The party’s reaction comes after the president assents to the bill, making it a law
Hours after the disclosure that President Md Abdul Hamid signed the Digital Security Bill 2018, BNP has announced that it will not accept a “black law” like this one.
"We do not accept the law (Digital Security Act). In fact, we do not accept any law of this government as those were passed in a parliament that is not legitimate," said BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir at a views-exchange meeting on Monday, reports UNB.
He further said: "This parliament does not represent people as it is an illegal parliament."
BNP had organized the meeting on the new law at a Dhaka hotel, which was attended by journalists from different media outlets and some representatives from some embassies, including the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Canada, China, Russia, Afghanistan, Palestine, Turkey and Vietnam.
Shawkat Mahmud, former president of the National Press Club, presented the keynote paper at the meeting.
Fakhrul called the incumbent Awami League-led government “hypocrite,” saying it had assured the Editors’ Council of taking steps to amend some “controversial” sections of the Digital Security Bill, but it was made law without any amendment.
He also alleged that the government had enacted the “black law” as its safeguard so that the media could not publish any reports on the corruption in it.
Calling for BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's release from jail, Fakhrul said: "There's no alternative to freeing Khaleda Zia to overcome the current crisis."
He urged the government to engage in discussions with all concerned to hold a fair and acceptable election.
The government will not be able to hang on to power for long by holding the people hostage at gunpoint, Fakhrul added.
He also called for BNP leaders and activists not to be frustrated and to prepare to carry on their struggle. "There's no reason to get frustrated. I see the light of hope. We will continue our struggle until all our demands are met, and our chairperson is freed."
The BNP leader claimed that all political parties, individuals and organizations were now talking of holding the election under a neutral administration after dissolving parliament.
Fakhrul alleged that over 4,500 fictitious cases had been filed over the last month, and 2.5 million people had been accused in 90,000 cases over the last ten years.
Also addressing the meeting, BNP Standing Committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain claimed the Digital Security Bill had been framed from a Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League (Baksal) concept to establish a one-party rule. "What could be blacker than this law? I don't think there is such a law in a monarchy, let alone a democracy."
The current "fascist" regime had formulated the law to gag the media, politicians, and common people who use the social media, with the aim of ensuring it stayed in power, he added.
Earlier in the day, President Hamid assented to the Digital Security Bill that was passed on September 19 during the 22nd session of the current parliament, making it a law.
The bill was passed to deal with cybercrimes, including hurting religious sentiments, negative propaganda against the 1971 Liberation War and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and illegal activities in e-transactions and spreading defamatory data.
The law has faced vocal opposition from the Editors' Council, journalists and rights’ campaigners who say it could quash the freedom of speech – especially on social media – and would undermine responsible journalism.
But Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has defended it, saying that journalists should not be apprehensive about the law if they do not run false or fabricated news, or mislead the people.