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South Asia Media Solidarity Bulletin: June, 2015

16 Jun, 2015

Welcome to the monthly e-bulletin of the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN). The next bulletin will be sent on July 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. Indian journalist set on fire over Facebook journalism
  2. Inside the News a research report by IFJ, UNESCO and UN Women to be launched
  3. Journalist thrashed, dragged by motorbike in Uttar Pradesh
  4. Pakistani state directive blocks BOL TV
  5. Unions call for better working conditions for Sri Lanka’s journalists
  6. IFJ welcomes new UN Security Council  Resolution on protecting journalists
  7. Police attack journalist in Sindh, Pakistan
  8. Nepal: FNJ demands to double minimum wage of journalists
  9. Indian journalist seeks police help against abusive Twitter handle
  10. Bangladesh: Photojournalist arrested in blogger murder case
  11. Afghanistan MP apologizes for threatening journalist to death
  12. Chairman of Press Institute of Bangladesh passes away
  13. Bangladeshi woman journalists demand more protection
  14. Pakistan agrees to re-examine controversial cybercrime bill
  15. The use of India’s Laws to suppress Free Speech
  16. SAMSN Blogs
    1. Cartooning as activism (Aseem Trivedi)
    2. The censorship behind Pakistan’s Bol scandal (Adnan Rehmat)
    3. Reporting through Nepal’s crisis (Ujjwal Acharya)
    4. Pakistan’s media watchdog takes note of hate speech (Lubna Jerar Naqvi)

1. Indian journalist set on fire over Facebook journalism

In a horrific case highlighting the threats to media workers in Uttar Pradesh, freelance journalist Jagendra Singh was set on fire, allegedly by the police on directives from a state minister, in Lucknow, in India’s north on June 1. Singh later died on June 9 in a hospital from burns to 60 percent of his body.

The local police claimed that the journalist set himself on fire when they arrived at his home to arrest him. However, following the incident Singh informed a police officer in a statement prior to his death that he was doused with petrol by the police officer, Sriprakash Rai and set alight. In a video from hospital, the journalist was seen in great pain and saying “they could have just beaten me up, why did they burn me alive”.

Singh’s family registered a criminal case against Uttar Pradesh’s Minister of State for Backward Class Welfare, Ram Murti Varma, four associates and four policemen accusing them of the plot to kill the journalist after a series of intimidations prior to his death. Five policemen have been suspended but not the minister himself despite national and international pressure to do so. Singh’s family claim the minister is putting pressure on them to drop the case.

On June 15, a large protest was held in New Delhi, calling for action against corruption and the growing number of attacks against freedom of expression in Uttar Pradesh. Read the IFJ statement here.

2. Inside the News a research report by IFJ, UNESCO and UN Women to be launched

In many countries across Asia and the Pacific, women media professionals have increased their number in the newsrooms, but they still represent only 3 out of 10 news staff and the majority earn less than their male counterparts, while struggling to reach decision-making positions.

These are some of the findings in Inside the News: Challenges and Aspirations of Women Journalists in Asia and the Pacific, a new study set to be launched by UNESCO, UN Women and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on June 22. The new study highlights how issues of gender impact the lives and work of journalists in the region, with case studies drawn from the personal accounts of media professionals in Cambodia, India, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vanuatu.

The launch event will bring together some of the report’s authors as well as media professionals to assess the situation women journalists in Asia and the Pacific face and strategies that can help foster greater gender equality in the media.

Anyone interested can participate in the discussion of gender and media in Asia using the hashtag #InsidetheNews. If you wish to receive a softcopy of the report after its launch, please contact ifjsouthasia@gmail.com

3. Journalist thrashed, dragged by motorbike in Uttar Pradesh

Haider Khan, a journalist in Uttar Pradesh’s Pilibhit district, was brutally assaulted tied to a motorcycle and dragged behind it for about 100 meters on June 14, allegedly for his report on dubious land deals.

Khan remains in hospital in a critical condition. The police have registered a case against four people and started their investigation. Read more here and here.

4. Pakistani state directive blocks BOL TV

On May 28, the Federal Information Ministry wrote a letter to Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) asking it to stop the broadcasting of BOL TV Channel until the completion of a criminal investigation into its parent company, Axact.

BOL TV, currently in test transmission phase, was established by the chief executive officer of Axact, Shoaib Ahmed Shaikh. Axact is currently under investigation for alleged scams involving fake degrees through fake online universities. More than 2,300 journalists and media staff are employed by BOL TV Channel. Read more here.

PERMA’s halting of Bol’s operations is not just hasty but also presumptuous in terms of any wrongdoing, writes Adnan Rehmat in SAMSN blog: The censorship behind Pakistan’s Bol scandal.

5. Unions call for better working conditions for Sri Lanka’s journalists

The IFJ and its affiliates the Free Media Movement (FMM) and the Sri Lankan Working Journalists Association (SLWJA) have called for more dialogue and discussion on improving working conditions for journalists in Sri Lanka if the country is to rebuild a strong, robust and professional media industry.

The IFJ joined the International Media Assessment Mission to Sri Lanka from May 8 to 14 to follow-up on its recent assessments of the media freedom situation since the January 8 presidential election.

While both FMM and SLWJA said the government has made a number of important positive steps in its media reform agenda; further work was still urgently needed to ensure the media industry in Sri Lanka grows and thrives. They particularly highlighted some of the obstacles preventing journalists from joining and being active in unions and said further support was needed for journalists in exile wanting to return. Read the IFJ statement here and read the mission statement English, Sinhalese and Tamil.

