Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu, MP, said today that the recent observations of international non-government organisations (INGOs) like Amnesty International(AI), International Federation of Journalists(IFJ) and Human Rights Watch(HRW) regarding Bangladesh was lop-sided, misleading, half-truths.
To prove his point the minister said none of these organisations had issued any statement during the genocide in 1971. Nor had they raised any voice when military rulers trampled the country. He also cited a number of other grave incidents including the murder of Bangabandhu and his family, the 21st August grenade attack on Sheikh Hasina in 2004 and the mass killings of soldiers between 1975 to 1982, as other examples where such INGOs were silent.
He also reminded the media persons that these INGOs were also silent when the press was muzzled most recently during the tenure of the military-backed caretaker government in 2007-08. The minister was talking to newspersons at a press conference at the Press Information Department (PID) conference room here today.
Inu, once again, categorically said that the media was free and thriving under the Grand Alliance government. There are almost 3,000 newspapers being published in the country, television channels and radios were also on the rise and most of them were critical of the government. “If this is not freedom of expression”, he said, “What is freedom?” he asked.
Referring to charges that advertisements were being denied to newspapers, he said the government was not in a position to do so and had not done so. Nevertheless, he said, the government would investigate into the matter. Delving on the topic of the Prime Minister’s comments about Mahfuz Anam’s statement that he had mistakenly printed reports during the military-backed government’s tenure, he said “It is just an observation.”
“It is well within her rights to express her feelings but that was not out of any vengeance nor would the PM’s remarks lead to any administrative action,” he assured everybody. “The media criticizes the government all the time, why can’t the government criticize the media,” he asked rhetorically.
Regarding the temporary closure of Facebook, he said that it had saved the country from a potential law and order situation but that closures were not a part of government policy. He also referred to a similar response in France where the parliament had authorized the government to take similar steps after the terror attacks in Paris, BSS reports.