Asia Pacific Bulletin: DECEMBER

Mural on the 7th anniversary of Ampatuan massacre, painted by children of the media victims. © IFJ Asia Pacífic

Welcome to the IFJ Asia-Pacific’s monthly e-bulletin. The next bulletin will be sent on January 1, 2016 and contributions from affiliates are most welcome. To contribute, email ifj@ifj-asia.org

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In this bulletin:

1. Forging strategies for media change in the Asia-Pacific

2. Asia-Pacific Unions make firm steps towards making gender equity a reality

3. IFJ Resolution: Philippines: We stand behind our besieged colleagues in the Philippines!

4. IFJ Resolution: AP: Towards inclusion and amplifying women's voices

5. IFJ Resolution India: We stand with journalists in Kashmir

6. Journalist attacked by hospital staff in Nepal

7. Journalist arrested under controversial Nepalese Electronic Transaction Act

8. Arbitrary action on Derana TV by Sri Lankan government

9. Pakistan: Broadcasting authority PEMRA suspends license of two TV channels

10. Zunar targeted again by Malaysian government and its supporters

11. Neverforget the Ampatuan massacre

12. Foreign journalist and crew attacked and harassed in Beijing, China

13. Journalist attacked and threatened for reporting in Sri Lanka

14. IFJ Blog: No justice for Maldives journalists

15. IFJ BLOG: Defending the messenger

16. Sixth journalist killed in India as deadly year continues

17. Police attack radio journalist during live program in Afghanistan

18. IFJ BLOG: Why do you need a free media?

19. Filipino journalists survives assassination attempt

20. Malaysian pro-government protesters demand closure of Malaysiakini

21. IFJ conference on impunity for crimes against journalists calls for codification of protection measures

22. TV journalists attacked in Bangladesh

23. IFJ BLOG: The Circle of Impunity

24. TV channels banned for a day in India

25. SAMSN, IFJ demand concrete action to end toxic impunity in South Asia

26. The IPC gets you where the story takes you

 

1. Forging strategies for media change in the Asia-Pacific

Journalist unions from across the Asia-Pacific resolved to share knowledge, utilise new technologies, and strengthen membership to effectively continue their struggle for press freedom and journalists’ rights, at the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Strategy Forum in Kathmandu, Nepal on November 23 and 24. Journalists and union activists from 14 countries participated in the meeting organized by the IFJ together with the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) and South East Asia Journalist Unions (SEAJU) with representatives from Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Vanuatu. Read more here

2. Asia-Pacific Unions make firm steps towards making gender equity a reality

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), together with the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) and South East Asia Journalist Unions (SEAJU), held a significant gathering of women in the Asia Pacific’s media in Kathmandu, Nepal, on November 20 and 21, 2016. Participants spent two intense days evolving strategies to bring about meaningful change in order to enhance women’s experience of working in the media and also the unions that represent them. Read more here

3. IFJ Resolution: Philippines: We stand behind our besieged colleagues in the Philippines!

As the world commemorates the Ampatuan massacre, journalist leaders in the Asia Pacific urge the Philippine government to make this a time to examine the host of proposed reforms in its justice system that were dished out to address the problem of a surge in media killings. A succession of missions by the international media community has established that these proposals are geared to strengthen the system to withstand determined efforts to frustrate the cause of justice. Read more here

4. IFJ Resolution: AP: Towards inclusion and amplifying women's voices

Women media unionists from the Asia Pacific region gathered in Kathmandu, Nepal, to claim their rightful place in the media and unions. They demanded that media unions effectively address issues of gender equity and adopt best practices in order to strengthen the numbers and voices of women in unions, especially in decision-making positions. Read more here

5. IFJ Resolution India: We stand with journalists in Kashmir

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, to call urgently for peace in Kashmir, India. Read more here

6. Journalist attacked by hospital staff in Nepal

According to reports, Mithilesh Yadav, a Nepalese journalist with Nagarik daily, was harassed at the Lila Mohan Hospital and Maternity Home Private Limited in Lahan of Siraha, eastern Nepal as he was reporting a dispute between hospital management and a patient’s relatives. Dhananjaya Yadav, a hospital employee, snatched his mobile and broke it while he was talking to hospital management about the dispute. Read more here

7. Journalist arrested under controversial Nepalese Electronic Transaction Act 

Arjun Thapaliya, the editor of Anukalpa daily published from Golbazaar of Siraha district, eastern Nepal, was arrested on the evening of November 22 by police for his comments on a Facebook post sharing a published news story. He was transferred to Kathmandu and was kept in detention after presenting him at the Kathmandu District Court. Read more here

