May 31, 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 condemns the recent attack on Nazmul Imam, Kushtia correspondent for the national Bengali-language daily Manavzamin. We call for an immediate and thorough investigation into this incident.
At approximately 1:30 a.m. on May 28 about five men stopped Imam’s rickshaw as he was on his way home in Kushtia. According to several Bangladeshi and international news reports, after the men brandished knives, Imam gave them his wallet and cell phone. When he then tried to run away, one of the men shouted, “Catch the journalist.”
The assailants attacked Imam, slicing off his right thumb and stabbing him repeatedly in his arms, back, and waist, said news reports. After the attackers fled the scene, passersby took Imam to a local hospital. On May 30, he was transferred to a hospital in the capital, Dhaka.
Imam, who has reported on drug smugglers and other criminal groups, has been targeted for attack before. In May 2001, a group of knife-wielding men stopped Imam’s vehicle and ordered him to follow them, according to Bangladeshi news reports. Imam escaped unharmed after running to a nearby police station.
Journalists who report on crime and corruption are frequently victims of violent attack in Bangladesh. On March 3, 2002, Harunur Rashid, a reporter for the daily newspaper Dainik Purbanchal, was shot and killed while he was riding his motorcycle to work in the southwestern city of Khulna.
Rashid’s relatives and former colleagues believe that he was murdered because of stories he had written on official corruption and links between criminal syndicates and outlawed Maoist guerrilla groups.
According to Bangladeshi news reports, authorities have arrested four people in connection with the May 28 attack on Imam.
As a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization of journalists dedicated to the defense of our colleagues worldwide, CPJ calls on Your Excellency to ensure that authorities prosecute those involved in this attack, and that you take steps to guarantee the safety of your country’s journalists.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We await your response.