New York, May 8, 2012--The safety of journalists covering political turmoil in Bangladesh must be respected by all parties, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today after at least 11 journalists were reported injured while covering demonstrations by Islamists earlier this week in Dhaka.
"We are deeply concerned by the deteriorating climate for the press in Bangladesh," said CPJ Asia program coordinator Bob Dietz. "The differing sides in the public debate, all of which seek to be heard, should respect the role of journalists who are covering their messages and public events."
On Sunday, members and supporters of the Islamist group Hifazat-e-Islam took to the streets demanding new anti-blasphemy legislation and the execution of bloggers they consider to be atheists. News reports said the protesters had assaulted several journalists.
Two were reported to have suffered severe injuries. Gazi TV reporter Sajjaad Hossain and his cameraman Litton were in listed in critical condition at a local hospital on Tuesday, according to news accounts.
News reports identified the other injured journalists as Firoze Manna, a reporter for Dainik Janakantha; Rafiqul Islam, a reporter for the English-language daily New Age; Ali Hossain Mithu, a photographer for the daily Amader Shomoy; Bulbul Ahmed, a photo editor at Amader Shomoy; Shomoy TV reporter Saiful Rudra and cameraman Sajib; Mohono TV reporter Nasir Uddin; and Bdnews24 reporter Farhan Ferdous and photographer Munna. Protesters also damaged an unspecified number of vehicles belonging to news organizations, news reports said.
Shahriar Shahid, managing editor of the state-run news agency Bangladesh Sangbad Sanghstha, said the news service was forced to suspend operations on Sunday after protesters set fire to its entrance, news reports said.
In a separate episode, the Awami League-controlled government halted the broadcasts of two pro-opposition channels, Diganta TV and Islamic TV, early Monday morning, news reports said. An official with the Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Commission said they were shut down for carrying misleading information.
- For more data and analysis on Bangladesh, visit CPJ's Attacks on the Press.