IFJ Asia-Pacific Bulletin: July 2014

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In this bulletin:

1. News broadcaster assassinated at home in the Philippines

2. Australian journalists’ delegation presents global campaign letter to Egyptian consulate

3. Media Rights Monitoring and Advocacy training, Bangladesh

4. IFJ Blog: Muzzling memories of Tiananmen Square

5. IFJ condemns China’s crackdown on commemoration of Tiananmen Square massacre

6. Another Jang Group journalist beaten in Pakistan

7. IFJ urges UN to defend detained journalist’s legal rights

8. IFJ joins PFUJ in condemning the detainment of Pakistani journalist Faizullah Khan in Afghanistan

9. Pakistan suspends license of second TV channel

10. Journalist attacked by thugs in Nepal

11. Arrested US-based Afghan journalist Khalid Hadi Haidari released

12. Bill on Contempt of Court Undermines Freedom of Expression in Nepal

13. Seventh journalists detained by the Chinese Mainland authority

14. Threat and intimidation forces end to Sri Lankan journalist training

1. News broadcaster assassinated at home in the Philippines

Radio broadcaster Nilo Baculo Sr, based in Mindoro was shot dead outside his home by a gunman riding a motorcycle in Calapan City in Oriental Mindoro on Monday, June 9. The 67-year-old was the host of Isumbong Mo kay Ka Nilo, a news talk and public service program at radio station dwIM in Calapan City.

Baculo is the 33rd media worker murdered under President Aquino.

The NUJP strongly criticised this latest murder and the minimal support offered to the journalists and media professionals under threat in the Philippines.

The IFJ said: “We support the NUJP in calling for increased support from the Government and President Aquino for journalists in their work. Fear of retribution remains a key concern for journalists in the Philippines, and this must be overcome to ensure media freedom”.

The release can be read Here.

2. Australian journalists’ delegation presents global campaign letter to Egyptian consulate

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) together with Australian affiliate the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) delivered a letter to Egypt’s consulate in Sydney urging the release of the Al Jazeera English journalists imprisoned in Cairo, including Australian reporter Peter Greste. A delegation of senior Australian journalists presented the global campaign letter. Also presented were petitions with more than 150,000 thousand signatures. 

The letter was organised in partnership with the International Federation of Journalists, MEAA, the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) and the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE).It has been signed by more than 100 journalist unions, media rights and freedom of expression organisations and is being presented at several Egyptian diplomatic missions around the world today.

Organisations from Pakistan, Canada, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Sweden, New Zealand, Cambodia, Norway, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Venezuela were just some of the signatories to the letter.

The IFJ thanks all of its affiliates and the signatories to the letter for this outstanding demonstration of solidarity and commitment to press freedom and human rights.

Click here for a gallery of photos from the event. The Photos are freely available for distribution. For hi-res images, email: ifj@ifj-asia.org.

The press release is available Here and you can also read previous related stories: Here and Here.

3. Media Rights Monitoring and Advocacy training, Bangladesh

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) organised the Media Rights Monitoring and Advocacy training at the Press Institute of Bangladesh, Dhaka on June 22 - 23 under the UN Democracy Fund sponsored South Asia Media Freedom for Democracy project.

The training was hosted by the Bangladesh Manobodhikar Sambadhik Forum (BMSF) and  was conducted by IFJ South Asia Coordinator Ujjwal Acharya and senior Bangladeshi journalist Saleem Samad. It was attended by 29 journalists, including 15 women, from various districts of Bangladesh.

The training covered issues such as rights of journalists, violations of media rights, importance of monitoring, monitoring skills, violation report writing for international standards reporting, use of digital platforms, campaigning and advocacy skills.

Pictures taken by IFJ South Asia Coordinator Ujjwal Acharya can be seen Here.

4. IFJ Blog: Muzzling memories of Tiananmen Square

On the eve of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, the International Federation of Journalists’ China’s Press Freedom Project Manager Serenade Woo wrote about the realities and repressions of free speech in China regarding this subject and this year in particular has been worse than previous years she says.

“Not a word relating to the June 4 incident is allowed to be published on the Chinese media and no one has been able to express their opinion in public for 25 years. This year, the tension has escalated. The Beijing local government claimed that it would mobilize 100,000 people to act as government informers and 850,000 volunteers to form a ‘safety network’ to prevent anything happening in Beijing tomorrow”.

Read the full blog post here.

5. IFJ condemns China’s crackdown on commemoration of Tiananmen Square massacre 

June 4 marked the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) honoured the many journalists who tried their best to report on it despite suffering harassment threats and interference by the authorities and has called on China to respect individuals’ right of press freedom and freedom of expression.

