Thursday, July 19, 2012

RWB concerned at illegal arrest, beating of journos

Reporters Without Borders, an international organisation that advocates press freedom, expressed concern at the illegal detention and serious mistreatment of Bangladeshi journalist Mutafizur Rahman Sumon of news site, who remains behind bars.

Sumon, 28, was arrested on 13 July in Dhaka. He must be freed immediately and be given medical attention for injuries suffered at the hands of authorities, the Paris-based rights body said in a statement posted on its website on Wednesday.

“We demand that the government investigate the arrest and mistreatment by security forces,” Reporters Without Borders added. “These actions cannot go unpunished.”

The arrest was prompted by Sumon’s campaign against impunity for crimes against media workers, the organization said, in declaring its support for the campaign, it said.

Sumon was leaving a computer store when officers in civilian clothes from the Detective Branch of the Bangladesh Police forced him into their vehicle.

“According to the Crime Reporters Association of Bangladesh and members of Sumon’s family, the police, commanded by Inspector Motlab Hossain and took Sumon to a secret location. He was held there for three days, during which time he was beaten, threatened, and deprived of food and sleep”, the statement said,

Colleagues and relatives who have visited Sumon in prison are gravely concerned for his health, it mentioned.

Sumon, according to his uncle, linked his arrest to his participation in several demonstrations by media workers protesting the absence of progress in the investigation of the double murder of Sagar Sarowar and Meherun Runi, husband-and-wife journalists who were killed on 11 February, according to the RWB statement.

In another disturbing development, correspondent Ayaz Azad of the daily Dainik Jaijaidin was attacked on 14 July by machete-wielding students of the Chhatra League (student branch of the ruling Bangladesh Awami League) on the campus of Islamic University in the Kushtia district of southwest Bangladesh. The journalist was hospitalized for injuries to his shoulders, it said.

Bangladesh ranked 129th out of 179 countries on the 2011-2012 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.