Distinguished Professor Ali Riaz has published a commentary on the recent instances of curtailment of freedom of press and arrests of journalists in Bangladesh in the wake of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The commentary, “A Pandemic of Persecution in Bangladesh,” discusses the recent actions of the government, especially efforts to muzzle the critical voices and control contents in social media.

Bangladesh has seen scores of arrests and attacks on journalists and civil society activists in recent days. Riaz argues that recent events are tied to the deterioration of freedom of expression in the past decade. According to Reporters Without Borders, the country has the worst score in South Asia. Riaz notes that the control of social media is intended to conceal the theft by party men, lack of transparency, the poor state of public health facilities, and lack of preparedness.

There is a larger political issue too.

‘The pandemic has laid bare the government’s claim of a stellar record of development and economic growth. COVID-19 is exposing the hollowness of the development strategy pursued by the government for the past decade,” Riaz writes.

The commentary is published in the New Atlanticist, the web publication of the Atlantic Council.