Three journalists receive death threats

New York, March 14, 2005—Three journalists in the southeastern city of Chittagong received letters containing death threats from a group identifying itself as the student wing of the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami Party. Journalists Sumi Khan, Samaresh Baidya, and Jubayer Siddiqui each received similar letters within three days of one another, Baidya told CPJ.

“Threats against journalists in Bangladesh have become an alarmingly routine part of the profession,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “We call on authorities to take these death threats seriously, and to do everything in their power to ensure the safety of these three journalists, as well as the right of all the media to work without fear of reprisal.”

A letter received by Baidya, a senior reporter at the daily Bhorer Kagoj, at his home on March 10 included a threat to kill him unless he stopped criticizing Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing, Islami Chatra Shibir, he told CPJ. The letter was sent from Satkania, near the city of Chittagong. Baidya has reported critically on the activities of Jamaat leaders in that area.

Sumi Khan, an investigative journalist for the newsmagazine Weekly 2000 who returned to Bangladesh on March 10 after traveling to London to receive the Index on Censorship/Guardian award for her journalism, received a similar death threat on March 12. Khan has recently reported on local Jamaat leaders’ ties to gangsters and criminal activities.

Khan was previously the victim of a brutal knife attack in reprisal for her work. In April 2004, three unidentified assailants beat and stabbed Khan, shouting that the investigative reporter had “gone too far.”

A third journalist, assistant editor of the weekly Ajker Surjodoy Jubayer Siddiqui, also received a threatening letter on March 10.

The three have filed complaints with the local police.