Editors Guild expresses concern over US envoy's remarks on visa policy for media
DHAKA, Sept 28, 2023 (BSS) - Editors Guild, Bangladesh, a platform of editors of mainstream media, today expressed concern over a recent remarks of US ambassador Peter Haas's remarks on the country's visa policy for media.
"A recent remark of US ambassador in Dhaka Peter Haas has drawn our attention. . . suddenly Peter Haas on September 24, 2023, in an interview revealed that media in Bangladesh may also come under the purview of US visa policy," said a statement of Editors Guild here tonight.
Signed by platform's president Mozammel Haque (Babu) and general secretary Anam Ahmed, the statement said the remarks of Haas led to concerns among journalists in Bangladesh whether the US government is attempting to tighten its grip on Bangladesh media or taking punitive measures against media professionals.
It noted that on September 22, 2023, the US State Department announced the implementation of visa policies for Bangladesh individuals responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process here.
The US State Department categorically said these individuals include members of law enforcement, the ruling party, and the political opposition, it said, adding that there was nothing about media and media professionals in the announced policy.
"We want to know what triggered the ambassador to go for hectic activism to disparage Bangladesh media. The statement of the US ambassador is not transparent enough and it needs a clear interpretation," reads the statement.
Media plurality is strongly visible in Bangladesh as it is growing in numbers and creating platforms for divergent voices. Bangladesh media in general never stood against good governance, democracy and freedom of expression, it added.
It said there are so many political, social and religious contexts under which media professionals struggle to perform here which never persists in the western society.
Political parties themselves have their own differences over the coming election in Bangladesh. Bangladesh journalists are covering the pre-election events and eagerly waiting to cover the election in multiple formats - the TV channels, the newspapers and the online portals without taking any side of the conflicting parties, it said.
"The statement of the ambassador to expand visa restrictions on journalists can be seen as an attempt to silence the voices of the people, and impose unseen censorship on the media, which contradicts the principles of freedom of expression and press freedom, the main pillars of democracy and governance," reads the statement.