South Asia Media Solidarity Bulletin: May 201817 May, 2018
Welcome to the monthly e-bulletin of the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN). The next bulletin will be sent on June 15, 2018, and your inputs are most welcome.
We encourage contributions to let others know your activities; to seek solidarity and support from SAMSN members on your campaigns and activities. To contribute, email Ujjwal Acharya at: [email protected]
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:
- IFJ and SAMSN mark World Press Freedom Day
- Clampdowns and Courage: The South Asia Press Freedom Report launched
- Black Day for Journalism in Afghanistan: Ten journalists killed in a single day
- IFJ urges South Asia to end impunity and bring killers of journalists to book
- Media’s #MeToo Moment
- Indian journalist subjected of harsh online harassment
- Nepali media barred from covering Indian PM’s visit
- Gang contracted to stab Maldivian TV boss
- SAMSN Blog
- ‘You and this loss will never be forgotten’: The deadly realities of media work in Afghanistan, by Ezzatullah Mehrdad
- “Oh, how do you manage being on the field and your home life?”, by Khabar Lahariya
- #WPFD2018: Clampdowns and Courage, by Jane Worthington
- #WPFD2018: Media Reforms – the Present and Beyond, by Free Media Movement, Sri Lanka
- Nine get life imprisonment in Indian journalist killing case (The Hindu)
- Freedom of Expression on the decline in Sri Lanka (Groundviews)
- Chronicles of Shame: The Changing Threat Patterns and Demographics of Pakistani Media Landscape (Freedom Network)
- Press freedom situation report of Nepal (FNJ, Freedom Forum)
- Indian editor charged with sedition for sharing cartoon on Facebook (RSF)
- Afghanistan government accused of trying to restrict media activities (Tolo TV)
- Women in media: The power and the struggle (The Wire, India)
- What It’s Like to Be a Journalist in India’s Northeast (The Wire)
- Bangladesh: Digital Security Bill seriously flawed (CLD)
1. IFJ and SAMSN mark World Press Freedom Day
On May 3, 2018, the IFJ and the SAMSN celebrated the work of journalists across the world to guarantee and ensure press freedom to mark the 25th World Press Freedom Day
In New Delhi, India, the IFJ, the SAMSN and the UNESC) launched the 16th annual South Asia Press Freedom Report 2017-18 – Clampdowns and Courage.
In Kathmandu, Nepal, the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) organized a rally and represented the IFJ at the launch of the South Asia Press Freedom Report with UNESCO Kathmandu Office and Freedom Forum. The FNJ also launched the its own annual press freedom report.
To mark WPFD in Sri Lanka, the Free Media Movement (FMM) organised a public lecture and panel discussion on media freedom, which will hold under the title “Media Reforms: Moving beyond the current situation” on May 2 at Sri Lanka Press Institute.
In Dhaka, Bangladesh, Bangladesh Manobadhikar Sangbadik Forum (BMSF) in collaboration with Pen International Bangladesh chapter, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the SAMSN organised a discussion meeting on the state of freedom of expression in the country.
In Thimpu, Bhutan, the Journalists Association of Bhutan (JAB) awarded 20 journalists with excellence in journalism at the fourth annual journalism award. Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay attended the award ceremony during which the JAB also launched the second edition of Bhutan Press Mirror: A JAB Occasional Journal, which highlights the situation of journalism in Bhutan through opinion pieces and JAB’s activities.
2. Clampdowns and Courage: The South Asia Press Freedom Report launched
The IFJ and the SAMSN marked World Press Freedom Day with the launch of the 16th annual South Asia Press Freedom Report, Clampdowns and Courage.
The annual report, which documents the state of press freedom across South Asia, this year also puts focus on the plight of rural and small-town journalists, the flow-on impacts of the #MeToo movement in South Asia’s media and the scourge of sexual harassment impacting women journalists is covered in a special chapter featuring first person essays by women working in the region, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Bangladesh.
The IFJ said: “We document the attacks, clampdowns, repression and muzzling by legal means and more. But we also pay tribute to the other factor that unites South Asia’s media – and that is courage. In the face of adversity, its media fearlessly perseveres, despite the suffering and despite increased controls and criminalisation of their craft.”
3. Black Day for Journalism in Afghanistan: Ten journalists killed in a single day
April 30 is now a day of remembrance and mourning for Aghanistan’s media community as the deadliest day. In two separate incidents, 10 journalists were brutally killed in targeted attacks.
In the morning, nine journalists were killed in a suicide blast in capital Kabul. The sucide bomber disguised as a cameraperson blew himself up amid the journalists who had gathered to cover an initial blast in Shashdarak area, near the headquarters of the Afghan intelligence services.
At least 50 people were killed including journalists killed included: Agence France-Presse (AFP) chief photographer in Kabul Shah Marai, Tolo News cameraman Yar Mohammad Tokhi, Radio Azadi correspondents Abadullah Hananzai, Moharram Durrani and Sabawoon Kakar, 1TV reporter Ghazi Rasooli and cameraman Nowroz Ali Rajabi, Mashal TV reporter Salim Talash and cameraman Ali Salimi.
