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Journalists prevented from reporting about the disappearance of an opposition leader

(RSF/IFEX) - In a 10 October 2000 letter to Home Affairs Minister Mohammad Nasim, RSF expressed its concern over attacks perpetrated by the Lakhipur authorities (in the province of Chittagong, south-eastern part of the country) against journalists who report on or publish articles pertaining to the disappearance of Nurul Islam, a leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). The organisation asked the minister to intervene and ensure that the local authorities stop pressuring the journalists, so that they can work freely. To conclude, Robert Ménard, secretary-general of the organisation, reminded the minister that he has a duty to "protect journalists who are merely exercising their right to inform."

According to information obtained by RSF, Ekramul Haq Bulbul, a journalist from "Dainik Prothom Alo", was forced to flee the town of Lakhipur on 6 October, after he was attacked by armed men. He was wounded and had to be hospitalised. The reporter was investigating the involvement of the mayor of Lakhipur in the disappearance of the BNP politician.

In a similar event, on 4 October, Sheikh Mamunur Rashid, a reporter with "Dainik Manabzamin", received death threats while he was searching for information in Lakhipur about the disappearance of Nurul Islam. Policemen and municipality workers raided the hotel where Sheikh Mamunur Rashid stayed and threatened him with "reprisals".

Abu Taher, mayor of the town of Lakhipur and local leader of the ruling party Awami League, threatened to "break the limbs" of journalists who implicated him in the disappearance of the BNP politician. He told the reporters "to leave the town or face very dire consequences."

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