Resentment brews

Nine months after a military-driven interim government assumed power in Bangladesh, the country is facing its greatest peril of the past decade and a half. Despite the promise of free and fair elections, a state of emergency continues to mute dissent, while the spectre of dictatorial rule is visible in the increasing media censorship, intimidation of journalists and arbitrary arrests by the security forces in night-time raids.

In an interview in September, Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed, the country's de facto prime minister, claimed that the media was operating freely, without any government intervention. A week later, his administration imposed a set of sinister guidelines on televised talk-shows. Printed on plain paper, these new diktats specified the number of talk-shows a station can air per week, while warning against the questioning of the government's legitimacy. "Any kind of instigating, blind and biased opinions and statements that can create resentment towards the legitimate government of Bangladesh should also be avoided," stated the stricture. This was only the latest in the government's crackdown on media.

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Himal Southasian