South Asia Media Solidarity Network Bulletin: June

To SAMSN members and friends,

Welcome to the e-bulletin of the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN). The next bulletin will be sent on July 15, 2014, and your inputs are most welcome. We encourage contributions to let others know what you are doing; to seek solidarity and support from other SAMSN members; and to find out what others are doing in the region.

To contribute, email: ifj@ifj-asia.org

SAMSN is a group of journalists trade unions, press freedom organizations and journalists in South Asia that have agreed to work together to support freedom of expression and association in the region. SAMSN was formed at a meeting of these groups in Kathmandu, Nepal, in September 2004. The group agreed to stand in solidarity and work together for media reform, for an independent pluralist media and to build public respect for the work of journalists in the region.

For further information on SAMSN, visit: www.ifj-asia.org/page/samsn.html

Please feel free to distribute this bulletin widely among colleagues in the media.

In this bulletin:

1. 1. The Campaign for Justice: Annual SAMSN Meeting scheduled for July in Kathmandu

2. South Asia Gender Networking Conference scheduled for July 17

3. Controversial labor reforms proposed for Rajasthan

4. Journalist attacked by thugs in Nepal

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

6. Pakistan suspends Geo News TV for 15 days

7. IFJ calls for Asia-Pacific solidarity on Peter Greste trial

8. IFJ calls for release of Pakistani journalist detained in Afghanistan

9. Another Jang Group journalist beaten in Pakistan as dire situation escalates

10. Security forces obstruct Sri Lanka’s media

11. Severed body of Bangladeshi journalist found

12. IFJ Blog: "Don’t become the story" (Pakistan)

13. Upcoming Events in South Asia

 


1. The Campaign for Justice: Annual SAMSN Meeting scheduled for July in Kathmandu

The South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN), together with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) will hold its annual meeting in Kathmandu, Nepal from July 18 to 20, 2014.

The leaders of journalists unions from South Asia will gather to discuss the challenges facing journalists across South Asia, share stories and experiences and, most importantly, determine important campaigns and solidarity actions under the theme of “The Campaign for Justice”.

During the meeting, Tactical Tech will deliver a special training for senior union leaders in secure communications under the South Asia Media for Democracy project.


2.
South Asia Gender Networking Conference scheduled for July 17

The IFJ and the SAMSN will host the South Asia Gender Networking Conference in Kathmandu, Nepal, on July 17. The 2014 meeting is aimed at moving forward from identifying the issues to bringing “action” out of the meeting.

The meeting will formulate a plan for action for women in media in South Asia – including the drafting of a regional gender campaign for the SAMSN network and the launch of a South Asia regional research project, supported by UNESCO.

The participants will present case studies and bring strategies that will help bring meaningful change to women’s representation and experience working in the media. The conference is part of IFJ’s continuing work to support women journalists in South Asia in overcoming gender issues. The conference is a part of the IFJ project on gender quality, safety and media rights sponsored by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry.


3.
Controversial labor reforms proposed for Rajasthan

The government of Rajasthan, India cleared major changes to the Industrial Disputes Act of 1947, the Factories Act of 1948 and the Contract Labor Act of 1971 and proposed to present the relevant bills to the Legislative Assembly next month. The changes need to be passed by the Assembly and approved by President Pranab Mukherjee before implementation. The changes, among other things, make it easier for the private companies to hire and fire employees.

The Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ), and other trade unions, raised serious concerns describing the reforms as the ‘government’s total surrender to big business and media monopolies’ and said it would deteriorate the situation of job security for media workers. According to The Indian Express changes to the laws include not requiring government permission for retrenchment of up to 300 workers, which is an increase on the existing level of 200 workers. There is also a proposed three-year time limit on raising disputes, and raised the percentage of workers needed for registration of a representative union from 15 to 30 per cent. More here.


4.
Journalist attacked by thugs in Nepal

Thakur Gurung, the news editor of Radio Bihani in Dhading district, was attacked in Bansathali, Kathmandu on June 7 by an unidentified group while returning home from a program he attended.

He sustained serious injuries on his head, right hand and chest and was rushed to the Janamaitri Hospital where he continues to receive medical treatment. More here.


5.
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 on June 7 after a group of miscreants warned to disrupt it. The workshop theme was investigative reporting arising from recommendations from the Reconciliation Commission.

It was reported that the police advised the organizer Transparency International Sri Lanka to leave the venue and hotel instead of ensuring the journalists rights to association and assembly. 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 the hotel at midnight after receiving threats.

This is not the first report 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 Polonnaruwa district of North Central Province. In January this year, another 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. More here.

 
6.
Pakistan suspends Geo News TV for 15 days

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s (PERMA) on June 6 decided to suspend the Geo News for 15 days and impose a PKR10 million (approximately USD 100,000) fine. The IFJ and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) have called the suspension a blatant attack on press freedom and called for the ban and the fine to be lifted immediately.

