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Journalists assaulted in day-long political protests in Bangladesh

Activists of the Hefajat-e-Islam political party attend a grand rally in Dhaka, 6 April 2013
Activists of the Hefajat-e-Islam political party attend a grand rally in Dhaka, 6 April 2013

REUTERS/Andrew Bira

UPDATE from Committee to Protect Journalists: Q&A: Nadia Sharmeen on journalists in Bangladesh (9 August 2013)

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned to learn of separate assaults on four journalists by political activists during day-long protests in the Bangladesh capital city of Dhaka on April 6, 2013.

According to reports from IFJ's partners and associates in Bangladesh, the journalists, including one woman, were attacked while reporting on protests by the Islamist political party, Hefajat-e-Islam.

The demonstration by the political activists originated in the eastern port city of Chittagong on April 5, where they allegedly assaulted Mohim Mirza, reporter of Ekattor Television.

Nadia Sharmeen, a reporter assigned to cover the rally by Ekushey Television, was attacked by activists in the Motijheel area. Speaking to the media from a hospital where she was taken for treatment, Nadia said that her attackers also took her purse and mobile phone and told her that it was not a woman's job to cover the rally.

A number of other female journalists were also reportedly attacked during the rally, though they decided not to submit formal reports or identify themselves.

Reporter Mohsin Kabir and cameraperson Khurshed Alam, from SA Television, were both assaulted and Khurshed's camera was snatched while he recorded an interview with leaders of the Islamist party in the Paltan area. Khurshed was admitted to a hospital with serious wounds, while Mohsin was released after treatment.

Sohel Rana, a cameraperson with ATN News, was also injured during the day's events after he was attacked with sticks by political activists in front of Notre Dame College.

In the Savar area of Dhaka city, TV camerapersons Abul Halim of Baishakhi and Nazmul Huda of Ekushey, reported attempts to snatch their cameras as they shot footage of the Hefajat-e-Islam's march being blocked by police.

"We strongly condemn these attacks which come amidst Islamist parties denouncing bloggers and journalists reporting on the two-month long youth agitation over the trial of those accused of war crimes from the country's 1971 war of liberation, as 'atheists' and 'enemies of the faith'," said IFJ Asia Pacific Director Jacqueline Park. "We call for calmer counsels and an effort by both the ruling party and opposition, to restrain the hostile rhetoric against the media, which often triggers actual acts of violence".

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