Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said her government has not obstructed the media from writing anything, and she asked journalists to write freely.
“We haven’t prevented anybody from writing,” she told a press conference at the Gono Bhaban on her tri-nation visit to Japan, Saudi Arabia and Finland.
The remarks came when a journalist asked her about the comments by the editor of an English daily in a recent interview with German radio Deutsche Welle Bangla, in which he said he could not write freely.
Hasina said the editor who made such remarks would not dare to do so if there was pressure on him.
“Nobody has put any pressure. They don’t feel good about the continuation of the democratic process. They feel good if there is any undemocratic process, for example, under the emergency government or military government. Under such governments, they can write as prescribed,” she added.
She said the editor had admitted in a television talk show that he “published reports with information supplied by the DGFI (Directorate General of Forces Intelligence)”.
“We are not supplying any information through the DGFI. So now he cannot write anymore. That means he cannot write anything if it is not prescribed. This has been established.”
The PM then said she had not received any cooperation from “these newspapers”.
“And, how many newspapers were in our favour after I returned home? Almost all [of them] have written against me. I am used to it.”
She said the most important thing to her is speaking and working as per her conscience.
“I don’t care who writes what. I love my country and countrymen. I work for the welfare of my country. If I have this belief, I have no headache about others’ comments -- good or bad,” Hasina said.
She said they cannot see what she can from her position.
“Isn’t Bangladesh going forward? Isn’t everybody getting the results? Isn’t Bangladesh’s dignity improving globally? It is. Today the whole world looks at Bangladesh and lauds us. Don’t [you] all feel good about it?”
She further said those who didn’t want the country’s independence wouldn’t feel good about it.
“We haven’t obstructed anyone from writing. Let him write as much as he wants. He continued to write. But suddenly he said he can’t write.
“I think he’s not getting the prescribed writings. If he wants, the DGFI will supply him with [reports], let him contact them. He will be supplied. What can I say beyond this?” she asked.
(The Daily Star Editor and Publisher Mahfuz Anam recently spoke to DW Bangla in Germany on media freedom in Bangladesh.)