Gonosasthya Kendra founder Zafrullah Chowdhury on Sunday urged the government to allow journalists to speak the truth and provide them with incentives so that they are further strengthened to do so.
The veteran physician made the demand while addressing a demonstration organised by Asian Journalist Society in front of the National Press Club in the capital protesting against the oppression and arrest of journalists by the government and sacking of journalists by their employers.
He demanded their regular salaries and allowances while speaking against the above injustices.
Asian Journalist Society organised the demo in the backdrop of the recent arrest of eight journalists under the Digital Security Act, job cut of a number of journalists in different media outlets while in some media houses salaries of journalists remained due.
Zafrullah said that the country’s founding president and prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman used to allow criticism and preferred that his mistakes were pointed out.
The physician-freedom fighter said that the prime minister was now surrounded by members of the intelligence agencies and bureaucrats who had not been feeding her facts.
‘In this situation, there is a class who forage for facts. They are journalists. They publish what the country’s people think,’ he said.
‘Please allow journalists to speak out, allow them to excavate the truth and publish the truth,’ he said.
He wondered how the prime minister committed the mistake by letting the law enforcers arrest journalists under the ‘draconian’ Digital Security Act.
He said that newspapers and journalists work as a media for identifying and informing the mistakes committed by the authorities and demanded scrapping of the Digital Security Act.
Zafrullah expressed his dissatisfaction over the fact that though Bangladesh Nationalist Party secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Saturday had denounced the arrests of journalists under the act, he did not mention whether they would scrap the ‘black law’ if they were voted to power.
He urged the government to provide journalists with an incentive of Tk 15,000 to Tk 20,000 per head per month for next six months so that they could gather strength for speaking the truth.
Presided over by the organisation secretary general Zakir Hossain, the demo was also addressed by senior journalists Shawkat Mahmud, M Abdullah and Ilias Khan among others.
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