Bangladesh: Islamist groups attack journalists and press clubs across the country
IPI condemns the attacks in the strongest possible terms
VIENNA/DHAKA, Feb 23, 2012 – At least 18 journalists were injured in Bangladesh Friday when supporters of the Jamaat-e-Islami Islamist party attacked them, shouting slogans following Friday’s Juma weekly prayers in Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet.
Nineteen Islamist organisations staged demonstrations. Talking to journalists near the Baitul Mukarram national mosque, Md Nazmul, deputy commissioner of police in Motijheel division, told The Daily Star that representatives of Jamaat and Shibir blended with the Islamist organisations and carried out the vandalism. Md Nazmul said police fired rubber bullets and tear gas shells to disperse the demonstrators, the newspaper reported.
Bulbul Monjurul Ahsan, vice-chairman of the International Press Institute (IPI)’s Executive Board and editor-in-chief/CEO of Bangladesh’s Boishakhi TV, strongly condemned the attack. “I demand the immediate arrest and punishment of the perpetrators of such attacks”, he told IPI.
IPI Executive Director Alison Bethel McKenzie reiterated the call to Bangladesh authorities to send a strong signal that attacks against the media will not be tolerated. “During our latest visit to Bangladesh last year, the highest representatives of the country’s government ensured to IPI that attacks against journalists will not go unpunished,” she said. “We urge them to show their real commitment to end violence against the media by bringing justice in this appalling series of attacks.”
In the capital city of Dhaka, clashes reportedly took place in various places, including Baitul Mukarram national mosque, Jatiya Press Club, Paltan intersection, Katabon Mosque, Dainik Bangla intersection and the area around the Shilpakala Academy.
Sources in Bangladesh told IPI the injured journalists include Masudur Rahman, a reporter for GTV; Nurul Islam, a cameraman with Independent Television; Abdullah Tuhin, a senior reporter for Maasranga Television; Mir Ahmed Miru, a photographer for Amar Desh; Arifuzzaman of Ekattar TV; Sayeed Bablu of the Daily Sangbad; Zahiduzzaman Tuhin of ATN Bangla TV; and Sheikh Mamunur Rashid of the Daily Janakantha. The injured journalists were admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital. Reporter Aminul Islam Bhuiyan from Amader Arthaniti was injured by police fire in front of the office of Dhaka Reporter's Unity.*
In the city of Sylhet, in north-eastern Bangladesh, the demonstrators reportedly vandalised a “Gonojagoron Mancha” [mass awakening platform] at Sylhet Shaheed Minar, prompting the police to open fire. The protesters also attacked journalists who were reporting on the event. The injured journalists, according to sources, include Shahab Uddin Shihab of Boishakhi TV, Shafi Ahmed of Channel 24 and Abdullah Azad with the daily Uttar Purbo.
In the city of Chittagong, in southeast Bangladesh, activists of Hefazat-e-Islam reportedly took to the streets on Friday afternoon and vandalised several houses on Jamal Khan road in the port city. Demonstrators marched from the Anderkilla intersection towards the Jamiatul Falah Mosque. As they reached the Jamal Khan intersection, a group of demonstrators set fire to banners and placards in front of the press club, according to reports. Later, they entered into the press club and ransacked it. Demonstrators also hurled brick chips at the press club and other nearby houses, leaving several windowpanes broken.
Media reports said that following the afternoon prayers, protesters gathered at the Andarkilla intersection in Chittagong and attacked journalists, who were covering the gathering.
Among the journalists who were injured as a consequence of the attack are Rajesh Chakrobarti of the daily Jugantor; Kutub Chowdhury of the daily Inqilab; Rabiul Islam Tipu of Maasranga TV; Farid Uddin of ATN Bangla TV; Soumen Dhar of Boishakhi TV; and a correspondent of the daily Banik Barta. A photojournalist with the daily Inqilab, who was seriously wounded while covering the event, was rushed to the Chittagong Medical College and Hospital for treatment.
*A correction was made to this section on Feb. 26, 2013.