Health beat journalists to boycott Health Ministry briefings until Rozina Islam’s release

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A Dhaka court is set to deliver its order on her bail plea on Sunday

Health Journalists of Bangladesh (HJB) has declared that they will boycott all sorts of briefings by the Health Ministry until Prothom Alo Senior Reporter Rozina Islam gets bail in a case lodged by the ministry.

During a demonstration Thursday, the organization demanded the withdrawal of the case and punishment of those involved in harassing her at the secretariat.

HJB held the protest sit-in on the premises of the National Press Club in Dhaka where they put forth the demands.

HJB President Russell Ahmed said although they would boycott the ministry and its departments’ press conferences, they will run reports on irregularities and corruptions in the Health Ministry.

“The path of free journalism cannot be blocked. Journalists must be united to realize their rights,” he added.

Meanwhile, a Dhaka court on Thursday fixed Sunday to give its decision on the bail plea filed by Rozina Islam in the case lodged under the Official Secrets Act.
Islam was detained at the secretariat for over five hours before being handed over to police on May 17.

She allegedly took photos of documents related to government negotiations with pharma companies to buy Covid-19 vaccines, according to case documents.

An FIR (first investigation report) was filed against her under the Official Secrets Act and Sections 379 and 411 of The Penal Code on a complaint filed by the Health Services Division at Shahbagh police station before the case was officially recorded.

On May 18, a Dhaka court sent the journalist to jail after rejecting the police’s remand plea. Islam was then taken to Kashimpur Central Women’s Jail in Gazipur.

Her harassment at the ministry and subsequent arrest have kicked off protests by journalists and rights organizations across the country and abroad.

The Health Ministry also formed a three-member committee to look into the whole incident.

On Wednesday, the case filed against Islam was transferred to the Detective Branch of police.

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