Friday, March 23, 2012

Newsmen must unite to protect people’s rights

After several decades the journalist community of Bangladesh has at last taken a united stand demanding arrest and exemplary punishment of the killers of the journalist couple Sagar Sarwar and Meherun Runi. The community’s leadrs represented both the factions of the Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists  (BFUJ), the Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ), the National Press Club and the Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) for holding agitation programmes including grand rally, one-hour pen-down protest, wearing black badge and  a six-hour token hunger strike etc. unitedly to press their demand for arrest and exemplary punishment of the killers of the journalist couple Sagar Sarwar and Meherun Runi. Both Sagar, a news editor of private TV Channel Masranga and his wife Runi, a senior reporter of ATN Bangla, were stabbed to death by unidentified killers at their residence at Rajabazar in the city on 11 February, 2012. 

Guarantee for natural death

The leaders of both the factions of journalist community demanded guarantee for people’s natural death in the rally held on February 22, 2012 in front of the National Press Club. Renowned senior journalists A B M Musa and Nirmal Sen expressed solidarity with them. Mention may be made here that Nirmal Sen wrote in an article [Aami swabhabik mrityur guarantee chai] in 1973 in the now-defunct Bengali daily the Dainik Bangla during Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Awami League regime that people demand guarantee for natural death.

Now, 30 years later, again journalist community has to demand guarantee for natural death, when Awami League (AL) chief Sheikh Hasina, daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, is ruling the country.

After the murder, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that it was not possible for the government to keep guard over “people’s bedrooms”, as reported in the press on February 24, 2012. 

Article 32: Right to Life

Prime Minister’s statement is neither logical nor tenable if we look at the Constitution of Bangladesh which guarantees personal security of each and every citizen of the country.

Under Article 32 of the  Republic’s Protection of Right to Life and Personal Liberty, no person shall be deprived of life or personal liberty. Under Article 31: Right to protection of law is the inalienable right of every citizen, wherever he may be.

Our Republic’s Constitution nowhere specifies that the State or government has nothing to do if individuals are killed in bedrooms, drawingrooms, diningrooms, guestrooms, kitchens, washrooms, rooftops, basements, parking spaces, balconies or anywhere else. What is more, the government shall not be able to shirk its responsibility if individuals are killed in forests, hills or in other places.

It has been reported in the media that 14 journalists of national and local newspapers were killed and hundreds of journalists across the country were tortured during the last three years of AL-led grand alliance government, as reported on February 27, 2012 in an English daily. 

Divide and Rule Policy

The British destroyed communal harmony creating division between Hindus and Muslims to establish “Divide and Rule Policy”. The Awami League men claim they are the sole agents of patriotism while others are anti-state elements. They are the sole authority to rule the country while others are not. As such the AL created division by establishing pro-liberation forces and anti-liberation forces to remain in power.

The nation is divided into two broad groups—-‘Bangalee Nationalism’ and ‘Bangladeshi Nationalism’. Doctors, lawyers, teachers, students, politicians, businessmen, industrialists, government officials, employees, journalists and all other professionals and workers are divided into these two groups.

Before our independence there was only one Federal Union of Journalists. Now there are two groups of BFUJ which is detrimental to the profession. Journalism is a noble profession. The Journalist community is the mirror of the society. The journalist community must remain united in the interest of the nation to defend and protect people’s fundamental rights.

BY :  A M K Chowdhury.