FEBRUARY 11, 2005
Posted: February 14, 2005
Sheikh Belaluddin, Sangram
Belaluddin, a correspondent with the Bengali-language daily Sangram, died at around 10 a.m. of injuries sustained in a bomb attack on February 5. The bomb exploded at a press club in the city of Khulna. The bomb, which was hidden in a bag hanging from a motorcycle, detonated at around 9:15 p.m. as Belaluddin approached the vehicle.
Three other journalists were hurt, but their injuries were not life-threatening. Belaluddin was flown to the capital, Dhaka, for treatment.
On February 8, Khulna journalists observed a news blackout and formed a human chain at the press club to protest the bombing. Across the country, journalists took to the streets to condemn the attack, demanding that authorities find and punish those responsible.
The Associated Press reported that police have arrested eight suspects but gave no other details.
FEBRUARY 1, 2005
Posted: March 7, 2005
Ram Krishna Chakraborty, Jugantor
Mizanur Rahman, Janakantha
Kalyan Banerji, Prothom Alo
Anisur Rahim, Satkhira Chitra
Abul Kalam Azad, Patradut
Suvash Choudhury, Bhorer Kagoj
Kazi Dulal, Gramer Kagoj
Manirul Islam, Ittefaq
Letters sent to newspapers and a local press club threatened eight journalists in the southwestern district of Satkhira with death. Two dailies, Dainik Patradut and Satkhira Chitra, and the Satkhira Reporters' Club and Press Club received letters, which claimed to be from Janajuddha (People's War), a faction of the outlawed Purba Banglar Communist Party, according to local sources and news reports.
The letters accused journalist Ram Krishna Chakraborty of acting in conjunction with police in the arrest of Janajuddha activist and leader Kartik Das on January 19. Das died in crossfire with police on January 20. The message branded the eight journalists as "class enemies" and asked local journalists not to "misreport" the organization's activities.
In 2004, the same group claimed responsibility for the death of two journalists, Manik Saha and Humayun Kabir, and threatened other journalists in the region.
On February 2, police arrested Alamgir Hossain Moniu in connection with the threats to the journalists and a police officer, according to The Daily Star.
FEBRUARY 3, 2005
Posted April 1, 2005
Shafiul Haque Mithu, Janakantha
Mithu, the local correspondent for the Bangla-language daily Janakantha in the southwestern town of Priojpur, received anonymous threats over his cell phone on February 3 and 4, according to reports in Janakantha and the popular daily Prothom Alo. Mithu filed a report with local police.
The reason for the threats was not disclosed, but could be related to an attack Mithu suffered in December 2003 when a group of thugs and political activists ambushed the journalist and beat him severely in retaliation for his reporting on local officials' abuse of power.
Mithu brought charges against his attackers; one of the assailants, known by the single name Russel, was arrested on December 28 of that year. When a local court released Russel on bail in March 2004, he threatened Mithu's relatives with "dire consequences" if they did not drop the charges, according to The Daily Star.
FEBRUARY 23, 2005
Posted: March 28, 2005
Al-Mamun Sagar, Jugantor
Members of the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party's youth wing, the Jatiyiatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD), beat Al-Mamun Sagar, a correspondent for the daily Jugantor.
They also demanded that he leave the western town of Kushtia in retaliation for his article about their alleged involvement with a local gambling scheme. Witnesses told The Daily Star that they saw a group of JCD members enter Sagar's office and beat him with their fists and iron rods.
MARCH 4, 2005
Posted: April 1, 2005
The entire 25-member staff of the Kushtia-based daily Andoloner Bazar filed a memorandum with the district deputy commissioner of police seeking protection on March 15. The editor, Manjur Ehsan Chowdhury, signed the memo in which the journalists claimed that they have been harassed and under constant threat from criminals as a result of their reporting on corruption and criminal groups, The Daily Star reported.
The journalists said that criminal groups had filed false criminal charges against the newspaper as another form of harassment, and that the gangs had even attempted to kidnap the editor's son on March 4. Police arrested several suspects in connection with the kidnapping attempt, but they were soon out on bail and continuing to threaten the staff.
In 2002, the newspaper came under threat from a local drug trafficker after it published a report exposing his illegal activities, according to local press freedom group Bangladesh Center for Development, Journalism and Communication. Armed men forced their way into the printing press when Andoloner Bazar is printed and damaged the printing press, delaying publication of the report.
