News

July 6, 2020

Bangladeshi reporter beaten nearly to death after covering local corruption

Shariful Alam Chowdhury was taken in a critical state to Cumilla Medical Hospital (photo: The Daily Star).
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the judicial authorities in the city of Cumilla, in eastern Bangladesh, to ensure that all those responsible for the severe beating that newspaper reporter Shariful Chowdhury received on the apparent orders of a village official are brought to justice.

A reporter for the local Daily Samakal newspaper, Shariful Alam Chowdhury was nearly killed by the ten thugs who arrived at his home in Muradnagar, on the outskirts of Cumilla, 100 km east of Dhaka, at around midday on 4 July.

 

They dragged him outside and proceeded to beat him with steel bars, machetes and hammers. At least seven of them took care to ensure that both of his arms and legs were broken in several places. After they left, he was taken to a hospital in the city of Cumilla where his condition has not yet stabilized.

 

Chowdhury’s parents and sister also sustained several injuries when they tried to intervene during the beating. When contacted by RSF, his father said the beating was clearly carried out at the behest of Shahjahan Mial, the chairman of the “union parishad” (village council) in the village of Darera.

 

“The UP chairman was angry that my son had published a report about his corruption and nepotism, and that’s why he orchestrated the attack,” he told RSF. Mial was arrested on the evening of 4 July but was released on bail yesterday.

 

Disturbing level of violence

 

“We call on the judges of the Cumilla court in charge of this case to do everything possible to ensure that the instigator of this unacceptable attack is tried and punished, along with the perpetrators,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “The level of violence targeting reporters in Bangladesh is reaching disturbing levels. We remind Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government of the urgency of overhauling the country’s legislation, including adopting a mechanism for protecting journalists.”

 

RSF and four other international and Bangladeshi organizations that defend the freedom to inform addressed an open letter to the prime minister last month in response to the surge in attacks on journalists.

 

Members of the Bangladesh Ansar paramilitary group attacked photojournalist Rubel Rashid and broke his camera when he tried to photograph a scuffle between them and people seeking Covid-19 tests at Mugda General Hospital in Dhaka last week. Joyeeta Roy, another photographer, fled the scene when she was also attacked.

 

Bangladesh is ranked 151st out of 180 countries and territories in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index.