Sustainable development can only be achieved through empowering the citizens of a nation through the principles of democracy
The freedom of the press is one of the most essential tenets of a well-functioning democracy, as it allows journalists to exercise their freedom of expression to hold those in power accountable, to bring to light the injustices which plague a nation, and to provide platforms through which the people of this country can learn the truth.
Unfortunately, Bangladesh has not always had the best track record when it comes to upholding the principles of a free press, with most recently, the Digital Security Act receiving criticism for its vague phrasing.
While we understand the necessity of laws which regulate content online, in its current form, the DSA can be and has been used to silence journalists as we saw with photojournalist and editor of Pakshakal, Shafiqul Islam Kajol, who has remained in prison for the last four months with no sign of release.
But free speech does not apply to the press alone: Voices are routinely suppressed across Bangladesh -- belonging to minorities, teachers, the working class -- as their rights are ignored and their oppressors escape with impunity.
It is about time that we as a nation understood that a lack of freedom of expression affects every single one of us in the long run, acting as an impediment to progress and a blatant dismissal of the democratic and secular values on which this nation was founded.
This is a slippery slope that could very well push us back down, negating the achievements we have made in the last decade.
Progress cannot be measured through economic growth alone. A quick glance at the world’s most well-off nations shows us that sustainable development can only be achieved through empowering the citizens of a nation through the principles of democracy.
It is high time that we did the same.