Dominant Syndicates of Government Party Leaders and Businessmen
Editors of many popular newspapers in Bangladesh are losing their jobs. If not agreed to resign under the pressure of the owner, they are being fired. Many editors are in danger by publishing news against corruption and looting, pro-government top businessmen and bank owners smuggling money abroad and increasing the prices of goods by syndicate.
Many have been defendants in cases involving the Digital Security Act, known as the Black Law. Law enforcement forces are harassing journalists with the connivance of influential government circles. Many editors are being tried to be controlled by hanging these cases for months in the name of investigation. In the face of strong protests from various international human rights organizations including the United Nations, the United States, the government cancelled the Digital Security Act, but the Cyber Security Act 2023 has been enacted on the same model. On the other hand, investigation and trial of all the cases cancelled by the Digital Security Act are going on as usual. Allegedly, it is difficult to get bail even in the High Court in cases under this Act.
Many editors are losing their jobs and becoming unemployed. The dominant circles of the government are forcing the newspaper owners to fire their editors to suppress their corruption and looting. Newspaper owners are also obeying the invisible instructions of the government to keep their various businesses safe. Even after losing their jobs, many are living in fear of threats from hired terrorists of the powerful. And there is fear of going to jail. However, most of the editors are saving their jobs by publishing news according to government guidelines. As a result, many popular newspapers are becoming irrelevant to the readers. Campaign numbers are dropping alarmingly. The activities of the editors are being monitored by various intelligence agencies, including the Directorate of Government Information.
The 12th National Parliament election in Bangladesh will be held on January 7. The Awami League government has been in power for 15 consecutive years through two consecutive controversial elections. This time too, preparations for elections without the big political party BNP are almost complete. BNP has complained that their top leaders have already been arrested and sent to jail. More than 500 leaders have recently been hastily sentenced in various cases to disqualify them from elections. The central office of BNP is locked. Western countries, including the United States, are making great efforts for fair elections. In this situation, the government is controlling the media to keep the whole situation in the dark.
According to several sources in Dhaka, the editor-in-chief of Daily Kalbela, Abed Khan, was fired last November 1. He is accused of having secret contacts with the US embassy and trading important information of the government to embarrass the government. He was initially asked to resign. As he did not agree, Kalbela authorities dismissed him. It is reported that one of his articles titled ‘Coming American Storm’ created a lot of controversy across the country. Officials of the government believe that Abed Khan wrote this article in a planned way to incite the people in the anti-government movement.
Earlier, GolamSarwar, the editor of Bangladesh’s most popular Daily AmaderShomoy, was forced to resign under pressure. He was serving as editor for about 8 years. He was not communicating with the owner recently on various issues. The newspaper lost its mass readership due to the strategic position of the owners in favor of the government. Earlier, Abu Hasan Shahriar was removed from the post of editor for the same reason. The two businessmen closest to the government, Mohammad Noor Ali, MD of Unique Group and Ali Hossain, MD of PHP Group, are jointly own DailyAmaderShomoy.
Daily Manobkantha is another popular newspaper of Bangladesh. The newspaper came into wide discussion with several reports on government corruption, mismanagement, looting, business syndicates, smuggling of thousands of crores of rupees abroad by bank owners and land occupies by land robbers.
Recently, after the graphic report of Bangladesh’s famous land businessman Bashundhara Group’s MD Sayem Sobhan Anveer’s Woman Scandal and rape and killing of College Student and friend, it created a commotion in country and abroad. Bashundhara Group, the biggest financier of the government party, failed to shut down the News after exerting massive pressure on several influential ministers-MPs and law enforcement agencies at the top level of the government. As a result, editor Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury fell into extreme rage. He was threatened to be jailed by law enforcement. The terrorists threatened to kill him if he did not stop the series.
Al-ArafahBank Ltd filed a case under the Digital Security Act against the Daily Manobkantha for a series of news on money laundering abroad. The owner of this bank is SaifulAlam, a top businessman of Government. There are 7 banks in Bangladesh under the ownership of this businessman known as S.Alam at country and abroad. The current president of Bangladesh, Muhammad Sahabuddin Ahmad Chuppu, was an advisor to S. Alam Group. It is said that S Alam does nothing without the Prime Minister’s advice. He was accused of smuggling thousands of crores of rupees abroad but never investigated. Retired army officer Lt.Colonel Mostafizur Rahman filed another case under the Digital Security Act for reporting land occupying. Editor Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury finally lost his job in Daily Manobkantha because of the movement of the opposition party and the murders and disappearances of activists. The top echelons of the government and the controversial business syndicate forced the owner of Manobkantha to drop the editor. Manobkantha owner Nazrul Islam Bhuiyan is a controversial land businessman and owner of ASEAN City. Nazrul Islam Bhuiya forced the editor to resign on January 31 under the pressure of the influential circles of the government and other land businessmen to stabilize his business.
The talented journalist Harun Ur Rashid, Executive Editor of Daily ShomoyerAlo, was forced to resign due to disagreement with the owner’s views on news. The owner of this newspaper is Amin Mohammad Group, the top land development company in Bangladesh. This influential business group has also made the newspaper the mouthpiece of the government. Daily Samakal’s Acting Editor MustafizShafi has to leave for the same reason.
Bangladesh Post editor Sharif Sahab Uddin lost his job recently. The newspaper is owned by Shikder Group, the country’s top businessman. The very influential Shikder family of Bangladesh is known to be very close to the current government. The editor had to lose his job due to disagreements with the owners in the management of the newspaper.
Also, many reporters of many newspapers have lost their jobs by reporting on the corruption of various government projects. There are also allegations of interference by various intelligence agencies of the government in many cases. As the government’s approval is mandatory for the appointment of editors, the editors who lost their jobs are not getting jobs anywhere else.
The editor and senior journalist of a newspaper which has been widely publicized about the loss of jobs of editors one after another said on the condition of anonymity that democracy is in exile in the country. Bangladesh Awami League, the oldest political party that led the liberation war, has been in power for 15 consecutive years. To come to power for the fourth time, the government is going to hold elections with almost all the opposition leaders in jail. Many journalists have been jailed as defendants in Digital Security Act cases for criticizing the government. Journalists are being warned to stop criticizing the government. Due to the strict attitude of the government, harassment, torture, lawsuits and prisons, journalists are not able to publish the correct information. Due to the government’s zero tolerance against journalists, no one is able to open their mouths due to fear. As a result, the media is playing the role of the mouthpiece of the government even after the final preparations for the one-sided election have been completed. Fearing job loss, many senior editors are also working for the government in helpless surrender.