03/05/2018
 

IFJ Asia Pacific Bulletin: MAY #WPFD Edition

Launch of the 16th South Asia Press Freedom Report 2017-18 - Clampdowns and Courage in New Delhi, India. Credit: Venu Arora

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HAPPY WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY!

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

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In this bulletin:

1.       IFJ marks World Press Freedom Day

2.       IFJ & SAMSN launch Clampdowns and Courage

3.       Afghanistan: Media’s deadliest day

4.       IFJ urges govt backing for Convention on Journalist Safety

5.       Filipino journalists dies after targeted shooting

6.       Maldives journalist targeted in gang contract

7.       India: Journalists under attack as press freedom crumbles

8.       Public protests in Taiwan turn violent

9.       Sirasa TV in Sri Lanka intimidated

10.   MEAA launches annual press freedom report

11.   Islands of Integrity in Asian Media show why World Press Freedom Day still matters – South China Morning Post

12.   Press Freedom & Enforced Disappearances: Two Sides of the Same Coin in Sri Lanka – IPS

13.   Chronicles of Shame: The Changing Threat Patterns and Demographics of Pakistani Media Landscape – Freedom Network

14.   Freedom of Expression on the decline in Sri Lanka - Groundviews

 

 

1.       IFJ and affiliates mark World Press Freedom Day

Today is the 25th World Press Freedom Day, and the IFJ and its affiliates are celebrating the work of journalists and media workers across the world to guarantee and ensure press freedom.

 

In Australia, MEAA launched its annual Press Freedom report documenting the results of a survey of more 1,200 journalists and how press freedom in Australia has deteriorated over the past decade.

To mark WPFD in Sri Lanka, FMM is organised a public lecture and panel discussion on media freedom, which will hold under the title “Media Reforms: Moving beyond the current situation” on May 02 at Sri Lanka Press Institute. In India the IFJ and UNESCO will launch the annual South Asia Press Freedom Report 2017-18 – Clampdowns and Courage. In Nepal, FNJ organized a rally in Kathmandu and will represent the IFJ at the launch of the South Asia Press Freedom Report with UNESCO Nepal.

2.       IFJ & SAMSN launch Clampdowns and Courage

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) marked World Press Freedom Day with the launch of the 16th annual South Asia Press Freedom Report, ­Clampdowns and Courage.

The annual report, which documents the state of press freedom across South Asia, this year also puts focus on the plight of rural and small-town journalists, the flow-on impacts of the #MeToo movement in South Asia’s media and the scourge of sexual harassment impacting women journalists is covered in a special chapter featuring first person essays by women working in the region, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Bangladesh.

The IFJ said: “We document the attacks, clampdowns, repression and muzzling by legal means and more. But we also pay tribute to the other factor that unites South Asia’s media – and that is courage. In the face of adversity, its media fearlessly perseveres, despite the suffering and despite increased controls and criminalisation of their craft.”

Read more Opens external link in new windowhere and read the report here.  

3.       Afghanistan: Media’s deadliest day

April 30 is now a day of remembrance and mourning for Aghanistan’s media community, after its deadliest day. In two separate incidents, ten journalists were brutally killed in targeted attacks.

On Monday morning, nine journalists were killed in a suicide blast in Kabul. The journalists were responding to an intial blast Shashdarak area, near the headquarters of the Afghan intelligence services, when a second bomb was detonated by a person pretending to be a journalist.

At least 29 people, including the nine journalists were killed in the blasts. The journalists killed included: Agence France-Presse (AFP) chief photographer in Kabul Shah Marai, Tolo News cameraman Yar Mohammad Tokhi, Radio Azadi correspondents Abadullah Hananzai, Moharram Durrani and Sabawoon Kakar, 1TV reporter Ghazi Rasooli and cameraman Nowroz Ali Rajabi, Mashal TV reporter Salim Talash and cameraman Ali Salimi.

