UNESCO chief condemns murder of Bangladeshi journalist

30 June 2004

Declaring journalism a vital element for democracy, the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today condemned the murder of a Bangladeshi editor who had denounced far-left movements for turning into criminal gangs.

UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura called on the authorities to punish those guilty for the death of Humayun Kabir Balu, editor of the regional daily Dainik Janmabhumi, who was killed on 24 June in Khulna, in south-west Bangladesh, when three bombs were thrown at him as he got out of his car in front of the paper’s offices. It was the second murder of a journalist in Khulna in six months.

“Democracy needs freedom of expression but freedom of expression is nothing if there is no rule of law,” Mr. Matsuura said. “When journalists are attacked with impunity by armed gangs and criminals of all kinds, they can no longer exercise their profession which is so essential for democracy.”

In January, Manik Shaha, a veteran journalist and press freedom activist known for his bold reporting on criminal gangs, drug traffickers and Maoist insurgents, was killed in Khulna when assailants stopped his car and threw a bomb at him.

According to the organization Reporters Without Borders, at least 14 journalists have been killed over the past 10 years in south and south-western Bangladesh.

 

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