In a collective plea for press freedom and human rights, 19 international organisations have urged the administration of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to halt cases initiated under the Digital Security Act (DSA) against journalist Adhora Yeasmean. This urgent appeal follows an investigation into Yeasmean's video report for a private TV channel RTV on alleged activities of the religious organization Rajarbagh Darbar Sharif, which led to accusations against her under the DSA. Read : Cabinet approves Cyber Security Act to replace controversial DSA The coalition of organizations has also expressed alarm over reports of harassment targeted at Yeasmean by members of Rajarbagh Darbar Sharif. They allege that since mid-July, she has been subjected to unauthorized surveillance, threats, and intimidation. These actions are believed to be retaliatory against her investigative journalism. The coalition insists that authorities swiftly investigate these threats, hold the culprits accountable, and ensure the journalist's safety and psychological well-being. The coalition also calls for Bangladesh to terminate the DSA investigation into Akramul Ahsan Kanchan, a co-accused in Yeasmean's report. Kanchan claimed that Shakerul Kabir, the leader of Rajarbagh Darbar Sharif, acquired local properties deceptively. The coalition views this legal backlash against journalistic sources as a threat to press freedom. Read : DSA amended to prevent misuse of law: Quader Bangladeshi Journalists in International Media (BJIM), a platform of Bangladeshi journalists covering the country for various global media outlets, also endorsed the letter and urged authorities to drop any investigation into Adhora Yeasmin. “Press freedom is vital for a thriving democracy, allowing voices to be heard and truths to be revealed,” stated BJIM spokesperson Redwan Ahmed. “We urge Bangladeshi authorities to cease using the criminal justice system to harass or intimidate journalists and to drop charges against Adhora Yeasmin for her journalistic work.” Amid the January 2024 election, the groups stress free journalism without fear, noting the DSA's repeal but cautioning against the new Cyber Security Act's threats to expression. The coalition also calls for involving stakeholders to shape rights-respecting legislation, underscoring the need to drop charges against expression and release detainees under the DSA. Read : No journalists will be harassed by Cyber Security Act: Law Minister Organisations who have signed the letter are Amnesty International, ARTICLE 19 South Asia, Asian Human Rights Commission, Bangladeshi Journalists in International Media, Capital Punishment Justice Project, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Coalition For Women In Journalism (CFWIJ), Committee to Protect Journalists, Forum for Freedom of Expression, Bangladesh, Free Press Unlimited, IFEX, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), International Women’s Media Foundation, PEN America, PEN Bangladesh, PEN International, Reporters Without Borders, and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.
Mahmudul Alam Babu, chairman Sadhurpara UP in Jamalpur who is a suspect in the murder of Banglanews24.com journalist Golam Rabbani Nadim, was detained from Debiganj upazila of Panchagarh district early Saturday (June 17, 2023). Members of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) detained Babu and two others around 5 am in Chilahati union of the upazila, said Jamal Hossain, officer-in-charge of Debiganj Police Station. Also Read: Journalist injured in attack by miscreants in Jamalpur dies They were trying to flee the country by crossing the border, RAB sources said. RAB will later brief the media on this detention. Golam Rabbani's wife, Monira Begum, alleged that her husband was killed on the orders UP chairman Mahmudul Alam Babu due to his news reporting. Also Read: Take immediate action against journalist Rabbani's killers: Sultana Kamal-led MSF Golam Rabbani was returning home on June 14 when he was attacked by a group of terrorists in Bakshiganj upazila. The assailants physically assaulted him before fleeing the scene, leaving him unconscious. He died at Mymensingh Medical College Hospital the following day. Monira claimed that her husband had been subjected to various forms of harassment before the incident, and it was the chairman's associates who carried out the killing. She demanded exemplary punishment of those involved in the incident. Also Read: TIB condemns killing of journalist Rabbani
A prominent Pakistani television journalist who went missing last week, apparently because of his public support to former Prime Minister Imran Khan, returned home early Tuesday after being released by his captors, his family and his employer said. Sami Abrahim's brother, Ali Raza, took to Twitter to confirm his release. BOL TV confirmed his release in a news announcement. Abrahim went missing Thursday when eight people in four vehicles intercepted his car on his way back home from work in the capital, Islamabad, and took him away, according to his family and BOL TV where Abrahim works. No one had claimed responsibility for Abrahim's abduction, but it is widely believed that he was being held by the country's security agencies, which are notorious for abducting, harassing and torturing journalists. Abrahim has long publicly opposed the government of Khan's successor, Premier Shahbaz Sharif. Khan, a former cricket star who became an Islamist politician, was in office in 2018-2022 and was ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament last year. Another pro-Khan TV journalist, Imran Riaz, went missing earlier this month and was yet to be freed.
