Pro-opposition daily shuts down in Bangladesh after govt order

Dhaka, Feb 20 (EFE).- Bangladeshi newspaper Dainik Dinkal, edited by a self-exiled leader of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, Tarique Rahman, on Monday ceased publication after the government suspended its license due to pending sentences against Rahman, who has been living in London since 2008.

“No issue of the newspaper was published today. We will now seek other legal options to see if publication can be resumed,” the daily’s acting editor Rezwan Siddiqui told EFE.

On Sunday, the press council of Bangladesh had rejected an appeal by the media outlet against the government decision to cancel its license, insisting that Dainik Dinkal’s lawyers had failed to present sufficient arguments.

“We found that the declaration of the newspaper was cancelled maintaining the legal process. It has nothing to do with dissenting voices or anything else,” Iqbal Sobhan, member of the press council’s appeals board, told EFE.

The Dhaka district administration had suspended the license on Dec. 26, under the pretext that Rahman had been convicted on several cases and thus could not remain the editor of the outlet.

After the order, Dainik Dinkal was not published until Jan. 11, when its management filed an appeal with the press council against the authorities’ decision and were allowed to resume publication pending the verdict.

The newspaper was founded by Rahman in 2002 while the BNP was in power, and according to the government’s Department of Films and Publications, the daily’s latest daily circulation stood at 15,580 copies.

Rahman is the eldest son of former prime minister and opposition leader Khaleda Zia, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison on corruption charges and has been banned from participating in political activities or leave the country after being granted bail in March.

Her son has been living in exile in London since 2008 and has also been convicted in two corruption cases in Bangladesh, apart from having been handed a life sentence over his alleged role in a 2004 grenade attack against a meeting of the Awami League, the party currently in power.

BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul – the highest-ranking opposition leader in the absence of Zia and Rahman – on Sunday criticized the press council’s decision to reject Dainik Dinkal’s appeal and said this showed that “there is no press freedom in Bangladesh.”

This is the second pro-opposition newspaper to shut down since the Awami League came to power in 2009.

In April 2013, the Amar Desh newspaper was shut and its editor Mahmudur Rahman was jailed after publishing a Skype conversation between a judge and a lawyer related to a war crimes trial in Bangladesh. EFE


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