PEN Bangladesh strongly condemns the harassment and arrest of journalist Rozina Islam, a senior correspondent of the Bengali newspaper Prothom Alo, in a case filed by the Health Ministry under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, says a press release.
The Police took her into custody at the Bangladesh Secretariat after five hours of confinement in a room for allegedly taking photos of important official documents at the office of Md Saiful Islam Bhuiyan, personal secretary (PS) to the Secretary of Health Services Division. She was then brought to Shahbag police station, held overnight, and sent to the court early in the morning. The court denied a remand request from the police but deferred her bail hearing until Thursday.
Stressing that it is totally unacceptable for a journalist to be treated in this manner for merely trying to do her job, which entails in many instances accessing government documents, even sensitive ones, the release states that this is an entirely standard and necessary practice for journalists in countries with high standards of press freedom.
PEN Bangladesh urges the government of Bangladesh to drop all charges against Rozina Islam and initiate an inquiry into the circumstances leading to her arrest, her wrongful confinement and harassment at the Secretariat, says the release.
Pen Bangladesh promotes creative liberties of writers and artists, and uphold their freedom of expression. Eminent fiction writer and academic Syed Manzoorul Islam is president of Pen Bangladesh while Mohammad Moheuddin is secretary general and Shakira Parvin is Publicity Secretary of the organisation.