Journalists on Wednesday announced they will not return home and will continue their protests until Prothom Alo senior journalist Rozina Islam is given unconditional release from prison and her harassers are punished.
The demands were made at a protest rally organised by the Dhaka Reporters Unity in front of their office premises in Segunbagicha, against the torture and arrest of journalist Rozina Islam.
Several organizations of working journalists, including Bangladesh Secretariat Reporters Forum, Law Reporters Forum, Crime Reporters Association, and Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ) participated in the protests.
Journalists chanted slogans against the health administration and its members for violating the official code of conduct, harassing journalist Rozina Islam, and for trying to silence investigative journalism against corruption.
During the protest, Prothom Alo Associate Editor Anisul Haque said that journalists from all over the country have become one and have unanimously demanded the case be withdrawn. They have also demanded punishment for those who harassed Rozina.
Anisul said the case filed against Rozina is against freedom of speech, has no merit, and thus should be withdrawn immediately.
General Secretary of the Press Club, Ilias Khan, said journalists have become a nuisance in the eyes of the administration for shedding light on the corruption that is going on in the system. And hence, Rozina was attacked.
Illias said, "If Rozina's case is not withdrawn, we will organise a bigger movement than this and protest. If necessary, we will go to the Ministry of Health and the Prime Minister's Office and protest."
DRU President Mursalin Nomani said, "The health minister has given a distasteful statement regarding the incident that has happened with Rozina. We want him to withdraw his statement immediately."
"We also denounce the investigation committee that has been set up by the health ministry to look into the incident. We do not accept that the very people who have harassed Rozina will be given charge to look into the investigation," added Nomani.
The DRU president also said that Rozina was detained in the health secretary's personal secretary's room for reporting on the ongoing corruption there, which is an extreme violation of the law and is an obstacle in the path of investigative journalism. Nomani announced that if Rozina's family or her workplace does not file an attempt to murder case against those people for orchestrating such act, DRU will do it on their behalf.
DRU General Secretary Mashiur Rahman said, "We are professional journalists and we do not want to protest on the streets like this. I want Rozina to be released from prison immediately."
General Secretary of Dhaka Union Journalists (DUJ) Sajjad Alam Khan Tapu said, "We hope that Rozina will be released in the bail hearing that the court will hold next Thursday. The Dhaka Union of Journalists has been monitoring the situation and is talking to policy makers about it. We will hold a rally tomorrow (Thursday) where details about our future directives will be provided."
Former DRU president Rafiqul Islam Azad said, "We are not convinced the current inquiry committee formed by the health ministry will conduct a proper investigation and we want neutral officers from other ministries to take charge of the investigation."