04/04/2018
 

Asia Pacific Bulletin: APRIL

A commuter walks past an advertisement reading "sharing a lie makes u a liar" at a train station in downtown Kuala Lumpur on March 26, 2018. Credit: Mohd RASFAN / AFP

Welcome to the IFJ Asia-Pacific’s monthly e-bulletin. The next bulletin will be sent on May 1, 2018 and contributions from affiliates are most welcome. To contribute, email ifj@ifj-asia.org

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Asia Pacific, News, News, ASIA PACIFIC, Campaigns, Reports, Events, Meeting, Workshop, Conference

Welcome to the IFJ Asia-Pacific’s monthly e-bulletin. The next bulletin will be sent on May 1, 2018 and contributions from affiliates are most welcome. To contribute, email ifj(at)ifj-asia(dot)org

Please distribute this bulletin widely among colleagues in the media.

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In this bulletin:

 

1.       Deadly two days in India: sees three journalists killed

2.       Malaysian govt takes aim at ‘Fake News’

3.       IFJ launches #WomenLead campaign

4.       Pakistan: two journalists killed in March

5.       Maldives: Government crackdown continues

6.       Eye roll sees two journalists lose accreditation in China

7.       India: Road to justice begins with killer arrest

8.       Communal violence in Sri Lanka leads to social media bans

9.       Journalists assaulted covering protests in Delhi

10.   Australia-Hong Kong connection: IFJ affiliates working together

 

1.       Deadly two days in India: sees three journalists killed

On Sunday March 25, Naveen Nishchal from Dainik Bhaskar and Vijay Singh, who worked for a Hindi magazine,  were killed when the motorbike they were travelling on in Bihar state in eastern India was hit by a car. The car was driven by a former village head, who has several criminal cases against him. Locals set the vehicle on fire after the incident. Nishal’s family say that he had received threats in the days preceding his death.

The following day, Sandeep Sharma, an investigative journalist in Madhya Pradesh in central India was crushed by a truck and died in hospital. Sharma had recently two "sting" investigations about sand mafia for a regional TV station, News World, and alleged the involvement of police officials in the illegal sand-mining mafia operations in the state.

Sharma had reportedly sought police protection following the publication of the reports, but Shailendra Singh Khushwaha, the deputy inspector at the Bhind police station confirmed that the protection hadn’t been provided. The driver of the truck was arrested and the truck was seized by police, as the investigation continued. In CCTV footage of the incident, the truck can be seen making a sudden swerve and crushing Sharma on a motorbike. Special probes have been ordered in the two incidents in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.Read more here

2.       Malaysian govt takes aim at ‘Fake News’

The Malaysian government tabled a new law on Monday March 26, ahead of general elections due before August 2018. According to reports, under the Anti-Fake News 2018 bill anyone who publishes so-called fake news could face fines of up to 500,000 ringgit ($128,140), up to 10 years in jail, or both. Under the bill, fakes news was defined as news, information, data and reports which is or are wholly or partly false and included features, visuals and audio recordings, and will cover digital publications and social media, would apply to offenders outside Malaysia, including foreigners, if Malaysia or a Malaysian citizen were affected.

Read more here

3.       IFJ launches #WomenLead campaign

The “IFJ Women Lead: Building Strategies for Female Leadership in Unions” launched on International Women’s Day using the slogan “No better time!” and will continue to build as a progressive check on union leadership for the region. The IFJ’s 2018 campaign is a key stage in a long-term and progressive strategy for the IFJ and its affiliates in the Asia-Pacific to take affirmative and defined action on improving gender equity in union leadership.

Unions must tackle head-on the lack of gender equity and adopt best practices. Active mentoring, capacity building, leadership training, policies against sexual harassment and active engagement are all steps that unions can implement to make immediate and lasting changes.

Read more here and see the campaign here.

4.       Pakistan: Two journalists killed in March

On March 1, Anjum Muneer Raja, sub-editor of Urdu daily Qaumi Pukaar was shot dead near Pakistan Army’s national headquarters. The motorcycle-borne assailants intercepted Raja’s motorcycle before firing six bullets. He died on the spot. A first information report (FIR) of the incident has been registered.

Three weeks later, on March 27, Zeeshan Ashraf Butt, a journalist with Urdu daily Nawa-i-Waqt and former chairperson of the Sambrial Press Club, was shot dead. Zeeshan visited Begowala, during which he met with Imran Cheema, chairperson of the Begowala Union Council. An argument broke out over a monetary dispute, and Cheema reportedly opened fire on Butt. He died at the scene and Cheema fled.

