By Jahangir Alam Akash: Journalist Manik Saha was my elder and respectable colleague. We were together worked with the oldest Bengali newspaper of Bangladesh daily Sangbad and for Ekushey Television. He was from Khulna and I was from Rajshahi was working. He also worked for BBC and English newspaper of Bangladesh the New Age. Still he is the symbol of the combination of Journalism, politics and human rights activism in Bangladesh. He was very honest and patriotic journalist. He was also a popular journalist leader of Khulna. Manik Saha and Journalist Humayun Kabir Balu, who was the Editor of Janmobhumi, together were introduced the mother language movement, freedom fighting history in the Khulna Press Club. Mr. Balu also murdered after Manik Saha.The political opportunists were murdered both of them inhumanly by the bomb attack. Manik Saha was killed on 15 January of 2004. Total seven years have passed, but the killers still unseen. The murder of Manik Saha was a preplanned murder. Today 15 January, 2011 is the killing day of the great journalist Manik Saha. We believe just now he is (Manik Saha) is sleeping in the Heaven. Innocent dear Porshia, Natasha and Nonda boudi are in my mind. The faces all of them are appear in my mind in this moment. People of Bangladesh never forget the terrible killing of Manik Saha. Miss. Nonda Dey is the wife of Manik Saha and his loving daughters are Porshia and Natasha. Bangladesh couldn’t stop the crying of the family of Manik Saha. The killers, planners are out of touch of the justice. This is the fortunate of the people of Bangladesh. Justice is always crying there.
Now I would like to draw a overall picture on the press freedom of Bangladesh. Last year, a journalist and an editor were imprisoned for the charge of Contempt of Court. This is the latest scene of freedom of speech in Bangladesh. This questions the freedom of mass media is a big and important subject. It is normal to kill or torture to the journalists. Actually the press freedom is a golden deer in Bangladesh. If it would be there then I didn’t choose the exile life. You can’t think of proper freedom of speech without rule of law and democracy. The new chairman of the human rights commission Professor Mizanur Rahman has said right by saying “There is no proper rule for the law”
There is a huge difference between the culture of Bengali and the Europeans. It is not easy to adopt the environment after leaving another. So it is difficult for a Bengali to cope with the environment of Germany or Austria or in Europe. I have met many Bengalis in Europe. But they haven’t been very intimate with them. We are accustomed to the Bengali culture of jealousy and gossiping. The relationship builds over political matters. People are not judged by what they do. The relationship builds and breaks on political purposes. Now I have got the proof of it in this foreign land. I can’t say that there is an exception. The living proof is Abdullah Al Harun. Who is living in Germany for 2 decades? It is a matter of great shame that people like him have got banished for their country. He could have contributed a lot for his country. But the people of the country are separated from it. If he lived in Bangladesh than he might have become greater writers than Imdadul Haque Milon or Humayun Ahmed. He might have been become greater than the famous play writer Abdullah-Al-Mamun. Although they are brothers. Even if someone is disliked by the government or people with political power or even if he doesn’t do any sort of politics than it is almost impossible for him to live there. It is impossible to survive without being part of the politics. Recently a friend of mine has reminded me of this point in Berlin.
Whatever, that is not the point. Abdullah Al Harun is a friend and guardian to me. The age difference is like father and son. It is through him I got to know the Canadian resident journalist Showgat Ali Sagor. He is the publisher of the online paper Notun Desh and his wife Sherin Ferdous is the editor. Both are professional journalist. I didn’t meet them in Bangladesh. But I was attracted by both their reports. I had a deep relation with those reports. I complimented on a writing of Abdullah Al Harun on Notun Desh. That was when I met Showgat through e-mail. It was about on the 10th or 12th of April when I met Sagor. On the 21st April 2010 a report was printed on some Abdur Rahim Mazumder at Notun Desh’s 1st edition, 38th copy. The headline was torture of journalists in Bangladesh.
