The South Asia Peace Action Network, a coalition of over a dozen regional organisations, expresses concern at the detention of journalist Rozina Islam, senior reporter of the Prothom Alo, picked up from the office of the Health Ministry on Monday afternoon, May 17.
SAPAN urges Ms Islam’s immediate release and calls for an inquiry into her confinement and harassment at the Bangladesh Secretariat in Dhaka for over five hours.
The Network calls on the Bangladesh government to review the colonial era Official Secrets Act 1923, various sections of which a Health Secretariat official has alleged Ms Islam violated.
SAPAN holds that it is a shame that the Official Secrets Act 1923 remains on the statute books of several independent South Asian nations despite being clearly in violation of the rights to freedom of expression and fair trial guaranteed in their constitutions and in international human rights law.
Videos taken at the time show Ms Islam lying on the ground after having apparently fainted. The visibly ill reporter was then almost carried by policewomen – and taken not to a hospital but a police van, then kept at the Shahbagh Police Station overnight.
SAPAN also urges the governments of Pakistan and India to release currently jailed journalists like Tanveer Ahmed and Kishorechandra Wangkem.