Read more here  and here

5.       Maldives: Government crackdown continues

On March 16, three journalists from opposition-aligned Raajje TV were arrested, and two were charged with criminal offences for allegedly uploading videos on social media which were critical of the government. The police arrested senior video journalist Mohamed Wisam and Head of Programmes Amir Saleem with court orders after the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) leaders accused Raajje TV of producing and uploading the YouTube video. The video showed three masked people in police uniform saying that they would join the opposition rally. On March 18, the Criminal Court remanded Wisam and Saleem for 10 days in custody.

In a separate incident, Journalist Mohamed Fazeen was arrested on allegations of defying police orders during the opposition parties’ protest demonstrations in Male’. He was handcuffed and taken into custody by traffic police. Fazeen was released on March 17 after more than 24 hours in detention.

The IFJ has joined the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Committee of Protect Journalists (CPJ) to express deep concerns on ongoing restrictions and threats on media and press freedom in the Maldives, and called on authorities to allow media to carry out work without reprisal.

Read more here and following the SAMSN Blog here.

6.       Eye roll sees two journalists lose accreditation in China

During China’s annual political meetings in Beijing, the media has come under intense scrutiny, with two journalists having their press accreditation for the meetings revoked. On March 13, Zhang Huijun, the operating director of LA-based American Multimedia Television USA put several questions to Xiao Yaqinge, the Director of the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission during a press conference. During the questions, Liang Xiangyi, a journalist with Yicai financial news outlet from Shanghai was filmed rolling her eyes and making several facial expressions. The footage was captured by CCTV and immediately broadcast, including online. The footage sparked debate online, with some accusing Liang of not respecting the event, while other welcomed her expressions. Social media was flooded with posts and memes of the eye-rolling footage, but the Chinese ‘censors’ quickly sprang the action, and according to several reports the authorities had warned Chinese journalists to ‘close their eyes to the eye roll’.

The following day, the office organising the National Congress issued a notice that it was revoking the press accreditation to both Zhang and Liang to enter the City Hall.

Read more here

7.       India: Road to justice begins with killer arrest

Over six months after the cold-blooded murder of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bangalore, India, an arrest was made of the first accused KT Naveen Kumar. KT Naveen Kumar, a member of a hard-line Hindu group the Sanatan Santha, was arrested by the Special Investigation team (SIT) on February 18 on suspicion of supplying the weapons used for the shooting. He is also suspected to have surveyed and pointed out Lankesh’s house to a group of killers who came from outside Karnataka to carry out the killing.

Naveen Kumar was produced before the magistrate’s court on March 12 and was remanded in judicial custody for 15 days. He will also undergo a narco-analysis test to understand the depth of his knowledge about the conspiracy to kill Lankesh.

Read more here

8.       Communal violence in Sri Lanka leads to social media bans

On March 7, the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) ordered all telecommunication operators to restrict access to Facebook, Viber and Whatsapp across the country for three days to prevent the spread of communal violence that spread in Ampara and Kandy districts after Buddhist-led attacks on minority Muslim population. Internet access was completely blocked in Kandy.

The FMM, while acknowledging that social media were used to spread statements of hate, said that actions taken to prevent the use of social media to trigger hate and violence, should not hinder democracy by contravening a citizen’s right to freedom of expression.

Read more here.

9.       Journalists assaulted covering protests in Delhi

Delhi police assaulted two women journalists and snatched away the camera of one while they were covering the demonstration organized by students and teachers of the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India on March 23. One male journalist was also beaten up and sustained injuries.

Anushree Fadnavis, a photojournalist with the Hindustan Times daily, was roughed up and her camera was snatched away by policewomen “I was clicking photographs of a student being dragged when the police targeted me,” Fadnavis said. “They were talking about snatching and breaking my camera. I kept pleading with them to spare my camera.”

The police officer on duty also roughed up and grabbed another woman journalist by her breasts. The two journalists had filed separate complaints accusing the police of assaulting and molesting reporters at the site of the JNU protest. However, the police is yet to register First Information Reports (FIRs) on these complaints.

The Delhi Police on March 24 tendered their “deepest apologies” for the alleged harassment of two media personnel and on March 25 suspended two constables on the basis of their “unprofessional conduct”, and said that the Vigilance Department would investigate the case of alleged assault.

Read more here

10.   Australia-Hong Kong connection: IFJ affiliates working together

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA). The HKJA was started by Jack and Margaret Spackman on April 1 1968, who at the time were both members of the Australian Journalists Association (AJA) the forerunner to today’s Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA). The HKJA was formed to fight for better working conditions and workers’ rights, a battle that continues for the current leadership today.

Read more here

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