Protest continues after Bangladesh arrests investigative journalist
May 19th, 2021 at 3:26 pm
Protest continues after Bangladesh arrests investigative journalist

by Staff Correspondent in Dhaka;

Hundreds media workers demonstrated in Bangladesh for the second day on Wednesday to protest against arrest of a journalist on charges of violating official secrets under a colonial era law.

The protesters demand immediate release of Rozina Islam, a senior reporter of Bangla Daily Protom Alo, who was sent to jail on Tuesday pending the hearing on her bail petition.

They also demanded arrest of the officials who confined the journalist and manhandled her at a room for five hours at the health ministry located inside Bangladesh Secretariat, the highest seat of the administration.

Rozina, well known for investigating reporting, was confined at the ministry for more than five hours before she was handed to local police on Monday night and was charged for taking away official documents.

Her bail petition is scheduled to be heard at a magistrate court in Dhaka on Thursday as she was sifted on Tuesday to Kashimpur jail in Gazipur.

Colleagues burst into protest in Dhaka and in other cities soon after they heard Rozina was arrested on ‘false’ charges.

Her sister Sabina Parvin said Rozina was harassed physically and mentally by the ministry officials when she was visiting the office absolutely on professional reason.

The officials also searched her handbag and took away the cell phones, she alleged.

Police officer Harun-Or-Rashid said the reporter was charged under the Official Secrets Act of 1923 for “stealing sensitive official documents, and taking their photographs”. 

If proved, Islam may face death penalty or imprisonment of 14 years.

Journalists in Dhaka, Chittagong and other major cities as well as districts formed human chain to protest the arrest. They demanded immediate withdrawal of the case, which they believe came as a part of conspiracy hatched by a section of corrupt officials at the health ministry.

Leaders of the Dhaka Reporters Unity, Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalist, National Press Club in separate demonstrations on Wednesday urged the government to stop harassing journalist for the sake of flourishing democracy in the country.

The demanded an independent investigation to find out the culprits who manhandled Rozina at the secretariat.  

International rights group Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also called on the Bangladeshi authorities to immediately release of Rozina and stop arresting journalists under the colonial era law.

“Bangladesh police and authorities should recognize that Rozina Islam is a journalist whose work is a public service and should immediately drop the case against her and allow her to go free,” CPJ’s senior Asia researcher Aliya Iftikhar said in a statement.

Ain o Salish Kendra, a non-governmental organisation, reported more than 90 journalists were harassed by different influential quarters in Bangladesh in the first four month of the year.