IFJ Asia Pacific Bulletin: July

Welcome to the IFJ Asia-Pacific’s monthly e-bulletin. The next bulletin will be sent on August 1, 2015, and contributions from affiliates are most welcome. To contribute, email ifj@ifj-asia.org

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In this bulletin:

1.       IFJ, UNESCO and UNWomen launch Inside the News

2.       ‘The IPC gets you where the story takes you’

3.       India: Two journalists killed in less than two weeks

4.       China’s National Security Laws attack media freedom

5.       17 journalists charged with contempt in Myanmar

6.       Journalist’s family detained and charged in China

7.       International Partnership Mission supports media changes in Indonesia

8.       Filipino cameraman shot dead on his way to work

9.       Media under attack in Bangladesh

10.   Chinese government directive restricts reporting

11.   Two Indian journalists brutally attacked for their reporting

12.   First Pakistani journalists killed this year  

13.   Radio journalist charged with libel in the Philippines

14.   Press freedom stifled by Thailand’s lѐse majesté law

15.   SAMSN Blog: Next steps for gender equity

16.   Filipino journalist threatened with contempt of court for protecting sources

17.   Australian journalist faces court in Thailand this month 

18.   #FreeZunar – Less than one week left

19.   “Teach journalists how to ask questions”

1. IFJ, UNESCO and UNWomen launch Inside the News

On June 22, the IFJ, UNESCO and UNWomen launched Inside the News: Challenges and Aspirations for Women Journalists in Asia and the Pacific. The report documents the issues of gender equity in the media industry throughout the region, while drawing on research, case studies and interviews from Cambodia, India, Nepal, Malaysia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vanuatu.

The report works as a starting point for an important and much-needed discussion on the vital role media plays in leading and influencing change within its own industry as well as in the representation of women and gender issues more generally.

The report included key recommendations for media organisations, government, and civil society to improve the situation facing women journalists highlighting the responsibility that society shares to improve the situation facing women journalists and immediate action needed to be taken.

Read the report here.

Read the recommendations here.

Read the seven country reports here.

2.  ‘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 you 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.

3. India: Two journalists killed in less than two weeks

Two journalists have died from burns within two weeks of each other, in neighbouring provinces of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in India. On June 9, Jagendra Singh died after he received burns to 60 percent of his body on June 1. According to police, Singh set himself alight when police arrived as his house to arrest him. However Singh’s family have registered a criminal case against Uttar Pradesh’s Minister of State for Backward Class Welfare, Ram Murti Verma, four associates and four police officers, as they claim the police set Jagendra on fire when they arrived at the house. Read more here.

On June 21, Sandeep Kothari’s badly burnt body was found in a shallow grave near Nagpur in Maharashtra. His body was found just two days after he was abducted following a vehicle incident. Read more here.

The IFJ and its Indian affiliates the IJU and NUJI have strong condemned the killings and called for immediate action by the Indian government to guarantee the safety of India’s journalists.

4. China’s National Security Laws attack media freedom

On June 5, the IFJ made submissions to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China regarding the National Security Law and the Overseas Non-Governmental Organisations Management Law. The submissions from the IFJ and other key human rights and press freedom organisations highlighted key issues to the proposed laws and how they violated and would further supress media freedom.

The submissions said that the proposed laws would jeopardise the development of a free press and civil society in China, whilst also highlighting the lack of adequate protection for press freedom, freedom of expression and access to information.

Read more here, read the submission of the National Security Law here and the submission on the Overseas Non-Governmental Organisations Management Law here.   

5. 17 journalists charged with contempt in Myanmar

17 journalists from Eleven Media Group in Myanmar have been charged with contempt following its newspapers media coverage of the trial of five senior management staff from the same media organisation. The Ministry of Information filed the charges against the journalists arguing that the newspaper was unfairly covering the trial and putting undue pressure on the court.

This latest incident in Myanmar comes after continued attacks against media freedom in the country. In June, Amnesty International published a briefing exploring the current media environment and highlighted the intensifying restrictions for media workers in Myanmar.

Read more here and here.

6. Journalist’s family detained and charged in China

On June 26, Shawket and Rehim, brothers of Radio Free Asia journalist, Shohret Hoshur, were charged with endangering state security after been detained by Chinese authorities since August 2014. The brothers will now face court on July 1. The charges follow the imprisonment of Hoshur’s third brother, Tudaxun who was sentenced to five year in jail on charges of state security in 2014.

Hoshur believe that his brothers were detained and charged due to his work as a journalist.

Read more here.

7. International Partnership Mission supports media changes in Indonesia

Following the announcement by Indonesian President, Joko Widodo on June 8 that restrictions on foreign journalists travelling to Papua and West Papua would be lifted, the International Partnership Mission welcomed the changes and called on the President to back his announcement with concrete policies.

