IFJ Asia Pacific Bulletin: August 2014

photo: Media Rights and Monitoring Training, Kathmandu, Nepal July 2014

Welcome to the IFJ Asia-Pacific’s monthly e-bulletin. The next bulletin will be sent on September 1 2014, and contributions from affiliates are most welcome. To contribute, email ifj@ifj-asia.org
 
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In this bulletin: 
 
1. Impunity win for Nepal as court sentences journalist’s murderers 
2. SAMSN resolutions from the 13th annual meeting
3. Union Leadership and Media Rights Monitoring and Advocacy Training in Kathmandu, Nepal
 4. Editorial independence under attack at Hong Kong’s Ming Pao
5. Respected Indian journalist and activist illegally dismissed  
6. Journalist’s home bombed in Pakistan
7. IFJ Asia Pacific Blog” the challenges of a female reporter in Pakistan
8. IFJ and SAMSN condemn threats on Sri Lankan Activist Sunil Jayasekara
9. Proposed media laws endangering journalism in East Timor
10. Nine journalists imprisoned and detained in Myanmar
11. Pakistan calls for pardon after Afghan court jails journalist for four years
12. Afghan journalist brutally assassinated at home
13. Eight journalists assaulted in Bangladesh
14. IFJ urges Facebook to reject outside influence 
 
 
1. Impunity win for Nepal as court sentences journalist’s murderers
The news about journalist Yadav Poudel’s murderers being brought to justice was welcomed by both the IFJ and its affiliate, the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ). Yubaraj Giri, somnath Dhakal and his wife Manju Dhakal were handed life imprisonment by the Appellate Court.
 
On April 4, 2012, Poudel was pushed off the roof of the hotel owned by the Dhakals and Poudel was in talks with Giri to begin a publication of a local daily.
FNJ president, Dr Mahendra Bista, said: “We welcome the verdict and further demand with the government to investigate the other cases of journalists’ murders to ensure justice.”
 
The IFJ’s Asia-Pacific Acting Director, Jane Worthington adds: “This verdict is positive news at the time when impunity in the cases of journalists’ murders is rife in Nepal and  South Asia. Delivery of justice in the cases of journalists’ murders is crucial for development and protection of a free and independent media and is the only way to tackle this brutal climate of impunity.”
 
You can read the original release here.

2. SAMSN resolutions from the 13th annual meeting
The 13th annual meeting of the SAMSN, held in Kathmandu from July 18 to 20 with journalists, human rights activists and union leaders of seven nations of South Asia discussing regional issues and challenges to media freedom, unanimously passed on a 13-point resolution which focuses on impunity, gender and digital safety.
 
The meeting also acknowledged the challenges faced by women journalists in South Asia and resolves to give gender issues priority action in the coming year in SAMSN campaigns.
 
The press release and also the 13-point resolution can be read and downloaded here
 
3. Union Leadership and Media Rights Monitoring and Advocacy Training in Kathmandu, Nepal
The IFJ organized the LO-TCO Union Leadership Training in Kathmandu, Nepal on Monday, July 14. IFJ Asia Pacific Director Jacqueline Park delivered the daylong training to 29 newly elected members of the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ).

The training focused on strengthening union, identifying issues and activists and organizing around them along with important communication and negotiating skills for the leadership. FNJ President Dr Mahendra Bista thanked the IFJ for organizing the training and hoped that the knowledge learnt would be helpful to them.

The IFJ also organized a two-day media rights monitoring and advocacy training to the FNJ leadership and staffs of the FNJ Media Rights Monitoring Unit on July 15 and 16 under the South Asia Media for Democracy Project supported by UNDEF. IFJ AP Director Jacqueline Park, Deputy Director Jane Worthington and South Asia Coordinator Ujjwal Acharya delivered the training that focused on aspects of media rights monitoring, documentation, publication and campaigns for media rights.
                
4. Editorial independence under attack at Hong Kong’s Ming Pao
In a violation of editorial independence, editorial director of Ming Pao Lui Ka-Ming deleted key words from headlines about the July 1 rally for democracy. According to a statement by the Ming Pao Union, Lui unilaterally stopped the printing process and replaced "10-year-high turnout for march to fight for universal suffrage" became "Hundreds rehearse for Occupy Central, police clearing the space".
 
The IFJ Asia Pacific Office said “It is difficult to believe that Lui, a very experienced media executive, could set such a bad precedent by bypassing the paper’s practices. We understand members of the editorial board have the power to determine the content of the paper, but this does not mean they can abuse their power and abruptly intervene and destroy the paper’s editorial independence.”
 
While Liu did not initially respond to the allegations, he later said he did so in order to reflect the latest news.
 
Read our original release here.
 
5. Respected Indian journalist and activist illegally dismissed  
Secretary of the Indian Journalists Union (IJU), President of the Journalists Union of Assam and assistant of the Assam Tribune Group of publications, Geetartha Pathak was dismissed after 27 years in the media house. Despite responding to all their “show cause” notices, Pathak was summarily terminated.
 
The IJU has called this dismissal as “nothing but victimisation for trade union activity” as Pathak’s keen interest in the affairs of the employees’ union was the cause for this dismissal.
 
The IFJ calls on all Indian journalists and our colleagues in the region to back our journalist colleague and his right to union activity and call for his reinstatement by the Assam Tribune Group.
 
You can read the full release here.
 
