04/12/2017
 

Asia Pacific Bulletin: December

India's ongoing challenge with impunity. The funeral of Indian journalist killed in a targeted attack. Credit: Arindam DEY/AFP

Tagged in:

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 January 18, 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.

Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ifjasiapacific 

Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific 

Join the IFJ Asia-Pacific mailing list here 

In this bulletin:

1.       India’s deadly year: Two journalists killed in less than 10 days

2.       Kurdish-Iranian journalist targeted in PNG raid on detention centre

3.       IFJ proposes International Convention on journalist safety

4.       Internet services blocked in Sri Lanka & Pakistan

5.       IFJ Survey: Ending Violence against Female Journalists

6.       Journalism under attack: Afghanistan’s challenge with impunity

7.       Ampatuan Massacre: Eight Years On

8.       IFJ Blog: Celebrating Australian Journalism – MEAA

9.       Cambodia: Press Freedom crackdown continues

10.   Pakistan media facing increasing challenges

11.   VOA staff terminated after livestreamed interview

12.   Bangladesh ICT law claims more journalists

13.   Nepal: journalists attacked by political gang

 

1.       India’s deadly year: Two journalists killed in less than 10 days

On November 21, Sudip Dutta Bhaumik was shot dead at close range in Agartala in Tripura in northeastern India. Bhaumik, a senior journalist with Syandan Patrika, a prominent Bengali language newspaper of Tripura had gone to meet the Commandant of the Second Battalion of the Tripura State Rifles (TSR) at RK Nagar about 20 km from the state capital Agartala. Bhaumik had obtained an appointment with the Commandant, but when he reached the office, there was a dispute with the armed Personal Security Officer (PSO) of the Commandant. The PSO, Nandu Riyang reportedly shot Bhaumik at point blank range.

Bhuamik is the second journalist killed in Tripura in less than two months after Santanu Bhowmik died following an attack as he covered local clashes.

On November 30, 35-year-old Naveen Gupta, a correspondent for the Hindustan was shot dead in Bilhaur, Uttar Pradesh. Gupta was shot as he was coming out of a toilet block, behind a shop owned by his brother. The assailants fled immediately, but Gupta died on his way to hospital, been shot five times in the face and torso. He is survived by his wife and five year old son.

Bhuamik and Gupta are the sixth and seventh journalists killed in India in what has been a deadly 2017, respectively, bringing the number of journalists killed in India since 2015 to 15.

Read more here and here.

On December 30, the IFJ will publish its annual Killed List report, documenting the cases of journalists and media workers killed for their work across the world in 2017.  

2.       Kurdish-Iranian journalist targeted in PNG raid on detention centre

On November 23, Papua New Guinea (PNG) police llaunched an operation at the Australian detention centre on Manus Island, PNG, in an attempt to remove the remaining refugees. During the operation, the police officers reportedly asked ‘where’s the journalist’. When they found Boochani, he was handcuffed and led out of the centre by two officers. A few hours later, Behrouz was released, with PNG police claiming he was never arrested, but escorted out.

Following his release, Boochani said that he was detained for two hours behind the centre. He was handcuffed the entire time, and not allowed to use his phone. He said during the detention the officers yelled at him “You are reporting against us”. Boochani said he was pushed several times and his belongings were damaged.

Following the raid, MEAA wrote to the Australian and PNG governments requesting a clarification on Behrouz’s detention.
Read more here and read the MEAA letter here.   

3.       IFJ proposes International Convention on journalist safety

At the IFJ Executive Committee meeting in Tunisia on November 18, IFJ affiliates backed the IFJ’s proposed International Convention on the Safety & Independence of Journalists and Other Media Professionals. The ground-breaking convention would for the first time establish binding standards creating safeguards specifically for journalists and media workers. Unlike most violations, attacks on journalists’ life or physical integrity have an impact on the public’s right to information, contribute to a decline of democratic control and have a chilling effect on everyone’s freedom of expression.

Despite this, there is no independent course of action for members of the public or other media workers in cases of violations of the rights of a journalist to lodge an application for the case to be heard in an international procedure.

Read more here.

4.       Internet services blocked in Sri Lanka & Pakistan

On November 8, UK-based Sri Lankan news site Lanka e News was inaccessible. The website was blocked after it published a report alleging corruption by the Office of the President in a deal relating to purchase of warships. The website said that ‘the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) which is under the President has ordered ISPs to block people in Sri Lanka accessing our website’ and ‘an official of the presidential secretariat had spoken to an Institution providing advertisements to Lanka e news and instructed to halt that advertisement’. The TRCSL has made no comments on this.

