Shooting the Messenger in Bangladesh

Bangladesh Government has recently cancelled the declaration of the Amar Desh newspaper.

Many people believe the reason for closure – having no authorised publisher- was not at all convincing enough. Some say that it was a threat to the freedom of the press and some say that the move was not congenial at all to democracy nor was it good for the country’s reputation. I would say it is nothing but an immature step by the government in its bid to shooting the messenger.

In ancient times, messages were delivered in person by a human envoy and often during wartime, the messenger was sent from the frontline of the battlefield or sometimes from the enemy camp. Highly provoked combatant receiving such an overture could more easily vent anger or retaliate on the deliverer of the unpopular message than on its author, thus literally killing the messenger. When the pistol was invented, the warlord used to shoot the messenger bringing bad news.

The daily Amar Desh were publishing a number of news reports in the recent days which could be termed as ‘biased’. Many of these news reports did not follow proper journalistic manner. And the news irked the government.

However, shutting down dissenting voice will not help the government at all. Rather it will tarnish its image in home and abroad. Recently, an electronic media outlet- Channel-1 was also shut down on apparently weak grounds. There will be many dissenting voices and shutting down one will undoubtedly provoke many voices speaking one issue. When the government last week shut down access to the facebook, I opened my own blog (although the plan for a blog had been there in my mind for long). People are accessing facebook through proxy servers. Some people became active in twitter, myspace, bebo and what not!

I will echo with Voltaire as he has rightly quipped: “I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Unfortunately, our governments are intolerant toward dissenting voice. We have many things to be proud of. But the governments often indulge in doing things that tarnish the image of the nation as a whole. “Oh! Such a shame! You can’t access to facebook,” was the reply of one of my friends from Leeds, UK. And when the government should pursue vigorous public diplomacy to enhance its image abroad, instead they are pushing it down.

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