'Govt has deceived editors'
BNP yesterday slammed the government for formulating the much-debated Digital Security Act, saying the law's enactment reflected the government's intention to fortify its “illegitimate rule” and curb freedom of speech.
The law has been formulated so that none can speak about corruption and misdeeds that the government is involved in, party leaders said at a view-exchange meeting.
BNP arranged the meeting on 'Digital Security Act 2018' at a hotel in Dhaka. Members of the diplomatic corps, journalists and concerned citizens also attended the meeting.
Calling the law “unacceptable”, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said the present government has completed all arrangements to ensure “one-party ruling” in the country and, in doing so, curbed the countrymen's fundamental rights.
“[We] do not accept this law because the current parliament where the bill was passed has no legitimacy,” he said.
Presiding over the meeting, Fakhrul said his party has started a process to unite the citizens in a bid to free party chairperson Khaleda Zia from jail and ensure credible, free and fair election under a non-partisan government.
He said the government is a “deceiver” as it assured editors of national dailies of considering their concerns over the bill earlier, but did not pay any heed to this end.
President Abdul Hamid yesterday signed the Digital Security Bill. With his assent, the bill has become a law.
Amid widespread criticism against some of its provisions that have been termed “a threat to freedom of speech and the press”, Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury on October 2 signed the bill passed in parliament on September 19.
Sampadak Parishad (Editors' Council) -- a platform of editors of the country's newspapers, journalists and other media persons have expressed serious concerns over sections 8, 21, 25, 28, 29, 31, 32, and 43 of the bill, saying those sections pose serious threats to freedom of expression and media operation.
BNP senior leader and Standing Committee Member Nazrul Islam Khan said the law is not a democratic one.
He also said as per the law, a separate agency will be formed which is disconcerting. The agency members will be acting as per the government's directives, he added.
Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury, another BNP standing committee member, remarked that the government has undertaken a project. Enactment of the law [Digital Security Act] along with sending their party chief to jail, attempt to use electronic voting machines in the general election, and holding election under a partisan government are elements of the project, he said.
“They are snatching people's fundamental rights in a bid to implement their project,” he added.
Terming the present government “fascist”, BNP Standing Committee Member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said the Digital Security Act has been enacted to provide security to the government.
People expect that the opposition party will criticise the government but the government wants to “re-establish Baksal” in the country. They have completed all arrangements for this, he claimed.
“The law will not provide security to people but will be used to gag their voices,” he said, adding that his party will wage movement to topple the government and ensure a fair and credible election.