Civil society members and journalists today formed human chains in Mymensingh and Jessore protesting countrywide filing of cases against The Daily Star Editor and Publisher Mahfuz Anam. Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (Sust) Press Club also held a meeting protesting the barrage of cases filed against the Star editor.
In Mymensingh, the human chain, under the banner of “Mymensingher Sangbadik O Sudhi Samaj” lasted for an hour in front of the Press Club. The participants also held a rally at the same venue. Decrying the filing of barrage of cases against Mahfuz Anam by a section of the ruling party men, the speakers at the rally said the intention of the section is to harass The Daily Star editor and undermine the reputation of the country’s leading English newspaper.
They also demanded withdrawal of all the cases filed against Anam. In Jessore, local press club secretary Tauhidur Rahman, during a human chain on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Road, said pen of journalists cannot be stopped by filing such harassing cases.
The event, organised under the banner of Sochethan Nagorik Samaj (conscious civil society), was also addressed by Abul Hossain, president of Communist Party of Bangladesh’s Jessore unit, Mahmud Hasan, secretary of district Shilpakala Academy, and Mahbubur Rahman, secretary of district Trade Union Kendra, with RM Khairul Umam, former president of Institution of Diploma Engineers, Bangladesh, in the chair.
In the meeting of Sust Press Club with its president Jabed Iqbal in the chair, speakers expressed hope that all the cases against The Daily Star editor would be withdrawn as filing of such cases go against freedom of the press. Earlier on Friday, journalists formed a human chain at Pubali Chattar in Kandipara area of Comilla city, protesting the case filing spree.
So far 75 lawsuits have been filed against Mahfuz Anam in 50 districts since February 9. Of the cases, 17 involve pleas for bringing sedition charges against him, while the rest are defamation suits. The case spree began days after the Star editor’s comment on a TV programme about publishing some reports without independent corroboration.
At a talk show on February 3, Mahfuz Anam made an introspective remark about a lapse in his editorial judgment in running a few reports, based on information given by the Task Force Interrogation cell during the 2007-08 caretaker government’s tenure, without being able to verify those independently, agencies report.