Saturday, June 26, 2010

Golden Deer and Press Freedom context Bangladesh.

Dear Readers

This is an open letter! Why it is an open letter? I don't know the basic reason of why! But what i felt is that - i will write this article as an open letter format. So that every body knows about the situation and feels to do something for the new threats that have emerged in Bangladesh.

Before describing the situation i would like to focus on some events that took place in this year 2010.

Dated on 01 June
Government closed the national daily Amar Desh and arrested the editor Mahmudur Rahman. He was arrested during a pre-dawn raid on the newspaper office despite the protests of the journalists present. Rahman has been charged with fraud and violence against police officers. The newspaper’s printing press has also been closed. It is notable police couldn't show any warrant during his arrest. He was taken into remand for 12 days. Had been tortured brutally.

More than 100 armed police officers carried out the raid on Amar Desh’s premises in Dhaka in the early hours of today, seizing copies of today’s issue before they were distributed and arresting Rahman in his office. Several journalists were injured during the raid and five journalists were charged with violence. Rahman was placed in pre-trial detention on a charge of fraud, while the newspaper’s printing press was also closed.
Rahman was sued 31 times, after he has published an investigative report that shows Present prime ministers son had taken 35 million dollar from the foreign energy company Chevron. It could be mention that Rahman was the energy adviser of the former government.

Reporters Without Borders condemned the closure of the newspaper and said “The Awami League government is clearly unable to tolerate criticism from this opposition newspaper and, in particular, its coverage of the controversial award of energy contracts to foreign companies. Rahman was an advisor in these matters in the last BNP government and his revelations are damaging for the government.” The press freedom organisation added: “We call for an independent and transparent investigation into the accusations that the government has brought against the newspaper and its editor. Pending the outcome of this investigation, we call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to allow Amar Desh to resume publishing and to obtain Mahmudur Rahman’s release.”

Dated on 29th May
Access to Facebook has been blocked in Bangladesh since 29 May, reportedly as a result of both the posting of Mohammed cartoons and “shocking” satirical images of prominent politicians, including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the opposition leader and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the country’s first president.
Reporters Without Borders also condemns the spread of this kind of censorship to nearby countries. “After Pakistan, it is now Bangladesh’s turn to make Facebook inaccessible, for religious and political reasons” Reporters Without Borders said. “We urge the Bangladeshi authorities to reverse this decision and to unblock access to Facebook without delay.”
Dated on 29th April
I would firstly like to refer you to the death of veteran journalist Foteh Osmani, the magazine Shaptahik 2000’s correspondent in the northeastern city of Sylhet, as a result of the injuries he received when attacked by unidentified armed assailants while riding on motorcycle with a friend 11 days earlier. His assailants clearly set an ambush for him even if their motives are not yet known. Three suspects were arrested.
Reporter without borders Urged to the Prime Minister that "We urge you to order an exhaustive investigation into Foteh Osmani’s murder in order to establish the identity and motives of those responsible and bring them to justice." Nothing has happened!
Dated on 27th Apri
Secondly government’s sudden decision to close down the privately-owned Channel 1 TV station, which has been broadcasting for four years. The closure was announced on 27 April by Communications Minister Raziuddin Ahmed Raju, who said it was because the station had violated the 2001 Telecommunications Act by using broadcast equipment as collateral for loans.
According to the minister, the station’s owners were unable to repay their loans with the result that the equipment was seized and auctioned off. Since then the station has been using equipment owned by another company, a procedure that is also forbidden by the same law.
In response to the closure, the head of Channel 1, Mazidul Islam, announced that he would like to be given a chance to bring the station’s situation back into line with the law.
Reporter Without Borders commented on the matter "It seems clear that Channel 1 did bend the rules when confronted by financial difficulties but we think that the action of the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission in shutting down the station while it was in the middle of broadcasting a news programme is a violation of media freedom. The station’s closure also puts 400 people out of work."
Dated on 22 March
The Dakha police closed the Drik gallery on 22 March 2010, just before the opening of the exhibition of photos and displays about extrajudicial executions by members of Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). The exhibition is called “Crossfire,” because the police claim that their victims are caught in the crossfire when the police act in legitimate self-defence or to prevent criminals escaping. Human Rights Watch puts the number of people killed by the RAB at around 1662.
Reporters Without Borders Commented that “The censorship of this exhibition is a serious violation of freedom of expression,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The threats against our colleague, Shahidul Alam, are very disturbing and cast doubt on the possibilities of freely debating human rights issues in Bangladesh.”
Dated On 22nd October 2009
A journalist employed by the English-language daily The New Age, who was arrested and tortured by an elite crime and counter-terrorist force, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), on 22 October in Dhaka. Members of a RAB unit identified as RAB-10 entered Masum’s home on 22 October and tortured him while others pretended to discover drugs there. They then took him to their headquarters in Dhalpur and held him for about 10 hours, torturing him and threatening to kill him with the aim of extracting a confession. The newspaper has carried articles linking the RAB to extrajudicial executions and drug cases.

Reporters Without Borders calls on the civilian and military authorities to draw the appropriate conclusions from the case of F.M. Masum. We remember the torture on Editor in Sylhet by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). We Remember the torture on Jahangir Alam Akash by Rapid Action Battalion. We Remember the torture on Tasneem Khalil.

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