Personally I feel a great interest in reporting and writing about the news about the torture on the journalists. For this reason the report took my special attention. But after reading the first paragraph I felt a heartily relation with the report. Gradually I understood that this was my own piece of writing. This writing was published same to same in the daily Bangla newspaper ‘The DAily Sangbad’. ‘Natun Desh’ also published that writing. The headline was ‘brave journalist Shamsur Rahman Killing Day and Killing-torture on Journalist of Bangladesh”. I sent an e-mail to Sagor vai as soon as I could. If I sent writing same to same to any where then no editor would be able to understand that. Then I saw that, that was deleted. He gave me answer very quickly. Thanks to the authority of ‘Natun Desh’. i feel a close relation with the family of the ‘Natun Desh’. Hopefully this relation will continue.
I want to uphold a picture of the press freedom to the national readers as well as the international one. The autocracy had fallen just then. I read in the college. There I met with the reporter of the Dainik Bangla Shamsur Rahman Kable by name. 16th July is his killing day. In this very day of 2000 the terrorists shoot him out. He then worked for the DAily Janakhanta in Jessore. I was admitted in Rajshahi University (RU) to study. I joined with The Daily Sangbad. Then i was introduced with Manik Saha. He told me not to take much risk. He told me, “Akash, Never take much risk. Be careful. They are (Islami Chattra Shibir, whic is the student wing of the war criminal party Jammat) very dangerous.” he is no longer in our midst. Will the family be able to stop their crying of their heart?
Not only free media but the lives of the journalists are uncertain. Days go, months pass, Years rotate one after another but the justice of the journalist torture remain undisputed. In the country there is a government ‘Secular and democratic’ by name. They are also known as grand alliance government led by the father of the nation, Sheikh Hasina. But they have failed to stop the torture on the journalists. They have not succeeded to stop the extra-judicial killing. A few days ago the Goutam Das and Dipankor Chakraborty Killings Day had passed. But how a suspected murder after surrendering himself to the court can flee away is hard to understand. But in the country it seems that there is no rule of law, justice etc. If it was then at least the torture would have been stopped. The families of the killed journalist would get the proper justice.
The media can’t enjoy freedom without democracy. Human rights become absent there too. The torture on the journalists is not anything new. So, the voice for freedom of press is becoming higher. Democracy and mass media is complementary for one another. The risk in the south Asia has been up growing. In Bangladesh Journalism and press are under the control of state machine indirectly.
Along with Bangladesh the journalists of the South Asia pass their lives under threat. Thoug, the journalism, journalists are in front of threats all most in the whole world with some exception. Because they talk about the people. Against the killing and torture press works on the largest extend. So, they become the victim always. Here we may give the example of the Ekushey TV and CSB news. Showing a lot of false excuses the Government had stopped these two channels. Though Ekushey TV has restarted its voice again. On the 27th April,2010 the govt. banned the broadcasting of the Channel ONE. On the very same day there went a report on the country page of the Daily SANGBAD. According to the report, a journalist Muhammad Abul Kalam Bishwas contacted the mayor of Manikgonj Ramjan Ali. At that time Mayor said him,“If you make any news regarding me or my family then i will kill you. Previously you reported about my brother. I at that time looked for you but as i could not find you, at that time you got rid of me. But if it happens for another time, then i will make you bound to give a good compensation for yourself and your family.”
The last news is the closing of The Daily Amar Desh on the 1st June, 2010. On a lame excuse the govt. has stopped the publication of this newspaper. Mahmudur Rahman, the then on-duty editor was arrested. Though, later the High Court passed an ordered to publish Amardesh. On June, 2010 the Daily Observer, a English daily has been closed. The previous Awami League govt. has stopped The Daink bangla, Bangladesh Times, and Saptahik Bichitra. On the 15th october, 2009 the jamuna Tv started their test transmission but the govt. made them bound to stop that on the 19th november, 2009.
There goes no ending of torturing the journalists in Bangladesh. Here torture-killing is like a simple matter. In the present reign of this govt. 5 journalists have been killed. They are Fateh Osmani,Shafiqul islam Mithu, Abdul hannan, Ahsan Bari and Nurul Islam Rana. In the caretaker govt. this writer along with Tasneem Khalil of The Daily Star was tortured by Army and RAB. During that time throughout Sylhet, Bandorban, Nilfhamari a lots of false cases had been filed. Moreover, in the reign of the so-called democratic govt. RAB is torturing the journalists too. On 22 October, 2009 RAB has tortured to the New Age journalist F M Masum.
