New York, July 13, 2004—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is alarmed by the rapidly growing number of death threats against journalists and writers throughout Bangladesh. Since July 10, at least 24 journalists and writers have received death threats, all apparently from Islamic groups who accuse them of being “enemies of Islam” or “acting against Islam,” according to local news reports and CPJ sources.

Journalists in the northeastern city of Sylhet, the southern district of Barguna, and in the capital, Dhaka, received individual letters on Saturday, July 10, containing death threats and accusing them of not being Muslim, calling them “enemies of Islam.” The letters also advised them to “get ready—you will die within a month,” according to the English-language Daily Star.

On Sunday, July 11, an Islamic group calling itself the Mujahideen al-Islam issued public death threats to newspapers in Dhaka identifying 10 other individuals as “sinners… among those the Koran ordains to kill,” according to local press reports and CPJ sources. Among the threatened individuals were Shahriar Kabir and Professor Muntasir Mamun, both known for their writing against Islamic fundamentalists.

“This unprecedented outbreak of death threats against the press highlights yet again the pervasive nature of impunity in Bangladesh,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “We call on the government to track down and punish those responsible for these criminal acts against the journalism community.”

Names of threatened journalists
In Syhlet, 15 journalists received threatening letters on July 10, according to local news reports: local correspondents Ahmed Noor and Partha Sarathi Das, of the Bangla-language national daily Prothom Alo; correspondent Liakat Shah Faridi, from the Bangla-language national daily Jugantar; local correspondent Al Azad, from the Bangla-langauge Sangbad; local correspondent Ajoy Pal, from the Bangla-language Bangla Bazar Patrika; local reporter Kamkamur Razzak Runu, from the Bangla-language daily Ajker Kagoj; and staff reporter Salam Mashrur, from the Bangla-language daily Janakantha.

Others who received the letters in Syhlet include Shyamol Sylhet Editor Chowdhury Mumtaj Ahmed, News Editor Abdul Mukit, and staff reporter Motiul Bari Khuhrshed; Jugobheri Editor-in-Charge Aziz Ahmed Selim and News Editor Tapash Dash Purokayastho; Ajker Kagoj District Correspondent Apurbo Dhar; Bhorer Kagoj District Correspondent Bappa Ghose Chowdhury; and Manavjamin Staff Reporter MA Rahim.

In Dhaka, Prothom Alo crime reporter Parvez Khan and Bhorer Kagoj local correspondent Ikhtiar Uddin also received death threat letters on July 10.

In the southern Barguna District, five more journalists were threatened by an unnamed Islamic group on July 10, according to local news reports and CPJ sources. Prothom Alo local correspondent M. Jasim Uddin received a threatening letter containing a small piece of a burial shroud, according to The Daily Star. The letter also mentioned threats against the Bangla-language daily Ittefaq local correspondent Abdul Alim Himu, Jugantor local reporter Anwar Hossain Monwar, Sangbad local correspondent Chittyaranajan Shil, and Ajker Kagoj local reporter Hasanur Rahman Jhantu.