New York, July 23, 2013–Authorities in Bangladesh should immediately investigate the role of a member of parliament in a physical altercation with two journalists on Saturday, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
News accounts reported that Golam Maula Rony, a member of the ruling Awami League, and several unnamed individuals present at the politician’s office in Dhaka allegedly beat Imtiaz Momin Sony, a reporter for Independent TV, a private news channel, and cameraman Mohsin Mukul. The reports said that the journalists had visited Rony’s office seeking comment for a story they were covering for the station’s investigative show, “Talash,” on allegations of bribery against the politician.
Sony told journalists that the politician “became agitated” during the interview and began to punch and kick him and Mukul. The extent of the injuries suffered was not immediately clear. Their camera and microphone were also damaged in the attack.
The channel filed a police complaint against the politician.
Rony also filed a case against the journalists, accusing them of extortion and blackmail, reports said. He has denied participating in the assault but said he would provide compensation for the damaged equipment and for the journalists’ medical treatment, reports said.
“In addition to a police investigation into this attack, we also call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government to thoroughly probe the outrageous behavior of one of its members and take appropriate action immediately,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “The government must send a clear message to politicians, police, or any person in power that attacks against journalists will not be tolerated.”
In a statement by the Awami League’s joint general secretary, Mahbub-ul-Alam Hanif, on Sunday, the ruling party condemned the assault and hinted at the possibility of parliamentary action against the politician, reports said. Rony has said he is considering submitting his resignation, news reports said.
- For more data and analysis, visit CPJ’s Bangladesh page.