Attacks on Media

South Asia Media Solidarity Bulletin: October 2015

16 Oct, 2015

Welcome to the monthly e-bulletin of the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN). The next bulletin will be sent on November 16, 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. India’s chilling death toll: Two journalists murdered in 5 days
  2. IFJ Youth Survey and Regional Youth Meeting in Bangkok
  3. Freelance journalist killed in Afghanistan
  4. IFJ ‘End Impunity’ campaign 2015
  5. Indian journalists receive death threats
  6. Bangladesh must take action to end climate of intimidation and murder: IFJ 
  7. Taliban issues death threats to Afghan journalists; attacks media house
  8. Taliban faction threatens Pakistani media
  9. Pakistani media workers unpaid for months
  10. TV reporter manhandled by Pakistan railway officers 
  11. Ex-MP threatens to kill journalists on live radio in Nepal 
  12. SAMSN Blogs 
    1. The dilemma of South Asian women journalists (Dilrukshi Handunnetti)
    2. Stalker Harasses Women Journalists (Sujata Madhok, India)
    3. UN report on Sri Lanka and Freedom of Expression (Ruki Fernando)
    4. Pakistani media in crosshairs (Lubna Jerar Naqvi)
    5. Nepali photojournalists in demonstrations (Bikash Karki)
  13. CPJ Impunity Index 2015: South Asia remains worst region on punishing murderers
  14. Three-day Internet ban prevents journalists from working in Kashmir, India (RSF)
  15.  A History of Digital Surveillance & Censorship in Pakistan (DRF)
  16. Reporting Under Fire: Tales of Women Journalists in India (The Quint)
  17. “Sacked for Being Pregnant”: TV News Reporter Takes on Her Bosses (The Quint)
  18. Journalism in Pakistan: Fear and Favor (New York Times)
  19. Right to Know Across Asia (A report by Article 19)

1.         India’s chilling death toll: Two journalists murdered in 5 days

Two journalists were murdered in India in space of five days as the total number of journalists killed in India this year reached six. On September 29, freelance journalist Ajay Vidrohi was shot dead by two unidentified criminals on the road as he returned from the police station after filing a case against his neighbors with whom he had a dispute in Bihar state in eastern India. His family took him to hospital where he was pronounced dead. Vidrohi, 55, had worked in various newspapers before turning a freelance writer.

Five days later, journalist Hemant Kumar Yadav was murdered in the Uttar Pradesh state, India, on, October 3. This is the third murder in Uttar Pradesh in since June this year. The 45-year-old local television journalist was on his motorcycle travelling home from Kamalpur market in the Chandauli district when two motorcyclists confronted him. After a dispute, the duo shot him twice in the chest and fled the scene. Yadav is survived by his wife and two children, aged five years and nine months.

2.         IFJ Youth Survey and Regional Meeting in Bangkok

On October 15, the IFJ, with support of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), opened its two-day regional meeting, Youth Recruitment, Digital Media and Union Strengthening in Bangkok. The meeting forms part of a global IFJ project spanning three years, which includes an IFJ Global Youth Survey of media unions. The Asia-Pacific has been chosen as a focus region in the first stage of this project and outcomes from the regional meeting and survey will feed into a global report to be presented at the 29th IFJ Congress in Angers, France, in 2016. This is expected to lead to the adoption of an action plan on promoting recruitment and targeting youth in media unions and associations.

Participants from across the Asia Pacific region will come together to address some of the major challenges facing media unions and associations. It aims to examine the impact of changes in the media industry on those who advocate for media workers, with a particular focus on the challenge of recruiting and organizing youth and responding to the onset of digital media.
See pictures from Day one of the meeting here.

3.         Freelance journalist killed in Afghanistan

Freelance journalist Yama Behroz was killed in Faizabad, the capital of Badakhshan province in Northern Afghanistan on September 18. Behroz, a recent journalism graduate, was killed when an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) exploded at his doorstep. He was working as a freelance journalist with a local media organisation. Some of the reports suggested that the IED was planted at his door, and he was then called and asked to come out of the house. More here.

