Attacks on Media

South Asia Media Solidarity Bulletin: July, 2015

18 Jul, 2015

Welcome to the monthly e-bulletin of the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN). The next bulletin will be sent on August 15, 2015, 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 on your campaigns and activities. To contribute, email Ujjwal Acharya at: ifjsouthasia@gmail.com

Please feel free to distribute this bulletin widely among colleagues in the media. This e-bulletin and South Asia related contents are available at the SAMSN Digital Hub: https://samsn.ifj.org

In this bulletin:

  1. Inside the News: launched by IFJ, UNESCO and UN Women
  2. IFJ, Sri Lankan media rights organizations object reactivation of Press Council
  3. Another journalist burnt to death in India
  4. Journalist shot at and thrown out of a car in Assam, India
  5. Journalist shot dead in Baluchistan
  6. TV journalist dies on assignment in India
  7. TV journalists attacked by Indian railway police
  8. SAMSN Blogs
    1. Minorities and media (Lubna Jerar Naqvi, Pakistan)
    2. Taking on the fight for better working conditions (Suraj Acharya, Nepal)
    3. Next steps in gender equity (Sujata Madhok, India)
    4. Why BOL matters to Pakistan’s journalists (Sidra Dar, Pakistan)
  9. Govt, Pakistan Broadcasting Association work on code of ethics for electronic media
  10. Daesh, Taliban continue to threaten journalists in Afghanistan
  11. Burnt For Reporting: The story of Shahjahanpur and its slain journalist
  12. Press Council Of India Demands: ‘Enact strict law against attacks on journalists’
  13. Veteran Indian journalist passes away
  14. Pakistani journalist’s parents murdered
  15. Nepal government plans to keep tabs on media draw flak

1. Inside the News: launched by IFJ, UNESCO and UN Women
On June 22, the IFJ, UNESCO and UN Women, released Inside the News: Challenges and Aspirations for Women Journalists in Asia and the Pacific. The report documents the issue of gender equity in the media industry throughout the region, as well as what can be done to maintain and protect it.
The reports 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 details the experience of journalists across seven countries in the Asia Pacific, including Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Cambodia and Vanuatu.
Read the complete report here. Read the country reports on the SAMSN Digital Hub: Cambodia,India, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vanuatu.
For the recommendations click here, also available in Tamil.

2. IFJ, Sri Lankan media rights organizations object reactivation of Press Council
On July 2, 2015 Sri Lanka’s President, Maithripala Sirisena, reactivated the country’s Press Council by appointing new members. The Council was established under the 1973 Press Council Law, which provides wide ranging punitive powers to the body including imprisoning media personnel.
The Council, which had been used by the previous government against the media and journalists, had stopped functioning after the election of President Sirisena on January 8, 2015.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), its affiliates the Sri Lankan Working Journalist Association (SLWJA) and the Free Media Movement (FMM), along with the Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI), have strongly objected and condemned the Sri Lankan President’s decision to reactivate the controversial Press Council. Read more.

3. Another journalist burnt to death in India
Sandeep Kothari, a 40-year-old journalist working for Jabalpur based newspapers, in the Balaghat district of Madhya Pradesh was abducted after a motorcycle accident with a car on June 19. On June 21, Kathari’s half burnt-body was found near Nagpur in Maharashtra.
According to reports, prior to his death, Kothari had reported extensively on illegal mining in the area and had filed a case against an illegal mining gang. Police said that they suspected that the journalist was killed as he refused to withdraw the case against illegal mining in a local court. Read more.

4. Journalist shot at and thrown out of a car in Assam, India
Prasanta Kumar, the Khairabari correspondent of the Assamese daily Asamiya Pratidin, was shot and attacked by a group of five people on June 18 while returning home on his motorbike. One attacker shot him in the shoulder and then after blindfolding him, forced him into a car. The attackers stole his money and mobile phone, before throwing him out of the car.
Kumar survived the attack. He managed to reach the local police station where he received some primary first aid and was then rushed to hospital. Police have not arrested anyone but are investigating the incident. The motive of the attack is not clear although police suspect that the terrorist outfit in the region is behind the attack as Kumar was actively writing against the extortion drive and the ongoing anti-terrorist operations. Read more.

5. Journalist shot dead in Baluchistan
Journalist Zafarullah Jatak was brutally murdered in Jaffarabad in Baluchistan province on Sunday June 28. Unidentified gunmen forced their way into his home as Jatak slept and opened fire. Jatak was killed 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.
Police are yet to ascertain the motive behind the targeted killing and have registered a case against the unknown accused. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Read more.

6. TV journalist dies on assignment in India
Akshay Singh, a special correspondent of Aaj Tak, a Hindi news channel of TV Today Group, died while on assignment on July 5. He was interviewing the family of a medical student in Meghnagar, Madhya Pradesh, who died under mysterious circumstances in 2012, when he fell unconscious and died.
Singh was interviewing the family as part of an investigation of the Vyapam Scam, one of the biggest recruitment scams in India over the past decade. The Vyapam Scam, which has seen over with 2,000 arrests and 45 dozens mysterious deaths, involved the bribing of government officials and politicians associated with the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB). The MPPEB or Vyapam in India is responsible for entrance examinations for government jobs and education institutions. Read more.

