Attacks on Media
South Asia Media Solidarity Bulletin: June 201825 Jun, 2018
Welcome to the monthly e-bulletin of the South Asia Media Solidarity Network(SAMSN). The next bulletin will be sent on July 15, 2018, and your inputs are most welcome.
We encourage contributions to let others know about your activities; to seek solidarity and support from SAMSN members for your campaigns and initiatives. To contribute, email Ujjwal Acharya at:ifjsouthasia(at)gmail(dot)com
Please feel free to distribute this bulletin widely among colleagues in the media. This e-bulletin and South Asia related content are available at the SAMSN Digital Hub: https://samsn.ifj.org
In this bulletin:
- IFJ convenes meeting on ‘Building Power of Journalists and Media Workers in the Digital Economy’ in Kathmandu, Nepal
- Prominent editor Shujaat Bukhari shot dead in Kashmir, India
- Bangladeshi writer-publisher shot dead in Munshiganj
- News websites temporarily blocked in Bangladesh
- Nepal’s minister allegedly shuts down TV talk show after critical questions
- IFJ Condemns Indian government’s manoeuvres to control media
- Attack and abduction threaten journalists’ safety in Pakistan
- Journalist in east Nepal beaten over news
- News report about lawmaker elicits threats for journalists in Nepal
- Sri Lanka requests Britain to deport exiled editor (Sunday Times)
- Nepali women journalists’ team summits Mount Everest (Kathmandu Post)
- Bangladesh to revise Digital Security Act (Daily Star)
- Pakistani journalist in exile documenting censorship in South Asia (The Wire)
- XYZ: A space for practical tools to navigate digital security and privacy from a gender perspective
1. IFJ convenes meeting on building power of journalists and media workers in the digital economy
Journalists, union leaders and representatives of journalist unions, media and media rights organizations under the umbrella of the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN), the South East Asian Journalists Unions (SEAJU) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) convened in Kathmandu from June 17 to 19, 2018 under the theme ‘Trade Unions in Transition: Building Power of Journalists and Media Workers in the Digital Economy”. The meeting was supported by the Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung (FES), the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Union to Union.
Participants deliberated on issues affecting freedom of expression, journalist’s rights, media development; labour issues; gender equity; dangers, risks and challenges for journalists and media in conflict zones; impact of misinformation and disinformation on media; and emerging models of independent media. Strategies were discussed for organizing and campaigning in the changed context, especially focusing on the youth and women.
The participants of the meeting lit candles to condemn the recent killing of Shujaat Bukhari in Kashmir, India and 10 journalists in a single day in Afghanistan and called for justice for their fallen colleagues. The statement endorsed by the meeting can be found here.
2. Prominent editor Shujaat Bukhari shot dead in Kashmir, India
On June 14, India, editor of Rising Kashmir daily, Shujaat Bukhari was shot dead outside of his office in Srinagar, Kashmir by unidentified gunmen. Bukhari was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. His security guard was also killed in the attack and his driver is currently receiving medical treatment. Bukhari had worked as a journalist for more than 25 years. He established Rising Kashmir daily in March, 2008 after having served The Hindu daily for 15 years. He survived several earlier murder attempts and had been provided with police protection since his last attack in 2010. No group has claimed the responsibility for the killing. Bukhari is the third journalist killed in India this year and the 22nd journalist killed in the Asia Pacific region. Read more here
Meanwhile, South Asian journalists are committed to take forward the work of slain editor Bukhari; here is an analysis of what Bukhari’s killing says about journalism on the razor’s edge, and here is how newspapers across the country paid tribute to Bukhari a day after his killing.
3. Bangladeshi writer-publisher shot dead in Munshiganj
On June 11, writer, blogger and publisher Shahjahan Bachchu was shot dead in Munshiganj district in central Bangladesh. At least four youth on motorcycles exploded a bomb outside a pharmacy and then proceeded to drag Bachchu outside the shop. Bachchu was shot point blank in the chest and died immediately. In addition to running his own publishing house Bishakha Prokashoni, Shahjahan Bachchu, 55, was acting editor of weekly Amader Bikrampur. This murder is one more in the series of attacks on secular bloggers and writers in Bangladesh. Read more here
4. News websites temporarily blocked in Bangladesh
The website of The Daily Star daily was blocked for more than 18 hours on June 1 in response to an order issued by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC). The block was implemented following an article related to the alleged murder of Teknaf municipal councillor, Akramul Haque. In August 2016, the BTRC had blocked 35 news websites on government directives. Read more here
Similarly, on June 18, the BTRC ordered the international internet gateway operators to block bdnews24.com without giving any reason for the blocking. After five hours, the BTRC issued a directive to unblock the website. Read morehere.