In the second incident, Unknown gunmen killed Ahmad Shah, a journalist with BBC Afghan service. According to media reports, two unknown armed men riding on a motorcycle shot Shah dead while he was on his way home at around 4 PM. It was not immediately clear the reason behind the killing and no group has taken responsibility for the attack.

On April 25, Afghan journalist, Abdul Manan Arghand from Kabul News TV, was shot dead at Yarana Market in the outskirts of Kandahar city, Afghanistan. Arghand was in his car when two gunmen on a motorbike intercepted him and opened fire at him killing him on the spot at around 9 am. He had reportedly received threats and had notified security authorities about the threats.

Read more here, here and here.   

4.       IFJ urges govt backing for Convention on Journalist Safety

Marking World Press Freedom Day, the IFJ says the spike in targeted killings of journalists highlights the need to endorse the IFJ’s proposal for an International Convention on the safety and independence of journalists and other media professionals. The IFJ has recorded 32 journalists and media staff killed so far in 2018, with a chilling ratio of two journalists killed every single week.

In the face of these serious attacks on the press, the IFJ says there is a need for a mechanism which provides accountability and its proposed International Convention on the Safety and Independence of Journalists and Other Media Professionals offers a way forward.

Read more here.

5.       Filipino journalists dies after targeted shooting

Edmund Sestoso, a broadcaster in Dumaguete City was shot on Monday, April 30, 2018. Following the attack, Sestoso was critically injured by five bullets to his chest and stomach. He died from his injuries on Tuesday May 1.

Sestoso was a broadcaster on dyGB 91.7 FM with his daily programme, Tug-anan. He was on his way home after his program when he was shot multiple times. Following the attack, the gunmen also shot the tires of the pedicab which was going to take Sestoso to hospital. He died the following day.

Sestoso was the former Dumaguete City chapter chairperson of the NUJP.

Read more here.

6.       Maldives journalist targeted in gang contract

Cadres of a political party offered money to a local gang to stab Raajje TV’s Chief Operation Officer Hussain Fiyaz Moosa in March 2018, Maldives’ opposition aligned station claimed. Raajje TV on April 26 cited credible information claiming that people connected to a political party offered MVR140,000 (USD9,000) to a local gang in presence of two politicians to physically harm Moosa. The station said that it was one of the lowest, scariest, most dangerous and un-Islamic acts carried out by anyone to undermine the station.

Read more here.

7.       India: Journalists under attack as press freedom crumbles

On April 26, Indian journalist Rana Ayyub filed a criminal complaint with the Saket Police station in New Delhi. The complaint came after Ayyub had endured days of online abuse and death threats, following a tweet from a fake account, which projected her as a defender of child rapists. Ayyub received numerous hate-filled, sexually explicit and threatening messages on her Facebook and Twitter. It was followed by a fake video with morphed images that became viral and triggered more threats of gang-rape.

Ayyub said: “I couldn’t sleep for three nights. I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t believe what was happening. I was numb. My parents called me to see if I was OK. The trolls posted my phone number, the address of my house online. If this is the depth of their hatred, what will stop them from coming into my house as a mob and kill me?”

On April 17, Patricia Mukhim, the editor of the Shilong Times in Umpling, Megahalya had a petrol bomb hurled at her house. Mukhim heard an explosion and saw flames rising outside her home and found the wall below her bedroom window charred on April 17 evening. No one was injured in the incident.

Mukhim had reportedly received death threats on Facebook some months back and had complained to the police and Facebook, but no action was taken.

On April 9, Photojournalist Biplab Mondal of The Times of India daily was forcibly undressed, illegally confined and beaten while other journalists and photojournalists were attacked in Alipore, Kolkata, West Bengal while they were covering the filing of nomination papers for the polls to the local bodies (panchayats). A group of attackers, allegedly affiliated to the ruling Trinamool Congress, saw Mondal taking pictures of the violence that broke out during the nomination and asked him to delete all the pictures. When he refused, he was beaten up, despite him telling them that he was a photojournalist. His mobile phone and camera were snatched and he was stripped half-naked.

