Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 December 2017, 12:58 GMT

Attacks on the Press in 1997 - Bangladesh

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 1998
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 1997 - Bangladesh, February 1998, available at: [accessed 13 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

As Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed's Awami League enters its second year, the national press in Bangladesh enjoys considerable freedom and continues to play an important role in the transition to democracy. Nevertheless, the frequent political violence has intensified the dangers journalists face in covering national news.

Ongoing disputes between the ruling Awami League and former prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia's opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), however, have sustained political tensions. Hasina's government has refused to allow the BNP and other opposition parties to play a meaningful role in policy formulation. This has led to frequent parliamentary walkouts by the BNP and its allies, resulting in sometimes-violent street protests and general strikes from all parties, and even blocs within parties, called for rallies and demonstrations, using violence and intimidation to enforce general strikes. In separate incidents, two photojournalists were beaten when photographing clashes during street demonstrations. In a third case, a photojournalist was seriously injured when he was hit in the head by a tear-gas shell fired by police attempting to disperse a rally.

In the rural areas, journalists reporting on corruption and government irregularities sometimes face intimidation and harassment. Rural women are becoming increasingly active in a widespread network of non-governmental organizations promoting social development and self-reliance projects. Some conservative Muslim fundamentalists have resisted the increasing political and economic participation of women in Bangladesh and on occasion have threatened journalists covering these issues. However, as one journalist described it, "These represent irritations, not national problems."

Government efforts to fully privatize the print media by closing two state-owned newspapers, Dainik Bangla and Bangladesh Times, have divided the journalistic community. Some journalists considered the closure of the state-owned newspapers to be a violation of press freedom, claiming veteran journalists sympathetic to those now in opposition have lost their jobs. On the other hand, many journalists applaud the move as a step toward greater autonomy for the news.

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