7. TV journalists attacked by Indian railway police
Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel brutally attacked reporter, Stayajit Sena and cameraperson, Sankarshan Patra from Kanak TV and detained them for five hours after they filmed RPF action against protesters at a local railway station in Bhubaneswar, Odisha in India on June 29.
Passengers were protesting delays by sitting on the tracks and blocking trains from departing. A local RPF team used force to remove the protesters from the track during which they were filmed mistreating the female protesters. The RPF team then snatched Patra’s camera and took out the cassette before attacking Patra and Sena, and detaining them. The journalists were released only after local journalists and the public intervened, protesting the arrest, however the videocassette was not returned. Read more.

8. SAMSN Blogs

  1. Minorities and media (Lubna Jerar Naqvi, Pakistan) 

“The news related to religious minority is not given due air time or importance. They are neither given any follow-ups. The issues and problems related to religious minorities are hardly ever highlighted in the media. For example the burning of young boy Noman in Lahore as a result of Youhanabad incident.” Read more.

  1. Taking on the fight for better working conditions (Suraj Acharya, Nepal) 

The effective implementation of the WJA has remained issue among journalists for long time. The new executive committee of the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), in its first meeting, decided to take concrete action for the WJA, including ensuring labor-friendly media houses. The first step was to identity problems and find solutions amicably through open dialogues. Readmore.

  1. Next steps in gender equity (Sujata Madhok, India)

Can the journalists’ trade unions build campaigns around the findings and the issues they raise? For example, could they take up the issue of paid maternity leave and re-entry and insist that laws be observed? Could campaigns be built around sexual harassment at the workplace, with a focus on the demand for internal control mechanisms within companies? Should freelancers, given their substantial numbers in several of the countries surveyed, be organized as a separate, special group with specific needs and demands? Read more.

  1. Why BOL matters to Pakistan’s journalists (Sidra Dar, Pakistan)

At the time of crisis, some reputed and well established names left BOL. Is their decision right or wrong? Although they are financially stable and independent in their decision, they have termed it a “voice of their conscience”. But what about those who followed them? Should they accept the reality as it is? Some might think that I may also leave, but I feel obliged toward my colleagues who have remained with me through thick and thin. Now it’s my duty to return the favor. Readmore.

9. Govt, Pakistan Broadcasting Association work on code of ethics for electronic media
The government and Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) have agreed on a broad code of conduct for electronic media but differences on at least three critical issues still need to be ironed out. The code will be announced through a statutory regulatory order (SRO) by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PERMA) if the two sides succeed in resolving the issues. Read more.

10. Daesh, Taliban continue to threaten journalists in Afghanistan
Reporters in Afghanistan are already facing threats from the Taliban are now under such pressure from Daesh (ISIS) that information “black holes” are springing up in the country, media-freedom campaigners are warning. France-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is calling on the Afghan authorities to protect journalists who not only face physical danger from militants, but an information blackout from official sources. Read more.

11. Burnt for Reporting: The story of Shahjahanpur and Its slain journalist
The rape of an Anganwadi worker was the last story Jagendra Singh wrote on his Facebook page. Within a few days, he was burnt alive. Read more.

12. Press Council Of India Demands: ‘Enact strict law against attacks on journalists’
In the wake of increasing attacks on media workers, a sub-committee on the safety of journalists set up by Press Council of India (PCI) has recommended enactment of a law that would make any attack on a journalist a punishable offence with “stiff and deterrent punishment”. Read more.
Read the complete report by the PCI committee here.

13. Veteran Indian journalist passes away
The well-known journalist and commentator Praful Bidwai – whose syndicated columns on politics, foreign policy, the environment and political economy provided a critical, left-wing perspective on national and international developments for over four decades – passed away in Amsterdam on June 13. Bidwai, who was 65, died while in Amsterdam for a conference. Readmore.

14. Pakistani journalist’s parents murdered
Bodies of retired Railways PR officer Dr. Javed Zaidi, 65, and his wife Kausar, 60,were found in their house located in Shershah Block, Garden Town when their son Hassan Belal Zaidi, a journalist working for Dawn newspaper in Islamabad, could not contact them on the telephone. Read more.

15. Nepal government plans to keep tabs on media draw flak
Amid concerns over provisions in the draft constitution to curb the press freedom guaranteed by the Interim Constitution, the government has proposed amendments to the code of conduct for the media sector in its latest policies and programmes. Read more.

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SAMSN is a group of journalists’ trade unions, press freedom organizations and journalists in South Asia that work together to support freedom of expression and association in the region.

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

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 ifjsouthasia@gmail.com

Written By

IFJ Asia-Pacific IFJ Asia-Pacific

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946
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