South Asia Media Solidarity Bulletin: February

Welcome to the monthly e-bulletin of the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN). The next bulletin will be sent on March 15, 2017, and your inputs are most welcome.

We encourage contributions to let others know your activities; to seek solidarity and support from SAMSN members for your campaigns and activities. To contribute, email Ujjwal Acharya at: ifjsouthasia(at)gmail(dot)com

Please feel free to distribute this bulletin widely among colleagues in the media. This e-bulletin and South Asia related contents are available at the SAMSN Digital Hub: https://samsn.ifj.org  

In this bulletin:


1.    Journalism has an increasingly murderous price in Asia Pacific

2.    Maldives Independent shortlisted for Freedom of Expression Awards

3.    Pakistan and Bangladesh witness two killings of media staff

4.    Journalists beaten inside police station in Bangladesh

5.    Journalists fined for ‘obstructing police’ in Maldives

6.    News websites blocked over critical news in Nepal

7.    Journalist assaulted for critical reporting of Indian politician

8.    Journalist detained in Hyderabad

9.    Pakistan TV anchors sexually harassed at work

10.  Afghan journalist detained for a day over news

11.  Radio journalists face intimidation, attack in Afghanistan

12.  SAMSN Blogs

a.    Mass layoffs in ABP, by Manisha Pande, India

b.    Getting Away With Murder, by Saleem Samad, Bangladesh

c.    Prioritising safety, by Lubna Jerar Naqvi, Pakistan

13.  Call for Entries: IFJ Graphic and Slogan Contest

14.  Satire site Khabaristan Times blocked in Pakistan

15.  Three journalists charged by Rajapaksa regime acquitted in Sri Lanka

16.  New policy dismays Community Radio activists in India

17.  India Gears Up to Fully Operationalise Mass Surveillance Project

18.  Ethics in the News: EJN report on challenges for journalism in post-truth era


1. Journalism has an increasingly murderous price in Asia Pacific

The IFJ launched the IFJ list of journalists and media staff killed in 2016, documenting the deaths of colleagues killed in the line of duty. In the Asia-Pacific region, 28 journalists were brutally murdered in 2016, an increase from 2015. The report, which is now in its 26th year, is a key tool in the IFJ’s continued efforts to tackle impunity for crimes against journalists and campaign for greater safety. In the Asia Pacific region, there have been some wins, but with each comes a devastating blow to the efforts made to secure the safety of journalists worldwide. In the last two years, the IFJ Asia-Pacific cautiously noted a marked reduction in media killings in Pakistan. While actions in Pakistan to tackle journalist fatalities and shocking impunity levels finally seem to be making some difference, the situation in neighbouring Afghanistan and India is taking a worrying trajectory. Read more and access the interactive PDF here.

2. Maldives Independent shortlisted for Freedom of Expression Awards

Maldives Independent, a privately owned news website, and its editor Zaheena Rasheed, have been nominated for the Freedom of Expression Awards 2017 in Journalism category by the Index on Censorship. Maldives Independent, which provides news in English, is one of the few remaining independent media outlets in the country. “Journalists in the Maldives have taken unprecedented risks in reporting on human rights, business corruption and abuse of authority. I believe a free press is crucial, essential in protecting human rights,” said Rasheed. More here.

3. Pakistan and Bangladesh witness two killings of media staff

Taimoor Abbas, 22-year-old assistant cameraman of privately-owned Samaa TV news channel, was shot in his head and chest when he was traveling in the Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG) van in north Nazimabad, Karachi to report on an attack on the police on February 12. He was taken to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where he died from his injuries. The unidentified assailants on a motorbike had thrown an explosive device on a police armoured personnel carrier, and had started shooting when the Samaa TV van arrived. Pakistan’s Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack. Read more.

Abdul Hakin Shimul, a local correspondent of the Bangla-language daily Samakal, was shot in the face while covering clashes between two factions of the ruling party, the Awami League, on February 2 in Sirajganj, northern Bangladesh during which gunshots were fired. He was admitted to a local hospital in a critical condition. He died on February 3 on the way to capital Dhaka, where he was being taken for further treatment. His condition deteriorated mid-way and he succumbed to his injuries. Police arrested Shahzadpur city’s Mayor Halimul Haque Miru, his aide Nasir Uddin, Nazmul Khan, Alamgir Hossain, Arshad Ali and Zahir Sheikh in connection with the killing. Read more.

