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COVID-19: Bangladeshi journalists harassed and attacked.-19

Attacked and harassed — How Bangladeshi journalists are paying the price for COVID-19 reporting

Rights groups say that PM Sheikh Hasina’s government is trying to conceal information about COVID-19. Experts say the public health crisis in Bangladesh is far worse than what the authorities are projecting.

Sajal Bhuiyan, a journalist based in Narsingdi district, was working on a report about the rice crisis in Bangladesh amid the coronavirus pandemic. He told DW that he visited Nasir Uddin Khan, a sub-district administrator, to ask him questions about the alleged misappropriation of rice that was earmarked for people affected by the virus. His previous report on the issue, which was aired on a private TV channel, had already angered local politicians.

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Bhuiyan said that when he entered Khan’s office on April 23, the official and his supporters started beating him. “They roughed me up until I fell unconscious,” said the journalist, who is currently being treated in a hospital in Dhaka. Bhuiyan accused the official of trying to stop people from taking him to hospital.

Doctors said he suffered injuries to his head and eyes, and was transferred to the Dhaka Medical College. “One of my eyes has lost sight due to the injury. Other injuries require a long treatment,” the journalist told DW.

Bhuiyan has not received any financial support for his treatment from his news channel. No local journalist association has expressed support for him, he said. He has filed a case against his attackers, but the police haven’t arrested anyone so far.

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