The whole family of the father of the nation was killed on the 15th August, 1975. Then the military rule fall like stone on the people of the country. This military autocracy came to an and through a lot of struggles and sacrifice of life. The democracy became free. National election was held in 1991. BNP, the team founded by general Zia throned on the power. As soon as they throned, they destroyed the organizational structure of the journalist. Without any termination benefit the then BNP govt. cut out 14 senior journalists as well as the then editor of the Dainik Bangla Toab Khan, the then editor of Weekly Bichitra Sahariar Kabir. November of 2002. BBC took an initiative of a documentary for channel four. For this reason Jaiba Malik and Bromuno Torentino came to Bangladesh. For this BNP Govt. tortured on the journalist Shahriar Kabir, Saleem Samad and Prisila Raj along with these two foreign journalists were arrested. Bomb attack on Mymensingh Cinema hall happened. Journalist Enamul Haque Chowdhury and Professor Muntasir Mamun were arrested is suspect of being involved with this. Though, the charge was totally fabricated and politically motivated. It is complained that, BNP govt. tortured the journalist during their arrest period. The last of April, 2009. The terrorists threatened to Shamim Parvez Khan, the correspondent of Daily Sangbad of Dhamrai. He helped the innocent people of get rid of the cases. For this, the regarding group become angered. Through there went a G.D. with the local thana (Police Station), none was arrested. In the same month there went also a accident in Mymensingh. In Gafragaon the correspondent of the Daily Samakal Shamim-Al-Amin was attacked. F.M. Masum becomes the victim of the brutality on the 22nd October, 2009. The RAB members tortured him inhumane. He was the reporter of the Daily New Age. He was reporting on the killing of extra judicial. For that he was being tortured.
On 16th April, 2006, a Cricket match between Bangladesh and Australia was held. The police attacked the journalists. So journalists were injured. Alhaz Jahirul Haque is in this occupation for around 65 years. He was also beaten by the police which is almost impossible to think in any civilized society. Journalist society was on the peak of movement at that time. The then BNP-Jammat led govt. made a judicial body to investigate. That report has not come out yet no police officials or any of the attackers haven’t been punished. 29th May, 2006 the then M.P. of Kushtia Provoked terrorists to attack on the journalists. Iqbaal Sobhan Chowdhury, Editor of Bangladesh Observer and President of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ), was highly injured on that day. I can’t recall the punishment of these terrorist. Journalism is my passion and profession. Journalism is in my thought for the whole time. I have the wish to do something for man. Investigation on apprise on the general people because the problem of my life. I did not even imagine myself. I become the victim of state brutality.
I have reported against oppression. That kinds of oppression change of my life-this was beyond my dream. Today I am falling a harsh reality. An uncertainty has brought my life at the door of destruction. I don’t know whether this will be finished or not as we are heading towards a uncivilized brutal society. We know, thousands of torture can’t resist the man wave as well as no man can be digitalized. Evil power can’t destroy the light of forth through state terrorism.
The reality in Bangladesh say that there goes problem which judicial problem. Torture is closely related. People have then crossfire easily. Death and torture under police water a single word. Govt. has always given this legality. The murderers are given prizes. Role of media is also under question. They are favorably the cross fires our media never hesitates to publish the press release.
The people who will take the nations ahead are the journalist. In the time of emergency torture of RAB reached its peak. I am one of the best examples. Moreover, there go a lot of examples of state torture. Shahriar Kabir is one of the great examples. Still now, he is moving with the spots of torture the same condition is of this writer and Masum of the Daily New Age. But after that we want no one more is to bring under this condition. Manik Saha was a reputed journalist. He was killed by a brutal bomb blast on the January of 2004. As a result, he was killed; the real killers are out of touch till now.