4.         IFJ ‘End Impunity’ Campaign 2015

Today, the IFJ Asia Pacific launched its annual ‘End Impunity’ Campaign for 2015. The campaign which runs from November 2, the UN International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, til November 23, the anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre, and aims to draw attention to the culture of impunity across the Asia Pacific region for killings, attacks, threats and intimidation of journalists and media workers.

This year the campaign looks at impunity in all its forms and how this stifles press freedom and restricts journalists across the region. The campaign will address the issue of justice denied for media across the Asia Pacific.

For more information on the campaign and how you can get involved visit the IFJ website.

5.         Indian journalists receive death threats

Indian journalists Nikhil Wagle and Shyamsundar Sonnar received death threats on August 22from Sanatan Sanstha, a Hindu group based in Mumbai, India. Wagle, the editor-in-chief of Maharashtra One, a Marathi-language news channel in Mumbai received the threats on his personal twitter and also in an article published by Sanatan Sanstha in their publication, Sanatan Prabhat.

On September 1, Shyamsundar Sonnar, who works for the Marathi daily, Prahaar, was labelled anti-Hindi in an article by group. Sonnar filed a complaint against the threats. More here.

6.         Bangladesh must take action to end climate of intimidation and murder: IFJ 

The IFJ has called on the Bangladesh Government and the United Nations to take immediate action to ensure the safety and security of journalists, bloggers, writers and activists named on a ‘hit list’ released by the Bangladeshi militant group, Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT).

The IFJ has condemned a shocking decline in freedom of expression in Bangladesh that has resulted in four brutal murders of secular bloggers in 2015 and the circulation of a list of future potential targets, including bloggers both inside and, for the first time, outside the country. In September, the militant group issued a hitlist of secular bloggers, writers and activists around the world, which it said would be killed if its demands were not met. According to reports, those on the list include nine bloggers based in the United Kingdom, seven in Germany, two in the USA, one in Canada and one in Sweden. More here.

7.         Taliban issues death threats to Afghan journalists; attacks media house

The Taliban in Afghanistan threatened to ‘eliminate’ journalists associated with two private TV channels – the Tolo TV and 1TV on October 12. In a statement issued by the military commission, the Taliban said it ‘does not recognize Tolo TV and 1TV channels as media outlets but designates them as military objectives due to their disrespectful and hostile actions towards Afghanistan’. The statement threatened journalists saying ‘All the reporters and associates of these channels will be deemed enemy personnel, all of their centers, offices and dispatched teams will be considered military objectives which will be directly eliminated’.

The threat came in response of the TV channels’ coverage of the recent invasion of Kunduz, a city in northern Afghanistan by the Taliban in late September during which the TV channels reported that the Taliban fighters raped women in hostels. During the attack in Kunduz, Taliban militants attacked the offices of Roshani Radio and TV which were severely damaged and the majority of the equipment was destroyed. Roshani Radio and TV is an independent media outlet, founded by Ms. Sadiqa Sherzai in 2002. The radio mostly covered women issues and majority of employees are also women.

8.         Taliban faction threatens Pakistani media

In early August, the media wing of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s Mohmand agency faction (TTP) threatened Pakistani media over their coverage of ongoing military operation in North Waziristan state, in Pakistan’s tribal region. In an email to ‘the heads and members of the organizations working for the rights of media around the world’, the TTP accused Pakistani media of baseless news and propaganda against the Taliban and threatened attacks against the media.

The email said: “This message is aimed at making you aware that if we get engaged in attacking them then no crying and sobbing will be heard and we think accomplishing our legitimate and decent mission without attending to criticism of any criticizer is our appropriate right.” More here.

