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Newspaper Black Day observed: Plea for unity for democracy

News media 2024-06-15, 5:38pm


Mirza Hamidul Islam A langue, secretary general, BNP, addressing a Black Day rally organised by DUJ and BFUJ at National Press Club on Saturday. Photo collected.

BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Saturday called upon journalists to get united giving up petty differences for a unted movement for democracy, press freedom and fundamental rights. The political opposition was united for this, he said.

Addressing a discussion meeting on Black Day marking the closure of all but four newspapers of Bangladesh on 16 January 1975 he said that unity was needed disregarding the many restrictions journalists are facing.

BFUJ secretary general Kader Gani Chowdhury presented a concept paper at the discussion meeting presided over by BFUJ president Ruhul Amin Gazi.

The function was also addressed by Naya Diganta editor Alamgir Mohiuddin, GreenWatch Dhaka editor, Mostafa Kamal Majumder, former BFUJ secretary general, M.A. Aziz, former DUJ president, Abdul Hye Sikder, former DUJ general secretary, Baker Hossain, former general secretaries of National Press Club, Syed Abdal Ahmed and Elyas Khan and senior journalist Kaikobad Milon.

Mirza Fakhrul said that hundreds of journalists became unemployed overnight due to the closure of newspapers under the one-party system. The people who did fight the war of liberation for democracy and economic freedom were stunned.

Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said now everyday is a black day not only for newspapers but for the whole country. We fought the war of liberation but our dream was dashed immediately after the war. 

BAKSAL was created on 25 January 1975 banning all political parties. Patriotic political leaders who worked for social transformation were suppressed. 

Under so-called democracy now, newspapers have been put under greater restrictions. The rulers are consciously working to turn the country into a dependent nation. Withiout free press democracy is impossible, he said. 

Benazir and Aziz Ahmed have created examples of corruption that can't even be imagined. Telling lies and spreading corruption the rulers think they can fool the nation, he said.

This situation would not change if we can't restore democracy which is noisy and time consuming, but the most dependable system of governance. The world has now swang towards authoritarianism making the fight for democracy dificult, Fakhrul said.

Unity is needed. In the pol arena we have established unity of the, right, the centre and the left. Can you journalists also get united to restore democracy, create awareness bring the people down to streets for change, he asked.

The ruling party is distorting education under a design, they will continue to do this. We have to work under the given restrictions,  the digital security act.

Saint Martin's Island residents are now in great truoble due to firing from Myanmar and people from the mainland cannot go there. He blamed the govt for.its.weak foreign policy and said thousands of islanders face starvation. 

Alamgir Mohiuddin said journalists have lost their honour in society because they have become disunited and cannot speaks on sufferings of the people.

Ruhul Amin Gazi said the BFUJ in its 1978 session at press club decided to observe black day with no dissent. But today a section of joiurnos want deviate from this.

The situation is now more severe. Opposition newspapers have been closed down. No atmosphere to honestly speak the truth. Freedom of press, human rights and democracy are trumpeted. 

Mostafa Kamal Majumder said that the closure of newspapers followed the introduction of one-party system in 1975. At present the closure of most opposition newspapers reflected a similar situation as thousands of journalists have been thrown into unemployment. The first BNP government had opened new newspapers and employed unemployed journalists, introduced the Press Institute and constituted the Press Council to secure press freedom. Fake news has now taken the place of healthy journalism. He made a plea to restore the Press Trust and resume publication of newspapers under the same.