Kushtia is located in the lawless southwestern region of Bangladesh which is plagued by violence. Journalists are routinely targeted and attacked in reprisal for their work.
MARCH 10, 2005
Posted: March 14, 2005
Sumi Khan, Weekly 2000
Samaresh Baidya, Bhorer Kagoj
Jubayer Siddiqui, Ajker Surjodoy
Khan, Baidya, and Siddiqui each received similar letters within three days of one another, Baidya told CPJ.
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.
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 Siddiqui, also received a threatening letter on March 10.
The three have filed complaints with the local police.
MARCH 14, 2005
Posted: March 28, 2005
SM Gorky, Jugantor
Members of the elite army unit Rapid Action Battalion beat SM Gorky, senior photographer for the daily Jugantor, after he photographed them roughing up people on the street. The photographer was held briefly and released, according to Jugantor.
MARCH 21, 2005
Posted: March 22, 2005
Samaresh Baidya, Bhorer Kagoj
Saber Hossain Chowdhury Bhorer Kagoj
Abed Khan, Bhorer Kagoj
Mahfuz Anam, Prothom Alo
Matiur Rahman, Prothom Alo
Ekramul Haque Bulbul, Prothom Alo
Masud Milad, Prothom Alo
Seven editors, publishers and reporters from the Bangla-language daily Prothom Alo and the Bangla-language daily Bhorer Kagoj for publishing disputed reports about a judge's educational background.
Samaresh Baidya, senior reporter for Bhorer Kagoj, was sentenced to two months in jail and a fine of 2,000 taka (about $US30). The others were fined 1,000 taka (about $US15) apiece. They were: Bhorer Kagoj Publisher Saber Hossain Chowdhury and Editor Abed Khan; Prothom Alo Publisher Mahfuz Anam, Editor Matiur Rahman, and reporters Ekramul Haque Bulbul and Masud Milad.
The journalists plan to appeal their convictions on contempt of court charges to the country's Supreme Court, local sources told CPJ. Baidya was free pending appeal.
The convictions stem from October 2004 articles in both national dailies alleging that Judge Faisal Mahmud Faizee's falsified his law school graduation exam results. Faizee had recently been appointed an additional judge to the High Court but was removed from the bench in the wake of the scandal, according to The Daily Star. The judge's father, Mohammed Faiz, filed criminal contempt of court charges days later. The papers have stood by the accuracy of their reports.
Bhorer Kagoj's attorney argued that the contempt of court laws are ill-defined and that the publications exposed the wrongdoing of an individual, according to The Daily Star. But the court ruled that the newspapers' reports threatened to harm the image of the court, and found that they were "distorted, baseless and false," according to the United News of Bangladesh news service.
APRIL 4, 2005
Posted: April 8, 2005
Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha
Two bombs were thrown at the office of state-owned news agency Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS) in central Dhaka on Monday afternoon, local news sources reported. The attackers have not been identified.
One bomb exploded under a window of the office on the building's first floor, while the other hit the wall and exploded on the road. No one was injured.
Two police officers were inside the building during the incident, local news reports said.
Police have been deployed to watch the building around the clock since March, when several hundred activists of the youth front of the opposition Awami League tried to mob the building, international news reports said.
The activists claimed the news agency published a false news item involving the son of opposition leader Sheikh Hasina. Hasina has threatened to sue BSS over the item.
The Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists and the Dhaka Union of Journalists condemned the bomb attack, and said in a statement that it was a direct threat to the expression of opinion. "If political opponents find any report undesired they could send protests and even take refuge of the law if their statement is not published," the organizations said.
MAY 26, 2005
Posted: June 7, 2005
Manunur Rashid Rabi, Nayadiganto
On May 26, a criminal gang attacked Manunur Rashid Rabi, correspondent for the daily Nayadiganto, in the eastern town of Gangni, police said. The attack was in retaliation for his articles about drug-related activities, the English-language daily The Daily Star reported. The gang ambushed Rabi and beat him in the head with a stick. He was listed in critical condition at a local hospital, according to The Daily Star.
