20/04/2017
 

South Asia Media Solidarity Bulletin: APRIL

Pakistani civil society members and university students shout slogans and wave placards as they protest against the killing of Mashal Khan a journalism student, in Islamabad on April 15, 2017. Credit: Farooq Naeem/AFP

Tagged in:

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

Welcome to the monthly e-bulletin of the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN). The next bulletin will be sent on May 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.    IFJ calls for action to defend women’s voices online in Asia-Pacific

2.    Bangladesh court convicts six for photojournalist’s murder

3.    Maharashtra passes landmark journalist protection law

4.    Journalism student lynched in Pakistan for alleged blasphemy

5.    Online harassment for Indian journalist exposing illegal sand mining

6.    Nepal reintroduces restrictive online media directives

7.    Opposition TV in Maldives reeling under fine for alleged defamation

8.    Newspapers forced to close down in Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan

9.    Petrol bomb hurled at photojournalists in Nepal

10.  Photojournalist detained in Odisha, India

11.  Police assaults photojournalists in Kashmir

12.  Nepalese journalist attacked for timber smuggling report

13.  Afghan journalists assaulted by police covering New Year celebrations

14.  SAMSN Blogs

a.    Trolling is stoppable, by Laxmi Murthy

b.    Awareness and collective countering key to fight online harassment, Q&A with Dilrukshi Handunnetti

c.    Stand by and support other women journalists, Q&A with Dhanya Rajendran

d.    Technology has made it easier to harass women, Q&A with Farzana Ali

15.  NUJ(I) and IJU welcome Union Labour Minister’s proposal to amend Working Journalists Act 1955

16.  Bangladesh to install tools for cyber threat detection (The Daily Star)

17.  Independent Media Council in the offing in Sri Lanka (Daily News)

18.  Afghan President accused of censorship after cutting off journalist (Tolo)

19.  Hindustan Times launches special series ‘Let’s Talk About Trolls’

20.  Call for Applications: South Asian Initiative for Migrant Labour (Panos)

21.  #InternetOfRights: Creating the Universal Declaration of Digital Rights

1.  IFJ calls for action to defend women’s voices online in Asia-Pacific

The IFJ and its Asia-Pacific affiliates successfully ran the Byte Back Campaign from March 8 to 31, 2017, emphasizing a critical media need to protect women’s right to voice freely and safely in the online space. The campaign aimed to raise awareness on online harassment, trolling, abuse, cyber bullying and death threats which increasingly have a disproportionate gender dimension. Online harassment poses a rising threat to women’s voices online, particularly prominent in South Asia.

During the campaign, the IFJ launched Byte Back: A Journalist’s Guide to Combat Cyber Harassment in South Asia (download here) and an Draft IFJ Online Harassment Social Media Policy (for media houses) (download here). Journalists across South Asia participated in the campaign using hashtags #DefendMyVoiceOnline and #DontTroll; and sending videos with messages against online harassment (watch them all here).

The South Asia campaign page with resources, blogs and interviews is here; read IFJ statement on social media policy here, and about journalist’s guide here.

2. Bangladesh court convicts six for photojournalist’s murder

A Dhaka court convicted six accused in the 2013 killing of photojournalist Aftab Ahmed. Judge Abdur Rahman Sardar of Dhaka Speedy Trial Tribunal 4 sentenced five accused to death and another accused to seven years in jail for his involvement in the murder of award-winning photojournalist Ahmed. Ahmed, 79, was murdered at his residence during a robbery in Dhaka’s Rampura on December 25, 2013. In 2006, Ahmed was awarded the Ekushey Padak, the second highest civilian award in Bangladesh. More here.

3. Maharashtra passes landmark journalist protection law

Maharashtra state of India on April 7 passed a law aimed at protecting journalists. The Maharashtra Media Persons and Media Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage or Loss to Property) Act, 2017 states that any incident of violence against media persons or damage or loss of property of media persons or media institutions is punishable in the state. Any offender who commits or attempts to commit or instigate or provokes the commission of any act of violence against a journalist would be punished with imprisonment extending up to three years and fine, which may extend to Rs 50,000 (approximately USD 780) or both. Besides, offenders shall be liable to pay compensation for damage or loss of the property as well as liable to reimburse medical expenditure incurred by the victim journalist. The Act also states that only high ranking police officers must investigate incidents of violence against journalists; the offense would be cognisable and non-bailable. More here.

4. Journalism student lynched in Pakistan for alleged blasphemy

Mashal Khan, a 23-year-old journalism student, was lynched by a violent mob in his hostel at Wali Khan University in Mardan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan on April 13, allegedly for uploading blasphemous content on social networking site Facebook. The police however have found no evidence of the alleged blasphemous content. Graphic video footage of the lynching showed Khan lying on the floor and his body which bore multiple marks of severe torture was not moving. The mob was seen kicking his lifeless body and beating it with wooden planks. He was then thrown from the second floor of the university building. More here.

