ARTICLE 19, a UK-based human rights organisation, has condemned the brutal murder of Ilias Hossain, a 52-year-old reporter of Daily Bijoy, in Narayanganj for publishing news exposing criminal links in providing gas connection in Adampur Geodhara area of Bandar upazila in the district.
The rights body which works to protect freedom of expression has called for the immediate arrest and trial of the perpetrators following a proper investigation, according to a press release issued on Tuesday.
Faruq Faisel, regional director for ARTICLE 19 Bangladesh and South Asia, said, "Although the government has reiterated its commitment about the freedom of the media and the protection of journalists as well as human rights defenders in the international arena, including UN platforms, the reality has changed little."
"We have learned that journalist Ilias filed a general diary with the Bandar Police Station, seeking safety for his life. It has been alleged that law enforcement agencies have not taken any effective action in this connection."
Faruq Faisel further said, "There is a rampant culture of impunity in Bangladesh. This has given rise to the attitude that even if journalists are tortured or killed, no one cares. Journalists have become soft targets of the mafia, many of whom have close connections with the parties in the government and in some cases, police, administration, and other law enforcement agencies.''
He called upon the government to ensure speedy trial of those involved in this brutal killing as well as protection of journalists and rights activists following international standards.
Ilias is the second journalist to have been killed this year in Bangladesh. On 3 September this year, Julhas Uddin, vice-president of Dhamrai Upazila press club and a correspondent of Bijoy TV, was stabbed to death in Dhaka. According to ARTICLE 19's statistics, 35 journalists were killed in Bangladesh between 1996 and 2018.
Of these, only 8 murder cases have been tried. Unfortunately, family members of the slain journalists have rejected the verdicts in five of the eight cases in which the trial has been completed.
ARTICLE 19 also strongly condemned the obstruction by law enforcement agencies in peaceful protests, rallies and sit-ins events during the ongoing anti-rape movement across the country, as well as the attacks by miscreants from political parties.