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How free has press been in Bangladesh recently?

  • Published at 12:40 am May 3rd, 2017
  • Last updated at 10:50 am May 3rd, 2017
How free has press been in Bangladesh recently?
For journalists in Bangladesh, the recent years have been difficult and, in some cases, life-threatening. However, 2016 was worse for the freedom of press in the country than the previous years, despite being less eventful in terms of deaths or severe injuries. According to the 2017 Press Freedom Index, published by Paris-based international organisation Reporters without Borders, Bangladesh is ranked at No 146 among 180 countries around the world – two ranks down from 2016's No 144 and the same rank as 2015. "The Bangladeshi government does not take kindly to criticism of its constitution or its state religion, Islam. In 2016, the government took a tougher line towards its critics and the media in general. This was made clear by official statements expressing hostility towards the media, the blocking of dozens of websites, and the many lawsuits brought against journalists by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League," says the Reporters without Borders website. According to an Amnesty International report published on April 28, in late 2016 and early 2017, many bloggers and freelance writers in Bangladesh have received death threats several times, but they are either reluctant to approach police for protection or say they have been refused assistance when they have done so. Below is a list of major incidents of harassment, assault, police cases and a murder of journalists around the country last year: - On May 1, 2017, online news portal Natun Somoy Executive Editor Ahmed Razu was arrested in a defamation case filed by the Walton Group. Razu is a former employee of Walton-owned newspaper Rising BD. He is currently in jail. - On April 8, 2017, Daily Observer Sylhet Correspondent Sardar Abbas and Dainik Sakaler Khobor Correspondent Syed Nabiul Alam Dipu were assaulted by Chhatra League members when they protested sexual harassment. - On March 13, 2017, police in plainclothes picked up Daily Telegram Editor Binoy Krishna Mallik from his home for holding a press conference to allegedly expose the corruption of local superintendent of police. Police initially denied having arrested him, but later released him in face of protest. - On March 7, 2017, Rabiul Islam, reporter of Barisal-based newspaper Somoyer Barta, was arrested for reporting on the suicide of a sub-inspector's wife. The sub-inspector, Nurul Amin, filed the case with a local court. Rabiul is currently out on bail. - On February 6, 2017, miscreants attacked Samajer Kotha Correspondent Abdur Razzak Razu and his wife in Ramnagar area in Paikgachha, Khulna. Razu was severely injured. - On February 3, 2017, Shahbagh police assaulted Daily Ittefaq photojournalist Jibon Ahmed in front of Amar Ekushey Book Fair's Suharawardy Udyan gate over parking dispute. - On February 2, 2017, Daily Samakal upazila correspondent Abdul Hakim Shimul was fatally shot by Sirajganj's Shahjadpur municipality Mayor Halimul Haque Miru during a clash between two factions of local Awami League unit. Shimul succumbed to his injuries the next day. - On January 26, 2017, ATN News Reporter Kazi Ehsan Bin Didar and Cameraperson Abdul Alim were assaulted by Shahbagh police while recording videos of people getting detained by police from an Anti-Rampal procession. The same day, Dhaka Tribune journalist Morshed Jahan Mithun was assaulted by police in Mirpur. - On December 23, 2016, Ekushey Television's Savar Correspondent Nazmul Huda was detained by police for “fomenting unrest” during a protest by RMG factory employees. Nazmul, also local correspondent of the Bangladesh Pratidin, was later made accused in five other cases, including one for stealing trousers. He is currently out on bail. - On December 7, 2016, four journalists were physically assaulted by members of Oikkoboddho Sonaton Samaj Bangladesh when they protested vandalism at Chittagong Press Club. The same day, three correspondents were physically assaulted by Bangladesh Chhatra League members on Chittagong University campus. - On November 14, 2016, Daily Samakal and Channel 24's Habiganj Correspondent Shoyeb Chowdhury was arrested under the ICT Act. He was released after two and a half months in prison. - On October, 12, 2016, a sports reporter and a cameraperson of GTV were assaulted by a group of youths led by the son of an assistant commissioner of Chittagong Metropolitan Police. - Istishon blog founder and prominent writer Nur Nobi Dulal left the country with his family for Europe in 2016 after receiving several death threats from militants. Shortly after he left, the government blocked Istishon blog in Bangladesh on September 26. - On September 1, 2016, Online education portal Dainikshiksha.com Editor Siddiqur Rahman was arrested under Section 57 of the ICT Act for publishing a news on corruption involving Prof Fahima Khatun, former director general of higher and secondary education. He is currently out on bail. - On August 8, 2016, RAB arrested online news portal Banglamail24.com acting editor Shahadat Ullah Khan, Executive Editor Maksudul Haider Chowdhury and Assistant Editor Pantho Polash on charge of running a false report on Sajeeb Wazed Joy, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ICT adviser and son. They are currently out on bail. - On July 21, 2016, Prothom Alo photojournalist Anis Mahmud and four others were assaulted by jail guards at Sylhet Central Jail while on duty. - On June 25, 2016, a reporter was harassed by Chhatra League members on Chittagong University campus. - On June 19, 2016, a Channel i cameraperson was injured during a clash between two groups of Chhatra League inside the Chittagong College premises. - On June 12, 2016, Rajshahi district Awami League leader Asaduzzaman Asad filed a case against Daily Samakal Editor Golam Sarwar and three other journalists of the newspaper for naming local Awami League leader Abdus Salam as a JMB member in a news report. - On April 10, 2016, a group of local goons attacked two journalists of Deepto TV in Chittagong's Bahaddarhat area. - On February 2, 2016, a photojournalist of the Daily Prothom Alo was beaten by Chhatra League men in Chittagong while on duty. - In 2016, Rangpur's Pirgachha police OC Makbul Hossain and Sub-Inspector Rafiqul Islam filed three cases against Daily Jugantor Pirgachha Correspondent Harunur Rashid on charge of committing subversive acts and carrying explosives because he exposed these two officials for extorting money from people. - Journalists Shafik Rehman, Shaukat Mahmood and Mahmudur Rahman were arrested between 2015 and 2016. Several charges were brought against them. The trio claimed that they were arrested because they were involved with the BNP. All three are currently out on bail.   Our correspondents in Chittagong, Sylhet, Barisal, Rangpur, Rajshahi and Khulna have contributed to this story.
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