6. Journalist’s home bombed in Pakistan
In a string of attacks against journalists in Pakistan, the bombing of journalist Jamshed Baghwan’s home once again increases insecurity issues. Unidentified attackers placed a bomb in Baghwan’s home and while the explosion damaged the house and car, Baghwan safely escaped the bombing with his family.
 
Jamshed Bhagwan is the bureau chief of Express News and is the fourth journalist of Express News attacked in 2014. In January, three employees were shot dead in Karachi while senior anchor Raza Rumi was attacked in Lahore in March. His driver was killed in the attack. The channel’s office was also attacked twice in 2013 without casualties.
 
The IFJ and its affiliate the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) strongly condemned this attack and the IFJ said “Pakistan’s journalists are confronted by a horrific situation: a disturbing spike in violent attacks on individual journalists as well as the ruthless targeting of specific news outlets. Decisive action must be taken to improve their security”.      
 
The attackers have not been captured and still remain unidentified.
 
You can read the original release here.
 
 7. IFJ Asia Pacific Blog: the challenges of a female reporter in Pakistan
Investigative reporter and correspondent for Peshawar and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region for GEO TV news in Pakistan, Nadia Sabohi conveys the life of a female reporter in Pakistan eloquently.
Nadia has been a journalist for 17 years and has seen her fair share of narrow-minded male colleagues discouraging women and causing problems. Yet, she has always maintained her professional status while reporting. “For a female TV journalist, it is like being in a battlefield with enemies coming from all sides” says Nadia.
 
Read Nadia’s full story here.
 
 8. IFJ and SAMSN condemn attacks on Sri Lankan Activist Sunil Jayasekara
The IFJ and SAMSN strongly condemn the threats on Sunil Jayasekara, convener of the Free Media Movement. With the government imposing a ban on civil society non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from having any dealings with the media and questions about the role of the government in sabotaging a media workshop in Colombo coming into play, the IFJ urges the Sri Lankan government to stop the harassment of journalists and call on Sri Lanka’s state to adhere to the human rights and democratic principles it is bound by.
 
The IFJ Asia Pacific has started a digital campaign on twitter supporting Sunil Jayasekara and Sri Lanka’s press freedom cause with the hashtag #CondemnThreatSL and we ask for your support by using this for all your related tweets.
 
The official press release can be read here.
 
 9. Proposed media laws endangering journalism in East Timor
Having followed the progression of the proposed media laws in East Timor, the IFJ and its affiliate the Timor Leste Journalists Association (AJTL) expresses concerns and call upon Taur Matan Rauk, the President of the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste, to use his power to influence parliament to remove the articles and also refrain from signing the law as it may greatly endanger the practice of journalism in the region.
 
The IFJ and the AJTL reiterate the vital role the media played in East Timor’s struggle for independence and that experience should stand as a stark reminder of the importance of a free and independent media.
 
The full release can be read here.

 10. Nine journalists imprisoned and detained in Myanmar
The IFJ is distressed at the imprisonment of nine journalists on July 10 after publishing reports claiming the existence of chemical weapons factory linked to China. This news was followed closely after the Myanmar’s Special Branch intelligence began collecting data on the private media outlets.
 
Read the full release here

 11. Pakistan calls for pardon after Afghan court jails journalist for four years
Reporter for ARY News, Faizullah Khan was arrested in April by Afghan security forces in Nangarhar province and on July 12, was sentenced to four years in jail for “entering without travel documents and communicating with militant sources”.
 
The PFUJ has condemned the court’s sentence and urged the Afghan government to withdraw the charges. In expressing solidarity with the journalist, the PFUJ also urged the Pakistan government to raise the issue with Afghan government at the highest level and demand Khan’s early release, 
 
The IFJ stands firm with the PFUJ and supports its call for the immediate release of Faizullah Khan.
 
You can read the recent release here.

12. Eight journalists assaulted in Bangladesh
According to reports, eight journalists were allegedly assaulted by a group of the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) activists of Dhaka University when the journalists approached the students about joining in for a game of football.          
Masudur Rahman of Somoy Television and Galib Ashraf, a former University correspondent of Daily Independent – were taken to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital and were soon in a stable condition. The other assault victims are Reza Akash of Manab Kantha, Monirul Islam of Jamuna TV, Arafat Sarkar of Asian Television, Rafiqul Islam of Kaler Kantha, Mahmud Hasan, former Dhaka University correspondent of Banglanews24.com and Jahid Hasan, former Dhaka University correspondent of thereporter.com. They were treated separately at the Dhaka University’s Medical Centre.
 
You can read the full details of the incident here.
 
 13. IFJ urges Facebook to reject outside influence
After a series of Hong Kong facebook accounts belonging to individuals involved with campaigns and organisations like the Occupy Movement and the League of Social Democrats have been suspended, the IFJ urges social media platform Facebook to uphold freedom of expression and say no to outside influence.
 
Dr Benny Tai Yiu-Ting, one of the organisers of the Occupy Movement, who had set up his account in the name “Benny Tai Yiu-Ting”, by which he is commonly knownk, said Facebook notified him that according to company policy, an account must list the account holder’s real full name. Although his Hong Kong identity card does not include his English name, he had been operating his account without any problems until now. 
 
“Freedom of access to information and exchange of ideas are the cornerstones of a democratic society, which is what Hong Kong people are fighting for”.
 
You can read the full story here.