4. Journalists beaten inside police station in Bangladesh

Cameraperson Abdul Alim and reporter Ishan Bin Didar of private TV station ATN News, were brutally beaten by a group of policemen inside the Shahbagh Police Station in Dhaka on January 26 while they were covering the shutdown enforced by the demonstrators protesting the construction of a power plant. Alim needed three stitches on his right eyebrows as a result of the beating. Alim went into the police station in order to film police brutality on a demonstrator when he was beaten by a dozen policemen. Didar was beaten when he went into the police station to rescue his colleague. Read more.

5. Journalists fined for ‘obstructing police’ in Maldives

Mohamed Wisam, 21, and Leevaan Ali Nasir, 20, both of pro-opposition Raajje TV, were fined MVR 28,800 (approximately USD 1,870) each by the criminal court in Maldives on January 24 for obstructing the police during a demonstration. They are the first journalists to be sentenced in the Maldives in more than a decade. The court, which had found them guilty in December, didn’t impose a four-month jail term as prosecutors requested because they were first-time offenders. The fine is to be paid within a month. Wisam, Leevaan and another Raajje TV journalist Hussain Fiyaz Moosa were arrested during the TV’s coverage of a bomb scare in Male, in November 2015. Both of them were accused of attempting to prevent police from arresting Fiyaz. Read more.

6. News websites blocked over critical news in Nepal

On February 6, Nepal Police recommended that the National Telecommunication Authority (NTA) block the access of four news websites – newssewa.com, karnalikhabar.com, diyopost.com and arthiknews.com – for their content about a senior police official. The NTA, the telecommunication regulatory body, ordered the internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to the websites with immediate effect, making the sites largely unavailable in Nepal for hours. Read more.

7. Journalist assaulted for critical reporting of Indian politician

Nayudu Nagarjuna Reddy, who runs a Telugu-language magazine Matti Chetula Baasa (Language of the Oppressed) and works part-time in a TV station, was chased and thrashed publicly by a gang led by Amanchi Swamulu, brother of a Telugu Desam Party’s Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) in Chirala, Andhra Pradesh, India on February 5. Policemen remained mute spectators of the assault, while two other civilians were pushed aside when they tried to rescue the scribe. The reason for the attack is believed to be an article by Reddy in his magazine describing how the MLA was allegedly indulging in corrupt practices including illegal sand mining, land encroachment and fraudulently obtaining loans meant for economically backward persons. Read more.

8. Journalist detained in Hyderabad

Journalist Kunal Shankar, the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana correspondent with the fortnightly English language magazine Frontline, was picked up by the Hyderabad Central University security guards, and handed over to the police while he was covering a protest marking the first death anniversary of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula on January 17. He was taken to Gachibowli Police station through the back gate to avoid the media assembled outside the main gate, and was questioned for an hour before release. The University filed a case of trespass against Shankar, even though he deposited his driving license and registered his presence at the security gate upon entering the University to cover the protest action. Read more.

9. Pakistan TV anchors sexually harassed at work

Two journalists – Tanzela Mazhar and Yashfin Jamal –accused PTV Lahore’s Director News of sexual harassment and took up social media and TV talk shows to push for investigation after their complaint to PTV authorities yielded no results. Mazhar alleged that she had filed a complaint following the incident, only to be told by the inquiry committee that she should have left the job. Meanwhile, PTV management on January 23 slapped a ban on the two anchors for taking to social media and appearing in talk shows to ‘defame the organisation’. The issue appears to have been resolved through negotiations after an inquiry was conducted and thereafter the accused and the victims resumed their duties after meeting with State Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb and PTV chairperson Ataul Haq Qasmi. Read more.

10. Afghan journalist detained for a day over news

Sadiq Safi, the Station Manager of Khawar TV channel in Lashkargah, the provincial capital of Helmand, Afghanistan, was detained for a day on February 4 by the National Department of Security (NDS) for broadcasting a news report alleging that the governor was helping land mafia and selling government property. Safi denied the governor’s office charge that the news was fake. Read more.

11. Radio journalists face intimidation, attack in Afghanistan

Two radio journalists faced intimidation and attack in Afghanistan in separate incidents. On January 30, Baryalai Ghafari, the program manager of Radio Farhad, was detained and intimidated by Mr.Dadullah Qane a provincial council member in Farah province, western Afghanistan. The journalist was asked to stop writing and broadcasting news against the governor and provincial council members. Read more.

