New York, June 8, 2004—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns two recent police attacks on journalists covering street demonstrations in connection with a nationwide antigovernment strike, or hartal.
On Friday, June 4, the eve of the strike, police assaulted photojournalists who were covering a protest march led by supporters of the opposition Awami League political party in the capital, Dhaka, according to local press reports and CPJ sources. Four photographers were injured in the assault: Mamun Abedin of the Bengali-language daily Bhorer Kagoj; Abu Taher Khokon of the English-language daily New Age; Ali Hossain Mintu of the Bengali-language daily Dainik Janata; and Akhter Hossain of the English-language daily News Today.
On June 5, M. A. Manik, a photographer working for the local Bengali-language Grammer Kagoj, was beaten by police while covering the strike in the town of Jessore, in the southwestern Khulna District, according to CPJ sources. When the local press club organized a procession to protest the assault, police attacked the procession, injuring five more journalists who work as local freelance reporters: Habibur Rahman Habib, Touhidur Rahman, H.M. Siraj, Rafiqul Islam, and S.M. Kabir.
“These attacks on journalists are deplorable but sadly familiar to the working press in Bangladesh,” said Ann Cooper, executive director of CPJ. “Police must recognize the right of journalists to cover public demonstrations safely.”
The cover story of the current edition of CPJ’s biannual magazine Dangerous Assignments, “Suffering to Tell the Truth,” details several other incidents of attacks on the press and explores the sources of political violence in Bangladesh.