Journalist brutally attacked and imprisoned

New York, August 26, 2003—Earlier this month, Hiramon Mondol, a correspondent for the daily Dainik Prabarttan, in Khulna, a town in southwestern Bangladesh was brutally assaulted by the police before being taken into custody, and jailed on theft charges.

Fearing reprisal from an August 3 article he wrote that accused police and security forces of stealing highly prized and valuable fish from local fishermen, Mondol went into hiding for a few days, said local journalists. On August 8, after police pressured his family for his whereabouts, the journalist went to a police and security forces joint task force camp. While there, the police beat Mondol with rifles and hockey sticks, said the sources, before taking him into custody.

Mondol received medical treatment for his wounds, but has since been transferred to the district jail in Khulna and charged with theft under a strict new law that denies bail to defendants.

Local journalists and Mondol’s family say the attack was directly related to Mondol’s article about the police, and that the charges against him are false.

Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is investigating at least six other attacks on journalists in Bangladesh during recent weeks that have been reported in the Bangladeshi press.

“Violent attacks on journalists in Bangladesh are occurring with alarming frequency,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. “The brutal assault on Hiramon Mondol must be investigated; he should be released from prison immediately and those responsible should be brought to justice.”