06/03/2017
 

Asia Pacific Bulletin: March

Welcome to the IFJ Asia-Pacific’s monthly e-bulletin. The next bulletin will be sent on April 1, 2017 and contributions from affiliates are most welcome. To contribute, email ifj(at)ifj-asia(dot)org

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In this bulletin:

1.       Hong Kong-based media harassed over Mainland reporting

2.       Impunity breakthrough in Sri Lanka with arrests

3.       Australian union demands resettlement of detained colleagues

4.       BBC journalist faces defamation charges in Thailand

5.       Indian journalist released on bail

6.       Pakistani cameraman killed in targeted attack

7.       Afghan journalist threatened for reporting

8.       Cambodian government takes Trump-inspired approach

9.       Filipino journalists harassed outside Presidential Palace

10.   Critical reporting sees websites blocked in Nepal

11.   IFJ launches Insurance for Journalists

12.   The Muzzling of the Myanmar Times – Frontier Myanmar

13.   Will the Media be crushed? – The Boston Globe

14.   CPJ launches The Best Defense – Threats to journalists’ safety demands fresh approach

15.   Tells us about your union experiences

16.   The IPC gets you where the story takes you

 

1.       Hong Kong-based media harassed over Mainland reporting

Sing Pao Daily experienced political retaliation following the publication of a series of articles critical of a top official in China and the Mainland’s two chief agent’s in Hong Kong. On February 21, Sing Pao issued a statement saying that two people had been loitering outside the offices and following senior managers. In addition posters including posters of some managers with malicious messages were put up on streets around the offices. Sing Pao also stated that since August 2016 when the first articles were published, the offices had received a number of harassing phone calls, several of which were threatening.

The IFJ and Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) expressed outrage over the continued harassment, which included a DDoS attack on the Sing Pao website on February 24, and red paint splashed on the front doors of several managers’ homes.

Read more here and here.  

2.       Impunity breakthrough in Sri Lanka with arrests

An army officer and two soldiers were arrested in Sri Lanka on February 20, over their alleged involvement in the abduction and assault of prominent journalist Keith Noyahr in 2008. The Crime Investigation Department (CID) interrogated Major Prabath Bulathwatte, Sergeants Duminda Weeraratne and Hemachandra Perera overnight and arrested them . Additional Magistrate has remanded them till March 3 and has asked the CID to produce them in Courts on February 23.

Keith Noyahr, an associate editor of the English-language weekly The Nation, was abducted and tortured after leaving his office in May 2008. Upon his release after intense advocacy from national and international organizations including FMM, he fled the country with his family fearing for his life. He had written critical stories about the civil war with the rebel Tamil Tigers and commented upon the security situation.

Read more here.

3.       Australian union demands resettlement of detained colleagues

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) is demanding the immediate resettlement of journalist Behrouz Boochani, actor and Mehdi Savari, and cartoonist ‘Eaten Fish’ in Australia. The IFJ and MEAA call on the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, to bring them to Australia.

The three Iranian asylum seekers have been detained at the Manus Island Processing Centre, on behalf of the Australian Government for several years. They each sought refuge from Iran so that they could freely express themselves without fear of persecution or harm, but instead their freedom has been further suppressed in detention.

Sign the petition here and read more here.

4.       BBC journalist faces defamation charges in Thailand

BBC South East Asia correspondent, Jonathan Head, had criminal defamation charges brought against him by Phuket lawyer Pratuan Thanarak following two 2015 news reports filed by Head about how foreign retirees were allegedly scammed out of properties. Head was charged along with Ian Rance, a British businessman who was an interviewee in the reports. On February 23, Head appeared in court in Phuket and pleaded not guilty to the charges, which could see him face two years in jail. Head also faces further charges under Thailand’s Computer Crimes Act which carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail.

Read more here.

5.       Indian journalist released on bail

The Supreme Court (SC) on February 27 granted bail to Yadav, a journalist for Hindi daily Navbharat in Bastar of Chhattisgarh state. He was arrested for alleged Maoist links in September 29, 2015 and charged in February 2016 with rioting, criminal conspiracy and associating with a terrorist organization. The journalist has denied all allegations and his family and friends believe the charges were fabricated to harass him for his writings on human rights abuses by the police in the conflict-ridden state.