Abdul Latif Nabil was slaughtered on the 2nd March, 2004. It is claimed that it is an aftereffect of making hindrance in the way of an extra-marital affair of his wife. Though the suspected were arrested. But we don’t know the condition of case now. President of the Khulna Press club Humayun Kabir Balu was killed by the terrorists on the 27th June, 2004. 21st August, 2004 Kamal Hossain was slaughtered. He was the G.S. of Upazilla Chatradal.
Diponkor Chakraborty (59) was killed on the 2nd October, 2004. 24th October, 2004 another journalist was killed. Anwar Apple (31) was killed in his own office at kataban of Dhaka where he was shot by the terrorists. A bomb attack was happened in the press club of Khulna on the 5th February 2005. Sheikh Belal Uddin was killed and 4 other journalist was injured. 29th May of the same year, Golam Mahfuj, Publisher and editor of the Dainik Kumillar Muktakatha was killed. The killers slaughtered him.
Foridpur correspondence of the daily Somokal Goutom das was murdered by the terrorist, Golam majed of the Daily Runner from jessore, Harun ur Rashid from khulna, Humayun Kabir from the Daily Janmabhumi, Manik saha of the daily Sangband, Jamal Uddin from Rangamatiu, Mir Ilias Hossain Dip from Jhinaidah, Sheikh belal uddin from the Daily Sangram, Nahor Ali, Shukur ali hossain, Ahsan Ali from nayrayangong, Faruk ahmed from Moulovibazr, Kamruzzan of Nilsagar, S.M. Alauddin from Shatkhira, shamsur RAhman cable of the daily Janakantha from Jessore, Saiful Alam mukul. There is no evidence of punishment of killing journalists, writers, intellectuals and human rights workers. In the reign of Alliance Government only for the political affairs, columnists, Professor Muntasir Mamun, Journalist Shahriar Kabir, Seleem Samad were the victim of the torture from the state. Renowned journalists Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury were tortured by this government. In the last 20 years in Bangladesh 31 journalists including non-conventional writer Professor. Humayun Azad was murdered. On 3 july of 2009 journalist Nurul Islam Rana was murdered in Uttara. During the time of current government Journalist Abdul Hannan and Ahsan Bari were murdered also. According to the report of a private organization “Odhikar” in 2009, 3 journalists were murdered, 84 were injured, 45 were harassed, 16 were assaulted, 1 arrested, 2 kidnapped, 73 were threatened, case file against 23, another 19 were assaulted in different incidents. 41 journalists were the victim of torture. From January to March in this 3 months of 2010, 38 journalists were injured, 26 were threatened, 17 were harassed. Odhikar also told that, in the year of 2010 four journalists have been killed.
In the office of a newspaper 8 journalists were attacked. In the regime of the last Awami League government, the then Awami league MP Jainal Hazari came into light. The member of the class committee of Joinal Hazari assaulted an UNB correspondent named Tipu Sultan. The Prime- Minister of the then time government and present government Sheikh Hasina indirectly supported the oppression over journalists. She told that, “did Tipu Sultan have any accreditation card? Is it possible for being a journalist without that. But 90% to 95% journalists don’t have any accreditation card . though there are lots of sayings about this card. Lets quit this topic for today.
The top murder Journalists are Manik Saha, Shamsur Rahman cable, Humayun kabir Balu, Saiful Alam Mukul etc. Most of the journalists were tortured during the time of the Caretaker government which was controlled by the Armed Forces. The most noticeable oppressions were upon the editor and publisher Freedom fighter Atikullah Khan Masud, Jahangir Alam Akash, Tasneem Khalil etc. During the time of caretaker government around the countryside the army tortured professors and students of different universities and the reason was the small incident at the field of Dhaka University. For attending against such incidents the teacher and the student of Rajshahi University made out a silent procession. Claiming this incident the then government filed cases against the teacher and the students. The script writer, a actor and columnist Malay Bhowmic who was a journalist for about 22 years. Now he writes column in the daily Prothom Alo and the daily Jugantor. His “Uttorer Ullukhagra” was a famous column in the daily Sangbad. He is the founder of the oldest drama association of Rajshahi University “Anushilon”. Now he is the chairman of the department of the Drama and Music. He was also tortured in tat same incident. There has not been remedy yet of discrimination non democracy, capitalism, division of the journalist today.
