IFJ Asia Pacific Bulletin: November 2014

Welcome to the IFJ Asia-Pacific’s monthly e-bulletin. The next bulletin will be sent on December 1 2014, and contributions from affiliates are most welcome. To contribute, email ifj@ifj-asia.org

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In this bulletin:

  1. #whatareyoudoing?
  2. SEAJU Meeting held in Malacca, Malaysia
  3. Month long protests in Hong Kong see 24 journalists attacked
  4. AFP end investigation into Balibo Five murders
  5. Journalist murdered by Burmese Army
  6. Female journalists abducted and raped in PNG
  7. French journalists released from police custody in West Papua
  8. Death threats received by journalists organising workshop in Sri Lanka
  9. Third journalist killed in Cambodia this year
  10. TV chief, anchor indicted and station license suspended in Pakistan
  11. Two more journalists murdered in Punjab, Pakistan
  12. Journalist assaulted in Bangladesh

1. #whatareyoudoing?

On Sunday, November 2, the International Federation of Journalists, along with its affiliates launched the annual IFJ End Impunity Campaign for 2014. Sunday was also the first UN ‘International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists’. The IFJ campaign runs from November 2 to 23, ending on the 5th anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre in the Philippines, the biggest massacre of journalists in history. The campaign centres around a photo campaign calling leaders in Asia-Pacific to account #whatareyoudoing? along with the country leader’s name (ie. #Aquino).

Read about the campaign here and here.

  1. IFJ and SAMSN call on Pakistan Prime Minister to end culture of impunity

The IFJ with the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) marked November 2, Pakistan’s ‘National Day of Action Against Impunity in Pakistan’. They wrote a letter to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif calling for his government to formally acknowledge November 2 as a National Day and end the culture of impunity in Pakistan. To date this year 13 Pakistani journalists have been murdered, making Pakistan the most dangerous country for journalists. Read more here and here

  1. SEAJU calls on Cambodian government to investigate journalist murders

The IFJ joined the South East Asian Journalist Unions (SEAJU) calling for action by the Cambodian Government for the murders of three journalists since January this year. No one has been convicted for the three murders.
Read more here.

2. SEAJU Meeting held in Malacca, Malaysia

The South East Asian Journalist Unions met in Malacca, Malaysia on October 28 and 29 to discuss regional cooperation and collaboration for the coming year. The meeting was hosted by the National Union of Journalists, Peninsular Malaysia and was attended by unions from Cambodia, Timor Leste, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand. The SEAJU decided to focus on impunity, censorship and wage insecurity.

Read more here, here and here.

3. Month long protests in Hong Kong sees 24 journalists attacked

Since the outbreak of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong on September 22, a total of 24 journalists have been attacked. Six journalist unions and associations including IFJ affiliate the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) condemned the continued attacks on journalists and media workers covering the protests. There have also been reports of self-censorship by news outlets, both in Hong Kong and in mainland China during the protests.

Read more here, here and here.

4. AFP end their investigation in Balibo Five murders

Following the 39th anniversary of the murder of the Balibo Five in  East Timor in 1975, the Australian Federal Police have abandoned their war crimes investigation into the deaths of the Australian, British and New Zealand journalists killed, Brian Peters, Malcolm Rennie, Tony Stewart, Gary Cunningham and Greg Shackleton. The AFP, confirmed the end of the investigation sighting insufficient evidence. The IFJ and Australia’s MEAA have strongly condemned the abandonment of this critical investigation and key case of impunity in the region.

Read more here and here.

5. Journalist murdered by Burmese Army

Aung Kyaw Naing, a 49-year-old freelance journalist, was murdered by the Burmese Army in their custody on October 4, after he went missing on September 30. He was detained in Kyaikmayaw in Mon State in south east Mynamar, where he regularly worked reporting on ethical issues along the Thai-Myanmar border. He was shot, according to reports from the Army after he stole a gun and tried to escape. His body was buried some 20 kilometers from Kyaikmayaw.

Read more here and here.

6. Female journalists abducted and raped in PNG

On October 13, a bus doing the evening drop-offs for staff from the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) was taken over by armed men near Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea. The men were ordered off the bus and the three remaining female passengers were taken off. One of the passengers, while the remaining two were raped and found hours later by the police in the abandoned bus.

The attacks were denounced and outraged colleagues staged protests the following day calling for better safety measures for journalists.

Read more here.

7. French journalists released from detention in West Papua

Some good news this month was the long-awaited release of Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat, two French journalist arrested and detained in West Papua since August 8. The pair were in West Papua making a documentary on the separatist movement in Papua when they were arrested. Following their arrest, they remained in police custody and were subsequently charged with violating visa use and charged to serve a sentence of two months and ten days. However with taking time served into consideration, they were released on Monday October 27 and deported to France shortly after.

Following the inauguration of Indonesia’s new president, the IFJ Asia Pacific wrote to Joko Widodo drawing attention to the case of the two French journalists and calling on ‘Jokowi’, as he is popularly known as, to develop an open dialogue with media and open up Indonesia, particularly Papua to foreign media.

Read more here.

8. Death threats for journalists organising workshop in Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankan Working Journalists Association (SLWJA) and the Free Media Movement (FMM) both condemned the recent death threats issued to journalists who participated in a workshop organised by Transparency International Sri Lanka. The messages were reportedly sent by the so-called Rata Rakagath Deshapremee Balakyaa (Patriotic Force that defended the country) saying “Do not attend this LTTE (Libertation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) meeting. You will be attacked.”

These are not the first threats made against journalists in Sri Lanka, with three workshops abandoned in January due to threats and then in July the Ministry for Defence and Urban Development banned press conferences, journalism workshops and trainings.

Read more here.

9. Third journalist killed in Cambodia this year

Traing Try, a 44-year-old journalist who specialised in reporting on the illegal timber trade industry was brutally murdered by a commune police chief, a military officer and a Royal Cambodian Armed Forces solider.

Try is the third journalist brutally murdered this year in Cambodia, and the second murdered for reporting on environmental issues.

Read more here.

10. TV chief, anchor indicted and station license suspended in Pakistan

On October 13, ARY News CEO and TV anchor for Khara Such were indicted for contempt following the airing ‘scandalous and defamatory programs against the judiciary’. The pair were due back in court on October 30 to hear their charges, which could see them imprisoned for a maximum of six months.

However, on October 20, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PERMA) suspended the license of ARY TV following a directive from the Lahore High Court, which also fined ARY TV $US97,000.

Read more here and here.

11. Two more journalists murdered in Punjab, Pakistan

Pakistan is now the most murderous country for journalists, with 13 journalists murdered this year. On October 3, Nadeem Hyder a correspondent for Dunya was shot dead by two assailiants in the Kaliki Mandi area of Hafizabad, Punjab. On October 5, Yaqoob Shehzad was shot by an unknown gunman when he visited a friend in Segar Road, Hafizabad. He was shot in the head three times and pronounced dead on arrival to hospital. No-one has been prosecuted in either of the murders.

Read more here. 

13. Journalist assaulted in Bangladesh

Abdullah Al Norman was attacked on October 16, outside the MC College auditorium in Dhaka, Bangladesh following his recent reporting about the activities of the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) at MC College. Norman was attacked by 10 cadres of the BCL with belts and sticks and hospitalised from the attack. This is not the first attack by the BCL, who attacked eight journalists at Dhaka University in July.

Read more here.