Read more here.

6.       Pakistani cameraman killed in targeted attack

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 to report on an attack on the police. He was taken to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where he died from his injuries.

Read more here.

7.       Afghan journalist threatened for reporting

Mahmmod Naimi, a cameraman of Ariana News, was threatened to death by Shaker Shinwari, the manager of Sher Ali hospital, when he inquired about the hospital services on February 16. Naimi told AIJA that he went to the hospital for filming after receiving complaints about the lack of medical services in the hospital. The officials of the hospital refused to allow him to film and when he returned to his office, Shinwari threatened him over the phone.

Read more here

8.       Cambodian government takes Trump-inspired approach

On Saturday, February 25, Phay Siphan, a spokesperson for Cambodia’s cabinet in a post to Facebook, threatened to ‘take action’ against any media outlets, which he said are threatening the country’s peace and stability. The statement went on to specifically refer to US-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, calling on all ‘foreign agents’ to self-censor or be shut down. The statement ended with reference to President of the United States, Donald Trump’s ban on international media at press conferences, “Donald Trump’s ban of international media giants… sends a clear message that President Trump sees that news published by those media institutions does not reflect the real situation.”

Read more here.

9.       Filipino journalists harassed outside Presidential Palace

On Tuesday February 7, several media outlets were outside Malacanang, the Presidential Palace in Manila, covering a protest by relatives of political prisoners. Tensions at the protest escalated when members of the Presidential Security Group tried to disseminate the protesters. They took banners from the protesters and tried to take equipment from the media, including phones with footage. According to reports, one reporter had a ‘tug of war’ with a guard over his mobile photo, in an attempt to erase footage of the incident.

Read more here

10.   Critical reporting sees websites blocked in Nepal

According to report, Nepal Police corresponded with the National Telecommunication Authority (NTA) to block the access of four news websites – newssewa.com, karnalikhabar.com, diyopost.com and arthiknews.com – for their contents 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 here.

11.   IFJ launches: Insurance for Journalists

The IFJ has now launched accessible insurance for journalists across the world, at home, abroad and in hostile regions. The insurance covers all journalists, anywhere in the world. Holders of the IFJ International Press Card get a 10 percent discount on all policies.

Read more here.

12.   The Muzzling of the Myanmar Times – Frontier Myanmar

Frontier Myanmar discusses the recent history for the Myanmar Times, Myanmar’s English newspaper. In the past 12 months, nearly two dozen foreign editorial staff have resigned or been sacked. They have left behind anxious Myanmar counterparts fearful of their jobs and despairing at the paper’s precipitous decline in quality. At the height of the battle between the newsroom and the board, staff routinely took to social media to air their grievances and to apologise for management edicts that blocked reporting on sensitive topics.

Read more here.

13.   Will the Media be crushed? – The Boston Globe

The Boston Globe looks at the future of the media under the Trump administration, and the beliefs and notions of press freedom in America.

Read more here.

14.   CPJ launches The Best Defense – Threats to journalists’ safety demands fresh approach

CPJ have launched a new report which reveals a new approach to journalist safety and what needs to be done. Much work remains to be done to improve the security of journalists in the face of unprecedented threats, including the spread of violent non-state actors, the shrinking rule of law, resurgent authoritarianism, and an industry shift toward reliance on freelancers. Journalists, news outlets, and press freedom groups must find approaches that go beyond traditional training and advocacy.

Read more here

15.   Tell us about your unions experiences

The IFJ has a call out for stories about your experience with your union and how they have helped you. The stories will be used in a wider IFJ campaign in 2017.

Stories can be sent to Alex Hearne (alex.hearne(at)ifj-asia(dot)org) or via social media here

16.   The IPC gets you where the story takes you

The IFJ has launched an international campaign to promote the International Press Card (IPC), IFJ’s global press pass. The campaign highlights the importance of the card for journalists across the world, working to support their safety and recognition across the globe.

The IPC is available to all IFJ affiliate members and can give access to EU and UN government officials, as well as assist in important and sometimes dangerous situations.  For more information visit the IFJ website here

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