He has demanded legal action against those who harassed Rozina
Describing Official Secrets Act as an outdated black law, Jatiya Party Chairman GM Quader on Thursday protested the filing of a case under the act against Prothom Alo Senior Reporter Rozina Islam.
Speaking at a human-chain program, he demanded the formation of a judicial probe committee to look into the harassment of Islam and unearth the facts regarding the case filed against her.
“Legal action must be taken against those who harassed journalist Islam. Media workers’ jobs and financial security must be ensured,” the Jatiya Party chief said.
Jatiya Party’s Dhaka South city unit arranged the program in front of the Jatiya Press Club demanding the release of journalist Islam and protesting Israel’s deadly airstrikes on the people of Palestine.
GM Quader, also the deputy opposition leader in parliament, demanded that Rozina be freed on bail.
He urged the government to ensure the free flow of information and the freedom of media workers.
“The brutality Rozina faced is an unforgivable crime. It’s the job of an investigative reporter to collect information and there’s nothing wrong with it. We have the opportunity to know the news on plundering in different departments and offices only because of investigative journalism,” GM Quader said.
He said journalists presented the information before the nation about corruption in the purchase of masks, PPEs and hospital equipment during the Covid crisis through their investigative reports.
“A company has already plundered Tk50 crore by importing corona vaccine and now we don’t know what’s happening regarding vaccine import. Rozina Islam has collected information for the sake of her profession and to inform the nation in the interest of the country. Collecting information by a journalist can never be considered as stealing,” the Jatiya Party chairman observed.
He opposed the filing of a case against Rozina and sending her to jail in the Official Secrets Act enacted by the British ruler.
“The Official Secrets Act is an obsolete black law. The British government had introduced this repressive act in 1923 to cement its power. In an independent and democratic state, such a black law is contrary to the public interest,” GM Quader observed.
He said when the government enacted the Right to Information Act, 2009, Jatiya Party had made a demand for keeping a provision to ensure people’s access to all the information except the ones that go against the country and cause a threat to its security.
“It’s now proved that the Right to Information Act was not enacted in that way. It’s formulated with a colonial attitude that the government is the king and the people are its subjects. We strongly oppose it. We demand that the Right to Information Act be amended as soon as possible,” the Jatiya Party chief said.
He strongly condemned and protested Israel’s barbaric attacks on the innocent people of Palestine.
GM Quader said the UN peacekeepers need to be deployed in Palestine to save the lives of innocent people. “If necessary, Israel must be restrained by using force under the leadership of the United Nations.”
He urged the UN to take steps to ensure lasting peace and stability in Palestine through dialogues.
Speaking at the program, Jatiya Party Co-chairman Anisul Islam Mahmud said the attitude that was shown to journalist Rozina Islam is an onslaught on democracy and the independent media.
“The media must be given full freedom in the interest of democracy. There’s no alternative to press freedom to protect the interest of the country and its people and ensure the free flow of information,” he observed.
Anisul demanded the government immediately release journalist Rozina and withdraw the case filed against her. “Legal action must be taken against those who misbehaved with her.”
Jatiya Party General Secretary Ziauddin Ahmed Bablu said the way Rozina Islam was harassed that goes against the spirit of independence.
"We fought the War of Liberation in 1971 to ensure freedom of speech. But people now can’t express their opinions because of the lack of democracy in the country. Media workers are unable to reveal the truth for lack of press freedom,” he said.
Bablu said the attack on Rozina Islam cannot be accepted in a civilised society. "We want full freedom of the media.”