BANGLADESH: Media now enjoys highest level of freedom, says Bhuiyan

Minister touts BNP support of press freedom, as journalists demand reports of investigations into threats against newsmen be made public

The Daily Star
Thursday, June 22, 2006

LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan yesterday said the media is now enjoying the highest level of freedom, compared to the tenure of previous governments.

This is the golden time for the press as the BNP government believes in full freedom of the press, he added.

However, the freedom of reporters is yet to be achieved as sometimes they are forced to write stories as per the dictates of the newspaper owners, the minister said at a roundtable on 'Freedom of Bangladesh Newspaper: Past and Present'.

Unlike during the tenure of the previous government, the media now does not face any legal obstacles, he added.

Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) organised the discussion at the National Press Club in the city.

Speaking at the roundtable, Law Minister Moudud Ahmed said the media cannot be controlled by enforcing laws as freedom of the press is a precondition for democracy and good governance.

Some newspapers are abusing their freedom as they publish incorrect news sometimes, he said, adding that they even do not publish rejoinders.

The minister called on the newsmen to initiate a code of conduct for responsible journalism.

The media can also play the role as a second parliament, he added.

Stressing the need for empowering the Press Council, he suggested appointing a neutral person as the head of the Press Council in order to ensure accountability of the newsmen.

Journalist Mahfuz Ullah presented a keynote paper depicting the condition of the press in the past and present.

Deputy Minister for Information Abdus Salam Pintu, National Press Club President Reazuddin Ahmed, BFUJ Secretary General Ruhul Amin Gazi, Acting Editor of the Khabarparta Gias Kamal Chowdhury, Acting Editor of the Dinkal Quazi Siraj and journalist Mahbubullah took part in the roundtable moderated by BFUJ President Mozammel Haque.

Repression of newsmen, 'make probe reports public'

Journalist union leaders at a discussion yesterday demanded that all reports of investigations into the incidents of repression of newsmen, including the one that took place at the National Press Club on June 21 in 1992, be made public immediately.

They also called on the newsmen to forge a united movement against all forms of repression and to realise their legitimate demands.

Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ) and Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) organised the discussion at the National Press Club to mark the 'Journalist Repression Day'.

Former BFUJ president Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury said freedom of the press and right to information are prerequisites for democracy, but the BNP-Jamaat ruling alliance is unleashing repression on journalists from the highest level of the state.

BFUJ President Manjurul Ahsan Bulbul strongly criticised the government for not taking any punitive measure against the persons responsible for the repression against journalists.

BFUJ Secretary General Abdul Jalil Bhuyian, DUJ President Altaf Mahmud, Saiful Islam Talukdar, Barun Bhoumik, Shaban Mahmud, Manjure Ahsan Mahmud Mithu, Mahmudur Rahman Khokon, Abul Kalam, Shafiqur Rahman and M Shahjahan Mia also spoke.

Khulna Union of Journalists (KUJ) also held a discussion at the Khulna Press Club to mark the day, with its Acting President Faiz Ahmed Tony in the chair.

General Secretary of Khulna Awami League Mostafa Rashidi Shuja attended the programme as the chief guest.

Acting President of Khulna Press Club Wadudur Rahman Panna, Executive Editor of Dainik Purbanchal Ahmad Ali Khan, Secretary of the Press Club AK Hiru, Joint Secretary General of BFUJ SM Zahid Hossain and General Secretary of KUJ Anwarul Islam Kajal took part in the discussion.

The speakers observed that the incidents of repression against Journalists have increased during the rule of the four-party alliance government.

Journalists Oppression Day observed in Jessore

Jessore --- Speakers at a discussion held at Jessore Press Club yesterday demanded of the government to punish the culprits who were involved in attacking the journalists.

Jessore Journalists' Union organised the discussion to mark Journalists Oppression Day.

Jessore Journalists Union president Shajed Rahman presided the discussion.

Speakers blamed the Alliance government cadres for oppression on journalists and demanded investigation into the attacks in Kushtia and Chittagong. They stressed on unity of journalists at this critical period.

Among others, Rukun-uddoula, Ashok Sen, Kiron Saha, Touhidur Rahman, Rimon Khan, Moniruzzaman Monri, Gopinath Das, Monotosh Bosu, Golam Mortaza Moni and Abdul Kader addresed the discussion.