BNP yesterday alleged that the government is using the Digital Security Act as a weapon to hang onto power.
"Around 153 people were harassed by filing cases against them under the Digital Security Act from January to June 2020," Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, secretary general of the party, told a virtual press conference from his residence.
Fakhrul claimed that analysing the allegations of the cases, one will find that those were filed for raising voice against ruling party plunderers, expressing political views and criticising the government.
Demanding immediate scrapping of the law, the BNP leader alleged that action is being taken against journalists or persons who publish corruption and heinous acts of the ruling party men on social media or in print media.
"The nation's voice is gagged now in fear of facing cases under the Digital Security Act," Fakhrul said.
Mentioning that BNP has been long saying this law is unconstitutional and a tool of the government to suppress voice of people, Fakhrul alleged that the ruling party made the law only to cling to power.
"The law should be revoked immediately and freedom of expression of free-thinking people should be ensured," he said.
"Whenever a government becomes authoritarian, autocrat, and fascist, it first attacks the freedom of expression, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press; and it also controls social media. That is what this government is doing in a very planned and conscious manner," Fakhrul said.
Referring to statistics of different rights bodies, Fakhrul said a total of 108 cases were filed against 204 people under the law this year as of June 22.
Of them, 44 are journalists, and 160 are other professionals and general people.
"A comparative analysis shows that a total of 63 cases were registered last year while there have been more than 108 cases in the first six months of this year," Fakhrul said, adding, "but the real picture would be more concerning, as many such incidents remain unreported."
Fakhrul said the Editors' Council has already voiced concern that journalists cannot write freely due to the Digital Security Act. He said the warrant for arrest of many renowned editors have been issued by filing cases against them under the act, forcing them to go to court for bail, while some journalists have been arrested.
The BNP leader demanded the government to free all those arrested in the cases filed under Digital Security Act and withdraw those cases, including that of against Manabzamin editor-in-chief Matiur Rahman Chowdhury and Prothom Alo editor Matiur Rahman.
Replying to a question, the BNP secretary general said their party, if it returns to power through a fair election, will abolish all laws that curtail rights of the people, freedom of speech and freedom of thoughts.
The BNP leader said his party will send a letter to the government urging it to scrap the Digital Security Act. He, however, did not say when the letter will be sent.