
Awami League leaders promised to repeal the provision, a part of the penal code and frequent use against journalists if they comes to power in the next general election, said Abdul Jalil – the major opposition party’s general secretary and Member of Parliament,at the National Press Club on 9 August.
He was speaking in a discussion on journalists’ repression, information terrorism and freedom of mass media organised by the Awami League sub-committee on information and research. ‘We would ensure full freedom of the press and would not resort to criminal defamation against journalists if the Awami League comes to power in next time,’ Mr. Jalil said in the discussion.
Abdul Jalil also pinpointed on spreading hatred against journalists by senior ministers of the BNP-led coalition government these days. Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists leaders have also placed a 12-point demand and recommendations to government to establish freedom of media in Bangladesh.
Chairman of the sub-committee, Abul Mal Abdul Muhit, presided over the discussion. Bangladesh Bar Council vice president Barrister Rokan Uddin Mahmud, Supreme Court Bar Association president Mahbubey Alam, The Bangladesh Observer editor Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, Chittagong Journalists’ Union president Mustak Ahmed addressed at the programme.
Seven journalists hurt in an attack at local press club:
On 9 August, seven journalist hurt in a group attack at the Marapara Press Club in Rupganj in Narayanganj – a two hours drive towards east of Dhaka. At least 5 armed cadres rushed into the press club while the members were conducting a meeting of the executive committee of the press club. Cadres hold their gun pointed at the press club president and general secretary and beaten mercilessly seven journalists in front of them.
Journalists have reported criticising ex-Member of Parliament and local BNP leader Shafiullah in the local and national newspapers on 5 August. On 7 August, they threatened journalists to cut off their hands and legs for the report published in dailies. But they tried to implement it there beating them.
Seven injured journalists are: Ashikur Rahman of Dainik Sangbad, A Hye Milon of Dainik Jugantor, Khalil Sikder of Dainik Ajker Kagoj, Makbul Hossain of Dainik Dinkal, Birol Ahmed Russell of Dainik Desher Alo, Joynal Abedin Joy of Dainik Banglabazar Patrika and Riaz Hossain of Dainik Khabar.
Prime suspect of Sheikh Belal released on bail:
On 9 August, at 6.45pm, police released Shahabuddin Laskar Dhira, the prime suspect of killing journalist Sheikh Belal in a bomb attack at the Khulna Press Club in Khulna on 5 February. Sheikh Belal eventually died five days later of the attack in Dhaka hospital. Police arrested Dhira from Dhaka on 5 July this year after a long search.
Journalists tortured in Baufal, Patuakhali:
On 9 August, local BNP leader and Member of Parliament from Baufal Sahidul Alam Talukder has beaten journalist MANJUR MORSHED, correspondent for Daily Ajker Kagoj in Baufal, Patuakhali, south of Bangladesh, with wooden stick. Journalist Morshed got serious injury.
Baufal Press Club president and general secretary were also beaten when they tried to intervene and stop the BNP leader while beating journalist Morshed. BNP cadres also run after other journalists to attack. The BNP leader Shahidul Alam Talukder became furious on journalists when a report published on newspapers on 8 August about local administration’s corruption related to looting huge amount of ‘Jatka’, immature fish. The report also indicated the involvement of Mr. Talukder in this regard.
Local journalists says, Mr. Talukder had called the Baufal Press Club president Amirul Islam, hurled abusive languages at him and asked him to come to Baufal upazila (sub-district) engineer’s office immediately. About 8-10 musclemen brought journalist Morshed forcibly over there. They physically assaulted Morshed and BNP leader himself beaten him heartlessly in front of local administration officials. Cadres of BNP leader also took Morshed to an unknown place and he remained untraced until late night on the same day.
When contacted with Shahidul Alam Taluker, the BNP leader over his mobile phone today, Wednesday to get his view on this, he rejected all allegations against him. He said it was misunderstanding among them. ‘I never beat him, it is totally wrong and false allegation, he said. However, local sources said Mr. Talukder has number of cases of harassing or torturing journalists in the past.