The International Partnership Mission visited Indonesia in December 2014, during which they met with local journalists, media organisations and government ministers to discuss the challenges for media freedom and freedom of expression in Indonesia. The Mission released a number of key recommendations following the visit, one being the lifting of restrictions in Papua and West Papua.
Read more here.

8. Filipino cameraman shot dead on his way to work

On June 25, Jonathan Oldan, an assistant cameraman and driver for CNN Philippines was shot dead on his way to work. According to local police in Cavite, Oldan was shot four times in the head after he stopped at a local convenience store.

Read more here.

9. Media under attack in Bangladesh

Since February this year, three bloggers have been brutally murdered in Bangladesh. Each murder has been as a result of the work of the bloggers and carried out by radical Islamists. Concerns were again raised when threats were sent 10 eminent Bangladeshi’s, including bloggers, threatening them with death and calling them ‘anti-Islam’ and ‘atheists’.

The IFJ has joined the Bangladesh Manobodhikar Sambadhik Forum and Bangladesh Nari Sambadhik Kendra in calling for immediate action from the government to ensure the safety and security of journalists and bloggers across the country.

Read more here.

10. Chinese government directive restricts reporting

On June 19, the State Administrative Press Publication Radio Film and Television (SAPPRFT) issued a directive demanding all media limit coverage of the Chinese stock market to prevent market fluctuations. The directive was delivered to all media, including state media and said that only information provided by the local authority could be used in reports.

Read more here.

11. Two Indian journalists brutally attacked for their reporting

In what has been a terrible month for journalists in India Haider Khan, a stringer working for a local TV station in Pilibit in Uttar Pradesh was following a tip-off when he ambushed by a group who tied him up dragged him behind a motorcycle until he lost consciousness. He was taken to hospital by locals after the group left him to die.

Read more here.

In the following week, Prasanta Kumar, a Kahirabari correspondent of Assamese daily Asamiya Pratidin was shot and attacked by a group on June 18. In the attack the assailants blindfolded Kumar and forced him into a car before throwing him out of the car a short time later.

Read more here. 

12. First Pakistani journalist killed this year

On June 28, Zafarullah Jatak was killed when unidentified gunmen forced their way into his home as he slept and opened fire on him. Jatak died instantly and the assailants fled the scene. Zafarullah Jatak was working as a correspondent for the Quetta-based, Urdu language daily, Intekhab when he was murdered. An investigation has been launched after local journalists protested Jatak’s murder and called for immediate action.

Read more here.

13. Radio journalist charged with libel in the Philippines

On June 9, Ray Cabaraban was arrested at his work by police, following a complaint filed by Bikdnon governor, Jose Maria Zubiri in April 2014. The complaint included two counts of libel and related to comments made by Cabaraban about illegal logging, mining and peace and order.

Read more here.

14. Press freedom stifled by Thailand’s lѐse majesté law

On June 11, the Foreign Correspondents Club, Thailand (FCCT) received a letter from the police on behalf of the National Council for Peace and Order (NPCO) banning an event scheduled for June 17. The letter said that the event "would sow disunity in Thai society, and encourage people to break the law and stir unrest." The FCCT said they would go ahead with the event anyway; however police then advised them that they would deploy soldiers to seal off the FCCT building if the event went ahead.

Read more here.

15. SAMSN Blog: Next steps for gender equity

Sujata Madhok, one of the IFJ South Asia gender coordinators and also the India researcher for the Inside the News report wrote a blog following the release of the report and the launch in Bangkok. In her blog, Sujata says that there is still a lot of work needed to ensure women are equally represented and that journalist unions have a key role to play in the fight.

Read her blog here.

16. Filipino journalist threatened with contempt of court for protecting sources

The House Committee on Good Governance and Public Accountability threatened to cite Christine Herrera a reporter with The Standard in contempt of court unless she named her sources for a story she authored about House of Representatives members who allegedly received bribes to approve the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

The threats to Herrera were against Philippine law, which protects journalists from been forced to name sources.

Read more here.

17. Australian journalist faces court in Thailand this month

On July 14, Alan Morison and Chituma Sidasathian will face court in Thailand on charges of defamation filed in December 2013. Morison, an Australian journalist and editor of Phuketwan.com and Sidasathian were charges following a story they published that incriminated several Thai navy officers in the trafficking of Rohingya migrants.

Read more here.  

18. #FreeZunar – Less than one week left

In less than one week, on July 7, Malaysian political cartoonist, Zunar, will face court on 9 counts of sedition. In found guilty he could face 43 years in jail. The IFJ has launched a campaign calling for all charges against Zunar to be dropped and the Sedition Act (1943) abolished.

Sign the IFJ petition here and help us reach 10,000 signatures before Zunar’s court date next week.

19. “Teach journalists how to ask questions”

In late June, Army Signal Department Commander, Lieutenant-General Suchart Pongput called a meeting of approximately 200 local and foreign journalists to teach them how to ask ‘constructive’ questions and ‘not distort facts’. He said that the idea of the meeting came after conflicts were caused between officials over media reporting.

Read more here.