In the second incident, unknown gunmen killed Ahmad Shah, a journalist with BBC Afghan service in Khost province. Two unknown armed men riding on a motorcycle shot Shah dead while he was on his way home.
Earlier on April 25, Abdul Manan Arghand from Kabul News TV, was shot dead at Yarana Market in the outskirts of Kandahar city, Afghanistan. Arghand was in his car when two gunmen on a motorbike intercepted him and opened fire at him killing him on the spot at around 9 am. He had reportedly received threats and had notified security authorities about the threats.
4. IFJ urges South Asia to end impunity and bring killers of journalists to book
The IFJ and the SAMSN urged governments in South Asia to urgently roll out concrete measures to end the reigning impunity in crimes against journalists and ensure justice to slain and victimized journalists.
A total of 33 journalists lost their lives across South Asia from May, 2017 to April, 2018, making the region the most dangerous region in the world for journalists. Afghanistan saw the killing of 22 journalists, 10 of them in a day on April 30, 2018 whereas the world’s largest democracy, India, saw 7 killings while Pakistan witnessed 4 killings of journalists. Read more.
5. Media’s #MeToo Moment
The IFJ and the SAMSN urged the media managements, journalist unions and associations to proactively make media workplaces safer for woman journalists in the wake of the global conversation around sexual harassment at work.
As more and more women share their painful stories of exploitation and misuse of power using the #MeToo hashtag following the revelations of sexual harassment in the entertainment industry in the US and the academia in India, it is clear that women journalists too are fighting back and calling out men who harass, no matter how mighty their positions or power. The IFJ and the SAMSN stand firmly with women journalists in South Asia who are no longer willing to quietly accept sexual harassment at work. Read more.
6. Indian journalist subjected of harsh online harassment
On April 26, Indian journalist Rana Ayyub filed a criminal complaint with the Saket Police station in New Delhi. The complaint came after Ayyub had endured days of online abuse and death threats, following a tweet from a fake account, which projected her as a defender of child rapists. Ayyub received numerous hate-filled, sexually explicit and threatening messages on her Facebook and Twitter. It was followed by a fake video with morphed images that became viral and triggered more threats of gang-rape.
Ayyub said: “I couldn’t sleep for three nights. I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t believe what was happening. I was numb. My parents called me to see if I was OK. The trolls posted my phone number, the address of my house online. If this is the depth of their hatred, what will stop them from coming into my house as a mob and kill me?” Read more here.
7. Nepali media barred from covering Indian PM’s visit
Nepali media were barred from covering some events during the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Mustang and Kathmandu on May 12. India’s PM Modi visited Mustang district and Muktinath Temple, and also accepted the felicitation by the Kathmandu Metropolitan City in Kathmandu. However, Nepali media, despite holding the special pass provided by the Ministry of Culture were not allowed to cover the events.
Foreign media representatives, including Indian media, were allowed in whereas Nepali journalists were prohibited entry in Muktinath temple premises where PM Modi performed special prayers and the city hall where he received the felicitation. Journalists in Kathmandu protested the behavior by putting down their cameras on the street outside the city hall. Read more.
8. Gang contracted to stab Maldivian TV boss
Cadres of a political party offered money to a local gang to stab Raajje TV’s Chief Operation Officer Hussain Fiyaz Moosa in March 2018, Maldives’ opposition aligned station claimed. Raajje TV on April 26 cited credible information claiming that people connected to a political party offered MVR140,000 (USD9,000) to a local gang in presence of two politicians to physically harm Moosa. The station said that it was one of the lowest, scariest, most dangerous and un-Islamic acts carried out by anyone to undermine the station. Read more here.
9. SAMSN Blog
a. ‘You and this loss will never be forgotten’: The deadly realities of media work in Afghanistan
When video journalist Yar Mohammad Tokhi took his morning ride to the privately-owned TV station in Kabul where he worked, he may have been thinking about his upcoming wedding. He may have been looking forward to a day of photography, followed by an evening with his soon-to-be bride.
But it was not to be. Not long after the Tokhi arrived at the scene of an attack in central Kabul, ready to film, a suicide bomber joined a crowd of journalists and blew himself up. Read more.
b. “Oh, how do you manage being on the field and your home life
On World Press Freedom Day, a team of women reporters of Khabar Lahariya, a newspaper run by rural women in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, said that if they were to reply to this question, with one of their own, they would say, ‘Dear Male Colleague, Are You Ever Asked this Question?” Read more.
c. #WPFD2018: Clampdowns and Courage
The juggernaut of ever-evolving economic, social, cultural, political and, now, technological impacts, is putting the profession of journalism under pressure like never before. Legacy media is slowly but surely being dismantled or disembowelled, increasingly to push the agendas of media owners or powerful political and business interests. Wages and job permanency have been the casualty of an information revolution, that has left fewer journalists working harder than ever before.
