We, journalists of the Asia Pacific, representing journalists' trade unions and associations of the region, gathered at a meeting of the IFJ in Kathmandu on Nov 24, 2016, call urgently for peace in Kashmir, India. We strongly condemn the attacks and restrictions on media reporting of the Kashmir conflict, in particular the arbitrary ban on the Kashmir Reader daily newspaper. We also condemn the restrictions on the use of internet and mobile phones in the conflict-affected Kashmir Valley, which affects newsgathering and dissemination. It also impedes news reporting from the ground, thus affecting the public's right to know and freedom of expression of the people of Kashmir. Journalists in Kashmir are at constant risk while covering clashes and military operations. We demand adequate measures to provide safety and risk insurance for them.
We regret the firings by security forces on unarmed civilians, including the use of pellet guns that have blinded many people, including children. We regret the four-month long curfew in the Kashmir Valley that has brought the area's economy to a standstill and has also affected the media industry by reducing advertisements to publications and resulting in unemployment among media workers. Curfews, search and cordon operations make journalists' jobs harder and distribution of newspapers extremely difficult.
Finally, we urge our media colleagues on both sides of the India-Pakistan border to eschew jingoism, observe restraint and promote resolution of the conflict by talks with all parties concerned.
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