Director-General Condemns Murder of Journalist Manik Shaha in Bangladesh
UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura today condemned the brutal murder of journalist Manik Shaha in Khulna, south western Bangladesh, and welcomed a pledge by the country's prime minister to find and punish his killers.
Mr Shaha, a veteran journalist and press freedom activist, is reported to have been killed on January 15 when assailants stopped his vehicle and threw a bomb at him. A correspondent of the daily New Age newspaper and contributor to the BBC's Bengali-language service, Mr Shaha was known for his bold reporting on the Khulna region's criminal gangs, drug traffickers, and Maoist insurgents. He is reported to have told colleagues that he had received several death threats that he suspected may have come from criminal gangs.
Mr Matsuura declared: "I condemn the assassination of Mr Shaha, a tragic illustration of the need to secure the rule of law in the interest of democracy. Mr Shaha is, unfortunately, not the first journalist killed in this part of Bangladesh where, according to professional organizations, at least two other journalists have been murdered over the past four years."
"I welcome the pledge of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia to find and punish the killers of Mr Shaha and I am confident that the country's authorities will do all they can to improve the safety of journalists, whose work provides an essential contribution to democracy," Mr Matsuura said, adding: "This pledge echoes the international community's resolve to prosecute and punish crimes against journalists, in keeping with the resolution adopted by UNESCO's Member States at the Organization's General Conference in 1997."
(Source: UNESCO Press Release No.2004-03)