BANGLADESH: Journalists face mindless police wrath

Stop the brutalities, punish perpetrators

The Daily Star
Sunday, June 6, 2004

Photojournalists came under the baton of the policemen as they were performing their professional duty on Friday at the Zero point. Not only were they subjected to physical assault, the journalists were made objects of verbal invectives which were unprintable.

This is not the first time that journalists in Bangladesh have been subjected to police violence, but this incident stands out because of the vengeance with which the police acted. Photojournalists were manhandled in the first place when they were taking picture of the police's interception of the demonstrators and for the second time when they were trying to photograph the police beating of their fellow journalists. The photojournalists were only performing their duties.

They were recording what was happening as a professional necessity, and could in no way be posing a threat to any person or property. The photojournalists were neither a part of the opposition programme nor were they involved in any fracas. All they were armed with were their cameras and the only tell-tale object they were in possession of were the records of police actions at that time.

Needless to say, journalists are working in an increasingly hostile environment; whereas they need state protection in carrying out their difficult tasks, here we have police's physical interference in their legitimate field of competence. This is regrettable.

We urge upon the government to inquire into the matter and take the errant policemen to task. We reiterate that nothing should stand in the way of the journalists' professional duty and the peoples' right to know.