5. Online harassment for Indian journalist exposing illegal sand mining

Sandhya Ravishankar, a Chennai-based freelancer who wrote a four-part series in online news website The Wire that implicates Tirunelveli-based mining baron S Vaikundarajan in illegal sand mining, was abused online. The reports triggered a spate of abusive calls and threats of violence on Twitter and Facebook by his supporters. Ravishankar approached the city police commissioner as well as the Press Council of India a complaint about the harassment and threats and has since been provided police protection. More here.

6. Nepal reintroduces restrictive online media directives

Nepal issued a revised version of controversial Online Media Directives on March 20. The revised Directives were published in the Nepal Gazette without consultation with stakeholders. They are restrictive and give arbitrary powers to the Department of Information to restrict and harass online media, thus threatening freedom of expression and press freedom. More here.

7. Opposition TV in Maldives reeling under fine for alleged defamation

The Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) slapped the Raajje TV with a fine of MVR 1 m (USD 64,850) for content that it deemed defamed President Abdulla Yameen. The content in question is a speech at a rally held by the Maldivian United Opposition on October 26, 2016 which Raajje TV had broadcast live. MBC’s letter to the channel said that Raajje TV had violated clause 10 subsection (a) (1) and (2) of the Anti-Defamation and Freedom of Expression Act, passed in August, 2016. The MBC said that due to the broadcast of the content, Raajje TV had created doubt amongst members of the public over the roles and responsibility of the President and damaged his reputation and dignity. More here.

8. Newspapers forced to close down in Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan

On March 21, all local newspapers in Gilgit-Baltistan suspended publication for an indefinite period as protest against non-payment of advertisement bills by the regional authorities and changes in rules which amounted to gagging the press. The newspapers in the remote northern-most part Pakistan largely depend on government advertisements for survival. The newspapers said they would remain shut until their dues were cleared and changes introduced in the rules, adversely affecting the media industry. The newspapers resumed after an agreement mediated by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists. More here.

9. Petrol bomb hurled at photojournalists in Nepal

Students protesting against the elections to the Free Students Union at the Ratna Rajya Laxmi College on Exhibition Road in Kathmandu, hurled a petrol-based Improvised Explosive Device targeting photojournalists Shreedhar Paudel of OnlineKhabar.com and Keshav Thapa of The Kathmandu Post daily on March 28. The photojournalists were taking photographs of the protests and documenting scuffle between the police and protesters who were against the holding of the election. The photojournalists managed to get away to safety. More here.

10. Photojournalist detained in Odisha, India

On March 6, Subhendu Kanungo, a photojournalist with leading Odia-language daily Prayabekhyak, was arrested from the Sailashree Vihar area on the charge of ‘misbehaviour’ with Ayub Khan, a Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) from the ruling party, during a telephone call on February 14. The police did not inform his family or his employer about his detention. More here.

11. Police assaults photojournalists in Kashmir

On March 16 in Srinagar, Kashmir, the police assaulted Tauseef Mustafa, a photojournalist for Agence France Presse and manhandled other photojournalists while they were covering a press conference outside the residence of politician Syed Ali Geelani. Journalists were barred from covering the conference and were assaulted as leaders were escorted into cars.  The Kashmir Editors Guild and the Kashmir Press Photographers Association condemned the incident. Both organizations along with working journalists staged a demonstration protesting the treatment of Mustafa and other journalists present that day. More here.

12. Nepalese journalist attacked for timber smuggling report

In Bara district of Nepal government employees attempted to attack journalist Upendra Yadav on March 21. Yadav was trying to gather information from the District Forest Office at Simara regarding an incident of timber smuggling. It was at this juncture that the employees of the said office attempted to attack him. More here.

13. Afghan journalists assaulted by police covering New Year celebrations

On March 22, in the Balkh Province of Afghanistan Ahmad Bashir Attayee, a news reporter for Ariana News TV was assaulted by a police officer while he was covering Nowroz (Persian New Year) celebrations. The cameraman assisting, Ahmad Waled Sediqi was also beaten for recording the assault and his camera was broken. Afghan Independent Journalist Association has reported that authorities have failed to investigate the assault. More here.

14. SAMSN Blogs

A.  Trolling is stoppable, by Laxmi Murthy
Trolling and online abuse is today an ugly reality of the online space. Journalists in general and women journalists in particular are specifically targeted by trolls who sometimes succeed in enforcing self-censorship or even pushing women offline by their abusive online behaviour. Read more.

