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JOURNALISTS AND NEWSPAPER OFFICES ATTACKED

Newspaper offices and journalists have become the target of political activists again in Bangladesh, reports Media Watch. Leading opposition parties, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the Jatyo Party (JP), Jamat-e-Islami and Islami Okkyo Jote, called a three-day national general strike from 9 to 11 February 1999. During the strike, two newspaper offices were attacked, four vehicles carrying journalists were burned, four photojournalists were assaulted -including one who was shot - and five other journalists were stopped from carrying out their work. On 9 February, a group of strike supporters in the capital Dhaka trying to set fire to a rickshaw shot a photojournalist of the "Bhorer Kagoj" newspaper, Masud Parvez Anis, when he tried to take a picture of them. On the same afternoon, in Dhaka, strike supporters attacked offices of the "Daily Star" newspaper, one of the country's most respected English language dailies. After five other journalists were assaulted by opposition activists, local journalists reacted by boycotting "news of the opposition parties until they apologised for their supporters' actions," says Media Watch.

On 13 February, the Bangladeshi Home Ministry "ordered law enforcement agencies to ensure the full protection of professional journalists by all means possible," according to Media Watch. Also on 13 February, the Bangladesh Sangbadpatra Parisad (BSP), the organization of newspaper owners in Bangladesh, expressed concern that "in recent days, journalists and newspapers became the prime targets of political activists [who] not only hit the journalists, but also obstructed the hawkers and agents of newspapers, to prevent them from distributing the newspapers. These sorts of activities not only threaten personal and institutional security, but also disrupt the economic condition of the media."


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