Director-General condemns assassination of Bangladeshi journalist Shahid AnwarUNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura today condemned the murder, on October 24, of Bangladeshi journalist Shahid Anwar, assistant editor of the Daily Asian Express, and voiced concern about the increasing frequency of such killings in the country.
“I condemn the assassination of Shahid Anwar,” Mr Matsuura said. “Attacks on media professionals assault democracy which depends on citizens’ ability to make informed choices. Journalists play an indispensable role in informing society and feeding open debate, attacks against them and their independence therefore undermine society at large.”
Mr Anwar is reported to have been shot by unidentified attackers who stormed his office in Dhaka. According the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), he is the second journalist killed in Bangladesh in two months and the fifth this year.
“I am deeply concerned by the rise in the number of assassinations targeting journalists in Bangladesh,” the Director-General said. “These crimes mark a deterioration in the media’s capacity to exercise their professional commitment to collect and disseminate facts and opinions, and must not go unpunished.”
UNESCO is the only United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this purpose the Organization is required to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”