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Stockholm: Skyline International strongly condemns the recent acts of violence against journalists during protests in Bangladesh. The organization also expresses deep concern over the accusations leveled against journalists in relation to attacks on the police.

Four journalists – Abdul Majid, Abul Kalam Mohammad (A.K.M.) Iqbal Farooq, A.K.M. Belal Uddin, and A.M. Omar Ali – found themselves facing potential imprisonment of up to 15 years following police allegations of their involvement in a protest that took place on 15 August in the southeastern district of Chakaria. The journalists have also been accused of assaulting the police during the incident.

The protest in question, organized by the opposition Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami, was a response to the news of the death of Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, one of its leaders, while in detention the previous day.

Skyline International expresses grave concern over the allegations and the subsequent charges faced by the journalists. While investigations are still underway to ascertain their presence or involvement in the protest, the imposition of five criminal charges, including one under Section 333 of the criminal code, is deeply troubling. This particular charge pertains to causing severe harm to a public servant in the performance of their duties and carries a potential sentence of up to ten years in prison.

Of equal concern is the potential application of a 1974 special powers law that allows police to make arrests without a warrant, potentially infringing upon the rights of those accused.

Moreover, during a separate protest on the evening of 14 August in Dhaka, four other TV reporters fell victim to brutal attacks by demonstrators linked to Jamaat-e-Islami. Such acts of violence against journalists are not only unacceptable but also pose a significant threat to press freedom and the safety of journalists.

Skyline International calls for a thorough and impartial investigation into the incidents of violence against journalists and demands that their rights and safety be safeguarded. The organization reiterates that journalism is not a crime and underscores the importance of upholding press freedom even in times of unrest.

The organization is particularly concerned about the broader implications of the situation, with thousands of individuals currently facing prosecution across various cities, including Dhaka. These events coincide with the prime minister's office proposing a new cyber security law to parliament, raising concerns about potential limitations on freedom of expression and press freedom.

Skyline International urges the Bangladeshi authorities to uphold the principles of democracy, human rights, and press freedom. The organization stands ready to monitor the situation closely and provide support to journalists and media outlets in Bangladesh.