Manipur Media Shuts Down to Protest Threats Against Journalist

The

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) extends its solidarity to colleagues

in the Indian state of Manipur in their collective protest at the dire threats

issued by a local militant group against S. Singlianmang Guite, correspondent

of the The Sangai Express.

 

In

response to a joint call made by the All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union

(AMWJU) and the Manipur Hill Journalists’ Union (MHJU), the state’s newspapers

and news channels shut down en masse on July 22 against this threat to a

colleague.

 

The AMWJU

has since called off its mass abstention following an unconditional written

apology by the armed group concerned. The MHJU will continue its protest

closure for another day.

 

“We note

that this is the third time in as many years that the media in Manipur has had to

shut down completely to protest the threats it receives from the numerous

militant groups and security agencies in the state,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director

Jacqueline Park said.

 

“Journalists

have also in the recent past been impelled to surrender their press accreditation

cards to the authorities in a symbolic protest against their perilous existence.

 

“This

closure, unlike earlier ones which stretched on for days, has been relatively

brief. But it highlights once again how journalism in Manipur is at constant

risk of being caught in the crossfire between rival armed groups on one side

and state security agencies on the other.”

 

According

to IFJ sources, Guite’s home in the district town of Churachandpur was visited at 11.45 am on July

21 by three men who arrived in a car. Witnesses identified the vehicle as one frequently

used by the Hmar Peoples Convention (Democratic) – or HPC(D) – a militant group

that recently entered into a “suspension of operations” agreement with the

authorities in Manipur state and the Indian Union Government.

 

Guite, a

former secretary of the MHJU, was not home. But the militants, brandishing

firearms, spoke threateningly to his wife and demanded she put them in contact

with Guite. Once phone contact was established, the putative leader of the group

spoke at length in an angry tone, warning Guite of dire consequences if his paper

did not retract a report published that morning.

 

The report

dealt with a rescue operation that had freed an abducted doctor. The site of

the rescue was identified as one where the HPC(D) is active, and seemed in the

perception of the militant group to implicate them in the abduction. Though Guite

did not prepare the report, which was published with the dateline of the state

capital of Imphal, he was picked out as an easy target.

 

“The IFJ urges

civil society in Manipur to stand firm against this tendency for militant

groups and security agencies to pick on journalists as soft targets, in effect

depriving the people of the state of accurate information on matters of vital

concern to them,” Park said.

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125 countries

 

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Twitter: @ifjasiapacific