8. Arbitrary action on Derana TV by Sri Lankan government

The Secretary of the Sri Lankan Ministry of Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media accused the Ada Derana TV news channel of falsification of a speech by President Maithripala Sirisena in a news bulletin and demanded an explanation before further action on November 18. Earlier, on October 25, the official had written to the channel informing them that an inquiry was being conducted into this matter. Read more here

9. Pakistan: Broadcasting authority PEMRA suspends license of two TV channels

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) suspended the licenses of Din News for a month and Neo TV for a week; and fined them Rs 1 million (approximately USD 9500) for ‘levelling baseless allegations against the judge of the Supreme Court’. PEMRA also fined Sach TV Rs 1 million for the airing remarks of a caller. The suspension will be implemented from December 1, 2016 and the fine payable within 15 days. Read more here

10. Zunar targeted again by Malaysian government and its supporters

On Saturday, November 26 Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, commonly known under the pen name Zunar, was detained overnight by police for alleged sedition with an intention to insult Prime Minister Razak following an exhibition of his works in Penang. According to NUJM, the cartoonist has since been released on bail. Read more here

11. #Neverforget the Ampatuan massacre

Wednesday November 23, 2016 marked the 7th anniversary of the single deadliest attack on the media in history. On November 23, 2009, 32 journalists were among 58 people who were brutally murdered in Maguidanao in the southern Philippines as part of a political attack. To date, no one has been prosecuted and justice has not been served to the families of the victims.

Read more about IFJ’s 2016 impunity campaign on the IFJ Asia Pacific impunity page here and the SAMSN Digital Hub impunity webpage here

12. Foreign journalist and crew attacked and harassed in Beijing, China

On November 17, John Sudworth, a BBC journalist and his crew, were trying to interview an independent candidate for the upcoming elections in Beijing. When the crew arrived at the candidate’s house, they were immediately confronted by six men, who blocked their  access to the house. Sudworth was eventually able to access the house and knocked on the front door. However when the candidate answered the door, the men pushed the door shut and stopped the candidate from speaking, or let the crew inside. The candidate then opened a window and tried to talk to Sudworth and the crew, however the men immediately blocked the window and forced it shut. Read more here

13. Journalist attacked and threatened for reporting in Sri Lanka

On Tuesday November 15, Sri Lankan journalist Mohammed Geeth was attacked by the workers of a restaurant after a person claiming to be a media secretary of a local politician threatened him for reporting on the hygiene of the restaurant food. Geeth had filed a report, which claimed the restaurant does not maintain hygiene after public health officials removed some unhealthy food during inspection. Read more here

14. IFJ Blog: No justice for Maldives journalists by Mohamed Junayd

The trial of three Raajje TV journalists, charged with obstructing police officers while covering an opposition protest and a bomb scare, is set to close on November 8. If found guilty, the young reporters face up to a year in jail. Mohamed Wisam, Leevan Ali Naseer and Adam Zareer, are the first Maldivian journalists to be prosecuted since the country adopted a democratic constitution in 2008. Assault charges were also filed against Hussain Fiyaz Moosa, the chief operating officer of Raajje TV, but the trial remains stalled since a first hearing in April. Read more here


15. IFJ BLOG: Defending the messenger by Laxmi Murthy

Journalists of Chhattisgarh organised under the banner of the Patrakar Suraksha Kanoon Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti (United Struggle Body for the Security of Journalists), have demanded that journalists arrested under false cases be immediately released, and that the state create conditions for reporters to work and travel freely, without fear or harassment.

As part of this initiative, journalists have also demanding that the state implement an Act that protects journalists from physical violence and arbitrary arrests. In response to this, the Chhattisgarh unit of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has proposed the draft The Chhattisgarh Special Act for Protection of Journalists and Human Rights Defenders, the first law of its kind. As part of the IFJ Asia Pacific campaign to End Impunity, Laxmi Murthy interviews lawyers Sudha Bharadwaj and Shalini Gera who were instrumental in drafting the Act. Read more here

16. Sixth journalist killed in India as deadly year continues

Dharmendra Singh, 35, correspondent from Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskarat Rohtas was shot on the morning of Saturday, November 12. Three unidentified motorcycle-borne assailants shot him in the stomach at point blank range while he was drinking tea at a tea stall near his home in Sasaram. His colleagues believe the incident may be linked to his reporting on illegal stone mining. Singh died on the way to hospital. He is survived by his wife and a son. His murder, even as the killing of Rajdeo Ranjan in May is being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), throws a spotlight on the abysmal law and order situation in Bihar. Read more here

17. Police attack radio journalist during live program in Afghanistan

On November 12, three police recruits stormed into the studio of Afghan radio station Feroz-Koh Radio and violently assaulted journalist Janat Meer while he was presenting a live show. The Ghor Police Chief General Ghulam Mustafa Muhsini said that the police involved have been arrested and an investigation has begun. Read more here