9.         Pakistani media workers unpaid for months

The IFJ and its affiliate the PFUJ expressed serious concerns over the non-payment of wages to journalists and media workers from BOL Network in Pakistan. More than 1,800 people from BOL Network, who were working on the development of BOL News and BOL Entertainment TV channels have not been paid their wages for over four months.

The BOL network is one Pakistan’s newest networks, which ran into controversy earlier this year, after its parent company Axact came under investigation following reports of fraud, which saw the BOL CEO, Shoaib Ahmed Sahikh, arrested. Following the scandal, on August 19, the ARY TV Chief Operating Officer Salman Iqbal announced they would take over BOL Network and that his first priority was to ensure payment of the employees’ outstanding dues. More here.

10.       TV reporter manhandled by Pakistan railway officers 

On September 22, Chand Nawaz, a journalist with 92 News TV, and his crew were interviewing passengers at Karachi’s Cantt Station, regarding an illegal hike in ticket prices on the eve of Eidul Azha, the largest Muslim holiday, when police and railway officials heckled the crew and attacked Nawab.

The railway officials also tried to turn off his camera and threatened to arrest the crew. Nawab is a well-known journalist, who inspired a character in the Indian blockbuster movie – Bajrangi Bhaijan, after a blooper reel of his went viral a few years ago. More here.

11.       Ex-MP threatens to kill journalists on live radio in Nepal 

On September 14, ex-parliamentarian and central committee member of political party Madhesh Samajbadi Forum, Baban Singh, threatened to kill journalists on live radio in Nepal. Singh, was being interviewed live on Kohinoor FM, when he threatened to burn journalists, Shiva Puri of the Kantipur daily, Madan Thakur of the Nagarik daily and Gautam Shrestha of Avenues Television for their news reports on his party’s demonstrations in Rautahat district, in central Nepal. More here.

12.       SAMSN Blogs 

a.         The dilemma of South Asian women journalists (Dilrukshi Handunnetti)

More women are in the newsrooms, thanks to the proliferation of television, community radio and online platforms. Yet, women still did not constitute one fourth of the newsrooms surveyed so the numbers were often inadequate to influence the level of change women desired in the newsrooms. The women went largely missing, still lacked the opportunity to hold decision-making jobs or technical jobs and were somewhere hidden in the newsrooms with only an insignificant number managing to break the proverbial glass ceiling. More here.

b.         Stalker Harasses Women Journalists (Sujata Madhok, India)

For months woman journalists had been receiving obscene calls from a stalker. They made complaints to the police but the cops did nothing about it. Finally, when the editor of the paper wrote about it in a feminist e-zine, it got tweeted about. The exposure on social media got the government moving. The office of the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh state pulled up the police and presto they produced the (alleged) offender!  A man who possessed 40 SIM cards which he used for making calls. The harassment he had subjected the women to was extreme. More here.

c.         UN report on Sri Lanka and Freedom of Expression (Ruki Fernando)

In early September, I visited the parents of Subramanium Ramachandran, a Tamil journalist from Jaffna who has been reported as missing since February 200, having been last seen at an Army checkpoint. There has been nothing heard since and his parents, now in their 80s, still desire for truth and justice, but appeared to have given up hope that their son will return. From Jaffna, I went on to Geneva. There the anguish of Ramachandran’s parents and many other families and survivors, was brought alive through the reports of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The longer 251 page report (OISL) narrates horrific stories of unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, torture, sexual and gender based violence, attacks on civilians in places such as hospitals anchurches. More here.

d.         Pakistani media in crosshairs (Lubna Jerar Naqvi)

Many in Pakistan, including media personnel, no longer believe the hollow promises and condemnations coming from the political leaders gushes forth following every murder. These promises need to be backed by actual action and a concerted plan to actually tackle and erase the menace. But until that happens, the Pakistani media will remain in the crosshairs. More here.

e.         Nepali photojournalists in demonstrations (Bikash Karki)

It’s an open fact that a photojournalist’s job is always critical and risky. We are always in between police and demonstrators. Our profession as photojournalist demands us to be present at the place of incident during the time of incident. We become an easy target of attack for both side. Nepali photojournalism is still very young and most of the photojournalists are self-taught. Sadly, we are not trained in safety skills so wherever we are on duty, we know that we are not equipped to protect ourselves if any dangerous situation arises. I believe that many of such incidents could have been avoided if we were trained on safety and security. More here.