The pervading question is: what kind of future will it be for South Asia’s journalists? After the storm, what will this new media landscape reflect? Read more.
d. #WPFD2018: Media Reforms – the Present and Beyond
Delivering the keynote address at the World Press Freedom Day event on May 2, 2018, organized by the Free Media Movement at the Sri Lanka Press Institute, MJR David provides a succinct analysis of media reforms in Sri Lanka. Read more.
10. Nine get life imprisonment in Indian journalist killing case (The Hindu)
The special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court in Mumbai On May 2 sentenced all the nine convicts, including gangster Chhota Rajan and shooter Satish Kaliya to life imprisonment in the journalist Jyotirmoy Dey murder case. J Dey was shot dead in Powai on June 11, 2011. The prosecution has examined 155 witnesses in the case, of which around 10 are reported to have turned hostile. Of the 14 accused, Vinod Asrani is dead and two are absconding. The other accused were Chhota Rajan, Satish Kaliya, Abhijeet Shinde, Arun Dake, Sachin Gaikwad, Anil Waghmode, Nilesh Shendge, Mangesh Agawane, Paulson Joseph, Deepak Sisodia and Ms. Vora. Read more.
11. Freedom of Expression on the decline in Sri Lanka (Groundviews)
The last 12 months, since World Press Freedom day 2017, has not been a good year for freedom of expression in Sri Lanka. The war ravaged North bore the brunt of repression, while there were also several incidents in other parts of the country. Victims included journalists, lawyers, activists, artists and in particular those speaking out and advocating on issues such as of women’s rights, gender and sexuality. A website that had published content critical of the President was blocked, following an intervention from the Presidential Secretariat. With very few exceptions, impunity reigned for past violations of free expression, including most serious ones such as killings and disappearances of journalists and media workers and arson attacks on media institutions. Read more.
12. Chronicles of Shame: The Changing Threat Patterns and Demographics of Pakistani Media Landscape (Freedom Network)
An award-winning Pakistan-based media rights watchdog Freedom Network has recorded over 150 cases of attacks and violations against media and its practitioners, including journalists, in Pakistan in the last one year, signifying a worryingly escalating climate of intimidation and harassment that is adversely affecting the freedom of expression and access to information environment. Read more.
13. Press freedom situation report of Nepal (FNJ, Freedom Forum)
The Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) has published its annual report of the press freedom situation in Nepal. The report was launched on May 3 marking the World Press Freedom Day. The FNJ has listed 62 incidents of press freedom violation in a year from May 2017 to April 2018. Similarly, Freedom Forum has published its annual report of press freedom violations on May 3. This report is prepared by Freedom Forum encasing cases of press freedom violations, freedom of expression, media policy and impunity watch during the period of a year.
14. Indian editor charged with sedition for sharing cartoon on Facebook (RSF)
Kamal Shukla, the editor of the Bhumkaal Samachar who is also involved in tribal rights activism was booked under the sedition law for allegedly posting a cartoon lampooning the country’s judiciary and government on Facebook. A case against Shukla has been registered at the Katwali police station in Chhattisgarh’s Kanker district. Read more.
15. Afghanistan government accused of trying to restrict media activities (Tolo TV)
Several media institutions in Afghanistan raised concerns over what they described as government’s deliberate attempts to impose restrictions on live coverage of terrorism-related violence in the country. They said government was trying to censor the media. Media organizations vowed to resist any type of pressure by government to impose restrictions on the industry, saying media freedom constitutes a red line for them. Read more.
16. Women in media: The power and the struggle (The Wire, India)
In her year-long exploration of Indian grassroots media, Julia Thomas found out that the grassroots media tended to focus more intently on centring stories about gender or women, even if men were the primary content creators. She found that an analysis of the composition of Indian newsrooms reminds one of the same old barriers and throws up just slight improvement on gender issues. Read more.
17. What It’s Like to Be a Journalist in India’s Northeast (The Wire)
While the journalists in the conflict-hit regions have continued to do their job amid widespread threats, national journalists’ associations have failed to take up their cases as vociferously as those in other conflict-ridden areas. Read more.
18. Bangladesh: Digital Security Bill seriously flawed (CLD)
The government of Bangladesh recently approved a Digital Security Bill which has now been sent to parliament for its review and ultimately adoption. An Analysis by the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) shows that the Bill fails in several important ways to respect international guarantees of freedom of expression. This is despite the fact that a lot of criticism has already been directed at provisions in Bangladeshi laws which restrict freedom of expression online, under which 21 journalists were charged over just four months in 2017. Read more.
SAMSN is a group 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, email [email protected]
Photo: Launch of the 16th South Asia Press Freedom Report 2017-18 – Clampdowns and Courage in New Delhi, India. Credit: Venu Arora