Reporters attacked by rioting Islamists during clashes with police

Around ten journalists covering Islamist rioting in the central Dhaka district of Paltan on 5 May were injured in attacks by protesters and two were hospitalized in a critical condition. The rioting was followed early yesterday morning by the closure of two Islamist TV stations. “We condemn the violent attacks on journalists covering Islamist demonstrations that led to clashes with the police,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Journalists act as neutral observers of political events and, as such, should never be targeted by either protesters or police. “We appeal for calm and we urge the authorities to take whatever measures are necessary to protect news providers. We also point out that the media should not be censored for covering events of general interest. “The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission must publicly explain why it has ordered two Islamist TV stations, Diganta Television and Islamic TV, to stop broadcasting or else the measure can only be regarded as entirely arbitrary.” The journalists were attacked on 5 May by supporters of Hefajat-e-Islam – a newly-emerged Islamist movement – after police charged their demonstration. The targeted journalists included Firoze Manna, a reporter for Dainik Janakantha, Rafiqul Islam, a reporter for the English-language daily New Age, Ali Hossain Mithu, a photographer for the daily Amader Shomoy, Bulbul Ahmed, a photo editor for the same newspaper, Shomoy TV reporter Saiful Rudra and his cameraman Sajib, Mohono TV reporter Nasir Uddin, and Bdnews24 reporter Farhan Ferdous and his photographer Munna. Gazi TV reporter Sajjah Hossain and his cameraman Litton were hospitalized in a critical condition as result of the injuries they sustained in the attacks by Islamist protesters, who also inflicted damage on TV crew vehicles. Col. Sazzad Hossain of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission led pre-dawn raids yesterday on the premises of Diganta Television and Islamic TV and, at 4:20 a.m., ordered them to stop broadcasting. No written order was presented and no explanation was given. Diganta Television is owned by Mir Kashem Ali, the leader of the Islamist party Jammat-e-Islami, who is currently held on charges of crimes against humanity during Bangladesh’s 1971 independence war. Islamic TV is owned by the brother of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, the leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which is now the main opposition party. The 5 May demonstrations were called to protest against Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s rejection of a proposed law intended to penalize attacking religious sentiments, the Koran and the Prophet Mohammed. The Islamist protesters were also demanding the death penalty for bloggers convicted of “atheism.” Four bloggers ¬– Asif Mohiuddin, Russell Pervez, Mashiur Rahman and Subrata Adhikari ¬– are currently detained in Dhaka on atheism charges and are facing up to 14 years in prison and fines of 100,000 euros. Two Facebook users, Partha Sarathi Das Pappu, and Bijoy Chandra, have also been jailed for posting offensive comments about Islam and Mohammed. Photo : STR / AFP
Published on
Updated on 20.01.2016