MAY 27, 2005
Posted: June 7, 2005
Wahid Hassan Raja, Bhorer Kagoj,
Nayeem Parvez, Amar Desh,
Shamim Mansur, Jugantor,
Kajol Hazra, Samakal,
Unidentified photographer, The Independent,
Tarikul Islam Pintu, ATN Bangla television
Abdur Rab, Channel I
3 unidentified photographers
On May 27, baton-wielding riot police on the Dhaka University campus beat seven photographers and cameramen who were covering protests over the traffic-related death of a student, international and local news agencies reported. During clashes between the police and students, police targeted and attacked photographers Wahid Hassan Raja of the daily Bhorer Kagoj, Nayeem Parvez of the daily Amar Desh, Shamim Mansur of the daily Jugantor, Kajol Hazra of daily Samakal, as well as an unidentified photographer from the English-language daily The Independent, and cameramen Tarikul Islam Pintu of ATN Bangla television and Abdur Rab of Channel I television. All the photographers and cameramen wore press cards that publicly identified them as working journalists.
Fighting between rival student political groups on the campus intensified the next day. Activists from Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD), the student wing of the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) injured three more unidentified journalists at work, The Independent reported.
MAY 28, 2005
Posted: June 7, 2005
Arifur Rahman, Prothom Alo
Also on May 28, a senior reporter for the national daily Prothom Alo was beaten by police in the town of Narsingdi near Dhaka, local sources reported to CPJ. Arifur Rahman was trying to enter the town's BNP office to cover the day's activities when one police officer barred his way. When Rahman protested, the officer called over several other policemen who slapped and beat the reporter with batons. Rahman received medical care for back pain after the attack.
MAY 30, 2005
Posted: June 7, 2005
Nawroz Faisal Bidyut , Ajker Kagoj
On May 30, BNP leader Abu Sayed Chand from the northeastern city of Rajshahi invited a reporter for the daily Ajker Kagoj to his office to discuss a recent article critical of Chand. When the reporter, Nawroz Faisal Bidyut, arrived, Chand assaulted and verbally abused him, according to a report in The Daily Star.
JUNE 28, 2005
Posted: July 18, 2005
Shafiqul Islam, Janakantha
Four men identified as cadres of Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB), an outlawed Islamic militant group headed by Bangla Bhai, attacked Shafiqul on his way to the Bagmara Press Club in Rajshahi, according to The Daily Star. Shafiqul is a Janakantha correspondent who had been helping other journalists report on the activities of the JMJB, according to local news reports.
Police later arrested Bangla Bhai follower Moshiur Rahman Peter in connection with the attack, The Daily Star reported on July 3. It was not immediately clear whether he was charged with a crime.
JUNE 28, 2005
Posted: July 18, 2005
Nazneen Akhter, Janakantha
Journalists at Jugantor, Ittefaq and Prothom Alo
Janakantha reported that Nazneen Akhter, a reporter for the newspaper in Dhaka, had been threatened after her coverage of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD) activities at a women's college. JCD is the ruling party's student wing.
Also on June 28, journalists at the regional offices of three national newspapersóJugantor, Ittefaq and Prothom Aloóreceived death threats from a group of Jatiya Party cadres following a report on the visit of party chairman H.M. Ershad to Rangpur, according to local news reports. The next day, Jatiya Party activists burned copies of the three dailies in protest, according to The Daily Star
JULY 6, 2005
Posted: July 18, 2005
Rafiqul Islam, Amar Desh
Rafiqul, a correspondent for the daily in the northwestern town of Rajshahi, was assaulted by a group of men he identified to local reporters as activists of the ruling party's student wing, Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD). As many as 10 attackers entered the Durgapur Press Club, where the journalist serves as president, at 10:30 a.m., according to local sources. Rafiqul was hospitalized in Durgapur Health Center and suffered back pain and breathing problems, according to local sources.
The week before he was attacked, Rafiqul filed a complaint with local police about repeated threats from members of JCD, according to local news reports. The activists warned Rafiqul to be careful after he reported on alleged extortion by JCD cadres.
No arrests were immediately made in the July 6 attack, and Rafiqul told local sources that a JCD cadre went to the hospital to warn him against filing charges.
JULY 7, 2005
Posted: July 18, 2005
Enamul Kabir, Janakantha
Several other photographers
At least nine photojournalists from national publications were injured, some of them seriously, in the capital, Dhaka, while protesting the alleged mistreatment of their colleagues at the hands of National Security Intelligence (NSI) personnel earlier in the day.
Two photographers of the daily Janakantha were brought into custody and physically abused in the early afternoon after one, Enamul Kabir, took pictures of the outside of the NSI facility, according to local reporters. When colleagues gathered in protest outside the offices, NSI officers beat them in full view of local police, one of the injured reporters told the Dhaka-based newspaper The Daily Star.