According to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China, a number of journalists complained they were blocked and threatened by police in Beijing without explanation. Leading up to the anniversary, seven Chinese media workers as well as unknown members of human rights lawyers, intellectuals and activists were detained, charged and sentenced by the Chinese authorities.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, issued a rare statement on the eve of June 4 demanding an immediate release of the detainees and the IFJ urges the High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate the suppression of the press that has occurred in relation to the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

This release was originally published the day after the 25th anniversary and can be read Here.

6. Another Jang Group journalist beaten in Pakistan

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the attack on Zafar Aheer, editor for the Daily Jang newspaper, by half a dozen unidentified armed and masked men while he was returning home from office. Aheer was left injured in the Punjab province of Multan on Saturday, May 31.

This attack is an addition the series of hostile situations faced by the journalists of the Jang GroupOwners of Daily Jang and Geo TV – since the murder attempt on highly respected journalist and anchor of Geo TV Hamid Mir in Karachi on April 19.

The Pakistani military has formally demanded the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PERMA) to revoke Geo’s licence for what they believe are campaigns aimed at undermining and tarnishing the

integrity and image of the state institution. Despite an unconditional apology from Geo TV, the army and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) have continued to publicly pressurize Geo TV.

Religious extremists also added further fuel by accusing Geo TV of broadcasting blasphemous material on Utho Jago Pakistan, a morning show on another program. This led to the suspension of all three TV stationed owned by Geo TV but was later revoked.

The IFJ said “It is time for the government to heed the calls of the media community in Pakistan and make meaningful changes to make journalists safer and to ensure death threats and attacks are thoroughly investigated and their perpetrators brought to justice.”

Read more about the adversities the Jang Group has been suffering Here

7. IFJ urges UN to defend detained journalist's legal rights

 The Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the fact that detained journalist Gao Yu has been deprived of her legal right to meet her defence lawyer for three months.

Gao Yu, an outspoken independent journalist, went missing on April 24. It was announced on May 8 that she had been detained by the Chinese authorities on accusations of releasing “state secrets” to Hong Kong and German media outlets.

China Central Television broadcast Gao’s “confession”, but her face was covered, making it impossible to know anything of her condition. Apple Daily, a Chinese-language newspaper in Hong Kong, reported on June 24 that it is suspected Gao is being tortured, but this could not be confirmed. Gao’s defence lawyer has been denied access to her three times since she was detained.

According to Chinese law, all accused persons have a right to see a defence lawyer in order to understand their legal rights and the relevant laws.

The IFJ Asia-Pacific Office urges the Chinese authorities to respect Gao’s right to meet her lawyer and also the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) to demand an explanation of her case from the Chinese delegate and urge the Chinese authorities to investigate the case and release the report promptly.

Read more about Gao Yu and her situation in the release Here.

8. IFJ joins PFUJ in condemning the detainment of Pakistani journalist Faizullah Khan in Afghanistan

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) in calling on Afghanistan authorities to make haste and release Pakistani TV journalist Faizullah Khan, detained since April 22, 2014.

A reporter for Karachi-based ARY News TV, Khan was detained by an Afghan security agency on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border while on assignment (interviewing Taliban leaders of tribal areas in north western Pakistan).

Although the Foreign Offices of Pakistan and Afghan authorities have confirmed his detainment and diplomatic channels are being used to secure his release, the process has been moving painstakingly slow. According to his family, Khan has been allowed to telephone his wife and family frequently.

The IFJ urges the Pakistan government to act in ensuring the safe return of the journalist and cautions journalists operating in the region remain extra vigilant about the possible dangers especially when traveling to far-flung areas.

You can read about Faizullah Khan’s detainment in the official release Here.

9. Pakistan suspends licence of second TV channel

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) strongly condemn the decision of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PERMA) to suspend the licence of ARY TV and impose a fine of PKR 10 million (approximately USD 100,000).

ARY TV is second channel to be suspended in recent months and reports say the decision was unanimously taken by PERMA on June 20 claiming that ARY TV had aired “anti-judiciary programs”.

The government’s crackdown comes as senior journalists and PFUJ officials have been subjected to threating calls from senior state officials and Federal Minister for information Pervaiz Rasheed.

Responding to the latest PEMRA action, the PFUJ said: “The decision of PEMRA is taken without any judicial proceeding, thus it’s undemocratic and we demand written assurance from the Prime Minister that no media house will be subjected to such closure in future. We will not compromise on the freedom of media.”

The IFJ believes the decision to suspend the licence of any channel is an assault on press freedom and a violation of media rights.

You can read the full release Here and you can also read the related story of the suspension of Geo TV we covered Here.