PERMA sent a formal letter to Geo News to shut down its transmission and pay the fine. The TV shut its transmission but officials have said the company will consider legal actions against the decision.

The PERMA decision was the latest in a series of events following the shooting of senior journalist and popular anchor on Geo TV, Hamid Mir, on April 19. Following the attack, Mir and Geo News accused Pakistan army’s spy agency, the inter-service intelligence (ISI), for orchestrating the attack – claims which subsequently raised the ire of the Ministry of Defense, which urged the government to recommend the cancellation of Geo TV’s news licenses. More here.

 

7. IFJ calls for Asia-Pacific solidarity on Peter Greste trial

The IFJ condemns the call by Egyptian prosecutors for the maximum jail sentence to be delivered against Al Jazeera journalists currently on trial in Cairo. The IFJ has called the trial process a vicious attack on press freedom and calls on all of its Asia-Pacific affiliates to continue to condemn the Egyptian trial process as an attack on journalism.

On June 5, the court sitting inside Tora Prison adjourned the case until June 16 and again refused the prisoners bail. The three imprisoned Al Jazeera English journalists are Australian Peter Greste, Cairo bureau chief Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy and producer Baher Mohamed and they face up to 15 years jail on charges of defaming Egypt and having ties to the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood. More here.

 

8. IFJ calls for release of Pakistani journalist detained in Afghanistan

The IFJ and the PFUJ called on Afghanistan authorities to speed up the procedure for the release of a Pakistani TV journalist being detained in Afghanistan since April 22, 2014.

Faizullah Khan, a reporter for ARY News TV based in Karachi, was detained by an Afghan security agency on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border while on assignment interviewing Taliban leaders of tribal areas in northwestern Pakistan.

The Foreign Office of Pakistan and Afghan authorities have already confirmed his detention and diplomatic channels are being used to secure his release. However, the process has been moving painstakingly slow. More here.

 

9. Another Jang Group journalist beaten in Pakistan as dire situation escalates

Half-a-dozen unidentified armed and masked men attacked and left injured Zafar Aheer, a resident editor for the Daily Jang newspaper, in the Punjab province of Multan on May 31.

Aheer was returning home from work when the attackers stopped his car and started beating him. The assailants, travelling on two motorbikes and a car, tore down his cloths and snatched his mobile phone at gunpoint. They left after firing bullets in front of his car.

The attack on Aheer is the latest addition to an ongoing hostile situation that journalists of the Jang Group, which owns Daily Jang and Geo TV among others, are facing since the attempted murder of highly respected journalist and anchor of Geo TV Hamid Mir in Karachi in April 19. More here.


10. Security forces obstruct Sri Lanka’s media

High-ranking police officers warned journalists against filming a public event involving Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa at Mout Lavinia District Court, in Colombo, Sri Lanka on May 27. The officer was filmed on camera threatening journalists months of detention if they filmed Rajapaksha’s appearance on a defamation complaint against the Sunday Leader newspaper. The police also barred journalists from covering the proceedings of the case. More here.


11. Severed body of Bangladeshi journalist found

Sadrul Alam Nipul, 35, a staff reporter of the popular local newspaper The Daily Mathabhanga, was found dead on a railway line in Chuadanga district in Bangladesh on May 21.

According to his family, he left home at 9pm on May 20 after receiving a call. He did not return home and his severed body was discovered a day later. Despite local police stating that the death may have been the result of a rail incident, Nipul’s family has claimed that he was killed for his work. More here.


12. IFJ Blog: "Don’t become the story" (Pakistan)

“I even had to prove myself by going that extra mile and putting myself in danger. Actually, while covering an incident, I was being threatened by the locals who were off camera. They were telling me not to report and show some respect - being a woman - to the victims.

But I was on duty and had to get the job done. I could not tell my producers that the situation on the ground was too dangerous to get this ‘exclusive.’ But I knew at the back of my mind that if I do that it would affect my profession. My boss would not send me to report a ‘serious story’ again.” (Read More)


13.
Upcoming Events in South Asia

Following successful media rights monitoring and advocacy workshop in Pakistan (April 13-14), the IFJ, as a part of the new South Asia Media for Democracy project, supported by UNDEF, will be conducting the workshops in Bangladesh (June 22-23) and Nepal (July 15-16).

The IFJ will also deliver the LO-TCO Union Leadership Training in Kathmandu, Nepal (July 14).

The annual meeting of the South Asian Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) will be held in Kathmandu, Nepal from July 18-20 with support from FES while South Asian Gender Networking Conference will be organized on July 17 in Kathmandu.

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If you have information on a press freedom violation or matters relating to media freedom and journalists’ rights in South Asia, contact staff at IFJ Asia-Pacific so that action can be taken. To contribute to this bulletin, email ifj@ifj-asia.org