Concerns, condemnations pour in
The bail hearing of Rozina Islam, Senior Reporter of the Bangla daily Prothom Alo, is scheduled for today in a case filed under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act 1923 and the Penal Code 1860.
The hearing takes place as police were denied a remand plea for her on Tuesday. In another development, the detective branch (DB) of police was tasked with probing the case yesterday, confirmed Harunur Rashid, additional deputy commissioner (Ramna zone) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP).
Meanwhile, nationwide protests continued yesterday demanding the release of Islam, with the United Nations (UN) weighing in with its concern over the incident.
The UN made it known that journalist Rozina Islam’s arrest was obviously “something concerning,” noting that journalists needed to be able to do their work free of any sort of harassment or physical threat anywhere around the world.
“It’s, obviously, something that we’re looking at. It’s something that's concerning," said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN secretary general, at a regular briefing on Tuesday.
The spokesperson said the position of the world body had been clear and obviously that included Bangladesh and every other country.
"I think we’ve seen the very important work that journalists all around the world have done during the pandemic, and they need to be able to continue that work, wherever they may work," he said.
Amnesty International, too, expressing its concern yesterday, said Islam should not be punished for carrying out her journalistic duty.
“The prosecution of Rozina Islam under the Official Secrets Act is a brazen attack on the right to freedom of expression and the ability of Bangladeshi society to seek and receive information. Information about how the government is procuring Covid-19 vaccines is in the public interest and should not be hidden behind national security locks,” said Saad Hammadi, Amnesty International’s South Asia Campaigner.
Protest continues for second day
Journalists’ bodies and media workers for the second straight day demanded Rozina Islam’s unconditional release and exemplary punishment of those who had harassed her.
Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU), Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists, Bangladesh Nari Sangbadik Kendra (Centre for Women Journalists, Bangladesh), Bangladesh Secretariat Reporters Forum, Bangladesh Photo Journalists Association, divisional journalists’ association of Dhaka and other organizations joined a human chain before the Jatiya Press Club on Wednesday morning.
Besides, without naming Islam, Dhaka University Teachers’ Association via a press release termed the incident of torture inside the secretariat as a terroristic, non-professional and authoritarian attitude.