China was the biggest global jailer of journalists last year with more than 100 behind bars, according to a press freedom group, as President Xi Jinping’s government tightened control over society. Xi's government also was one of the biggest exporters of propaganda content, according to Reporters without Boarders. China ranked second to last on the group’s annual index of press freedom, behind only neighbor North Korea. The ruling Communist Party has tightened already strict controls on media in China, where all newspapers and broadcasters are state-owned. Websites and social media are required to enforce censorship that bans material that might spread opposition to one-party rule. Also Read: Chinese who reported on COVID to be released after 3 years Xi, China’s most powerful figure in decades, called during a 2016 meeting with journalists who had been awarded official prizes for them to adhere to “the correct orientation of public opinion." Xi is pursuing a “crusade against journalism,” Reporters Without Borders said in a report Wednesday. It called China's decline in press freedom “disastrous.” Beijing operates what is regarded as the world's most extensive system of internet controls. Its filters try to block the Chinese public from seeing websites abroad operated by news outlets, governments and human rights and other activist groups. Chinese journalists have been prosecuted on charges of spying, leaking national secrets and picking quarrels, a vague accusation used to jail dissidents. Others are subjected to surveillance, intimidation and harassment. Also Read: China's foreign minister makes rare visit to Myanmar border Journalist Dong Yuyu, who worked at a ruling party-affiliated newspaper and is a former Harvard University fellow, faces espionage charges after being detained for more than one year, his family said last week. In 2022, Chinese-born Australian journalist Cheng Lei was tried in China on national security charges but has yet to learn the verdict, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said in March. Cheng worked for CGTN, the English-language state TV channel aimed at foreign audiences. She was detained in August 2019 and accused of sharing state secrets. In Hong Kong, the Communist Party forced a prominent newspaper, Apple Daily, to shut down as part of a crackdown on pro-democracy sentiment. Apple Daily's founder, Jimmy Lai, was convicted of fraud last year that his supporters said were politically motivated. Six other former executives of the newspaper pleaded guilty.
A Dhaka court on Monday (April 03, 2023) granted bail to Prothom Alo reporter Shamsuzzaman Shams in a case filed under the Digital Security Act (DSA). Dhaka Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Asaduzzaman Nur granted the bail on a bond of Tk 20,000. A Dhaka court on Thursday sent him to jail rejecting his bail petition. Another petition was filed on Monday seeking bail. Later, the journalist was shifted to Kashimpur Central Jail from Keraniganj on March 31. Meanwhile, he was taken back to Dhaka Central Jail in Keraniganj from Kashimpur Central Jail on April 1. Also read: Journalist Shamsuzzaman taken back to Dhaka Central Jail On March 29, members of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in plainclothes picked up Shams from his residence in Ambagan area, adjacent to Jahangirnagar University, around 4:30 am. The same day, a Jubo League leader filed a case under the Digital Security Act against Shams, accusing him of publishing a "false and fabricated report" on the Prothom Alo website. On March 29, an FIR was filed by a lawyer named Abdul Malek (Mashiur Malek), accusing Prothom Alo editor Matiur Rahman, reporter Shamsuzzaman Shams, an unnamed “assistant cameraman”, and unnamed others of “using print, online, and electronic media to tarnish the image and reputation of the state.” In the FIR, the lawyer also mentioned that the accused were “purposefully spreading misinformation to deteriorate the law and order situation of the country.” Read More: Prothom Alo Editor seeks anticipatory bail in DSA case, hearing yet to begin The High Court on Sunday (April 02, 2023) granted six weeks anticipatory bail to Prothom Alo Editor and Publisher Matiur Rahman in a case filed under the Digital Security Act.
