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The statement further said thorough this condemnable incident against Rozina Islam, press freedom, human rights and dignity of citizens have been insulted. While practicing press freedom and publishing reports on various corruption and irregularities, Rozina Islam drew ire of some people. It was these people who harassed Rozina Islam to strangle the voice of honest journalism in Bangladesh and who filed a concocted case against her.

The eminent citizens said, “In the light of reports published in media on corruption in health ministry, we also think publishing the government documents is rather necessary to ensure the rights of people and there could be no law or legal explanation against this in a democratic state. Especially at this time of pandemic, every citizen has the right to know all this information and there is no scope to create any hindrance to that right in the name of colonial-era law and a fabricated allegation.”

The statement also said, “We are reminding the government about its constitutional responsibilities to keep press freedom and freedom of expression unhindered and demanding annulment of Official Secrets Act, Digital Security Act and all other laws and provisions that create hindrances for journalism.”

The joint statement also said that amid this pandemic the reports of Rozina Islam played an important role in ensuring good governance and accountability in the health sector.

The eminent citizens condemned the harassment and arrest of Rozina Islam and demanded withdrawal of the case filed with an ulterior motive, her release and proper treatment.

At the same time, they demanded objective investigation and arrest and trial of the persons, including the officials, accused of harassing Rozina Islam keeping her confined at the health ministry, identifying them from the photos and reports published in social media.

The 57 eminent citizens are: educationist Serajul Islam Choudhury, advisors to a former caretaker government Sultana Kamal, Rasheda K Chowdhury, Hafiz Uddin Khan and Hossain Zillur Rahman, economist Debapriya Bhattacharya, rights activist Hamida Hossain, former cabinet secretary Ali Imam Majumder, Nijera Kori coordinator Khushi Kabir, Shujan secretary Badiul Alam Majumder, TIB executive director Iftekharuzzaman, Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Zafrullah Chowdhury, Supreme Court lawyers Shahdeen Malik and Sara Hossain, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) chief Syeda Rizwana Hasan, professor Ali Riaz, professor Swapan Adnan, photographer Shahidul Alam, ALRD executive director Shamsul Huda, Dhaka University professors CR Abrar, Asif Nazrul, Tanzim Uddin Khan, Robaet Ferdous, Samina Lutfa, Shahnaz Huda and Sumaiya Khair, Jahangirnagar University professors Anu Mohammad, Mirza Taslima Sultana, Sayeed Ferdous, Nasrin Khondoker and Sayem Khatun, Chittagong University professor Maidul Islam and Sadaf Nur, researcher Nova Ahmed and Rozina Begum, journalist Saidia Gulrukh, Shadhona’s artistic director Lubna Marium, Bangladesh Institute of Child Health’s Naila Z Khan, lawyer Tabarak Hossain, rights activist Sharmin Murshid, Hana Shams Ahmed, Sanjib Drong, Pallab Chakma, Faustina Pereira, Arup Rahi, Bina D Costa, Rezaur Rahman Lenin, Shirin P Haque, Nur Khan-Liton, Rehnuma Ahmed, Subrata Chowdhury, Salma Ali, professor Parvin Hasan, professor Ferdous Azim, professor Akmal Hossain, Kabir Kishore and lawyer Jyotirmoy Barua.

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