6. IFJ welcomes new UN Security Council Resolution on protecting journalists

The IFJ welcomed Resolution 2222 (2015) on the protection of journalists in armed conflicts, which was unanimously adopted by the United Nations (UN) Security Council on May 28 during its 74509th meeting in New York.

The Resolution, the first one adopted by the UN on this subject since the adoption of Resolution 1738 in December 2006, calls on states to fulfill their obligations with regard to the protection of journalists during armed conflicts. In a new development, the resolution encourages UN peacekeeping operations to provide regular reports on the safety of journalists. Council members also demanded the immediate and unconditional release of journalists who have been kidnapped or taken hostage and urged all warring parties to respect the professional independence and rights of journalists.

Read IFJ statement here and the Resolution 2222 (2015) here

7. Police attack journalist in Sindh, Pakistan

Masked commandos of the Special Security Unit of the Sindh Police attacked a number of journalists who were outside the Sindh High Court to cover the former provincial home minister’s appearance at the registrar’s office on May 23. Police attacked the journalists with wooden staffs and damaged their equipment. The Chief Minister of Sindh, Syed Qain Ali Shah quickly appointed DIG Dr Ameer Shaikh to investigate the incident. Read more here.

8. Nepal: FNJ demands to double minimum wage of journalists

The fifth plenum of Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), the umbrella organization of Nepali journalists and the IFJ affiliate, has demanded that the government increase the existing minimum salary of journalists working for national-level media to Rs. 20,000 (USD 185) per month. Read more.

9. Indian journalist seeks police help against abusive Twitter handle

Delhi-based journalist Swati Chaturvedi filed a police complaint against an anonymous Twitter account that had unleashed a malicious campaign against her. The account changed its handle twice after the complaint. Read more.

The Delhi Union of Journalists commended Chaturvedi for boldly taking on the twitter trolls. DUJ and its Gender Council said that the anonymity of the net must not be abused and misused to personally slander individuals, particularly women in public life.

10. Bangladesh: Photojournalist arrested in blogger murder case

Bangladeshi photojournalist Idris Ali has been arrested over his alleged role in the murder of “atheist” blogger Ananta Bijoy Das who was hacked to death last month by masked machete-wielding assailants. Read more.

11. Afghanistan MP apologizes for threatening journalist to death

Afghan lawmaker Ashiqullah Wafa apologized to an Afghan journalist for threatening him to death. An audio recording of Mr. Wafa’s telephone call threatening the chief editor of Tanveer television Sher Mohammad Jahish went viral earlier which was sparked rage among the organization defending journalists as well as local residents including religious clerics. Read more.

12. Chairman of Press Institute of Bangladesh passes away

Veteran journalist and chairman of Press Institute of Bangladesh (PIB), Habibur Rahman Milon died at LabAid Hospital on June 14. He was 80. The IFJ and SAMSN are saddened by his death and express condolence to his family. Read more.

13. Bangladeshi woman journalists’ no to discrimination, demand protection

At the conclusion of a two day workshop:  “Right Wrongs against Women Journalists” on June 8 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, women journalists called for institutional changes in media houses so that their rights are protected. The workshop was organised by ARTICLE 19 Bangladesh. Read more.

14. Pakistan agrees to re-examine controversial cybercrime bill

After concerns expressed by national and international freedom of expression and IT stakeholders, the National Assembly Standing Committee on IT has asked its members to sit down with stakeholders from the industry and correct errors in the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill (PECB) 2015. Read more.

15. Imposing Silence: The Use of India’s Laws to Suppress Free Speech
In a new report, by PEN International, finds that overreaching legislation and longstanding problems with the administration of justice have produced cumbersome legal processes that deter citizens from exercising their right to free expression in India. The resulting chill silences political criticism and often discourages marginal voices from speaking out on sensitive social, cultural, and religious matters. Read more.

16. SAMSN Blogs (see more blogs at https://samsn.ifj.org)

  1. Cartooning as activism (Aseem Trivedi)

I took the path to activism in 2011 when I started campaigning through my cartoons. I started ‘Cartoons Against Corruption‘, a campaign to support a wider national anti-corruption movement in India and uploaded my cartoons on the internet… The Mumbai police subsequently banned my website in December 2011. Then, in September 2012, they arrested me on three charges: sedition, insulting national symbols and Section 66A of the IT Act. Read more.

  1. The censorship behind Pakistan’s Bol scandal (Adnan Rehmat)

The haste with which the government authorities requested Pemra to stop Bol from working has raised concerns about what media and political watchdogs have said represents an undeclared policy of the ruling party to be gag media and be trigger happy when it comes to browbeating media. Stopping Bol is censorship by another name. Read more.

  1. Reporting through Nepal’s crisis (Ujjwal Acharya)

It will take a massive effort from Nepal’s journalists and support from others to recover from the devastation. Nepali journalists are continuing to fulfill their responsibilities in informing the public at this time of need. But they too have the need to keep safe – both physically and mentally. Affected journalists need relief and support to rebuild their houses; but they also need psycho-social support and care having witnessed trauma firsthand while reporting. Read more.

  1. Pakistan’s media watchdog takes note of hate speech (Lubna Jerar Naqvi)

Recently government supported media watchdog Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) in Pakistani issued 14 show-cause notices to TV channels for airing Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain’s alleged hate speech against the armed forces. Several journalists are concerned by these notices, because as they say, it is their job is to report facts and they or their channel should not be held responsible for the content of a live speech. 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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