UNESCO Director-General Condemns Murder Of Bangladeshi Journalist Sheikh Belaluddin AhmedUNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura has condemned the murder of Bangladeshi journalist Sheikh Belaluddin Ahmed, correspondent of The Daily Sangram newspaper, who died on February 11 six days after being targeted by a bomb attack in front of the Khulna Press Club in southwestern Bangladesh.
“I condemn the murder of Sheikh Belaluddin Ahmed and hope that the authorities’ investigation will result in bringing the cowards who carried out this latest attack on a Khulna journalist to justice. As long as such crimes go unpunished, it will be impossible to reestablish a climate conducive to liberty of expression,” declared the Director-General.
Mr Matsuura recalled that during the 1997 General Conference UNESCO’s Member States adopted a resolution demanding an end to impunity for crimes against journalists. “The media play a crucial role in the working of democracy, and it is of the utmost importance that crimes against journalists not go unpunished,” added Mr. Matsuura.
Sheikh Belaluddin Ahmed, 48, correspondent of The Daily Sangram, died February 11 in a Dacca hospital, six days after being the victim of an exploding bomb; it had been placed on his scooter in front of the Khulna Press Club. Three other journalists were also injured in the attack.
This is not the first such attack in Khulna, which is known by local journalists as the “Valley of Death”. In January 2005, Dip Azad, a journalist, from the daily newspaper Jugantor, was targeted by a bomb that failed to explode. In January and June 2004, Manik Saha, stringer for the BBC and correspondent of the daily New Age, then Humayun Kabir, managing editor of the daily Janmabhumi, were also killed in bombings in Khulna.
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…”