18. IFJ BLOG: Why do you need a free media? By Hamid Mir

Do you know that only 13 percent of the world population enjoys a free press? According to Freedom House report “Press Freedom in 2016” the safety of journalists is guaranteed in just 13 percent of the world’s population. 41 percent of world’s population has a partly free press and 46 percent live in not free media enviorenment. Impunity is becoming the biggest threat to media freedom. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) recently claimed that Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India are among the “13 most dangerous countries” for the journalists. Read more here


19. Filipino journalists survives assassination attempt

On Tuesday, November 8, Virgilio Maganes, a columnist with Watch newspaper and commentator on dwPR radio in the Philippines, was wounded when he was shot in the shoulder while riding a tricycle to work. The assailant who was riding a motorcycle fired at least four shots before speeding off. Maganes was taken to hospital for treatment.

According to NUJP, after the attacker sped off and Maganes tried to seek assistance, a person picked up a piece of cardboard and placed it on the tricycle. It said ‘Pusher Ako Huwag Tularan’, in an attempt to disguise the murder attempt as part of President Duterte’s war on drugs. Read more here

20. Malaysian pro-government protesters demand closure of Malaysiakini

On Thursday, November 3, Datuk Jamal Md Yunos, a member of the Prime Minister’s ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party, issued a statement demanding Malaysiakini explain its funding from Open Society Foundation (OSF). The statement gave Malaysiakini management until 12pm on Saturday, November 5 to explain the funds. Jamal said that should the deadline not be met, he would lead Red Shirts to hold a mass protest and ‘making sure part of the Malaysiakini office building is torn down” on that day.

On Saturday, November 5, approximately 500 Red Shirts protested out the front of the Malaysiakini offices, chanting ‘close down Malaysiakini’. The protest lasted several hours, during which a police barricade stopped the protests gaining access to the building. There was no damage to the building, offices or any Malaysiakini staff. Read more here

21. IFJ conference on impunity for crimes against journalists calls for codification of protection measures

The conference “Turning words into actions”, which took place at the IFJ headquarters in Brussels on 7 November, recommended addressing current weaknesses in the international legal framework for greater media protection through the adoption of a new convention on the safety of journalists.

Delegates to the conference highlighted a series of existing weaknesses in the protection of journalists including the non-recognition of victim status to journalists, the limited efficiency of the general provisions of International Human Rights Law for media protection and the lack of recognition of their profession. Read more here

22. TV journalists attacked in Bangladesh

A dozen people assaulted reporter Shakil Hasan and cameraperson Shahin Alam of Jamuna TV in Bangladesh as they were reporting on the illegal polythene factories. The gang, including owners of two polythene factories, also tried to burn the reporter with kerosene.

Local residents provided shelter to them until the police rescued them. The attackers damaged the camera, lights and microphone carried by the crew. A case of attempt to murder has been filed by Hasan, but police are yet to arrest anyone. Read more here

23. IFJ BLOG: The Circle of Impunity by Malini Subramaniam

On October 25, police lit six effigies one after the other amidst chants of ‘murdabad’ (death unto them) and ‘naxal samarthak ko goli maro’ (shoot down Naxal sympathisers).  Effigies of researchers Nandini Sundar and Bela Bhatia, activists Manish Kunjam, Soni Sori, and Himanshu Kumar and this writer were lined up next to one another. The effigies made of hay, wrapped in white cloth with some adorned with bright-coloured kurtis could be identified with the pinned-up photographs. Mine had only my name.  Read more from Malini Subramaniam here

24. TV channels banned for a day in India

On November 2, the Information & Broadcasting Ministry in India passed an order to prohibit the transmission or re-transmission of NDTV India channel and News Time Assam for one day on any platform throughout India with effect from 00:01 hrs on November 9, 2016 till 00:01 hrs of November 10, 2016.  The government invoked Rule 6(1)(p) of the Cable TV Network Regulation Act, which prohibits any programme that contains live coverage of any anti-terrorist operation by security forces. This controversial new section was added to the programme code in June 2015. Read more here

25. SAMSN, IFJ demand concrete action to end toxic impunity in South Asia

The South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN), together with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), issued a stern call to governments in the region to make greater efforts to address toxic levels of impunity that continue to blight journalism and the safety of media workers across South Asia. The region is viewed as serial offender on failing to secure justice for crimes against media workers.

Marking the UN International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, the IFJ put the spotlight on India as Pakistan as key countries of concern in its global campaign along with two other key international impunity hotspots Yemen and Mexico. Read more here

26. 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 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