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Bangladesh: Bloggers March for Murdered Journalist Couple

Three months have passed since the murder of the journalist couple Sagar Sarwar and his wife Meherun Runi. Till date, the police have been unsuccessful in discovering any clues or leads that would help them to solve the case. In the early hours of 11 February, 2012, the couple was found brutally murdered in their West Rajabajar apartment in Dhaka.

The Bangladesh High Court has expressed dissatisfaction with the progress (or lack of it) of the Detective Branch (DB) of police investigating the murder. The case has since then been transferred to the anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit – Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). The bodies have already been exhumed for a repeat postmortem. However, till date, there has been little progress in the investigation.

Bloggers have once again taken to the street, demanding justice for the murdered couple. On 11 May, they organized a protest in front of the public library in Shahbagh, Dhaka. This was their fourth protest gathering. In the video below, bloggers can be seen singing a protest song:

Another video shows bloggers holding a candle light protest, demanding justice in the Sagar-Runi murder case:

In the beginning, the police tried to prevent the protest rally by bloggers by parking their vehicles at the protest site and not giving permission for electricity connection at the venue. Later the bloggers conducted the protest by singing without the use of microphones. Sohel Mahmood informs us [bn] about the day's programme:

নানা বাধা ডিঙিয়ে হয়ে গেলো বাংলাভাষার ব্লগারদের প্রতিবাদী সংগীতের আয়োজন। পুলিশের “কমিশনারের অনুমতি লাগবে” টাইপের বক্তব্য, বিদ্যুতের লাইন টানায় বাধা আর সন্ধ্যার কিছু ভাগে “হঠাৎ বৃষ্টি”। তবে, সব বাধা ডিঙিয়ে প্রতিবাদী এই সংগীতে যোগ দেন ব্লগার, সাংবাদিক, ছাত্র-ছাত্রী আর সাধারণ মানুষ।

Crossing various hurdles, the Bangla bloggers conducted their programme of singing protest songs in public. Comments by the police commissioner that “permissions will be required”, not allowing the required temporary electricity connection at the protest venue, and even sudden rains during part of the evening, nothing could stop the bloggers, journalists, students and ordinary citizens from showing solidarity and participating in singing the protest songs
Police using barricades to prevent journalists from entering the Home Ministry premises. Image by Firoz Ahmed. Copyright Demotix (15/05/2012)
Police using barricades to prevent journalists from entering the Home Ministry premises. Image by Firoz Ahmed. Copyright Demotix (15/05/2012)

Demanding the immediate arrest of the murderers of Sagar and Runi, journalist associations announced a gherao program to be held at the Home Ministry premises on 15th May. Bloggers too joined this protest programme. The police cracked down on the protesters. Quite a few photographs of police preventing the protesters from approaching the Home Ministry premises have been uploaded on the We Demand Justice for Sagar-Runi Facebook Page. At the end of the day's event, the next steps and upcoming protest programmes were announced. Among the future protests being planned by journalists and bloggers are the following:

১. ২০ মে থেকে ১৫ জুন পর্যন্ত সবগুলো মিডিয়া হাউসে সভা-সমাবেশ।

২. ৫ জুন জাতীয় সংসদে গিয়ে স্পিকারের কাছে সাগর-রুনি হত্যাকারীদের গ্রেফতার ও বিচার দাবিতে স্মারকলিপি প্রদান।

৩.  ২৬ জুন প্রধানমন্ত্রীর কার্যালয় অভিমুখে পদযাত্রা।

৪. এরপরও সাগর-রুনির হত্যাকারীদের গ্রেফতার ও বিচার না করা হলেও দেশের সব সাংবাদিক কর্মবিরতি কর্মসূচি পালন।

1. 20th May to 15th June – Public meetings at all the media houses
2. 5th June – March to the Parliament and submit a memorandum to the Speaker of the House, demanding arrest and trial of the killers of Sagar-Runi
3. 26th June – Protest march towards the Prime Minister's Office.
4. If the administration still fails to deliver justice, all journalists across the country will stop work and undertake a ‘pen down’ programme.

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