Bangladesh authorities must immediately and impartially investigate the recent attack on journalist Md Nahid Hasan while reporting on a clash allegedly involving the student wing of the ruling Awami League and hold the perpetrators accountable, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.
On Monday evening, about 20 to 25 men attacked Hasan, a reporter for the news website Jagonews24.com, in the capital Dhaka, according to the local press freedom group Bangladeshi Journalists in International Media, news reports, and the journalist, who spoke with CPJ.
“The beating of Bangladeshi journalist Md Nahid Hasan appears to be the latest attack on the press by supporters of the ruling Awami League,” said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Beh Lih Yi. “Bangladesh authorities must swiftly and transparently investigate this incident and take immediate action to end reprisals against the media by ruling party affiliates. Violence against journalists must end.”
Hasan told CPJ that at around 10:30 p.m., he received information about a clash allegedly involving the Chhatra League, the student wing of the Awami League. The journalist called Md Rakibul Islam, a local leader of the Chhatra League, to ask about the reported attack and told him of his location in the Dhanmondi area to meet for an interview.
Around five minutes later, Tamzeed Rahman, a local leader of the Jubo League, the Awami League’s youth wing, arrived at the reporter’s location with about 20 to 25 men, and asked Hasan if he was a journalist. When Hasan confirmed this, the men grabbed him by the collar and slapped and beat him with their hands and fists until he fell to the ground, where they continued to kick and stomp on him, the journalist said.
Hasan said he attempted to show his attackers his press identification card, to which they responded, “You are a fake journalist.” The men also took his phone to check if he had filmed the clash and deleted some of his videos, including one of an arson attack on a bus, Hasan told CPJ. After about 20 minutes, the men returned his phone and left, he said.
Hasan said that bystanders told him that the Chhatra League’s Islam and the Jubo League’s Rahman attacked him.
Islam and Rahman told CPJ that they did not beat Hasan but rescued him from an attack. Hasan rejected that characterization of the attack and said that the police should be able to determine who was involved by analyzing security footage from the scene.
On Wednesday, the Chhatra League issued a statement, reviewed by CPJ, that dismissed Islam from his post for unspecified reasons.
Hasan said he sustained significant bruising all over his body and received painkillers at a local hospital. He said that he had filed a complaint at the Dhanmondi Police Station, but authorities had not opened a formal investigation as of November 22.
Habibur Rahman, Dhaka Metropolitan police commissioner, and Parvez Islam, officer-in-charge of Dhanmondi Police Station, did not respond to CPJ’s messages requesting comment.
The Chhatra League has been suspected in a number of assaults against journalists in recent months. Its members allegedly beat student journalists Abdul Alim and Abu Sayed Rony on western Bangladesh’s Rajshahi College campus on November 9, as well as student journalist Mosharrof Shah on the University of Chittagong campus on September 24.