March 4, 2002
Her Excellency Khaleda Zia
Prime Minister, People’s Republic of Bangladesh
Office of the Prime Minister
Via facsimile: 011-88-02-811-3244
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is writing to condemn the recent murder of journalist Harunur Rashid. We urge you to ensure that the murder investigation is conducted in a thorough and impartial manner.
On the evening of March 2, Rashid, a reporter for the daily newspaper Dainik Purbanchal, was ambushed by gunmen while he was riding his motorcycle to work in the southwestern city of Khulna, according to Bangladeshi and international news reports. Three unidentified young men brought Rashid to a hospital, told doctors he had been injured in a car accident, and then disappeared. A doctor at the hospital told The Independent (a Dhaka-based newspaper) that Rashid suffered a fatal bullet wound to his chest.
Rashid, who is also known as Rashid Khukon, was an investigative reporter who had written several stories on official corruption and links between criminal syndicates and outlawed Maoist guerrilla groups, including the Purbo Banglar Communist Party (PBCP), according to the Dhaka-based Daily Star. Rashid’s relatives told reporters that he was on a PBCP hit list. He had also received anonymous death threats throughout his career.
Local journalists believe Rashid was killed for his reporting. Amiya Kanti Pal, a former colleague, told Reuters that, “Rashid was a brave reporter. We suspect that the criminals he wrote about might be behind his murder.”
On March 3, police announced that they had arrested three suspects in the case, including Nuruzzaman Sohel, an activist with the PBCP, according to the Daily Star.
Bangladesh’s crime-ridden southwest region is the most dangerous part of the country for journalists. Of the five Bangladeshi journalists killed for their work since 1998, all were based in towns along the country’s southwestern frontier with India.
As a nonpartisan organization of journalists dedicated to the defense of our colleagues worldwide, CPJ calls on Your Excellency to ensure that Rashid’s killers are brought to justice. We further ask that you make public the findings of your government’s investigation and take steps to ensure that all journalists in Bangladesh may work in safety.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We await your response.