Attacks on media do not carry any good messages for country and democracy

In the history of 52 years, the political arena in independent Bangladesh has taken extreme shape at different times. Manifested many times. But this was the first time that the Chief Justice’s residence was attacked, public service centers like hospitals were set on fire, and audit buildings and important government buildings were burnt.Judging from the point of view of any humane citizen, one can undoubtedly say how reprehensible these things are. What would the shopkeepers of human rights and the soul/sole agents of freedom of expression say in such a context? What will be the speech of those who intervene in the internal affairs of an independent state and play the role of the so-called spokesman?The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 recognized the importance of freedom of expression and the press. Behind the independence of Bangladesh is the historical contribution of the media, which plays a major role in shaping the public opinion of the outside world. The language movement of fifty-two, the election of fifty-four, the education movement of sixty-two, the six points of sixty-six, the historic mass uprising of sixty-nine, and the election of the seventies, media have an outstanding contribution to every historical event. Freedom of the media refers to a process in which the media of a state is free from interference by that state or government or any political influence.Constitutionally, Bangladesh is a democratic country, so freedom of media is a constitutional right. The 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression.” This right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek information and ideas through any media. ”Article 39, clause 2 of our Constitution states, ‘Freedom of the press is guaranteed’, that is, the freedom of the press, both nationally and internationally, is well established. There is no doubt about it.Respect for the opinions of others is an important condition of democracy. Freedom of expression is a fundamental right of the people. Article 39(1) of the Constitution of Bangladesh guarantees freedom of thought and conscience and Article 39(2) guarantees freedom of the press and media. Discussion, expression, and unity are important steps of democracy. Where the media is stronger, the democracy is stronger.Just as proper media practice can protect democracy, democracy can keep media free. An independent media is any government’s best friend. Freedom of expression is considered as an indicator of a country’s democratic system. Democracy is one of the four principles of governance mentioned in the constitution of Bangladesh. In a democratic state, the people have all the power.Public response determines how the country moves forward. In other words, democracy is the system of public governance that preserves the basic rights of citizens. As a result, citizens in a democracy have ample opportunity and freedom to develop their personalities. Democracy and mass media are closely related to each other. Media freedom is also essential for democracy. Along with democracy, media freedom is closely related to good governance and development. It is not possible to imagine development and progress without the free flow of information and the practice of free media. But remember what Herbert Spencer said, it means freedom to do as you please without interfering with the rights of others. The development of a state is a process. Fair practice of media can help the overall development of a democratic state. In the modern era, media is recognized as one of the pillars of a state. Social justice and injustice, bad culture, superstition, citizens’ hopes, aspirations, rights, duties, public opinion formation, and good and bad are reflected in the welfare of mass media. Media is one of the accessories for the development of a nation. A conscientious and informed journalist is one of the guiding lights of a nation, with independent media playing a supporting role. Highlighting the problems, remedies, and possibilities of the neglected, backward communities or townships through writing, changing the thoughts and views of the backward and ignorant people, turning them into manpower, promoting new ideas, ideas, innovative energy, and helping to show the light to the nation. Media plays a role. So, there is no chance for a country to think of progress by bypassing the mass media.A free and independent media is an essential element of democracy. Through it, citizens can get information about economic development as well as information necessary to ensure the accountability of their leaders. The issue of the right of independent media has been included in the constitution of many countries including Bangladesh as well as the founding document of the United Nations. By protecting media freedom, we collectively uphold our values of democracy and the protection of human rights. Journalists must ensure an environment in which they can work without fear of harassment, intimidation or violence. This is necessary to aid good governance and to ensure that the public is fully informed about a matter. Journalists must also have access to information and be able to protect sources of information.Around 30 journalists were attacked during their professional duties in police-BNP clashes at Nayapalton and Kakrail junctions in the capital. Journalists of daily media Ittefaq, Time TV, Jamuna TV, Kalbela etc. were attacked. A Dhaka Times reporter was seriously injured in the Kakrail clash. He was taken to the National Orthopedic Hospital and Rehabilitation Institute (Orthopedic Hospital) for treatment. Daily Kalbela reporter was taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital with serious injuries. Breaking News’ crime reporter, a Breaking News reporter, an Inquilab photojournalist and many others were injured in this incident. Even though ID cards were hung around their necks, they were beaten up. Many people were injured in the attack. Besides, the attackers took away the mobile phones of many people.On October 18, the BNP called for a general meeting on October 28 to announce a strict program for the one-point demand of the fall of the government. Since then, various discussions have been made in the political arena. On the same day, several anti-government political parties including Democracy Manch, Jamaat Islami Bangladesh and other parties announced the rally. On the other hand, the Awami League announced the peace and development rally. The police strengthened security around many political programs in Dhaka on the same day. Everyone thought that the parties would hold a peaceful program. But in the end, it was no longer peaceful. Police and BNP clashed. The police claim that the BNP is attacking the police with the permission of the peaceful assembly. And BNP claims that police and Awami League attacked their rally. A little before 1 pm on Saturday, a chase took place between police and BNP activists at Kakrail intersection in the capital. BNP leaders and activists threw bricks at the police. Then the police started firing tear gas at the BNP activists. At that time, BNP activists vandalized and set fire to the police box in front of Kakrail Mosque. Before that, a bus carrying Awami League activists and two pickups was attacked in front of the Kakrail Mosque at around 12:30 p.m. At this time, the attackers vandalized buses and pickups. Awami League alleged that BNP activists carried out this attack.A review of the political history of independent Bangladesh clearly shows that coexistence has always been absent or weak in the political arena. However, coexistence is key in democratic political processes. This time, journalists and media workers were at the center of attack by the agitators. Attacks on the Chief Justice’s residence ambushes on law enforcement personnel, attacks on hospitals, as well as torture and harassment of journalists and obstruction of professional duties are unprecedented. But it is not that easy to work for journalists or media workers.Sometimes not only the opponents of the political power but also the influential people in the society make the journalists and media workers the target of attack. At least 30 journalists were brutally attacked on October 28 while performing their professional duties. The democratic rights that the opposition parties often talk about, the bullies for freedom of expression, can ask themselves how committed they are to this issue. The conflict-violence became more widespread in the wake of the surprise attack on the police that day.At least 30 journalists were injured in the attack while collecting news about BNP’s mass meeting in the capital. The journalists were attacked in various places of the capital, including Kakrail, Fakirapool, Nayapaltan and Bijaynagar. Many of them are receiving treatment in various hospitals including Dhaka Medical College. At this time, the BNP and Chhatra Dal leaders and activists left the journalists’ cars, cameras and mobile phones, memory cards vandalized. Condemn the attacks on journalists while performing their professional duties. Incidents of killing, torture, and harassment of journalists are not new in our country. Over the past few decades, torture, harassment, and attacks on journalists have increased dramatically in the country; Which is an ominous sign for the country’s media world. Analyzing the data of the World Free Media Index 2023, it can be seen that Bangladesh (in the mass media index) has fallen 11 places in the last two years and 42 places in 14 years. One of the factors on which this index is determined is the safety of journalists. Bangladesh’s score is disappointingly low. In the first 9 months of this year, at least 160 journalists in different areas of the country have faced obstacles while performing their professional duties. According to the report of the non-governmental human rights organization Law and Arbitration Center, 119 journalists have been victims of torture, harassment, threats and lawsuits in the first 6 months of this year. According to various sources of information, 32 journalists have been killed since 1992 while performing their professional duties and practicing journalism in Bangladesh. There are very few cases of prosecution of those involved in these incidents. In most of the cases, the trial of murder of journalists is hanging for a long time. Not only in the last decade, but his previous murders also have few precedents of justice. Some of the murders of journalists are not prosecuted, some are tied to the charge sheet, and some are stuck in red tape due to lack of evidence.As a result, due to a lack of justice, murders are happening one after another. Mass media workers or journalists work on the front lines of the country’s disasters, crises, and pandemics. It is the professional responsibility of the journalist whether it is a natural disaster, an accident, or a political meeting. However, it appears that journalists are being attacked while performing their duties. The lives of journalists are extremely insecure these days. Being the most dangerous profession in the country, the safety of those engaged in journalism cannot be ensured. The attacks are making the profession of journalism more vulnerable and it is also undermining the freedom of the media by preventing the disclosure of information, which is by no means desirable. The writer is a columnist and researcher.

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