Prothom Alo journo offered a child Tk 10 and expressed his views in the minor’s name: Foreign Ministry
The government of Bangladesh has said as a party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child it would not tolerate any act of abusing children, noting that Prothom Alo journalist Shamsuzzaman Shams was arrested because of “child abuse and exploitation”. "The government would also not accept any such effort aimed at maligning the Independence Day of the nation," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said today (April 01, 2023). The government of Bangladesh is committed to uphold the freedom of expression for all its citizens and the media, the foreign ministry said. Read More: Prothom Alo journalist Shams denied bail, sent to jail However, it said, creating social unrest by undertaking such “fraudulent acts” is contrary to the spirit of honest journalism. The ministry said it has been brought to the notice of the government that some international media and institutions are claiming that a journalist in Bangladesh, named Shamsuzzaman, has been arrested as he wrote about the “cost of living in Bangladesh”. "This information is totally false and fabricated. This journalist was arrested because of ‘child abuse’ and ‘child exploitation," the foreign ministry said. Many media outlets have been continuously reporting on the cost of living in Bangladesh since the beginning of the Ukraine war which has caused inflation around the world. Read More: Prothom Alo journalist Shams taken to court "No one has been arrested due to such reporting. The said journalist was arrested because of child abuse and child exploitation, as he offered ten taka to a 9-year-old boy and then expressed his own views in the name of that child," the ministry said. "That is surely an act of child abuse and exploitation. Secondly, he tried to undermine the independence of Bangladesh on the great Independence Day. These acts are surely tantamount to punishable crimes," the foreign ministry said. Read More: Prothom Alo reporter Shamsuzzaman sued under DSA
A Dhaka court on Thursday (March 30, 2023) sent Prothom Alo reporter Shamsuzzaman Shams to jail in a case filed under the Digital Security Act after rejecting his bail petition. Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of Dhaka Md Tofazzal Hossain turned down the bail petition. Earlier, Ramna Model Police Station Inspector Abu Ansar, also investigating officer of the case, requested the court for sending him to jail when Shams was produced before the court. Read More: CID arrested Prothom Alo journalist Shamsuzzan in a case: Home Minister Proshanto Kumar Karmakar, lawyer of Shamsuzzaman, appeared for the bail plea. On March 29, Criminal Investigation Department (CID) men in plainclothes picked up Shams from his residence in Ambagan area, adjacent to Jahangirnagar University, around 4:30 am. The same day, a Jubo League leader filed a case under the Digital Security Act against Shams, accusing him of publishing a "false and fabricated report" in the daily Prothom Alo. Read More: Prothom Alo journalist Shams taken to court
Prothom Alo reporter Shamsuzzaman Shams was taken to the Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court today, in connection with a case filed against him under Digital Security Act. A team of police took him to the court today (March 30, 2023) around 10:10 am. Criminal Investigation Department (CID) men in plainclothes picked up Shams from his residence in Ambagan area, adjacent to Jahangirnagar University, around 4:30 am on Wednesday (March 29, 2023). The same day, a Jubo League leader filed a case under the Digital Security Act against Shams, accusing him of publishing a "false and fabricated report" in the daily Prothom Alo. Also read; Prothom Alo reporter Shamsuzzaman sued under DSA Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan yesterday said that members of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) arrested the Prothom Alo reporter in a case. Meanwhile, opposition party BNP has denounced Shams' arrest, saying it is a "dreadful incident". Rights body Manabadhikar Shongskriti Foundation also condemned the arrest of the Prothom Alo journalist. Besides, editor of the leading daily Prothom Alo, Matiur Rahman, has been sued alongside other staff members under the Digital Security Act. Prothom Alo reported the development at 3:19 am today on its website. Read More: Prothom Alo editor sued under DSA
Shamsuzzaman Shams, a reporter of Bangla daily Prothom Alo, was picked up allegedly by a law enforcement agency from his Savar residence early Wednesday (March 29, 2023). Witnesses and family members said 16 Criminal Investigation Department (CID) members in plainclothes reached in front of Shamsuzzaman’s residence in Ambagan area adjacent to Jahangirnagar University around 4:30 am. Later, seven-eight of them entered the house of the journalist and picked him up. They took him to Savar Bottola area where they have their ‘sehri’ at Nurjahan Hotel. Chief security officer of the university Sudipta Shaheen, and a security guard were also with them at the hotel. Read more: Journalist arrested under Digital Security Act in Khulna They also seized a laptop, two mobile phone sets and a portable hard disc after searching the room of Shamsuzzaman. Shamsuzzaman along with his mother has been living on the ground floor of the building in Ambagan area for the past one year. He is also the younger brother of Rabiul Karim, an assistant police commissioner who died in the Holey Artisan café attack in 2016. At 4:45 am, the CID members again went to the house of Shamsuzzaman along with him. Sub-inspector of Ashulia Police Station Md Raju and local journalist Ariful Islam were present there. Read more: Satkhira journalist, earlier ‘picked up by law enforcers’, shown arrested During their stay at the house for 5-7 minutes, Shamsuzzaman was asked to take some clothes. Later they again left the house with Shamsuzzaman. A police officer also told owner of the house Ferdous Alam that Shamsuzzaman wrote a report against the state and he was detained for interrogation. Azad Rahman, additional superintendent of CID (media), said “I have no idea about it and there is no information of any case filed against him.” Read More: ‘Strong possibility head injury led to brain haemorrhage, no sign of high blood pressure’: RMCH director on Jasmine Sultana’s death Md Quamruzzaman, officer-in-charge of Ashulia Police Station, said he was not informed about the detention of Shamsuzzaman. “Investigation is on to find out Shamsuzzaman,” he said.
Setara Musa, a noted journalist who edited the women's section of various newspapers, passed away at a hospital in the city on Tuesday. She was 83. Setara, daughter of the prominent journalist Abdus Salam, breathed her last at the hospital in the afternoon, said journalist Parveen Sultana Jhuma, her own daughter. The namaz-e-janaza of Setara, also the wife of prolific journalist ABM Musa, will be held at Iqbal Road Mosque in Mohammadpur after Esha prayer. Later, her body will be taken to Fatehpur in Feni on Wednesday morning where she will be buried after Zuhr prayer near the grave of her husband ABM Musa.