5. Nepal’s minister allegedly shuts down TV talk show after critical questions
A long-running talk show was shut down on June 12 by state-owned Nepal Television. The shutdown occurred after critical questions were posed by the host to the Minister for Communication and Information Technology, Gokul Prasad Baskota regarding his property declaration. In the episode broadcast on June 9, host Raju Thapa asked Minister Baskota questions regarding his property declaration, especially about the dowry that he declared he had received. On June 12, the news chief of Nepal Television informed host Thapa that his 12-year-old program would not broadcast anymore. Read more here
6. IFJ condemns Indian government’s manoeuvres to control media
During the IFJ Executive Committee meeting in Taiwan on May 12-13, concern was expressed regarding the Indian government’s attempts to control media and infringe upon the right of freedom of expression and access to information. Following government orders, the Central Press Accreditation Committee (CPAC) has been reconstituted without representatives of organisations of working journalists or editors of news media which is in clear violation of stipulated guidelines. These actions amount to thinly veiled censorship. Furthermore, the Chairperson of the 13th Press Council of India (PCI) has perversely impacted the neutrality and credibility of the Council by holding meetings described as ‘undemocratic’ and ‘illegitimate’. The IFJ condemns the procedure adopted in respect to these vital institutions as it amounts to arbitrary interference that allows the Modi government to throttle dissenting voices. Read more here
7. Attack and abduction threaten journalists’ safety in Pakistan
Following the attack and abduction of two journalists in Lahore, Pakistan, concerns were raised in respect to the increasingly dangerous situation faced by media in the lead up to parliamentary elections. Senior investigative journalist Asad Kharal, associated with BOL TV Network, was attacked near the Allama Iqbal International Airport on June 6 by masked men. Kharal was a known critic of the former government. On June 5, prominent British-Pakistani journalist and activist Gul Bukhari, known for criticizing the Pakistani army, was briefly abducted by unidentified men. Bukhari was on her way to the Waqt TV studio for a show when the TV vehicle was intercepted. She was returned home safely after three hours. Read more here
The residence of prominent journalist, analyst and Daily Times’ correspondent Marvi Sirmed was found ransacked on June 21 night as the family entered home after being away for holidays. Two laptops, one smartphone, passports of family members among other travel documents were taken. Marvi said that the miscreants went through all of the family’s belongings but no valuables such as the jewellery were taken. Read more here.
9. Journalist in east Nepal beaten over news
On June 2, following a news report, journalist Dinesh Giri was attacked by three persons outside of his residence. Giri, the editor of nirantarkhabar.com and treasurer of NPU Morang branch, sustained injuries to his head and back and was hospitalised as consequence. Police have arrested one attacker whilst the other two attackers have absconded. Read more here
10. News report about lawmaker elicits threats for journalists in Nepal
Student leaders from the ruling party harassed and threatened journalists of online news portal hamrakura.com in Kathmandu, Nepal over a news report about a Member of Parliament (MP) and the chairperson of the students union on June 6. Seven people led by Bhupendra Shahi, the central committee member of the All Nepal National Free Students’ Union (ANNFSU), entered the office of hamrakura.com on the evening of June 6 and demanded the removal of the news related to MP and ANNFSU chairperson Nabina Lama. They stayed at the media office for more than half an hour, harassing executive editor Madhav Prasad Chamlagain and other journalists. Read more here.
11. Sri Lanka requests Britain to deport exiled editor
President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday requested Britain to have London-based LankaeNews editor Pradeep Sandaruwan Senadheera arrested or sent back to Sri Lanka. He made the request during a 30-minute a meeting with British High Commissioner James Dauris at President Sirisena’s Paget Road residence.
Among those present at the discussion were the President’s Coordinating Secretary Shiral Lakthilaka and Defence Secretary Kapila Waidyaratne. The website has been blocked since November last year by the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL), headed by Presidential Secretary Austin Fernando. The ban was imposed after the website published articles critical of President Sirisena. More here.
12. Nepal i women journalists’ team summits Mount Everest (Kathmandu Post)
A team of four women journalists successfully climbed Mount Everest on May 23. The First Women Journalists Everest Expedition-2018 (FWJEE18) team scaled the world’s highest peak at 6 am. A team of women journalists Rosha Basnet (Rastriya Samachar Samiti), Kalpana Maharjan (Mega TV), Rojita Buddhacharya (NTV) and Deuralee Chamling, a freelancer, became the first Nepali women journalists’ team to climb Everest. Read more.
13. Bangladesh to revise Digital Security Act (Daily Star)
Bangladesh Law Minister Anisul Huq has agreed to sit down again with representatives of the Editors’ Council, the Association of Television Channel Owners and a faction of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists once the parliamentary committee concerned revises the proposed Digital Security Act in the light of discussions at a meeting of the committee. At the invitation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Post, Telecom and ICT, the representatives of the three organisations had the meeting with the committee and voiced their deep concern over the proposed law. Read more.
14. Pakistani journalist in exile documenting censorship in South Asia (The Wire)
An interview with Taha Siddiqui, who was forced to flee to France after a failed abduction attempt, brings to the fore how freedom of expression and speech is being curtailed in newsrooms across South Asia. Read more.
15. XYZ: A space for practical tools to navigate digital security and privacy from a gender perspective
Tactical Tech launched a new platform: XYZ, a space for critical debate on technology from a gender perspective. Whether in meeting rooms or in demonstrations, holding online debates or organising campaigns, women use technology to re-imagine and co-create just, inclusive and equal societies. However, the very same technologies put women under risks and threats while trying to achieve their goals, spread their word and leave their mark. This website provides a critical debate around maintaining our safety and wellbeing in a world where technology companies capitalize on our attention and data, and the government institutions are short of providing adequate protection and remedies.
As part of this website, Tactical Tech also released an Online Harassment Overview. This report is built upon interviews Tactical Tech conducted throughout 2017 with politically-active women from 25 different countries, to understand how their activism was affected by ongoing harassment in the form of threats, intimidation, blackmailing, slander, doxing and other forms of online abuse. Read more and XYZ is here.
SAMSN is a network of journalists’ trade unions, press freedom organisations and journalists in South Asia that works together to support freedom of expression and association in the region.
For further information on SAMSN, visit: https://samsn.ifj.org/us/
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, emailifjsouthasia(at)gmail(dot)com