Asia Pacific Bulletin: October

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In this bulletin:

1. Media executive kidnapped in Pakistan

2. IFJ welcomes resolution by Pak-Afghan journalists

3. Filipino journalists threatened on social media

4. Journalists attacked and arrested covering protests in China

5. Journalist threatened after personal phone number shared

6. Journalists face difficulties as unrest in Kashmir continues

7. Online editor arrested under ICT Act in Bangladesh

8. Magazine suspends publication after bureaucratic harassment in Nepal

9. Indonesian Air Force involved in alleged assault on journalists

10. Hong Kong journalists attacked during pre-election reporting

11. Bangladesh journalist released on bail after four months in custody

12. Legislation and protocols stifling press freedom in the Maldives

13. Maldives government issues warning over Al-Jazeera documentary

14. Index on Censorship opens nominations for 2017 Freedom of Expression Awards and Fellowships

15. The IPC gets you where the story takes you

 

1. IFJ welcomes resolution by Pak-Afghan journalists

Journalists from Pakistan and Afghanistan have unanimously agreed on a resolution to promote a healthy bilateral relationship through positive and constructive reporting.

 

Senior journalists from the neighbouring countries passed the resolution at a seminar organised by the Pakistan Federation Union of Journalists (PFUJ) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in collaboration with the non-profit organisation Equal Access. The seminar was a follow-up of the Pak-Afghan journalists exchange program in which a number of journalists from both countries participated. Read more here

2. Media executive kidnapped in Pakistan

On Wednesday the 28th of September, Abid Abdullah, executive director of the Jang Group media house, was kidnapped by at least eight armed men on his way home from work in Peshawar, Pakistan. The abductors intercepted his car and took him and his driver hostage at gunpoint as three gunmen occupied their car.

Pervez Khattak, Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, ordered the immediate recovery of Abdullah and the arrest of his kidnappers. The police have registered a First Information Report (FIR) and begun an investigation. Read more here

3. Filipino journalists threatened on social media

Freelance journalist Gretchen Malalad and Al Jazeera correspondent Jamela Alindogan-Caudron were targeted for their critical reporting of the Philippine government’s controversial anti-drug campaign, which has seen almost 2500 people killed since the inauguration of President Rodrigo Duterte on June 30. Malalad allegedly provided information to a TIME Magazine journalist writing about the tragic consequences of the government policy and President Duterte’s purported connections to extra-judicial killings. Alindogan-Caudron has been reprimanded for her reports relating to the Philippine-based Islamist militant group Abu Sayyaf. Both journalists have received threats of rape and harm towards their families.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NJUP) chair, Ryan Rosauro, said: “We will never take any threats, whether of physical harm or to silence us, lightly for we have lost far too many of our colleagues and hardly seen justice for them.” Read more here

4. Journalists attacked and arrested covering protests in China

On September 14, at least eight journalists and photographers from Ming Pao Daily, HK01, South China Morning Post (SCMP) and Reuters were arrested by more than a dozen riot police. The journalists were in Wukan village covering a large protest, which police were trying to pacify. At least three of the media workers were arrested in a locals house when it was raided by over 20 riot police, while others were arrested outside the village. One journalist, who was carrying a Mainland press accreditation card told the IFJ that, “Police were really hostile to us. They banged the table, nearly touching my forehead, they scolded and yelled at us. Read more here

5. Journalist threatened after personal phone number shared

On September 14, Delhi-based journalist Deepak Chaurasia lodged a First Information Report (FIR) at the Safdarjung Enclave Police Station against unidentified persons after receiving multiple threat calls on his personal phone number. Chaurasia alleged that he started receiving threat calls after Delhi Tourism and Water Resources Minister Kapil Mishra shared his number in a tweet after the India News TV made public the numbers of AAP ministers listed in AAP website in a TV program.

NUJI said the union would submit a memorandum to the President of India; and stage a sit-in protest at the Delhi Secretariat building if the state fails to punish those who have issued threats to Deepak Chaurasia. Read more here

6. Journalists face difficulties as unrest in Kashmir continues

On September 3, two photojournalists Muzamil Mattoo of the Kashmir Readerand Zuhaib Maqbool of an online news portal, ​were injured by the pellets fired by the security forces on a procession at Rainawari, Old Srinagar. Matoo sustained pellet injuries in head, back and arm, while Maqbool was hit in the eye and needed surgery. “A policeman who saw us taking photos fired pellets directly at us,” Mattoo told his newspaper.

