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Dhaka Tribune

Arafat: Govt, media, civil society can partner to fight disinformation

  • Govt promotes reporting on climate as long as it is based on facts, evidence
  • Media grown exponentially as PM Hasina created congenial environment
Update : 02 May 2024, 07:28 PM

State Minister for Information and Broadcasting Mohammad Ali Arafat on Thursday said the government, civil society and mass media can be partners to fight together against the agenda-based motivated journalism and disinformation campaign.

“Sometimes, media is abused and disinformation campaign is carried out in the country to stop our development using environment and climate change issues as shield…and let’s accept the truth,” he told a panel discussion at the MIDAS centre in the city’s Dhanmondi area, on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day.

Unesco, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) and Article 19 jointly organized the discussion titled “The Press Freedom and Freedom of Expression in the Context of the Current Global Environmental Crisis”.

Swedish Ambassador to Bangladesh Alexandra Berg von Linde, Unesco Representative to Bangladesh and Head of Office Susan Vize, TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman and Editor in Chief of Maasranga Television and Chairman of Broadcast Journalist Centre (BJC) Rejwanul Haq took part in the panel dissuasion.

The state minister said the government always promotes reporting on climate or any other issues as long as it is based on facts and evidence even if the government is criticized in the report.

“We would like to welcome any kind of criticism as long as the criticisms are based on facts. But this is not the case always. We do have an understanding that press freedom is all about right reporting,” Arafat added.

As disinformation exists in society and everywhere else simultaneously, he said, press freedom is very useful only when it is used in the right way. But when press freedom is abused through disinformation campaigns, it negatively affects the democratic progress of society and the people at large.

“Therefore, we need to be very careful about it and I also believe that it is very important to combat disinformation and also make sure that we can keep the space of freedom of expression and freedom of media absolutely protected,” the state minister added.

“So, it is also a very tricky situation where we need to be very careful to strategize our combat against disinformation. I believe in the freedom of media in the greater interest of the people,” Arafat said.

But when this freedom is used or abused to implement the agenda of a vested quarter and effort is made to portray that as a right to freedom, he said, it should not be considered the freedom of media.

Noting that freedom of media is also equally abused, he urged all to remain careful about it.

“I want to make sure one thing that the freedom of expression, freedom of media and press freedom are in the very core of the spirit of our 1971 Liberation War and those are protected in our constitution which is the highest law of our land.

“And we fought for this; we sacrificed and created a country while we wanted to ensure democracy, freedom of the press and freedom of expression. We subscribe to these values,” Arafat said.

Highlighting the government’s media-friendly initiatives, the state minister said the media in the country has grown exponentially in numbers as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina created a congenial environment for the expansion of media in the last 15 years.

Mentioning that the government has no intention to regulate or control the media, he said if the government had any intention to control, regulate or influence the media, it would not have allowed increasing the number of media.

Speaking about climate change, he said, the government has been at the forefront when it comes to negotiation with the rest of the world.

He said Bangladesh is one of the biggest victims of this climate change but primarily it is not responsible for it.

“So, you cannot make every one of our country, while going something wrong, responsible for this,” he said.

Highlighting the country’s Delta Plan 2100 to ensure sustainable development protecting the environment, Arafat said as the government has taken this as its central commitment, there is no reason to allow those who are doing otherwise.

“So, we definitely want to welcome reporting and journalism in favour of protection of the environment,” he added.

Noting that the government not only believes in development but also sustainable development, he said Bangladesh has been at the forefront in terms of achievement of the SDGs because of the government’s genuine interest in and commitment to the protection of the environment.

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