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Bangladesh forces main opposition newspaper to shut down

February 20, 2023

A judge has upheld the order from the Bangladeshi government on Dainik Dinkal daily. The South Asian country is ranked behind Afghanistan on press freedom.

Workers at Dainik Dinkal protest in Dhaka
Workers at Dainik Dinkal protest in DhakaImage: Munir Uz Zaman/AFP

Bangladesh's main opposition newspaper was forced to stop publication on Monday after a judge upheld a government order to shut it down. The move comes as journalists in the South Asian country face ever-growing pressure.

"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 Dainik Dinkal newspaper told French news agency AFP.

The order accused the Bengali-language broadsheet of violating printing and publication laws.

The Dainik Dinkal has long been an important voice for the center-right BNP party. It covers stories that most mainstream newspapers, many of which are controlled by pro-government businessmen, often ignore. This includes what the BNP says are false arrests of its members and intimidation tactics from the government.

It also employs hundreds of journalists and other workers, most of whom were out in the streets of the capital Dhaka on Monday to protest the government and its shutdown order.

Bangladesh ranks behind Afghanistan on press freedom

Observers and foreign powers like the United States have warned that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was in the midst of a media crackdown, a sign of increasingly authoritarian rule in Bangladesh.

In January, the government demanded some 191 news websites cease publication due to them publishing "anti-state news."

Since 2018, the country's draconian Digital Security Act has increasingly put the livelihoods of opposition journalists at risk. The 2022 World Press Freedom Index put together by Reporters Without Borders ranked Bangladesh 162nd in the world, making it worse than Russia (155) and Afghanistan (156).

es/dj (AFP, EFE)