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[ALOCHONA] Bangla: CPJ country report

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  • Kavita Menon by way of SALEEM Samad
    Committee to Protect Journalists Country Report: Bangladesh As of December 31,1998 ... Although the constitution guarantees press freedom, Bangladeshi
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 30, 1999
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      Committee to Protect Journalists
      Country Report: Bangladesh
      As of December 31,1998

      | Country and Regional Reports | Press Freedom Database | CPJ Home |

      Although the constitution guarantees press freedom, Bangladeshi
      journalists face considerable risk in practicing their profession. Violent
      attacks have become disturbingly common, and death threats almost routine.
      Meanwhile, the government did little to ensure that those responsible for
      crimes against journalists were punished for their actions.
      Many attacks were led by activists from the country's major political
      parties. Members of the student wing of the ruling Awami League, headed by
      Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed, have repeatedly harassed and threatened
      correspondents who expose their often coercive political
      tactics at Dhaka University.
      Because of authorities' failure to pursue investigations into such
      attacks, it is difficult to establish the motive for every incident. When
      Saiful Alam Mukul, editor of the Bengali-language Daily Runner newspaper,
      was murdered in August, it was unclear whether he was killed for publishing
      reports exposing local gang activity, political corruption, or the movements
      of guerrillas operating in the district. Financial difficulties -- stemming
      from the government's decision to stop advertising in the paper in February
      -- had forced the Runner to cease publication on June 16. Mukul was killed
      just two weeks after his August 15 announcement that he would relaunch the
      paper. His murder outraged the nation's journalistic community, and its
      timing sent a chilling message to those who would dare publish controversial
      reports of any kind. Journalists who tackled religious issues also came under
      fire. In May, local officials in Jessore nearly shut down two newspapers for
      publishing articles that had apparently offended the Hindu and Muslim
      communities. And when the writer Taslima Nasreen returned to Bangladesh in
      September after years of living in exile, she was greeted by large-scale
      demonstrations staged by conservative Muslims, calling for her execution.
      She also faced charges for the "deliberate outrage of religious feelings."
      Criminal defamation laws remain on the books, and are often used to harass
      journalists who write about politically sensitive topics. Although
      government officials have discussed replacing the arrest warrant with a
      court summons, most journalists are forced to endure arrest and post bail
      before their case, which then tends to languish interminably in the judicial
      system.
      The existence of more than 500 newspapers and magazines is, however,
      evidence of a vibrant journalistic community. Local journalists vigorously
      protest attacks directed against the media, and there are a number of
      independent publications that continue to air sensitive topics. But in a
      country where three-quarters of the population are illiterate, electronic
      media remain most effective in reaching a broad audience. Radio and
      television are both still controlled by the government, and have been
      criticized for giving almost no news coverage to the political opposition. #


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