BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Saturday said media freedom and democracy in Bangladesh ‘cannot be protected’ without a united movement.
“A message should be given to all that democracy, journalism and the country and its independence and sovereignty can’t be protected without a united movement,” he said.
The BNP leader said, “There’s no way-out other than changing the current situation. The only way to remove this fascist government is a united movement and struggle. We need unity and we’ve been always trying to forge it. We’ve to move forward by creating a national unity.”
He made the remarks at a virtual discussion arranged by a faction of Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ).
Fakhrul said the unity of people and political parties is now imperative to 'restore' democracy for which the nation fought against Pakistani occupation forces and liberated the country in 1971.
“The current government has no political values as Awami League doesn’t believe in democracy. Awami League and democracy never go together and there’s no democracy in their chemistry. They think they’re all in all and they’ll run the country and control everything,” he observed.
The BNP leader said the media and journalists are going through the toughest time due to the government’s 'repressive and suppressive' acts. “A situation has been created here, especially creating fear and panic, that no one now dares rise voice and express their views freely.”
He said there have never been so many unemployed journalists in the country. “After the introduction of Bakshal in 1975, all but four newspapers were shut. They now indirectly created the same situation. Those who now speak in favour of them and those who’re on their side will only be able to run their newspapers and channels and media outlets. But they won’t allow others to do so."
Fakhrul said many journalists were killed, made disappeared, sacked, repressed and sent to jail facing the wrath of the government. "Even after that, you’ve to turn around as you’re the foundation of democracy.”
Fakhrul said democracy can never be established without free flow of information or free media as the mass media can play a major role in democratic society in all countries, in all eras and at all times.
DUJ president Kader Gani Chowdhury said the Digital Security Act has become a dangerous obstacle to expressing freedom of speech. “By creating a culture of fear, this law is being used as a weapon to gag the media and suppress the dissent.”
Describing the Digital Security Act as a ‘dogmatic’ law, he said it cannot exist in any civilised society or in any civilised welfare state. “It’s an unconstitutional law. We demand the immediate repeal of this law.”