Journalists across Bangladesh protested the violence. "We want an end to attacks on journalists," A.K.M. Mohsin, president of the Bangladesh Photo Journalists' Association, told The Daily Star.
JULY 17, 2005
Posted: July 21, 2005
Alamgir Swapan, Janakantha
Nur Siddiqui, Prothom Alo
Fuad Hossain, Ajker Kagoj
Emran Hossain Emon, The Daily Star
Close to 35 cadres of the ruling party's student wing assaulted Swapan, staff reporter for the daily Janakantha newspaper, according to local news reports. The attack took place at Jahangirnagar University (JU) in the Savar cantonment, 19 miles (30 kilometers) from the capital, Dhaka. The Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD) activists also threatened three other university correspondents with death, according to The Daily Star. They were Nur Siddiqui, JU correspondent of the Prothom Alo; Fuad Hossain JU correspondent of the Ajker Kagoj; and Emran Hossain Emon, JU correspondent of The Daily Star.
Swapan is a former university correspondent of the daily Janakantha and a history department student. As a student, Swapan had published several reports on the misdeeds of JCD members in the university campus. Local sources told CPJ that the attack appeared to be motivated by these reports.
The next day, journalists and activists from local media organizations and student groups held a sit-in at the university to protest the attack against Swapan. Protesters called for university authorities to ensure the security of its students and to punish those responsible for the attacks.
JULY 25, 2005
Posted: August 3, 2005
Munshi Abu Tayeb, Dainik Lokshamaj
The Khulna bureau chief for the Dainik Lokshamaj, a daily newspaper based in the southwestern district of Jessore, received death threats from members of the underground Islamic militant Jihadi Party.
Tayeb, who also works as Khulna correspondent for the private NTV, informed local newspapers that the threats arrived in the mail on July 25.
The threats refer to killing Tayeb by bomb attack, the method used last year to kill journalists Manik Saha of the BBC and Humayun Kabir Balu, editor for a popular Bengali-language weekly. A member of the Jihadi Party claimed responsibility for issuing the new threats.
According to the Daily Star, Tayeb filed a complaint with the police immediately after receiving the threats. The Dainik Lokshamaj is owned by Forest and Environment Minister Tariqul Islam
The southwest region of Bangladesh is notorious for crime and corruption and is one of the most dangerous areas for journalists.
JULY 23, 2005
Posted: August 8, 2005
Tariqul Haq, Dainik Prothom Alo
Gazi Mahbub Rahman, Ajker Alo
Hasan Jahid, Dainik Manabzamin
Jamal Uddin Haidari, Dainik Ajker Alo
Samsul Alam, Dainik Gramer Kagoj.
LEGAL ACTION, THREATENED
Five journalists from Kushtia in southwestern Bangladesh surrendered on July 23 to the Supreme Court in Dhaka, the capital city, pleading innocent to charges of extortion.
The journalists, who spoke to The Daily Star, said they were seeking refuge in Dhaka, and they feared for their safety at home after a complaint against them was lodged by Ibrahim Ali, leader of the Jubo Dal political party, a wing of the ruling Bangladesh National Party (BNP).
In a petition submitted to court, the journalists claimed Ali filed the case on behalf of Shahidul Islam, a BNP leader in Kushtia. The notice said that the charges were levied, "following a report published in the local and national dailies on the recent acts of vandalism by the cadres of the lawmaker."
On July 20, the journalists reported on an attack by BNP members on Abdul Khaleque and his followers at a rally in the town of Mirpur. Khaleque is an independent leader from Kushtia, according to press reports. During the encounter, at least 50 people were injured and 14 vehicles set on fire.
Justice Abdur Rashid and Justice M. Fazlur Rahman of the High Court Division of the Supreme Court granted bail.
According to local news reports, the five journalists and two others filed a police complaint against the local BNP leader, Shahidul Alam, alleging that he and his followers were sending death threats in retaliation for their reporting. The threats began after July 20.
AUGUST 9, 2005
Posted: August 17, 2005
Manjur Morshed, Jugantor
In the southern city of Baufal, witnesses told local reporters and CPJ sources that a large group of cadres from the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) abducted Morshed from a local college at noon and forcibly escorted him to a nearby office where he was beaten. Local sources identified the man who attacked him as former Member of Parliament and local BNP leader Shahidul Alam Talukder, and said that local administration officials witnessed the assault.
An article detailing Talukder's alleged involvement in the looting of a protected species of fish, featuring Morshed's reporting, appeared in Jugantor on August 8.
