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Threats and abuses haunt Bangladeshi journalists

Repressive laws, a culture of impunity and a lack of unity among the press are impeding freedom of expression

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Threats and abuses haunt Bangladeshi journalists

Monorom Palak, son of journalist Shafiqul Islam Kajol who recently disappeared, speaks to media representatives at the National Press Club in Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on March 13. (Photo: AFP)

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On the night of March 13, a group 40-50 men raided the residence of Ariful Islam in Kurigram in northern Bangladesh. Seven to eight people smashed the door and entered as Ariful, his wife and two children slept.

Once Ariful was spotted, the men started beating him as the rest of the group guarded the house so that no one could come and obstruct their mission.

As Ariful asked why they were doing this, the beatings intensified and their leader angrily replied: “You have been irritating us for too long. Now take the lesson!”

Ariful was then dragged outside despite his wife’s pleas to release him. One of the attackers even said: “Say your final prayers, we will put you in an encounter soon” — a reference to Bangladesh police’s infamous shootouts in which hundreds have become victims of extrajudicial killings in recent years.

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