IFJ Asia Pacific Bulletin: APRIL

Philippines: Maria Ressa arrested for the eleventh time
Maria Ressa was arrested as she disembarked from a flight from San Francisco in Manila on March 28. She was arrested for violating foreign ownership rules and securities fraud. As she was escorted from the airport, Ressa posted a series of tweets including one from inside the police car as she was led away.
These latest charges are the 11th bought against Rappler and Ressa and come after she was arrested in February on cyber libel charges. If she is made to post bail on these latest charges, this will be the seventh time she has posted bail.
Read more here.

Online harassment win in India
Indian police have arrested four for stalking and trolling journalist, Barkha Dutt. The FIR was registered under the Indian Penal Code including stalking, threats, intimidation and under the IT Act for publishing or transmitting material containing sexually explicit act. Read more here

Union busted in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka broadcaster Swarnavahini TV fired 15 employees for union activity on March 18. Approximately 270 employees of Swarnavahini TV participated in a meeting  with the aim to form a union to fight for better working conditions. The union was formed to fight for bettering working conditions. Staff reported that in the past 12 months there had been no salary increases, pay was not on time and there was bias when it came to promotions. This is the first case of a private media company unionizing in Sri Lanka. Read more here 

Afghan journalist Sultan Mohammad Khairkhah was shot and killed as he drove to work on March 17 in Khost, south eastern Afghanistan. Khairkhah worked for the Afghan National TV channel and hosted several social programs. He was shot near the police checkpoint in Khost and died in hospital from his injuries. 
Read more here.

Afghan journalist Nisar Ahmad Ahmadi survived an assassination attempt in Helmand, Afghanistan on March 12. Nisar, the director of local public television of Sabawoon TV was in his car on the way to work in Lashkargah when a bomb attached to his car detonated. Nisar sustained severe injuries and is due to be transferred to Kabul for further medical treatment. Read more here

According to The Irrawaddy the two Myitkyina News Journal journalists were detained by staff from the Tha Khin Sit Mining, Import and Export Company, and forced from the newsroom to the company’s site. They were detained for over two hours in separate rooms and allegedly abused. They were ordered to take down an article about the company. The two journalists were released when colleagues alerted police and went to the site. Read more here.

Malaysia: Journalists assaulted by political party leaders: Umno leaders and supporters harassed two Malaysiakini interns as they covered a talk by the former Prime Minister in Kuala Lumpur on March 22. Read more here.

Government advertising withheld from Kashmir newspapers: According to the Kashmir Editor’s Guild the administration had not given any government advertisements since February 16, 2019 to either outlet. Greater Kashmir is the most widely read English paper in the region. The Editor’s Guild said that neither outlet had received any communication from the administration, and said that actions such as these ‘strangulate’ the media.
Read more here.

Labour rights activist and journalist detained by police in China: Wei Zhili, the editor of a China labour rights website was detained by authorities in Guangzhou on March 20. The editor of ILabour.neta Chinese website that monitors labour rights was with his parents when he was detained by police for ‘disturbing public order’. Read more here.

Indonesian university disbands student press over LGBTI story: The website of Suarausu.co was shut down from March 20 to 23 after the Chancellor of the University of Sumatra Utara (USU) disbanded the student press of Suarausu.co after the publication of a fictional story about discrimination of LGBTI people.
Read more here.

Pakistan: TV journalist victim of online harassment campaign: Gharida Farooqi came under fire on social media after tweeting about the New Zealand shooter. Her words were taken out of context and a vicious online campaign against her was initiated. She received hundreds of insults and threats, including some calling for her murder.
Read more here.

Indonesia: Journalists attacked by a gang leader: Gang leader, Hercules Rosario Marshal was in court in West Jakarta. When Hercules arrived at court, he stepped out of the car where he was met by waiting media. Hercules immediately started verbally and physically assaulting the media before he was taken to a holding room. As photographers tried to take his photo he was chased and the rest of the media fled the scene. Read more here.

Pakistan: Cameraperson attacked by political party members: Shrazi Gardezi was covering the visit for Geo News when he came under attack by workers of the PPP. The attack was caught with his own footage. Read more here.

Journalists must be consulted on press council development: The Malaysian Media Council Journalists Alliance consists of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Malaysia, IFJ’s affiliate, and other organisations. In the joint statement on Thursday March 8th, the Alliance said that whilst they welcomed the formation of a media council, the proposal submitted to the government by a group of publishers in the media industry was not made public or shared with all journalists. Read more here.

Hong Kong-based grassroots news website blocked in China: The grassroots news organisation based in Hong Kong, Worker News, issued a post on the 28 February 2019,  saying that mainland readers recently found its site to be inaccessible, and the Chinese internet censorship analyser GreatFire.org also showed the site to be blocked as of 1 March. 
Read more here.

Timor Leste, Indonesia strengthen relations in press freedom: During a visit to Indonesia, the Timor Leste Press Council signed several agreements with local organisations to promote press freedom in Timor Leste and Indonesia. Read more here.

News Organisations Safety Self-Assessment, a new resource that will help news outlets review and improve their current safety practices and protocols. Read more here.

Singapore introduced draft legislation on Monday that it said would combat false or misleading information on the internet, but critics said the measure could be used as a cudgel against the government’s critics. Read more here.






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