While in Pakistan, on November 25, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PERMA) issued a directive prohibiting live coverage of the operation to end the Faizabad sit-in protest, which led to most news channels going off-air in Islamabad and other parts of the country, displaying the message: "This channel is suspended on orders of PEMRA”. At the same time, The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) also directed the blocking of Facebook, YouTube, DailyMotion, Twitter and Instagram in some parts of the country on the Interior Ministry's orders. While internet services in Faizabad, Rawalpindi where the protests were happening, were also suspended. The directives lasted for 28 hours.

Read more here and here.

5.       IFJ Survey: Ending Violence against Female Journalists

On November 25, International Day to End Violence Against Women the IFJ released a survey detailing gender-based violence against journalists worldwide. According to the survey, 1 in 2 women journalists have suffered sexual harassment , psychological abuse, online trolling and other forms of abuse while working.

A massive 85% say no or inadequate action has been taken against perpetrators and most workplaces do not even have a written policy to counter such abuses or provide a mechanism for reporting them

Read more here.

6.       Journalism under attack: Afghanistan’s challenge with impunity

As the IFJ and Afghan Independent Journalist Association (AIJA) campaigned to #EndImpunity for Crimes Against Journalists throughout November, the safety situation for the local media continued to deteriorate. On November 7, gunmen stormed the offices of Shamshad TV in Kabul. Two armed men with guns, explosive materials, and suicide jackets stormed into Shamshad Television in Kabul at 10:30 am, killing a front gate guard and injuring 22 media workers and journalists. The condition of 6 injured is serious. Shamshad TV’s security guards engaged the attackers at the main building entrance and opened backdoor as safe exit for majority of employees. Afghan Special Forces helped the television guards killed both attackers to end the attack in less than three hours. The channel’s live broadcasting resumed two hours later with presenters with injured hand describing the attack. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) has reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack.

On November 16, Husain Nazari, a cameraman in Rah-e-Farda TV, was critically wounded in the suicide attack at a political gathering in Kabul and died on his way to hospital, His colleague reporter Taqi Sadid was also injured in the attack, which killed 19 people including 8 police officers.

Read more here and here.  

7.       Ampatuan Massacre: Eight Years On

November 23 marked eight years since the deadliest single attack on media workers, the Ampatuan Massacre. On November 23, 2009, 58 people, including 32 journalists, were brutally murdered in Sitio Masalay, Ampatuan, in Mindanao in the southern Philippines. While the Ampatuan Massacre received global condemnation, of the 198 suspects only 115 have been arrested and 112 arraigned. Many of them have been controversially released on bail. After eight years not a single person has been prosecuted. Four witnesses have died in questionable circumstances, and only 102 suspects remain in police custody.

On Sunday November 19, the IFJ joined the NUJP in the eighth commemoration of the Ampatuan Massacre, with a memorial at the massacre site. The memorial was an opportunity to meet with the victims’ families and local journalists, remembering their loved ones and colleagues.

Read more here.  

8.       IFJ Blog: Celebrating Australian Journalism – MEAA

On Wednesday, November 29, the Walkley Foundation held the 62nd annual Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism. MEAA CEO Paul Murphy delivered a rousing speech celebrating Australian journalism and calling for the need to protect press freedom. Read his speech here.  

9.       Cambodia: Press Freedom crackdown continues

On Tuesday, November 14, Oun Chhin and Yeang Sothearin, former Radio Free Asia (RFA) journalists, who work under the byline, Yeang Socheameta, were arrested at a Meanchey district guesthouse in Phnom Penh where they were allegedly trying to set up a karaoke production studio. Officials claimed that the KTV studio was illegal because the pair did not have the requisite permissions. However local media suggested that the arrests were the result of the pair sending news reports to RFA headquarters in the US. RFA shut its operations in Cambodia in September after a government-led crackdown on independent media saw broadcasting of RFA programmes impossible. On Saturday, November 18, a Phnom Penh Municipal Court investigating judge ordered that Oun and Yeang be transferred to Prey Sar prison for pretrial detention, after they were provisionally charged with espionage earlier in the day. The Ministry of Interior later confirmed that the pair are being investigated for allegedly setting up a studio for RFA, which they have denied.

