Bangladeshi authorities must investigate the recent beating of student journalists Abdul Alim and Abu Sayed Rony and hold the perpetrators accountable, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.
At around 2:30 p.m. on November 9, around 20 men, allegedly members of the ruling Awami League party’s student wing Chhatra League, beat Alim, a reporter for the online news portal Rajshahi Post, and Rony, a correspondent for the online newspaper Bangladesh Journal, on the Rajshahi College campus in western Bangladesh, according to privately owned news website New Age, the local press freedom group Bangladeshi Journalists in International Media, and Alim, who spoke with CPJ.
“Bangladeshi authorities and the Rajshahi College administration must immediately hold accountable those who attacked student journalists Abdul Alim and Abu Sayed Rony while reporting on the university campus,” said Beh Lih Yi, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, from Washington, D.C. “The government must take action against the deeply disturbing trend of the Chhatra League’s violence against student journalists on their campuses.”
The journalists were filming an argument between the university vice-principal along with professors and the men, who were led by undergraduate mathematics student Masud Rana, a Chhatra League member who was not permitted to take an examination after repeatedly missing class, according to those sources.
The men recognized Rony, an undergraduate mathematics student, as a journalist, but not Alim, an undergraduate history student, Alim told CPJ.
The men then beat and slapped the journalists, grabbed their collars, and repeatedly pushed them into a wall before they fell unconscious and woke up in the teachers’ lounge. The journalists were taken to the hospital, where Alim was treated for a blood clot in his back and significant bruising throughout his body, and Rony for a severe head inquiry, Alim said.
Following the attack, the journalists learned the perpetrators took their phones, which were returned to them broken, Alim said. Rony did not immediately respond to CPJ’s messages.
The Chhatra League leadership on campus subsequently suspended eight members for their alleged involvement in the attack. University officials have also appointed a committee to investigate the incident, Alim said.
Rony filed a complaint about the attack at the Boalia Police Station, but it was unclear whether a formal investigation had been opened, Alim said, adding that no suspects had been apprehended by the university or police as of November 13.
Rana and the officer-in-charge of the Boalia Police Station did not immediately respond to CPJ’s messages.
On September 24, around 15 to 20 alleged members of the Chhatra League beat student journalist Mosharrof Shah on the University of Chittagong campus.