The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliates in condemning the attempted bombing of an english-language newspaper in Manipur, north east India, which has seen media outlets throughout the region stop work.
Following the attempted attack of The Sangai Express on July 31 by a suspected militant group, a media meeting at the press club in Manipur resolved to protest the incident by immediately ceasing publication of all cable broadcasts and newspapers for an indefinite period of time.
IFJ Asia Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said the IFJ supports the media organisations who have taken a stand against the attempted attacks and in defence of their safety.
“Journalists have to be able to work free from fear of violence. These journalists have taken an admirable stand in the face of very real threats to their lives,” Park said.
Wrapped as a mobile handset package and addressed to the editor, the bomb was delivered to the editor’s office before a journalist identified it as a mortar bomb and alerted police and co-workers to the danger. The mortar shell was subsequently removed by a state bomb expert and diffused harmlessly.
The same evening other unidentified intruders entered the offices of the daily newspapers Huyen Lanpao and Naharolgi Thoudang brandishing guns and threatening staff.
According to local reports, two opposing factions of the militant group have been threatening media outlets with death if they publish the press releases of the other.
Following the use of the media for by another militant group engaged in factional warfare last year, the All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union (AMWJU) and the Editor’s Forum Manipur (EFM) resolved to stop publishing releases from factional groups, but death threats from the groups have threatened their resolve.
In response, the journalists have initiated a sit-in protest at the Keishampat area of Imphal, insisting the protest will continue until the militant factions provide a written agreement that they will not interfere with the press in the future.
“These groups must understand that it does them no good to try and use the press in their factional warfare,” Park said.
“Instead, the media should be left to do their work freely. By reporting the situation factually and fairly the media will help build understanding between rival groups, and hopefully help facilitate peace, ” she said.
Following the attempted attack on The Sangai Express, journalists started a rally from the Manipur Press Club to the home of the Chief Minister, insisting he provide security for the homes of media workers who had been threatened. The Chief Minister assured the journalists he would provide assistance.
“The IFJ welcomes the assistance of the authorities who must provide protection for these journalists,” Park said.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries