Journos, rights activists want those withdrawn
Journalists and several rights and professional bodies yesterday demanded withdrawal of all cases filed against The Daily Star Editor and Publisher Mahfuz Anam.
Mentioning that the filing of dozens of defamation cases against Mahfuz Anam is just harassment and shocking, a faction of Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ) sought Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's intervention.
In a statement, DUJ President Elahi Newaz Khan Saju and General Secretary Khairul Alam Bakul observed that the unprecedented number of cases against Anam can in no way be suitable for democracy. “It's nothing but evil efforts to gag the media and stifle its independence.”
Referring to the 1/11 changeover, the DUJ leaders said, “... Even, it was heard that many leaders of the country's two major parties were involved in the 1/11 episode, and almost all of them are now in their places in their own parties.”
Bothersome cases are being filed against Mahfuz Anam one after another for reports published in The Daily Star years ago, they added.
The DUJ leaders said they think Anam admitted his editorial misjudgment out of his sense of ethics and principles.
Statement of Jahangirnagar University Journalists' Association (JUJA) echoed the sentiment. It read, "He [Mahfuz Anam] has shown courage and set an example by disclosing what happened, and he should be praised for the way he said the truth."
JUJA President Belal Hossain Rahat and Secretary Moudud Ahmed Sujan termed the incident of filling cases “an attack on free media and ill motive to control the media”.
"The cases were clearly politically motivated to harass Mahfuz Anam, editor of the leading English daily, and to create panic among people practising ethical journalism in the country. We demand immediate initiatives to settle the issue," read the JUJA's press release.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh National Women Lawyers' Association and Human Rights Forum Bangladesh yesterday issued separate statements, condemning and expressing deep concern at the barrage of cases being lodged against Anam.
Both the rights body said such incidents would hamper the country's democratic environment and freedom of the press.
Barrister Nazmul Huda, chairman of Bangladesh National Alliance (BNA), said The Daily Star could in no way be allowed to be destroyed.
He was addressing a meeting of the BNA in the capital yesterday.
Shoto Nagorik Committee, a platform of civil society members, also expressed concern over the filing of cases against The Daily Star editor by the ruling party men in different districts.
The committee demanded withdrawal of all cases against Anam.
It also demanded release of Abdus Salam, managing director of ETV, Amar Desh acting editor Mahmudur Rahman and journalist leader Shawkat Mahmud.