B.  Awareness and collective countering key to fight online harassment, Q&A with Dilrukshi Handunnetti
Despite available laws, cyber bulling can be intensely difficult for the victims. Some have documented successful attempts through counter campaigns: such as more people actively opposing acts of online abuse and highlighting offensive behaviour, thus generating online opinion against such behaviour. In reality, this may be far more effective than resorting to old systems for protection. Awareness is key as well as collective countering. Read more.

C.  Stand by and support other women journalists, Q&A with Dhanya Rajendran
One of the ways to hold perpetrators of online harassment accountable is to call them out – especially on a platform like Facebook, where their friends and family can see what they’re up to. Another way is to have a dialogue with the platforms themselves, and ensure they understand and update their reporting mechanisms. Read more.

D.  Technology has made it easier to harass women, Q&A with Farzana Ali
In many cases especially when women are working in the field, we were always worried about footage shot on mobile phones by our colleagues or someone else and they post it with offensive comments, or go on to troll women by distorting situations. Read more.

15. NUJ(I) and IJU welcome Labour Minister’s proposal to amend Working Journalists Act 1955

The National Union of Journalists (India) and the Indian Journalists Union (IJU), in separate statements, have welcomed the Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya’s statement on amending the Working Journalists Act, 1955. The Minister said in Kochi on April 18 that the Union Government would take initiatives to amend the Working Journalists Act. He assured the mediapersons that his Ministry would form a tripartite committee including establishments, working journalists, state government and the Labour Ministry. Read NUJI statement here and IJU statement here.

16. Bangladesh to install tools for cyber threat detection (The Daily Star)

The Bangladesh government is going to install internet monitoring equipment by May next year to help combat militancy amid growing concerns about extremists using the internet to spread their propaganda and communicate amongst themselves. The equipment, to be installed under a project, would also help clamp down on cyber threats and crimes, and enforce the ban on pornography. It would enable law enforcers monitor internet activities of people round-the-clock. Read more.

17. Independent Media Council in the offing in Sri Lanka (Daily News)

The Mass Media and Parliamentary Reforms Ministry is engaged in drafting new legislation to set up an Independent Media Council, Deputy Minister Karunarathna Paranavithana said. He said the new legislation would be titled ‘Independent Council for News Media Standards Act’. The Deputy Minister said that the model most suitable to the Sri Lankan context would be selected in consultation with all stakeholders. Read more.

18. Afghan President accused of censorship after cutting off journalist (Tolo)

President Ashraf Ghani on April 9 refused to respond to a question by Tolo news reporter Sharif Amiri about rule of law. Ghani swiftly cut Amiri off when he asked the question and said that any questions had to be in the context of his week-long tour to the Asia-Pacific region. But later, Ghani responded to several questions which were not within the framework of his trip. More here.

19. Hindustan Times launches a special series ‘Let’s Talk About Trolls’

Hindustan Times, daily in India, has launched a special series on online harassment named ‘Let’s Talk About Trolls’. Barkha Dutt, a noted Indian journalist, in her opinion titled ‘Online abuse a weapon to silence women’ wrote: “Trolling has become part of my daily life. I don’t even notice it anymore; that’s how dangerously inured I have become to the gross innuendo and violent and sexually explicit abuse that is heaped on so many women. But this is so wrong. And our silence— my silence, my numbed weary acceptance of it or even my defiant engagement with it — is a disservice to all women. Because in the end, trolling is a modern-day weapon of patriarchs; an attempt to control, intimidate and eventually silence women, all of us who think for ourselves.” Read more.

20. Call for Applications: South Asian Initiative for Migrant Labour (Panos)

Panos South Asia invites applications for the South Asian Initiative for Migrant Labour Media Fellowships 2017-2018. The fellowships are being offered by Panos South Asia as a part of a Swiss Development and Cooperation (SDC) project to encourage dialogue and discussion on migrant labour issues among the journalists in South Asia. Applications are invited from mid-career and senior print, television, radio and web journalists who write/ report on migrant labour issues from Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Read more.

21. #InternetOfRights: Creating the Universal Declaration of Digital Rights

Article 19 has proposed a Universal Declaration of Digital Rights stating that ‘In these politically charged times, in which the world appears to be more polarized and divided, and digital public spaces more restricted, we believe the time is right to create and articulate a new set of rights for the digital age that work with the existing human rights framework.’ In this age of the Internet of Things, we need the Internet of Rights. We need a new Universal Declaration of Digital Rights. Read more.

***

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  

Share

Comment

Please enter valid email address
Please enter valid name
If you don't see one of your comments, that means that it is not moderated yet or it has been rejected.