Protest to continue until Rozina Islam’s release

Dhaka Reporters’ Unity (DRU) organised a protest rally on Friday demanding release of Prothom Alo’s senior reporter Rozina Islam and withdrawal of the case filed against her.
Prothom Alo

The leaders of the journalist organisations have vowed to continue their protest until the release of Prothom Alo’s senior reporter Rozina Islam. Citing the case filed against Rozina Islam as false and conspiratorial, they said if Rozina Islam is not released, the existence of free press will be threated. They also told journalists to remain alert so that no divisions can be created among them by confusing social media posts and the leaking of personal information and phone conversations.

The journalist leaders made these remarks at a protest rally organised by Dhaka Reporters’ Unity (DRU) on Friday.

Journalist leaders at the rally said everyone wants to know what actions have been taken against the health ministry’s corrupt officials against whom Rozina Islam had reported. It’s not acceptable that investigative journalism will cease because of hooliganism of corrupt persons.

They sought intervention by the president and the prime minister to grant bail to Rozina Islam and withdraw the case filed against her. They also rejected the investigation committee formed by the health ministry over the incident involving Rozina Islam.

On 17 May, officials and employees of the health ministry assaulted and harassed Rozina Islam at the ministry while carrying out her profession duties. Later at night, she was handed over to the Shahbagh police station and shown arrested in a case filed under the Official Secrets Act. The next day, a Dhaka court ordered to send Rozila Islam to jail rejecting her bail petition. Rozila Islam is now in Kashimpur Women's Central Jail in Gazipur.

Vice president of DRU Osman Goni Babul presided over the rally and member of DRU’s executive committee MM Jasim moderated the programme.

Prothom Alo’s senior reporter Rozina Islam inside a prison van on 18 May 2021
Sazid Hossain

DRU to probe separately

General secretary of DRU Moshiur Rahman said scattered and misleading information against Rozina Islam are being spread under various banners. The leaked phone conversation has no significant information either. Even if Rozina is granted bail on Sunday, DRU will continue to protest for the withdrawal of the case. DRU will form a separate inquiry committee to reveal the real mystery. If the family doesn’t file any case against the officials who tortured Rozina, DRU will.

Urging the journalists’ associations to stay united, Moshiur Rahman said if the journalists’ bodies get divided over Rozina Islam, the DRU will continue its movement separately. “The bureaucrats have taken a stance against the journalists using the state mechanism. Why have the senior and the junior ministers sided with them? Do they have no responsibility to the journalists at all? We will not return home until Rozina Islam is released,” he added.

No secret data in seized documents

Vice president Osman Goni said the journalists would not accept journalists to be harassed or dubbed as ‘thieves’. Police didn’t seize any documents from the accused but found it from the plaintiff, an additional secretary. And the seized documents were found to contain no state secrets.

Dhaka Reporters’ Unity (DRU) organised a protest rally on Friday demanding release of Prothom Alo’s senior reporter Rozina Islam and withdrawal of the case filed against her.
Prothom Alo

All are doubtful over ministers’ remarks

Treasurer of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) Dip Azad said the probe body of the health ministry has been formed by including those who are involved in the incident in a bid to make a mockery of the journalists. All are doubtful over the remarks of the important ministers. He raised question on why Rozina Islam will have to be behind bars for such long even though the charges are bailable.

Former general secretary of Bangladesh Secretariat Reporters Forum (BSRF) Siddikur Rahman said the journalists wanted to talk to the health ministry officials several times but they declined. The officials are giving wrong information to the government high level.

Rozina detained in an orchestrated incident

Photo journalist Shafiqul Islam Kajol, who is now on bail in a case under Digital Security Act, said Rozina Islam has been detained in a planned and orchestrated incident. Journalists will have to fight together against it. This is now a question of existence for the journalists.

General secretary of Dhaka Union of Journalists Shahidul Islam, organising secretary of DRU Mainul Hasan Sohel, general secretary of DRU Multipurpose Cooperative Society Omar Farooq, Helemul Alam Biplob, Jamiul Ahsan Shipu, Shahnaz Sharmin, Riyadul Karim, Ahmed Fayez, Ashish Kumar Dey, Shipon Habib, Rabbi Siddiqui, Maniklal Ghosh, Saiful Islam Jewel, SM Fayez, Rafiq Rafi and Matlu Mallick, among others, spoke.