According to reports, journalists and photojournalists have being subject to attacks and harassment on a daily basis since the unrest began on July 8. At least four major incidents of press freedom violation were reported in first week of September. Read more here

7. Online editor arrested under ICT Act in Bangladesh

Siddiqur Rahman, the editor of education specialist website DainikShiksha.com, was arrested on September 1 over a news item. Rahman was arrested after Prof. Fahima Khatun, wife of a ruling Awami League parliamentarian Obaidur Muktadir and a sister of Food Minister Kamrul Islam, filed a case under Section 57 of the ‘notorious’ ICT Act. Khatun, the former Director General of the Higher Secondary Education Directorate, claimed that reports alleging corruption during her tenure in the Directorate ‘defamed and tarnished’ her image and that of the state.

 

The controversial Section 57 of the ICT Act 2006 criminalises several forms of online expression including false information, defamatory statements, and expression that tarnishes the image of the state or an individual. The IFJ said: “The IFJ believes that some provisions of the Act, including Section 57, are against the norms of freedom of expression and press freedom, and should be repealed immediately.” Read more here

8. Magazine suspends publication after bureaucratic harassment in Nepal

On August 24, the Southasia Trust, the publisher of Himal Southasian magazine, announced that the November 2016 edition would be the last issue published. The Trust cited the non-cooperation of regulatory bodies as the reason behind the decision, noting that such bodies “have made it impossible to continue operations after 29 years of publication”. The Trust said that “Himal is being silenced not by direct attack or overt censorship but the use of the arms of bureaucracy to paralyse its functioning.” Read more here

9. Indonesian Air Force involved in alleged assault on journalists

Three local Indonesian journalists were allegedly attacked by Indonesian Air Force personnel during the recent Sari Rejo clash in Medan on the western island of Sumatera, Indonesia. The journalists were covering protests by residents in Medan over the blocking of access to disputed land by the Indonesian Air Force when violence broke out between residents and Air Force personnel.

At least 10 locals were injured in the clash, with reports of some suffering gunshot wounds. Two journalists, Andri Syafrin of MNC TV and Array Agus from Tribun Medan were identified as being attacked as they covered the clash. Read more here

10. Hong Kong journalists attacked during pre-election reporting

A journalist and a photographer from Ming Pao Daily were blocked from entering an illegal banquet event hosted by a candidate for the upcoming elections. The banquet event contravened the Chinese Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance. Despite identifying themselves, the reporters were immediately blocked from entering by members of a police support group, and the photographer’s phone was confiscated when he attempted to film the event. They were then attacked, the photographer injured his head and has his glasses broken, while the journalist was pushed to the ground and injured her hand. Rear more here

11. Bangladesh journalist released on bail after four months in custody

On August 31, a five-member Appellate Division bench led by Chief Justice Surenedra Kumar Singh, granted three months bail to 81-year-old veteran journalist and editor, Shafik Rehman, who was arrested on April 16. Rehman was arrested for attempting to abduct and murder Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s son Sajeeb Wazed Joy in the USA, yet to date no charges have been laid against him. Rehman has been in detention since his arrest, even during a bout of ill-health where he was detained in the prison hospital. He had previously been denied bail by the High Court, and according to his family was placed in solidarity confinement in prison. Read more here

12. Legislation and protocols stifling press freedom in the Maldives

On August 28, the Maldives National Chamber of Commerce and Industries (MNCCI) requested President Abdulla Yameen implement restrictions on foreign journalists stating they were causing damage to the economy and the tourism sector. The MNCCI reportedly said “foreign journalists are biased in their coverage of the Maldives”.

 

The call came in the wake of an announcement by the Department of Immigration which set new rules requiring background checks on foreign journalists and photographers visiting the Maldives. According to reports, foreign journalists and photographers arriving in the country are now required to provide details of their work and travel histories and education, and information on their bank account and criminal records.The Immigration Department’s rules were announced after the Maldives saw growing media coverage in the international press about the political crisis. Read more here

13. Maldives government issues warning over Al-Jazeera documentary

On September 7, the Guardian reported that the governing party of the Maldives had issued a warning to anyone involved in assisting with, producing, or broadcasting what it asserts are false claims featured in a film. It has “threatened to use controversial defamation laws against anyone involved in producing or broadcasting what it says are false allegations of corruption due to be aired in an [upcoming] Al-Jazeera documentary.” In August the Maldives introduced harsh defamation laws that make it a criminal as well as civil offence, meaning that those found guilty could face jail-time of up to six months.

Read the full Guardian article here

Read more about the Maldives’ new defamation laws here

14. Index on Censorship opens nominations for 2017 Freedom of Expression Awards and Fellowships

Index on Censorship, an international organisation promoting and defending the right to freedom of expression, has opened nominations for the 2017 Freedom of Expression Awards and Fellowships. The awards exist to celebrate individuals or groups who have had a significant impact fighting censorship anywhere in the world.

 

Awards are offered in four categories: Arts, Campaigning, Digital Activism and Journalism. Anyone who has had a demonstrable impact in tackling censorship is eligible to apply. Winners are honoured at a gala celebration in London and join Index’s Awards Fellowship programme and receive dedicated training and support. Apply here

15. 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 you 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.