Press Statement/ August 6, 2023
BJIM protests unjust suspension of student journalist in university
The Bangladeshi Journalists in International Media (BJIM) strongly protests the decision by the state-run Cumilla University to suspend Mohammad Iqbal Monwar, a young journalist, from the school following his reports on the remark of its chief administrator earlier this week.
Monwar who is a student of English at the university also works as a campus reporter for the Dhaka-based Jaijaidin national daily. Early this week the university authorities suspended Monwar for publishing a news report, which, it said, distorted the speech of the school's Vice Chancellor, A.F.M.Abdul Moyeen.
Moyeen told the BBC Bangla that his speech was published in parts and the headline of the story was "completely wrong".
Monwar defended his report, saying he did not misquote the vice-chancellor. He said he has the audio clip of the speech.
The Registrar of the university told the BJIM that the authorities had ordered a probe into the incident. Unfortunately, no student representative has been included in the probe committee.
The suspension of Monwar without completing a fair and transparent probe is a clear violation of his academic rights. The move has sent a chilling message to Bangladesh's hundreds of campus reporters that they too can face similar treatment if they dared to hold the university administrators to account.
Campus journalism is a vital part of the media landscape. Young journalists hone their skills by reporting every aspect of their school including its curricula, activities, academic excellence and abuse of power. By muzzling one important voice on campus, the university authorities are actually sending a warning notice to those who want to pursue journalism as a profession.
There are established ways to protest published news. Instead of sending a rejoinder to the Jaijaidin, the university authorities have unjustly flexed their administrative power by suspending the journalist.
BJIM expresses concern over the suspension, which is unacceptable and a threat to the country's freedom of the press. We demand immediate withdrawal of the suspension order.