‘BNP-Jamaat cadres persuaded journalists to telecast visuals of firebombing vehicles years back,’ Somoyer Alo exec editor says

Following BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir lashing out at Somoy TV for “running a story” on conviction of Khaleda Zia and Tarique Rahman, a recent revelation by a senior journalist on how BNP-Jamaat cadres “persuaded journalists to report and telecast videos of firebombing vehicles years back” has gone viral. Scores of people were burnt with many sustaining burn injuries during the firebombing and arson attacks in 2013-14.

Appearing on a talk-show, Bangla daily Somoyer Alo Executive Editor and a correspondent for DW Bangla, Harun Ur Rashid, recalled the grisly spree of arson attacks on vehicles at that time and referred to how “BNP-Jamaat backed arsonists” insisted that journalists telecast the gory images of petrol bombs.

In reference to a debate with management during his tenure as a planning editor at Ekushey TV at the time, Rashid said on the talk show that video footages were “supplied and demands were made” that such graphic visuals be aired.

“…The way we used to run press releases on events arranged by different political parties, they wanted us to carry such images mentioning the name of the party,” the senior journalist said.

“Though I don’t want to call out the parties seeking publicity for such horrendous acts, Jamaat did not shy away from circulating such content publicly. The extent of such gruesome attacks took a turn for the worse and we had to raise the question of breach in ethical journalism… columns were published,” Rashid added.

Days back, amidst several recent media reports quoting Transparency International Bangladesh’s Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman as saying that keeping Khaleda Zia and Tarique Rahman – sentenced by the court – in BNP’s top leadership “contradicts” the party’s 27-point outline for state reform, which includes stance against corruption, and is a sign of “moral decay”, Mirza Fakhrul came down hard on Somoy TV for running a report on the issue.

Featuring the BNP leader’s statement, Somoy TV again relayed the earlier story – defending its position and justification behind the report which also included references to the testimony of a US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent in a money-laundering case against Tarique Rahman.

Hundreds were dead with thousands suffering burn injuries during the deadly spate of petrol bombing in 2013-14. The country incurred losses worth billions of dollars while families of the deceased are still seeking justice against perpetrators.

Prime Minister’s ICT Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy called out the BNP secretary general for criticizing Somoy TV for its report on the convictions of party chairperson Khaleda Zia and her son Tarique Rahman.

In a post on his verified Facebook page yesterday, Sajeeb Wazed wrote: “Mirza Fakhrul, at numerous events, claimed there is no freedom of expression in Bangladesh. Now, is he respecting that freedom? Does the media not have the right to speak the truth that goes against BNP?”

Source: United News of Bangladesh