Zabihullah Ghazi, a correspondent of Voice of America radio in Nangarhar province was beaten by the bodyguards of former Mayor of Jalalabad Lal Agha Kakar, who also vandalized his car. The incident occurred when Ghazi, on his way to Jalalabad, tried to film the armed bodyguards beating people in a traffic jam. Read more.

12. SAMSN Blogs

a. Mass layoffs in ABP, by Manisha Pande, India

An analysis the alarming trend of newsgathering being replaced with news aggregation by the desk, and the accompanying job losses especially among reporters in India. Read more.

b. Getting Away With Murder, by Saleem Samad, Bangladesh

Despite assurances of speedy justice, investigation into the brutal murder of journalist couple Sagar Sarowar and Meherun Runi continues to languish in Bangladesh. Read more.

c. Prioritising safety, by Lubna Jerar Naqvi, Pakistan 

Despite the race for stories, media houses in Pakistan are now putting safety of their staff at a higher footing than ratings. Read more.

13. Call for Entries: IFJ Graphic and Slogan Contest

The IFJ is committed to gender equity in all its work, and is launching a contest for creative expressions of women’s rights. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, join up in making Gender Equity a reality! Create a powerful graphic/logo or a witty slogan that packs a punch on any or both the following two themes:  (a) combating online harassment of women journalists and (b) increasing the number of women in media unions. Deadline: February 26. Details here.

14. Satire site Khabaristan Times blocked in Pakistan

Satire website Khabaristan Times has reportedly been blocked in Pakistan. In a post on their official Facebook page, Khabaristan Times said the website has been banned since January 25, 2017. The website is inaccessible and the Khabaristan Times team has not been given any official notification regarding the ban. More here.

15. Three journalists charged by Rajapaksa regime acquitted in Sri Lanka

Three journalists - Ravindra Pushpakumaraa, Shalika Wimalasena and Daya Neththasinghe – of Lanka newspaper who were charged with baseless accusations by the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime have been acquitted by the court on February 8. The three journalists were abducted while they visited the Bewaraliya estate at Deniyaya belonging to retired president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s brother-in-law on September 2, 2009 to prepare an article regarding a mansion being built in the estate using state resources. Due to intense pressure applied on them by the Rajapaksa regime, they had to accept that they were arrested by the police and were charged of trespassing. More here.

16. New policy dismays Community Radio activists in India

The recent order of the Information & Broadcasting Ministry of India to permit the broadcast of AIR news bulletins and non-news ‘information’ like traffic and weather updates on Community Radio (CR) has flummoxed CR enthusiasts and activists as it neither concedes their long-standing demand - the right to broadcast original news - nor acknowledges the transmission of various categories of information as news. More here.

17. India Gears Up to Fully Operationalise Mass Surveillance Project

New topics in India’s draft Universal Periodic Review (UPR) national report include a section on state control of the Internet, with reference to the delayed Centralised Monitoring System, which will be fully operational by the first quarter of 2017. More here.

18. Ethics in the News: EJN report on challenges for journalism in post-truth era

Ethics in the News launched on January 10 by the Ethical Journalism Network, throws some light on ethical challenges for media and gives journalists some key tips on ethical survival techniques. Ethics in the News analyses fake news and how journalism with a public purpose can be overwhelmed in a do-it-yourself world of communications that has led to a so-called post-truth movement in which facts and expert opinion are left on the sidelines of public discourse. But this is no “western media” crisis. Elsewhere, the question is equally relevant. Turkey, for instance, is on the frontline of a catastrophic and on-going assault on free expression and the year ended with a full-scale information war between India and Pakistan. Beyond politics the report examines how media covers the plight of women who are victimised by repressive social and cultural attitudes that continue to dominate media coverage of the misnamed ‘honour’ killings in Pakistan. More here.


SAMSN is a group of journalists’ trade unions, press freedom organizations and journalists in South Asia that work together to support freedom of expression and association in the region.

For further information on SAMSN, visit: https://samsn.ifj.org/us/

If you have information on a press freedom violation or matters relating to media freedom and journalists’ rights in South Asia, contact staff at IFJ Asia-Pacific so that action can be taken. To contribute to this bulletin, email ifjsouthasia(at)gmail(dot)com  

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 139 countries

Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

Find the IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific  





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