Bangladesh authorities must immediately and impartially investigate the assaults on at least 27 journalists covering recent political rallies and hold the perpetrators accountable, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has said. On October 28, at least 27 journalists covering rallies in Dhaka were attacked. CPJ spoke to journalists who accused BNP supporters of attacking the journalists. Md Rafsan Jani, a crime reporter for the daily Kalbela newspaper, told CPJ that he was filming BNP supporters assaulting police officers when two demonstrators approached him and took his phone and identification card. A group of BNP supporters then surrounded Jani and beat him with iron rods, sticks, and pipes as he repeatedly identified himself as a journalist, he said, adding that he managed to escape after around 20 minutes. CPJ, rights groups call for stopping ‘harassment’ of journalist Rozina As of November 1, his items had not been returned. The CPJ also took note of The Daily Star report that claimed Awami League demonstrators beat the daily Kalbela reporter Abu Saleh Musa while covering their rally. “The attacks on at least 27 Bangladeshi journalists covering recent political rallies in Dhaka must see swift and transparent accountability,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martínez de la Serna. “The leadership and supporters of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the Awami League, as well as police, must respect the rights of journalists to freely and safely report on the lead-up to the upcoming election scheduled for January,” he said. SA Masum, a photographer for the daily Inqilab newspaper, told CPJ that he was taking photos of a confrontation between Awami League and BNP supporters when his head was repeatedly struck from behind with what he suspected to be a bamboo stick, knocking him unconscious while the attackers, whom he did not identify, continued to beat him. Bystanders at the scene rescued Masum and took him to the hospital, where he was treated for a concussion and severe bruising and open lesions throughout his body, according to the journalist, who shared photos of his injuries with CPJ. Md Sirajum Salekin, a crime reporter for the Dhaka Times, told CPJ that he was on his motorcycle on the way to cover clashes at the chief justice’s residence when a vehicle hit his motorcycle from behind, causing him to fall and break two bones in his right leg. Record number of journalists jailed worldwide in 2020: CPJ Salekin said he believed he was targeted because he was wearing his press badge and his motorcycle was marked with a sticker of the Dhaka Times. Mohammad Ali Mazed, a video reporter for the French news agency Agence France-Presse, told CPJ that he was covering a clash between police and BNP demonstrators while holding a camera and press identification when five to six demonstrators surrounded him. The demonstrators damaged Mazed’s camera and other news equipment and beat him on his head, back, and right shoulder with bamboo sticks for around three minutes until the journalist fled the scene with the assistance of bystanders, he said. CPJ names Shahidul Alam among four for Int’l Press Freedom Awards 2020 Sazzad Hossain, a freelance photographer working with Bangla Tribune and international outlets, including the British newspaper The Guardian and photo agency SOPA Images, told CPJ that BNP protesters threw broken bricks at him and trampled him while he was covering a clash with police. Salahuddin Ahmed Shamim, a freelance photographer reporting for the news agency Fair News Service, told CPJ that he was covering BNP protesters assaulting police officers when seven to eight of the party’s supporters surrounded him, beat him in the back with bamboo sticks, and kicked him for around 15 minutes. Two journalists who spoke to CPJ — Sheikh Hasan Ali, chief photojournalist for Kaler Kantho newspaper, and Ahammad Foyez, senior correspondent for New Age newspaper — said they were struck with rubber bullets when police attempted to disperse BNP protesters, leaving them with minor injuries. Ali told CPJ that an unidentified man hit the Kaler Kantho photographer Lutfor Rahman with a bamboo stick on his right shoulder while covering the same clashes. Md Hanif Rahman, a photographer for Ekushey TV, told CPJ that he and Ekushey TV reporter Touhidur Rahman were covering an arson attack on a police checkpoint when they were surrounded by a group of 10 to 12 men who beat him with pipes and sticks and pushed Touhidur. Rabiul Islam Rubel, a reporter for the daily Kalbela, told CPJ that he was among a crowd of BNP supporters while covering the clashes at the chief justice’s residence when 15 to 20 men threw bricks at him while shouting that journalists are “government brokers.” Jony Rayhan, a reporter for the daily Kalbela, told CPJ that BNP supporters beat him while covering their rally. Rayhan was also injured by a sound grenade that landed in front of him while police were trying to disperse the demonstrators, he said. Salman Tareque Sakil, chief reporter for Bangla Tribune, told CPJ that he sustained a leg fracture after a brick was thrown at him while covering the BNP rally. Jubair Ahmed, a Bangla Tribune reporter, told CPJ that while police were dispersing BNP demonstrators, a tear gas shell landed in front of him, blurring his vision before the protesters trampled him while fleeing the scene. Tahir Zaman, a reporter for the news website The Report, was also injured by a rubber bullet while covering clashes at the BNP rally, CPJ said. Read more: Day 3 of blockade: 4 vehicles burnt in Dhaka, Narayanganj so far
DMP Commissioner Khandaker Golam Faruk on Wednesday (July 26, 2023) urged the political parties to hold their programmes without causing public suffering as they may be forced to ban political rallies in future if those become reasons of people’s woes. A total of nine political parties including Awami League and BNP have sent letters to Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) seeking permission to hold rallies in the capital on July 27 but few parties will be allowed, said the DMP chief. DMP has no such objection to BNP’s marches in capital on July 18, 19: Anee “To hold political rallies is a democratic right of the political parties but it is the responsibility of the DMP to ensure the security of the people,” he said while talking to reporters after inspecting the overall security measures on the occasion of Holy Ashura over the Tajia procession.He also urged the political parties to plan their programmes on weekly holidays in future instead of working days considering the public suffering.Besides, carrying of sticks and bags in the rallies will be prohibited, he said. Drive to continue till Dhaka free from mugging: DMP CommissionerReferring to the Tajia procession, the DMP chief said police have been giving importance to security during Tajia procession since the 2015 explosion at a Tajia procession. Action to be taken if passengers are charged extra fare during Eid journey: DMP CommissionerThe Imambara Hoseni Dalan area will be brought under CCTV surveillance and alongside the law enforcement agencies, plainclothes police will be deployed in the area to ensure foolproof security.Besides, dog squad will be active in the area so that no untoward incident can happen, he said.