Journalist brutally attacked

New York, June 27, 2003— The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns the recent violent attack on Abul Bashar, the local correspondent for the Bengali-language national daily newspaper Janakantha (The People’s Voice) in Shariatpur district, which is located in southern Bangladesh.

According to several local sources and Bashar, himself, members of the Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD), a student group associated with the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), forcibly kidnapped Bashar from his office on June 19. They took him to the district BNP headquarters where armed members of the party shot at him with firearms and brutally beat him, causing injuries to his backbone, skull, and eyes.

Prior to this incident, Janakantha, which is known for its critical coverage of the BNP, ran an article detailing attacks on Shariatpur residents carried out by the JCD. CPJ has documented several other cases of threats and attacks by various groups on journalists working at Janakantha, including the murder of senior correspondent Shamsur Rahman three years ago.

Bashar was checked into a local hospital following the assault, but the next day, armed members of the BNP forced his expulsion from the hospital, said Bashar.

On June 23, Bashar filed a case with the Shariatpur police station, but no one has been arrested in connection with the attack, and he has left the area for fear of further reprisal.

Political partisans and gangs associated with the ruling BNP party have been responsible for a number of recent attacks on members of the media in Bangladesh. On April 30, several BNP members kidnapped Atahar Siddik Khasru, a journalist reporting for the daily Ittefaq. He was found three weeks later along the side of the road with his hands and feet bound with a locked chain. Khasru’s kidnapping followed his reporting on corruption committed by politicians and police in Sitakunda in southeastern Bangladesh.