There is another strong cause behind not being remedy of the murder of journalist. That is partial journalism. Awami league supported journalists remain silent when theirs committed a murder of journalist during their period. Theses journalists remain active during BNP period. BNP supported journalist do the same thing. Our statement is very clear as a citizen or a journalist. In any custody no torture upon a citizen can be tolerable in civilized society. It is my demand on behalf of the journalist society that this torture should be stopped. Proper investigation is necessary for this type of incident. Those who are related with this type of torturer have to be brought under trail. I want effective investigation of every journalist’s murder that is committed till now. Because murder and torture is unthinkable in civilized society. If there is no idealistic change then press freedom will be things that can we never be found. People have seen that corrupted people prevailed during every government. And these corrupted people are taking palace of the ownership of Bangladeshi media. Media was controlled during the caretaker government. These owners have no ideology as a result journalist fall in front of self censorship. Huge number of news papers have been published a big question is how many of these come into the help of the country. To control the media advertisement is the main arms. Multinational companies are controlling media through advertisement. Crisis of professionalism is an impediment. Another problem of press freedom is contempt to court. There is no certain definition of this matter. Some days ago editor of Prothom Alo is accused of being contempt of court. This is the first time in the history of Bangladesh that an editor is arrested. It is worth mentioning that “Amar Desh” news paper is against Awami league government. The publishing of the news paper is dismissed for a silly excuse. After that Mahmudur Rahman was arrested. It is again mentioning that Mahmudur Rahman is not a professional journalist. A question is raised against this sentence. And that is nothing can be written against internal corruption of the court. No report can be submitted against the court. There is no description about what will be contemptuous for the court? For these journalists and editors are at great risk. Because of political division socio-economic structure lack of unity among the journalist, murder and torture are not stopped. We want justice of all these murders. Remedy for this can be got if there are rule of law and effective democracy in the society.
Mass revolution is needed going beyond politics, person and community. Only through the mass revolution the problems of country and society can be solved. The root of injustice in the society is in the very deep in the society. This can be only proved when we see that man can not get the solution of the killing of people. After the killing of the colleague I have heard to say by the journalist that they don’t want justice because it can’t be achieved. With this slogan they have to come down to the street. We will hope that this condition will change. It is a matter of hope that the previous government has passed the rules and regulations of the community radio. Human rights commission has been constructed. But these things should not be started only but the process of running these should be ensured. The present information minister has said that the cases against the journalist will be withdrawn. This is good news. Personally Cases have also been filed against me. One thing should be made clear that suppose a journalist is there Mr. X by name. He has really committed crimes. Then will the cases against him be withdrawn? My answer is no. Without the freedom of newspaper the democracy and without the democracy the freedom of the media is never possible. These are complementary. Without one the other is impossible.
Through Face book I was having a conversation with one of my friends. He was saying that he had made a series of reports of four episodes on the extra-judicial killing. He made me informed that that report lost its way after two episodes as there had come Military pressure. Manik Saha, a veteran journalist was killed in this day. At his working hour he was killed by the terrorists. Seven years have passed but the justice has not come. Only if the illiteracy, corruption and poverty are challenged then the road of the democracy can be smooth. To guide the people in that way is the responsibility of the politicians. We want the justice of the war criminals and the killing of the journalist and all political killings. The justice has to be out of all kinds of influences.
Please watch some killings history of the journalists in Bangladesh:
Recently the Prime-Minister Sheikh Hasina has reported that in the reign of the BNP-Jammat led govt. 14 journalists have been killed. This information is true as well as it is also true that in the regime of the present government 7 journalists have also been killed. But she has recognized the half-truth and indirectly refused to agree with the last part. Channel 1, Jamuna TV, Amar Desh has also been banned in this regime. We don’t want the half-truth but the full one. Will it be possible to come to the position of the full truth in stead of the half one.