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Right to Know Day celebration focuses on demand and supply side of information

International Right to Know (RTK) day was celebrated across the country on 28 September - Committee of Concerned Citizen (CCC), Youth Engagement and Support (YES), Swajan and YES Friends in 34 regions joined hands with the district administration to observe this day. This year’s celebration emphasised on strategising ways to increase both demand and supply of information that is raise awareness of people and service providers on RTI, encourage pro-active disclosure of information by both public and private sector. Information fairs, cartoon exhibitions, orientation on RTI application, face the public, rallies, seminars, essay/art/quiz competitions, satellite AI desks and cultural programmes were organised to this end. Apart from these events a number of innovative campaigns like info truck, anti-corruption signature collection were organised to popularise the RTK day.

The day was celebrated nationally from 28-30 September. RTI forum, a network of several civil society organisations organised a roundtable titled Implementation Challenges of RTI Act 2009: Challenges and Way Forward on 30 September at the Brac Center Inn Auditorium. Information Minister Mr Hasanul Haq Inu, MP was the Chief Guest; Chief Information Commissioner Ambasador Mohammed Faruk and Cabinet Secretary M Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan were Special Guests. Information commissioner Professor Sadeka Halim and Country Director of Article XIX Ms Tahmina Rahman were designated discussants and Executive Director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) Dr Iftekharuzzaman presided over. Executive Director of Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) Shaheen Anam presented the keynote paper titled “Strengthening Demand Side Capacity: Challenges and Options.”

TIB also joined another celebration with Information Commission that marked the day by organising discussion meeting, rally and information fair on 28 September at the National Academy for Planning and Development. Information Minister was also the Chief Guest there and Dhaka University Vice Chancellor Professor A A M S Arefin Siddique, Chief Information Commission Mohammad Farooq were among others who spoke on the occasion.

Some 34 CCCs organised 2/3 days long Information Fair with active participation of government agencies/departments and NGOs. There were 867 stalls (520 stalls from Govt. Sectors and 347 from non-Govt. organisations) in these information fairs. Posters with information on various services, leaflets, booklet and other publications were displayed and distributed among the visitors. Stall operators provided different service related information. This year marked the highest participation of government stalls compared to private/NGO stalls. Ministers, policy makers and members of the parliament including Minister for Finance Mr. Abul Mal Abdul Muhit, MP; Chief Whip of Bangladesh Parliament Alhaz Md. Abdus Shahid, MP; Minister for Shipping Mr. Shahjahan Khan, MP; Md. Abdul Wadud, MP of Chapainababganj; Mr. Asaduzzaman Noor, MP of Nilphamary-2; Dhirendra Chandra Debnath, MP of Barguna-2; Alhaz Kazi Keramot Ali, MP of Rajbari-1; Advocate Talukdar Md. Yusnus, MP of Barisal-1. Chairman of Khagrachhari Hill District Council Mr. Kujendra Lal Tripura and Information Commissioner Professor Dr Sadeka Halim joined the celebration and spoke on RTI.

Participants, guests and speakers at these celebrations emphasised on the role of RTI Act to promote accountability, transparency and participation i.e. promote good governance at all spheres of service delivery. They also urged for collective efforts among government and non government organisations to create demand of this pro-people act.