Closely watched by the outside world


The South Asia Media Commission has condemned the harassment of Tasneem Khalil, an investigative journalist in Bangladesh, and sought an explanation and apology from the authorities…The four men took Khalil, 26, to the Sangsad Bhavan army camp, outside the parliament building in Dhaka. He was released on Friday night after more than a daylong grilling…“We are very much worried about Tasneem Khalil’s safety. He is being harassed too often,” N Ram, the chairman, and Najam Sethi, the secretary general of the commission, said in a statement welcoming Khalil’s release. “The Bangladeshi military should desist from such arbitrary actions which are being closely watched by the outside world,” they said in the statement issued by SAMC coordinator Husain Naqi.

Yes they are – by Human Rights Watch, by Reporters Without Borders, by the Committee to Protect Journalists, by too few (in this case) mainstream media outfits, and – by internet busybodies like us: by Sunny and Sonia and others at Pickled Politics, by Richard at Philosophy Etcetera, by Cam at Sculpin, by John at Obscene Desserts, by Harry’s Place, by Drishtipat, and by many more. This is good. I have no idea if it made any difference or not – for all we know the military always intended to administer a daylong grilling and then let Tasneem go – but as a general principle it seems useful to focus laser-like attention on this kind of activity. Whatever theocracies and military dictatorships may say about their indifference to what the rest of the world thinks, it seems reasonably safe to assume they would prefer to fly under the radar.

I’m a little uncertain about the politics of linking to a Pakistan paper on this subject, given the history between Bangladesh and Pakistan (just as I’m cautious about using Indian media as sources on Pakistan, and vice versa), but it was the only paper I saw that had the report, and the South Asian Media Net looks legitimate and useful. But do take all that into account.

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