Journalists will stage demonstrations across the country on Thursday in protest against a central bank directive seeking bank account details of 11 elected leaders of the country's top journalist organisations.
Molla Jalal, president of a faction of the Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ), announced the programme at a protest rally at the National Press Club on Sunday.
At the programme, journalist leaders strongly protested the Bangladesh Bank move and vowed to continue the movement until the matter is resolved satisfactorily.
According to media reports, in response to the demand of a government agency, the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) of the central bank earlier this month issued a letter to all banks seeking bank account details of 11 journalist leaders, including Jatiya Press Club President Farida Yasmin, and Secretary Elias Khan.
At the rally jointly organised by the press club, factions of BFUJ and the Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ), and Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU), journalist leaders said the state can ask for a bank account of any citizen.
But they feel, the way the information was sought targeting journalism organisations is part of a deep conspiracy and for this, they want a retraction. At the same time, they demanded the authorities disclose information that will be forthcoming in response to the BFIU letter.
Farida Yasmin said both the home and information ministers did not know about the matter.
"Then where do we go? There is a deep conspiracy going on here. In this matter, journalists have been put in a confrontational situation against the government," she added.
Posing a question to Bangladesh Bank Governor Fazle Kabir, she said, "This letter reached you before it was issued. Didn't you see that?"
Farida Yasmin said specific allegations against any person or organisation can be investigated, but such a sweeping move against elected leaders of established journalist organisations is intentional.
With the move, all journalist organisations and the journalism profession itself are cast in doubt in the eyes of the people, she added.
Senior journalist and former president of the National Press Club, Reazuddin Ahmed, said it was done to weaken journalist organisations.
Shaukat Mahmood, another former president of the press club, posed a number of questions, like, "Why aren't these notices given to other professional organisations? Why is the anger directed only at journalists? In my opinion, this has been done to curb the freedom of the press. We will work together to protect the freedom of the press."
Presidents of the BFUJ factions, Molla Jalal and M Abdullah, acting secretary general Abdul Majid, and Secretary General Nurul Amin, DUJ President Quader Gani Chowdhury, and general secretaries to the DUJ factions, Sajjad Alam Khan and Shahidul Islam, DRU President Mursalin Nomani, and General Secretary Mosiur Rahman Khan, are the other journalist leaders who face the BB inquiry.
Sohrab Hossain, joint editor of Prothom Alo, Elias Khan, M Abdullah, Abdul Majid, and Nurul Amin, Quader Gani Chowdhury, Shahidul Islam, National Press Club Joint Secretary Mainul Alam, Treasurer Shahed Chowdhury, Mursalin Nomani, and Mosiur Rahman Khan, among others, spoke at the rally.
Former DUJ President Abu Jafar Surya, its Joint Secretary, Khairul Alam, Convener of Bangladesh Editors Forum, Rafiqul Islam Ratan, President of Economic Reporters Forum (ERF), Sharmin Rinvi, President of Crime Reporters Association of Bangladesh (Crab), Mizan Malik, its former president Abul Khair, former DRU general secretary Syed Shukur Ali Shuvo, among others, also spoke at the programme.
Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, journalist leaders described the Bangladesh Bank directive seeking the bank account details of 11 journalist leaders, a ploy to intimidate journalists and announced holding a protest rally on Sunday.