What one often tends to overlook is the fact that if journalists are under threat it is journalism that is under threat too. We thank the Information Minister for at least acknowledging the fact that journalists in Bangladesh are putting their life on the line in their line of duty. We also thank him for recognizing the truth that it is for the government to ensure that all impediments, including unnecessary harassment, not to speak of the threat to their life, are removed in order that they can work freely.
In this regard the recently published report of the South Asia Media Commission is worth the note, which, with regards to Bangladesh situation, blames the “harsh reprisals by political parties” on reporters whose reports are critical of the political parties or the government. Apart from the death of three journalists in 2012, including a journalist couple, a total of 137 journalists were also injured in 69 incidents of attacks in Bangladesh, according to the report
We accept the reality that our job is inherently risky, but in Bangladesh journalists have to face threats from various directions. There is the political pressure at every level including encumbrances faced from government agencies in the performance of journalistic duties. And this phenomenon is not regime-specific. This has been the prevailing situation regardless of whether there was autocratic or democratic rule. And if one were to take a stock of the list of journalists killed, one would find that the cause of their fate has been their professional commitment to reveal the wrongdoers and their wrongdoings.
Not only should the government ensure that all impediments facing the journalists in Bangladesh were removed, the mystery of the deaths of those killed must also be solved as soon as possible.