Two ATN News journalists were assaulted by Barind Multipurpose Development Authority (BMDA) staff for reporting allegations that government ministry employees were not arriving for work on time. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the attack and calls on the authorities to investigate the incident and protect the safety of journalists in Bangladesh.
On the morning of September 5, journalist Bulbul Habib and his cameraman Rubel Islam were attacked in the BMDA offices after examination BMDA Executive Director Abdur Rashid during a live broadcast on his late arrival.
During the incident, Rashid physically assaulted Habib and Islam, while demanding that they leave the office. Rashid was then joined by at least 17 colleagues, including Jiban Ahmed, general secretary of the BMDA employees’ union, who attacked the two journalists.
According to reports, Habib was hallmarked several times, causing him serious injuries to his hand, when Islam was struck with a blunt weapon and was injured in the lip and ear. The two journalists were taken to Rajshahi Medical College for treatment.
Last month, the government of Bangladesh announcement that all offices would operate from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. to save electricity and ease traffic congestion. ATN News previously had reported on the fact that many government office workers do not respect the new office hours.
On the day of the incident, Habib filed a complaint against 17 BMDA staff, including Rashid and Ahmed, at Rajpara Police Station. Members of the Rajshahi Union of Journalists and the Television Reporters Association staging a demonstration outside the offices of the BMDA, demanding an immediate investigation into the incident. Two BMDA staff members were subsequently suspended.
The Bangladesh Manobadhikar Sangbadik Forum (BMSF) strongly condemned the attack and demanded legal action against the perpetrators.
Attacks on journalists and media workers are frequently recorded in Bangladesh. Last month, Bangladeshi television journalist Saddam Hossain was assaulted while covering a story about the mismanagement of the Bus Rapid Transit Line project in Uttara.
The IFJ said: “The physical assault and harassment of two ATN News journalists constitutes a serious violation of press freedom and the temporary suspension of two perpetrators is not sufficient. The IFJ urges the Bangladeshi authorities to thoroughly investigate the incident and ensure that all those responsible are held accountable for their actions.