Read more here, here and here

8.       Public protests in Taiwan turn violent

Following a decision by the Taiwanese government to look at reforms for the civil servant pension, protests broke out outside the Legislative Yuan in Teipei. On April 25, the third day of the protests at least 14 journalists were attacked, verbally assaulted and harassed by protesters. According to local media reports, the protest which was led by retired military personnel turned violent on Wednesday. Some protesters tried to snatch equipment including cameras, while other journalists were dragged away and others spat on. According to the ATJ 14 journalists had their equipment damaged or were physically assaulted and 10 sustained injuries. Following this, 12 journalists have filed police reports.

Read more here.

9.       Sirasa TV in Sri Lanka intimidated

A mob shouted slogans and set off firecrackers at the main gate of the Sirasa TV in Colombo, Sri Lanka on April 4, 2018 in protest against the channel’s coverage of the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe which was defeated in the parliament. The mob gathered at the main gate of the office complex of MTV Channel after the no-confidence motion was defeated, and shouted slogans, setting off firecrackers for about an hour. MTV Channel, a private media company, owns three national television channels including Sirasa TV. As a result of the mob gathered at the main gate, the media staff were unable to exit the office complex. The police later dispersed the mob.

Read more here.

10.    MEAA launches annual press freedom report

Press freedom in Australia has deteriorated over the past decade according to a survey of more than 1200 people conducted by MEAA. The survey, which was conducted online by MEAA between February and April this year, is being released on UNESCO World Press Freedom Day, May 3.

National security laws are being used by the Australian parliament to increase jail terms for journalists in order to stifle the public’s right to know what governments are doing in our name. There’s almost universal acceptance of the maxim “Journalism is not a crime”. One exception is Australia’s parliament — it begs to differ.

Indeed this year, in the first press freedom survey MEAA has conducted, it appears that journalists are also more relaxed about assaults on press freedom than the community at large. The survey, which was completed by working journalists as well as members of the public, highlighted a division between journalists and their audience about press freedom problems.

Read the report here.  

11.   Islands of Integrity in Asian Media show why World Press Freedom Day still matters – South China Morning Post

Every year on May 3, World Press Freedom Day serves to remind people of the perils faced by journalists around the world. That message, though, probably falls flat among those who have lost faith in journalism as a force for good. In recent years, authoritarian populist politicians have cultivated this cynicism, attacking the credibility of the press to make their own tenuous relationship with truth appear no worse.

Read more here.  

12.   Press Freedom & Enforced Disappearances: Two Sides of the Same Coin in Sri Lanka - IPS

When Sri Lankan journalist Richard de Zoysa was abducted from his home in Colombo on the night of February 18th, 1990, his family knew there would be dark days ahead. The population was still reeling from one of the bloodiest episodes in the island nation’s history – a government counterinsurgency campaign to crush a Marxist rebellion in southern Sri Lanka, which left between 30,000 and 60,000 people dead at the hands of government death squads.

Read more here.

13.   Chronicles of Shame: The Changing Threat Patterns and Demographics of Pakistani Media Landscape – Freedom Network

An award-winning Pakistan-based media rights watchdog Freedom Network has recorded over 150 cases of attacks and violations against media and its practitioners, including journalists, in Pakistan in the last one year, signifying a worryingly escalating climate of intimidation and harassment that is adversely affecting the freedom of expression and access to information environment.

Read more here.

14.   Freedom of Expression on the decline in Sri Lanka – Groundviews

The last twelve months, since World Press Freedom day 2017, has not been a good year for freedom of expression in Sri Lanka. The war ravaged North bore the brunt of repression, while there were also several incidents in other parts of the country. Victims included journalists, lawyers, activists, artists and in particular those speaking out and advocating on issues such as of women’s rights, gender and sexuality. A website that had published content critical of the President was blocked, following an intervention from the Presidential Secretariat. With very few exceptions, impunity reigned for past violations of free expression, including most serious ones such as killings and disappearances of journalists and media workers and arson attacks on media institutions.

Read more here.

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