Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu has said there is no communal conflict in the country, especially between Bangalis and ethnic communities in the hill tracts.
He was speaking to journalists at a workshop on “Conflict Sensitive Journalism,” jointly organized by Internews and Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC) on Sunday. The workshop was attended by 30 journalists representing print and electronic media.
While advising journalists on how to write conflict-related news, the minister said: “The Bangali community never attacked ethnic people in the hill tracts. No conflict exists between Bangalis and the ethnic community.”
He labeled the conflicts that occur in the hill tract regions as “aggression towards the government” instead of an aggression between the Bangali and ethnic communities.
Inu further said: “The attacks on people belonging to other religions are sponsored aggressive attacks. Those cannot be called communal attacks.”
He added that journalists could address the issue as a national issue instead of a communal one.
Inu urged the journalists to consider the sensitivities of religious, local and international organizations and relationships with other countries before making any conflict-based report.
“Make accurate and unbiased reports,” said the minister while addressing the workshop. “Reporters should not report on anything that might lead to violence.
“Journalists should not be instigators,” he continued. “If the press reports positively, the masses will seek out a positive resolution as well.”
Country Director of Internews Syed Zain Al Mahmood termed the workshop a “lively discussion on the ethics and standards of reporting in conflict-based situations.”
In the concluding speech, CEO of BNNRC AHM Bazlur Rahman said that with support from Internews, similar training programs on fact checking and verification techniques used in reporting will be held in the future.
Fellowships for journalists and awards will be given out to journalists working on conflict sensitive issues based on Cox’s Bazar, Chattogram and Dhaka, said Bazlur.