Asia Pacific tops IFJ’s Killed List as deadliest region for journalists

21 journalists and media workers lost their lives during 2021 in the Asia Pacific region, accounting for almost half of all journalist killings worldwide, the International Federation of Journalists’ annual Killed List has found. The IFJ condemns the continued violence against journalists across the Asia Pacific and calls for action to address impunity and safeguard press freedom.

The IFJ recorded the deaths of 47 journalists and media workers during 2021, catalogued in the IFJ’s annual list of killed journalists published on February 9. 365 journalists are currently detained, 162 of which are in the Asia Pacific region. 

Of the 21 killings, nine were in Afghanistan, one in Bangladesh, four in India, one in Myanmar, three in Pakistan and three in the Philippines.  

The figure is one of the lowest since the IFJ began publishing its annual reports on journalists killed in work-related incidents. In 2020, the IFJ recorded 65 deaths, including 31 in the Asia Pacific region. 

Afghanistan continues to be the Asia Pacific region’s most deadly nation, and one of the least secure locations for journalists across the globe. The IFJ has recorded the deaths of 93 journalists since the conflict began in 2001.   

On January 1, Bismillah Adel Aimaq, the manager of Afghan radio station Sada-e-Ghor, was killed by unidentified gunmen. Three Afghan female media workers, Mursal Wahidi, Sadia Sadat and Shahnaz Roafi, all of whom worked in Enikass TV’s dubbing division, were gunned down in separate locations on March 2. Nemat Rawan, Danish Siddiqui, Toofan Omar, Ali Reza Ahmadi, and Hamid Saighani were also killed, with Ahmadi and Saighani the first to lose their lives since the Taliban’s capture of Kabul in August 2021. 

At least 102 journalists are currently detained in China as the 2022 Winter Olympics begin in Beijing. The IFJ’s 2022 China report, released on February 2, finds that foreign correspondents inside China face expulsions, visa denials, intimidation, surveillance and lawsuits which make it harder for foreign media to tell China’s story. 
In Bangladesh, local correspondent for Bangladesh Samachar, Burhan Uddin Mujakker, was shot in the neck and fatally wounded in a “political clash” in the Bangladeshi district of Noakhali. 

Since the military junta took hold in Myanmar from February 1, 2021, one journalist, Sai Win Aung, has been killed, with many more arbitrarily arrested for doing their jobs.  

A Pakistani reporter for local channel Metro News 1, Shahid Zehri, was killed on October 10 when a bomb exploded in his car in the Hub area of Balochistan province, while in India, the body of reporter Raman Rashyap was found in a mortuary on October 3, a day after he covered violent demonstrations between farmers and political supporters in Lakhimpur Kheriwas. 

The IFJ’s International Safety Fund continued to aid media workers in the Asia Pacific, with support provided for journalists in Afghanistan, Myanmar and the Philippines during 2021.

The death toll continues to rise in 2022 with 7 deaths already recorded globally in the first weeks of January. On January 24, a reporter for Pakistan’s Capital News TV, Hasnain Shah was gunned down in front of Lahore Press Club by unknown assailants while in India, Odisha reporter Rohit Biswal was killed by an explosive device planted by Maoist insurgents while in the field. 

The IFJ said: “Journalists and media workers in the Asia Pacific continue to be killed, attacked and detained in alarming numbers, with impunity rife. With conflicts escalating and oppressive regimes solidifying, safeguarding independent reportage and press freedom is more important than ever. The IFJ calls on all governments in the region to do more to safeguard the lives of journalists, protect those reporting in the field and achieve swift justice for all media personnel who have lost their lives.” 

Read the IFJ's 2021 Killed List here.

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on [email protected]

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

Twitter: @ifjasiapacific, on Facebook: IFJAsiaPacific and Instagram