New York, NY, June 24, 2004—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns the recent attack on two journalists by prison guards at a district jail in Satkhira, a town in southwestern Bangladesh.
On June 22, Mozaffar Rahman, a reporter with the local Bengali-language daily Patradut, and Monirul Islam Moni, a photographer with Patradut, were assaulted while visiting the prison. Their visit followed the publication of a report in another Satkhira-based Bengali-language daily, Kafela, that accused prison guards of extorting money from visitors. Local journalists told CPJ they believe the journalists were assaulted in retaliation for the article.
After a prison official identified Rahman and Moni as journalists, he ordered guards to assault them, the national English-language Daily Star reported. The guards beat the journalists with batons, causing chest, leg, and back injuries, according to local sources.
Rahman and Moni were detained at the jail for several hours before local colleagues arrived and demanded their release. The journalists are currently recovering from their injuries at a hospital in Satkhira.
Following protests from a Satkhira journalists' group, a criminal case has been filed against prison officials, and five prison staff are under investigation for their involvement in the assault, according to CPJ sources. Local officials have visited the journalists at the hospital and promised to take action against those responsible for the attack.
"CPJ demands an investigation into this attack," said Ann Cooper, executive director of CPJ. "Prosecuting those responsible will send a much-needed signal to Bangladesh's beleaguered press corps that journalists cannot be attacked with impunity."
In March, a delegation from CPJ traveled to Bangladesh to conduct a weeklong fact-finding mission to investigate local press freedom conditions. The delegation met with a wide variety of journalists and several government officials and found that Bangladesh is one of the most violent countries in Asia for journalists. Three articles in the current edition of CPJ's biannual magazine Dangerous Assignments illustrate the findings of the CPJ mission, including the cover story, "Suffering to Tell the Truth," which describes the roots of political violence against the press in Bangladesh.