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Bangladesh Centre for Development, Journalism and Communication (BCDJC)

19/3 Bir Uttam Kazi Nuruzzaman Road
West Panthapath
(East side of Square Hospital)
Dhaka 1205
Tel : +88 02 9126900
Fax : +88 02 9128748
E-mail : [email protected], [email protected]

State of Press Freedom, 2008


JANUARY 2008
FEBRUARY 2008
MARCH 2008
APRIL 2008
MAY 2008
JUNE 2008
JULY 2008
AUGUST 2008
SEPTEMBER 2008
OCTOBER 2008
NOVENBER 2008
DECEMBER 2008
AT A GLANCE

January, 2008
January was the worst month for journalists when 16 journalists were harassed in six different incidents. During the month unidentified miscreants attacked Sohel Sani, a Special Correspondent of The Bangla Bazaar Potrika and Executive Member of Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) with lethal weapons in the city. The District Administration of Narayanganj has cancelled declaration of seven newspapers. However, the High Court stayed the rule of extortion case filed against Jahangir Alam Akash, Rajshahi Bureau Chief of the Daily Sangbad under Emergency Act. On the other hand a defamation case was filed against the Editor Moinul Ahsan Saber, publisher Mahfuj Anam, Chief Reporter Badrul Anam Nabil and reporter Masud Kamal of the Weekly 2000.

Death Threat:
On January 21, Shawpan Mirza, Sirajganj District Correspondent of Ekushey Television and Moktar Hossain of The Daily Destiny received death threat through mobile phone. The journalists informed that a controversial leader of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) of Sirajganj district gave the threat saying that the journalist informed the law enforcers about his illegal business.

Attack/ Physical Assault:
On January 11, unidentified miscreants attacked Sohel Sani, a Special Correspondent of The Bangla Bazaar Potrika and Executive Member of Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU). According to the sources, a group of armed terrorists suddenly attacked him with lethal weapons while he was returning home from works at city's Basabo area. Locals rescued him in a critical condition and admitted to the Pongu Hospital. The cause behind the attack Sani could not be known till the time of filing this report.

Case/Arrest:
On January 11, Abdus Salam, a fertilizer trader of Natore filed a defamation case of 30 millions of Taka against five journalists. He filed the case to the Chief Judicial Court of Natore while the reporters published report against the selling of substandard fertilizer. The accused are Rejaul Karim Reza (Jai Jai Din), GM Iqbal Hasan (Janakantha), Ronen Roy (Vorer Kagoj), Aminul Hoque (Jana Desh) and Abdul Mannaf (Jana Desh).

On January 15, a team of Joint Force has arrested two journalists of Bandorban on charge of extortion. The arrested are identified as Sadek Hossian Chowdhury of Suprovat Bangladesh H M Samrat of Channel One. One Mong Chanu Marma filed the case accusing four local journalists of Bandorban as they demanded Taka 10 thousand as extortion to him. The two other journalists were Kobir Hossain Siddiki, Bandarban correspondent of Channel-i and daily Sangbad and Alauffin Shahriar of RTV and daily Amader Shomoy. Presently they are absconding. The false case was filed while the journalists published reports and pictures of gambling and nude dance.

On January 28, a defamation case was filed against the Editor Moinul Ahsan Saber, publisher Mahfuz Anam, Chief Reporter Badrul Anam Nabil and reporter Masud Kamal of the weekly 2,000. Asharf Siddiqui, Chairman of Jaitya Party central committee on behalf of former president Hossain Mohammad Ershad. According to the case statement, an autobiography of Bidisha, former wife of Ershad was published in the weekly 2000 where the plaintiff found definable information that leads to file the case. However, the court dismissed the case saying that the victim Ershad didn't file the case.

Ban and license cancellation:
On January 11, District Administration of Narayanganj has cancelled declaration of seven newspapers. The newspapers are Dainik Sobar Kantha, Bartaman Jele, Dainik Ihokal, Weekly Jeeban Chitra, Weekly Padma, Meghna, Jamuna, Shochitra Jana Jibon, Tamasha (Monthly), Lekha Chitra. The newspapers had not been published regularly for long. 

On January 25, the military-backed caretaker government asked the private television channels to avoid tele-casting all kinds of live talk shows. The officials, however, said they did not impose any ban on the tele-casting live shows. Earlier, on January 10, Ekushey Television authorities received a fax message, without mentioning the name and signature of the sender, from the administration to cancel its schedule live popular telecasting live programs - Ekushey Shomoy and Ekushey Raat. Some other private channels also received similar instructions. Following the directions, Ekushey Television authorities cancelled broadcusting of its live talk show Ekushey Shomoy and Ekushey Raat.Authorities imposed a ban on telecast of any sorts of talk show during the August violence last year. A few days later, TV channels got permission to telecast talk shows on nine-point condition. But the channels started to broadcast live talk shows frequently thought the government suggested avoiding live talk shows. Meanwhile, Channe-i stopped audience question portion of its talk show Nirbachito Khobor.

Follow up:
On January 2, the High Court ordered to stay the rule of extortion case filed against Jahangir Alam Akash, Bureau Chief of Rajshahi, The Daily Sangbad under Emergency Act. The court also asked the government why the appeal of inclusion of the case under Emergency Act will not be declared illegal. It is noted that Jahangir Alam Akash was arrest on 24 October 2007 by Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) from Rajshahi. He produced a television report that was broadcasted on 3 May 2007 alleging that RAB agents had shot a man at his home in front of his family although he posed no threat. Jahangir Alam Akash was charged with extortion, a charge widely believed to be false and politically motivated. The journalist was released on bail in November 2007 after over a month in detention. He has publicly stated that he has been tortured in detention by Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) agents. Akash stated publicly that he was tortured by RAB agents, including with electric shocks, beating on the sole of his foot with a stick, and being hanged from the ceiling with his hands tied. Following his release in late November 2007, the Home Ministry, allegedly at the instigation of the Rajshahi RAB agents, instructed the police to apply to the case the provisions of the Emergency Powers Rules, 2007 (EPR), usually applied to detainees whom the authorities want to prevent from being released on bail allegedly on security grounds.

On January 15, discussants at the reminiscence meeting said that the trial of the eminent journalists of Manik Saha, who was murdered, was not completed due to the negligence and reluctance of the BNP-Jamaat government and administration. In the meeting, held at the Moni Singh- Farhad Memorial Trust to mark the fourth death anniversary of New Age correspondent Manik Saha, the speakers urged the interim government to take necessary steps to bring the killers to book immediately. They also had the BNP-Jamaat government responsible for patronising the killers instead of ensuring punishment to them, which increased the journalists’ professional risk. The government failed to investigate the murder as many government officials were linked to those responsible for the murder, said Khusi Kobir of Nijera Kari. He proposed the formation of a civil investigation committee to probe the murder and expedite trial.



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