In a separate incident, a former Cambodia Daily reporter, Len Leng, was detained and questioned for nearly three hours at the Chaktomuk commune police station on Thursday, November 16. Len was detained for allegedly not having a press pass, as she tried to observe the court proceedings regarding the government opposition, the Cambodia National Rescue Party. Len’s detention came after the Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief; Chhoun Sovann had said earlier in the day that the trial was open to the public.

Read more here.

10.   Pakistan media facing increasing challenges

During November, journalists and media workers faced new and increasing challenges across the country, simply trying to do their job.

a.       November 22: Two journalists were attacked while they covered political protests in Rawalpindi.

b.      November 24: Aleem Haider Zaidi from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was shot and injured in a suspicious attack near his house.

c.       November 24: Paramilitary forces detained five journalists and a press club employee after a magnetic bomb was found under the car they were travelling in, in Landikotal in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

d.      November 25: Three journalists were attacked as security forces launched an operation against political protests in Rawalpindi. Senior reporter Qamar Munawar of Dunya TV and Channel 24 reporter Sadam Mangar sustained injuries while senior photojournalist Tanveer Shahzad of Dawn was attacked by protesters on Murree Road. Two reporters of Geo News – Tariq Abul Hassan and Talha Hashmi were also injured while covering the protests. The DSNG vans of Samma, Abb Tak and Geo were attacked and damaged.

e.      October-November: On October 24 banned militant groups issued an ultimatum to Baloch-based newspapers, to stop the distribution of their papers. Since then, journalistic activities and distribution of newspapers in Balochistan have ceased.

                                                               i.      October 25: assailants belonging to Baloch Liberation Front hurled a hand grenade at the Hub Press Club.

                                                             ii.      October 26: unknown men attacked a newspaper distribution outlet in Turbat with a grenade that left several people injured, and gunmen stopped and attacked a minivan in the Awaran district and burnt the newspaper bundles it was carrying.

                                                            iii.      October 30: unidentified armed men beat up an employee of Daily Qudrat and burnt the newspapers he was carrying.

 Read more here and here.

11.    VOA staff terminated after livestreamed interview

On April 19, VOA livestreamed an interview with Chinese fugitive billionaire, Guo Wengui. The interview was originally scheduled to run for three hours, but the livestream was abruptly cut short, citing issues of ‘miscommunication’ for the disconnection. VOA strongly refused claims of self-censorship, however several media reports said that senior officials of the Foreign Ministry Affairs in China met with the Beijing Bureau Chief of VOA, and reportedly told VOA that the interview ‘interfered with China’s internal affairs’ and ‘interfered with the 19th National People’s Congress’. Following the interview, five VOA staff, Yang Chen, Bao Shen, Sasha Gong Xiaoxia, Dong Fang and Bao Shen were ordered to take administrative leave with pay until further notice.

Last month, Yang Chen was the first staff members to be informed that his employment had been reinstated and he could resume duties. Earlier this month, senior editor, Bao Shen was allowed to resume his duties. However Sasha, Gong and Bao were advised that their employment would be terminated as they violated certain regulations including disobeying management orders and not following journalistic practices. Sasha and Dong were the interviewers and Bao was the technician during the interview.

Read more here,  

12.   Bangladesh ICT law claims more journalists

Anisur Rahman, a 33-year-old journalist with Daily Sangbad in Roumari upazilla, Rangpur in northern Bangladesh was arrested under the controversial Section 57 of the ICT Act on November 21. He was charged with taking a “screenshot” of a Facebook post involving the president and the prime minister and for showing it to the local people. The journalist denied the allegation.

Similarly, the police arrested two online journalists – Md Layes Mondol and Md Sabid, from Trishal upazila, Mymensingh, northern Bangladesh on November 21 on charges of publishing a ‘false and fabricated’ news item involving Bangladesh Army and former chief justice. The news was published in the news portal Trishalnews.com on November 16. Layes is the administrator of the news portal while Md Sabid is its news editor.

Meanwhile, The Wire, an Indian online publication, claimed that the Bangladesh government had blocked access to their website a day after publishing an article on the role of the country’s military intelligence agency in the illegal pick-up and secret detention of an academician. The Wire report states that the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) e-mailed all internet gateway operators ordering them to “block the domain” urgently following a complaint by a security agency.

Read more here.  

13.   Nepal: journalists attacked by political gang

Dinesh Thapa, the FNJ Sindhupalchowk district chapter secretary and local correspondent of OnlineKhabar.com was attacked at his home by a gang led by a cadre of a political group on the eve of first phase of the general election on November 25. Thapa sustained injuries on his chest and back.

Read more here.  

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.