Dhaka: Facebook accessible again but press freedom still under threat
In the meantime, media freedom remains in a critical state. On 1 June, the government shut down a national daily newspaper, the Daily Amar Desh.
Heavily armed police and intelligence officials burst into the newspaper’s offices, sealed off its newsroom, and stopped the printing presses after they had began their run.
The next day, the authorities arrested the newspaper’s acting editor Mahmudur Rahman with a few of his colleagues as well as its publisher, Hashmat Ali.
Activists with the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) said that the National Security Intelligence acted without an arrest warrant or a detention order.
Mr Hashmat’s family told AsiaNews that in prison he had to sign blank sheets, later filled in by the secret services.
Hashmat was forced to resign as Daily Amar Desh publisher and sign defamatory statements about the editor, Mahmudur Rahman.
Bangladesh’s Information Minister Abul Kalam Azad told AsiaNews that the decision to close the newspaper did not come from the government but from the Office of the Deputy Commissioner of Dhaka
For human rights activists, the government’s decision to wash its hands of the affair claiming non-involvement is laughable since this is not an isolated incident, but rather the latest in a series of negative episodes that have occurred over time. In fact, the government has already shut down two private broadcasters and a number of newspapers.
AHRC called on the United Nations Human Rights Council to intervene.
Accusing the government of jeopardising the democratic process, it demanded the immediate release of imprisoned journalists and the reopening of publications it closed down.
It also called on the authorities to launch credible probes into the abuses that have occurred so far.