DHAKA, April 1, 2023 (BSS) – Prominent citizens of the country have strongly condemned and protested against the release of an 'anti-state conspiratorial report in the Daily Prothom Alo' on the glorious Independence Day.
A total of 50 eminent citizens, including professors, intellectuals, physicians, engineers, artistes, noted journalists and social researchers issued a joint statement this evening, saying, “. . . We are observing with deep concern that ignoring the moral responsibility (as a mass media), Prothom Alo is trying to tarnish the reputation of the country by publishing misleading information”.
Noting that the job of the media is to present the correct scenario of the society to the people, they said the media has to behave responsibly, because the news published in the mass media has a deep influence on the people’s minds.
“On the great Independence Day, they published a false report undermining the independence of the country. As conscious citizens of the country, we strongly condemn this conspiratorial ill effort,” they said.
In a recent Prothom Alo report, a photograph of a child keeping the National Memorial in background was published with a statement of a day laborer instead of a caption under that picture, the dignitaries said, adding the statement mentioned in the caption clearly undermined the glorious independence of Bangladesh.
“Quoting one’s statement in the caption of another's photograph goes against the media ethics. Considering the language of the quotation, it does not appear to be the speech of a day laborer at all. Rather, it appears to be the editorial statement of the newspaper in the voice of that day laborer,” they said.
Mentioning that it has already been revealed in the investigation report of another media that the picture was taken by luring the child in exchange of money, the prominent citizens said in this case, the rights and dignity of the child have been undermined by using it as a commodity.
The manner in which the great independence has been insulted by taking advantage of the ongoing economic crisis across the world through fabricated images and statements to portray a fictitious picture of state failure in poverty alleviation is unexpected and reprehensible, they added.
"Such unethical activities in the name of freedom of press cannot be accepted in any way. Although the newspaper later admitted their mistake and removed the report, there is no way to see it as a mere mistake considering the course of events. Rather, there is ample room to consider the incident as a part of ill efforts to present Bangladesh as a non-functioning state,” said the statement.
Because such reports can contribute to creating an unstable situation by imparting negative perceptions about the state in the public mind, the eminent citizens said, adding, “We earlier witnessed such fake news was published as part of local and foreign conspiracies to destabilize the government”.
The concerned newspaper had advocated de-politicization in favor of unelected military rule in 2007, undermining media ethics, they said, adding, “Our request to all concerned including international media and development partners of Bangladesh, please, understand the real truth without being confused by this conspiracy and highlight it if necessary”.
“We believe in the freedom of the press. But, publishing fabricated information for the purpose of creating destabilization cannot be freedom of press in any way. As responsible citizens, we demand appropriate legal action against those involved in such conspiratorial activities following proper investigation,” they said.
However, it is necessary to ensure that no law including the Digital Security Act is misused in this process, the eminent citizens added.