Bangladesh Arrests Publisher and Editor
of Magazine Jago Mujahid

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November 19, 1998

Her Excellency
Sheikh Hasina Wajed
Prime Minister
Office of the Prime Minister
Dhaka, Bangladesh

 

Your Excellency:

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is writing to protest the arrests of Mufti Abdul Hye, publisher of the monthly Jago Mujahid, and Manzur Ahmed, executive editor of the same magazine.

On November 18, plainclothes police officers raided the editorial office of Jago Mujahid in Dhaka. The magazine had published articles encouraging Bangladeshi Muslims to launch an armed revolution modeled after the Taliban movement in Afghanistan, and had reprinted a newspaper interview with Osama Bin Laden, the Saudi billionaire accused by the United States of supporting an international terrorist network. Officers seized the August, September, and October 1998 issues of the magazine, as well as photographs and wall calendars depicting Taliban guerrillas and other Islamic militants.

Police arrested Hye and Ahmed under the broad provisions of Bangladesh's Special Powers Act (SPA), which allows for the arbitrary arrest and detention of any citizen suspected of engaging in activities that threaten national security. Under the SPA, detainees can be held for up to three months without a court hearing, and police are not required to file formal charges against them. Police have said they intend to keep Ahmed and Hye in detention for 30 days. As an organization of journalists dedicated to defending the rights of our colleagues around the world, CPJ is disturbed by the use of the SPA to circumvent basic legal protections. If Ahmed and Hye are suspected of engaging in criminal activity, then we believe the authorities should pursue the case in a more transparent fashion-making the charges a matter of public record, and presenting the evidence for such claims before an open court.

CPJ respectfully urges your administration to order the immediate release of Mufti Abdul Hye and Manzur Ahmed, and to make public any charges against them. We further urge you to consider abolishing the Special Powers Act, which can be used to undermine the right of citizens to freely exchange information and opinion. We look forward to your response.

 

Sincerely,

Ann K. Cooper

Executive Director



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Her Excellency
Sheikh Hasina Wajed
Prime Minister
Office of the Prime Minister
Dhaka, Bangladesh

Fax: 880-2-813-244