13.       CPJ Impunity Index 2015: South Asia remains worst region on punishing murderers

South Asia continues to the worst region in the world when it comes to punishing the murderers of journalists, according to the newly released Committee to Protect Journalists Impunity Index 2016. Among 14 nations named in the index where the murderers of journalists walk free, five are from South Asia: Sri Lanka (6), Afghanistan (7), Pakistan (9), Bangladesh (12) and India (14).

Bangladesh was listed for the first time after 2011 as four bloggers were hacked to death this year by the Islamist extremists. The other countries have near-perfect record of not prosecuting cases of murders of journalists. Click here for full report.

14.       Three-day Internet ban prevents journalists from working in Kashmir, India (RSF)

The Indian government indiscriminately disconnected of the Internet throughout the entire far-north state of Jammu and Kashmir from September 25 to 28 on the grounds of preventing any exacerbation of tension between the state’s Muslim and Hindu communities.

The suspension of 2G, 3G, GPRS and broadband Internet services in Jammu and Kashmir, which borders China and Pakistan, lasted 82 hours, paralyzing the work of journalists and media outlets, especially online media, and depriving the population of access to online information and communication. More here.

15.       A History of Digital Surveillance & Censorship in Pakistan (DRF)

Since 2001, the government of Pakistan has sought to limit the freedom of expression enjoyed by its citizens, censoring and blocking websites when possible. It has pushed for broader powers for its intelligence and security agencies, as part of its National Action Plan.

The Digital Rights Foundation has published a timeline covering Pakistan’s recent history of digital surveillance and censorship up to 2015. See the timeline here.

16.       Reporting Under Fire: Tales of Women Journalists in India (The Quint)

It’s a pretty obvious rule of journalism and it’s worth repeating – a journalist covering a story should not become the story. But several Indian women journalists agree that the ground realities have changed dramatically over the last decade and that journalists have emerged as targets. More here.

17.       “Sacked for Being Pregnant”: TV News Reporter Takes on Her Bosses (The Quint)

The Bombay High court passed an interim order in favor of a woman broadcast journalist on September 7, who was allegedly terminated by Zee News Ltd for being pregnant. The court upheld the order of the Labour Court and Industrial Court to reinstate the journalist, or deposit 50% of her wages every month with the court till the matter is ruled on. The journalist was terminated over an email on August 19, 2012 – just a month after she told her Bureau Chief and HR about her pregnancy. More here.

18.       Journalism in Pakistan: Fear and Favor (New York Times)

While Pakistan is already known as the most dangerous country in the world for working journalists — one journalist in Pakistan dies every 38 days… Pakistan’s journalists also come under another insidious type of pressure. Corporate interests, political influence, and government attempts to regulate and censor information all put great strain on an institution still emerging from decades of suppression under military dictators. And while recent chaos and conflict have enabled Pakistani print and broadcast media to flourish, the industry now faces a crossroads: It is struggling to maintain journalistic ethics that run contrary to the commercial ethos in which it operates. More here.

19.       Right to Know Across Asia (A report by Article 19)

In the past 20 years, the global shift towards the free flow of information has swept Asia, particularly the desires and demands of civil society. This report explains how far the region has come in recognising the right to information. It outlines the international and regional standards applicable to Asian states, and reviews the laws and their implementation in 11 countries.

Countries of all sizes, economic and political systems have adopted right to information legislation, ranging from India and China to the Maldives and the Cook Islands. Find the report here.

***

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: 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 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
Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific
Find the IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific

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