Local newspapers reported the journalist missing after the attack. His abductors released him later that evening, according to local news reports.
Speaking to The Daily Star in the capital Dhaka on August 10, Talukder denied physically assaulting Morshed and said that his party did not believe in terrorist tactics. But he added, "It does not mean that we will tolerate everything done in the name of freedoms of press and speech."
Talukder told local journalists on August 9 that he would shut down the Baufal Press Club and build a BNP office in its place. The Daily Star reported that journalists who attempted to open the press club offices were chased away by BNP cadres who threatened to attack them.
Local journalists have filed a complaint with police, and many fled the area in response to reported threats from BNP cadres. Family members of some reporters received threats that they would be prosecuted on trumped-up charges, The Daily Star reported.
SEPTEMBER 4, 2005
Posted October 17, 2005
Abu Ahmed, The Daily Star
Kalyan Banerjee, Prothom Alo
Ramkrishna Chakraborty, Samakal
Mizanur Rahman, Janakantha
Subas Chowdhury, Jugantor
Yarab Hossain, Runner
Kali Das Karmakar, Janata
Abul Kalam Azad, Patradut
Raghunath Kha, Janmabhumi.
Pieces of white cloth symbolizing a funeral shroud were mailed to these journalists in the city of Satkhira on September 4 along with letters signed by the outlawed Islamic militant group Bangla Bhai, the radical movement Ahle Hadith, and the Islamic political party Jamaat-i-Islami, a partner of the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in parliament. Local press reports said the letter warned the journalists not to write about the militants' activities and threatened to kill Hindus reporting on Islamic groups.
Bangla Bhai and Ahle Hadith are accused by authorities of masterminding a wave of more than 400 simultaneous bombings across the country on August 17. The explosions were small and caused few injuries but the scale of the planning and coordination behind the blasts dealt a major psychological blow to the country, journalists told CPJ. The bombers targeted government offices, airports, universities and at least seven press clubs.
Despite long standing denials from government officials, Islamic militant activity in Bangladesh is on the rise, and journalists reporting on the trend are increasingly at risk. The government has previously accused journalists of inventing stories about militant groups, but newspapers investigations over the last two years have uncovered connections between outlawed groups and al-Qaeda, according to The Daily Star.
NOVEMBER 17. 2005
Updated: November 29, 2005
Gautam Das, Samakal
Das, a reporter for the Dhaka-based daily Samakal was found strangled to death in his bureau office in the town of Faridpur, 40 miles (64 kilometers) west of the Bangladeshi capital, according to news reports.
A colleague called police after repeated telephone calls to Das went unanswered and the door of the Samakal bureau in Faridpur remained locked at midday, according to the local advocacy group Media Watch. At 2 p.m., police broke down the door of the office to find Das' body inside, with fractures to the legs and hand and nylon rope around his neck, according to a statement by the group.
Although colleagues were not aware of any specific threat against the reporter, they said that Das had recently written about sensitive topics such as the activities of Islamic militant groups, according to Media Watch. Sumi Khan, a reporter for Samakal, said that Das was known for his reporting on crime and corruption, including coverage of illegal activities by members of the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party. The Associated Press reported that Das had recently written about local government officials accused of taking bribes in exchange for construction contract awards.
Two days later, journalist groups around the country protested the killing and criticized the government for not doing more to protect the press.
On November 19, police arrested Tamjid Hossain Babu, the son of a local MP, in connection with Das' murder, according to The Daily Star. Local journalists said police arrested three other suspects.
DECEMBER 1, 2005
POSTED: December 2, 2005
Nazrul Islam Badami, The New Nation
Belal Hossain, Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha,
Aminul Islam, Ajker Janata
Three journalists were among at least 29 people injured in a bombing near a court building north of the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, international news organizations reported. At least one person was killed in the blast in the town of Gazipur which targeted lawyers protesting twin suicide bombings against the judiciary on November 29. Those bombs killed at least 11 people.
The journalists were covering the demonstration when the blast occurred. Police said the bomber was a member of the militant Islamic group Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh, which wanted to impose Islamic law in the country. He was disguised as a tea vendor and detonated the explosive hidden in a flask when stopped at a police checkpoint.
Dhaka-based daily The New Nation said its Gazipur correspondent, Nazrul Islam Badami, was seriously injured. Belal Hossain, correspondent for the news agency Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha, and Aminul Islam, news editor for the local newspaper Ajker Janata, were also injured, according to local news reports.