Bangladesh shuts main opposition newspaper

Published February 21, 2023
Journalists of Dainik Dinkal publication hold a rally to protest against the government’s order to halt its production in Dhaka on February 20, 2023. — AFP
Journalists of Dainik Dinkal publication hold a rally to protest against the government’s order to halt its production in Dhaka on February 20, 2023. — AFP

DHAKA: The only newspaper of Bangla­desh’s main opposition party halted printing on Monday after a government suspension order was upheld, stoking fears about media freedom in the South Asian nation.

Campaigners and foreign governments, including the United States, have long expressed worries about efforts by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to silence criticism and what they see as creeping authoritarianism.

The Dainik Dinkal, a broadsheet Bengali-lang­uage newspaper, has been a vital voice of the Bang­ladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) for more than three decades. It employs hundreds of journalists and press workers.

It covers news stories that the mainstream newspapers, most of which are controlled by pro-government businessmen, rarely do.

This includes the frequent arrests of BNP activists and what the party says are thousands of fake cases against its supporters.

The newspaper said the Dhaka district authorities ordered the shutdown on December 26, but it continued to publish after making an appeal at the Press Council headed by a top high court judge.

“The council rejected our appeal yesterday (Sunday), upholding the district magistrate’s order to stop our publication,” Shamsur Rahman Shimul Biswas, managing editor of the newspaper, said.

The order, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, said the printing permit of the newspaper was cancelled after it the newspaper violated the country’s printing and publication laws.

The council said the paper’s publisher, Tarique Rahman — the acting chief of BNP — was a convicted criminal and was living abroad without handing over his job to another person.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2023

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