10. Journalist attacked by thugs in Nepal

Thakur Gurung, editor of Radio Bihani in Dhading district, was attached in Bansathali, Kathmandu by an unidentified group while returning home on Sunday, June 7. Having sustained serious injuries on his head, right hand and chest, Gurung was discharged from the hospital just last week.

The IFJ and the FNJ have called for an immediate investigation to locate the perpetrators and bring them justice.

The IFJ said: “Security of journalists is a big issue in Nepal to which the state has failed to deal with adequately. The IFJ has documented a deteriorating trend around journalists attacks and impunity and it is time the Nepalese government worked out a plan to ensure journalists’ safety and bring an end to impunity.”

Read the release about the incident Here.

11. Arrested US - based Afghan journalist Khalid Hadi Haidari released

Khalid Hadi Haidari, the editor-in-chief of Benawa.com, a Pashto language website established in 2004 covering human rights, freedom of speech, civil rights and related issues in Afghanistan, was arrested upon his arrival in Kandahar Airport, southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, June 17, while on his way to Kabul to visit friends.

According to reports, Haidari, a well-known journalist who had worked for CNN during the Taliban government in Afghanistan, was arrested for the coverage that was critical of Kandahar’s governor.

According to a June 19 report from the Afghan news agency, Haidari was released from custody after he offered apologies for his activities however the latter cannot be confirmed by the news agency.

You can read the original release Here.

12. Bill on Contempt of Court Undermines Freedom of Expression in Nepal

 The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) in expressing serious concerns over the proposed Contempt of the Court Bill registered on June 9 in the Legislature Parliament by the government.

The bill defines contempt of court including obstructing the implementation of justice delivery, influencing a sub judicial matter, insulting the judgment of a court and recording of the activities within a courtroom without judges’ permission.It also defines insulting a staff or judge of the court as the contempt of the court and proposes discretionary powers for judges to initiate a case with the punishment ranging from fine up to Rs. 10,000 (USD 125) or a jail-term up to a year to both.

The FNJ said: “The FNJ reserves serious disagreement with provisions that disrespects the press freedom and freedom of expression. Some of the provisions of the proposed bill could endanger the citizens’ rights to opinion and expression.”

Both The IFJ and the FNJ demand the government and the Legislature Parliament not to proceed with the bill without serious consultations.

Learn more about the bill and the concerns of leading Nepalese dailies in the release Here.

13. Seventh journalists detained by the Chinese Mainland authority

On May 30, journalists Wai Zhongxiao, 39, and Wang Jiaomin, aged about 50 were detained by the shenzhen police for allegedly operating a publication illegally. They became the sixth and seventh journalist to be detained in Mainland China this year.

Zhongxiao and Jiaomin are both former journalists with Asia Weekly Magazine in Hong Kong. In the past four years, they have been working for two political and social affairs magazines, namely Xin Wei Monthly Magazine and Face Magazine.

According to various reports, Shenzhen police announced via microblog that two Hong Kong people were detained on May 30 on suspicions of being involved in the crime of illegal publishing operations. Although the police announcement did not include the names and any further information, a number of journalists confirmed that they were Wai and Wang.

The IFJ Asia Pacific Office said: “It is outrageous that seven journalists have been detained by the Chinese authorities on a variety of accusations this year. The Chinese people cannot exercise their right of free speech under Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution when what they say is deemed unacceptable by the authorities.”

The IFJ also urges the Human Rights Council of the United Nations to demand an explanation from the Chinese delegates as to why a number of media workers in Mainland China have been detained and sentenced in the past two months.

The release for this ongoing story can be found Here.

14. Threat and intimidation forces end to Sri Lankan journalist training

A three-day workshop for Tamil-language media in North-Eastern Sri Lanka was cancelled after a group of miscreants warned to disrupt it and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins Sri Lankan affiliate the Free Media Movement (FMM) in condemning the role of security forces in the cancellation of a yet another workshop for journalists’ in Gampaha, Sri Lanka, on June 7.

The FMM has advised that instead of ensuring the journalists rights to association and assembly, the police advised the organizer Transparency International Sri Lanka to leave the venue and hotel. The participants were moved to the Galadari Hotel, a five-star hotel in Colombo, for safety but the management of the hotel asked them to leave at midnight after receiving threats.

According to the FMM, this is not the first reports of intimidation to stop Tamil journalism training programs in Sri Lanka. The same media workshop was also abandoned due to intimidation by the military earlier in May in Giritale, the Polnnaruwa district of North Central Province. In January this year, a two-day training for Tamil journalists organized by the Search for Common Ground in the same district was abandoned after a group of Buddhist monks disrupted proceedings.

For further information, the release can be found Here.