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South Asia Media Solidarity Network Bulletin, December 2012

South Asia Media Solidarity Network Bulletin, December 2012

Welcome to the e-bulletin of the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) for the month of December 2012. The next bulletin will be sent on January 15, 2013 and inputs are most welcome. We encourage contributions to let others know what you are doing; to seek solidarity and support from other SAMSN members; and to find out what others are doing in the region.

To contribute, email: ifj@ifj-asia.org

SAMSN is a group of journalists’ trade unions, press freedom organisations and journalists in South Asia that have agreed to work together to support freedom of expression and association in the region. SAMSN was formed at a meeting of these groups in Kathmandu, Nepal, in September 2004. The group agreed to stand in solidarity and work together for media reform, for an independent pluralist media and to build public respect for the work of journalists in the region.

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

1. Bangladesh newspaper editor, publisher charged under sedition law

A case of sedition was filed against the Bangla language daily Amar Desh, its editor Mahmudur Rahman and publisher Hasmat Ali on December 13, after the newspaper published what were purportedly communications between the head of the tribunal trying cases of war crimes against individuals accused of working against the Bangladesh war of liberation in 1971, and an international expert in war crimes jurisprudence.

Email exchanges between the judge heading the tribunal and an expert of Bangladeshi origin, now based in Brussels, along with the transcripts of Skype phone conversations between them, were first published on the website of the London-based newspaper The Economist, which has declined to reveal its sources on grounds of possible physical danger to them. The tribunal hearing the war crimes cases has issued notice to The Economist seeking an explanation of the sources from which it obtained the hacked transcripts and issued an injunction against any further reporting of this material in the Bangladesh media.

Further details at: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/ifj-calls-for-withdrawal-of-sedition-charge-against-bangladesh-newspaper; http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21568349-week-chairman-bangladeshs-international-crimes-tribunal-resigned-we-explain; http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=261149; and http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=261146.

2. Journalist killed in double bomb strike in Karachi, Pakistan

Saqib Khan, a photojournalist with the Urdu newspaper Ummat, was among three journalists injured in a twin bomb attack near a religious shrine in Karachi, which killed four people and injured several others who had gathered at the spot to report on the first of the blasts. He was subsequently taken to hospital for treatment for what appeared to be symptoms of shock, but suffered a cardiac arrest en route and died.

The two other journalists injured in the incident, Kiran Khan and Umar Khan, were treated at a local hospital and discharged shortly afterwards.

Further details at: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/ifj-condemns-death-of-journalist-in-karachi-double-bomb-strike.

3. Targeted killing of Balochistan journalist in Pakistan

Rehmatullah Abid, a senior journalist working with the Dunya News TV Channel, was killed on November 18 in the Washbood area of Panjgur district of Balochistan, by armed men riding a motorcycle who opened fire on him while he was shopping.

SAMSN partner, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has called on the provincial government of Balochistan to ascertain the motive and identify the killers.

Further details at: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/another-journalist-killed-in-balochistan.

4. Senior journalist in Islamabad narrowly escapes bomb attack

SAMSN partner, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has sharply condemned the continuing targeting of journalists in the country, after a bomb was discovered under the vehicle of senior TV anchor Hamid Mir on November 26, in Pakistan’s capital city of Islamabad. Mir is the host of the popular programme Capital Talk which airs on Geo TV. According to reports verified by the PFUJ, a bomb was placed under his car but failed to go off.

Further details at: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/bomb-discovered-under-senior-pakistan-journalists-vehicle.

5. Two Indian journalists arrested on extortion charges

Two journalists with the Indian broadcasting enterprise, Zee News, were arrested on November 28 on charges of extortion after a mining and energy company, Jindal, released video recordings of a putative meeting at which they had demanded a payoff in return for not broadcasting damaging news about the involvement of the company in a corrupt allocation of mining concessions. Zee News has denied any wrongdoing and accused Jindal of seeking to bribe its journalists to suppress the story. Sudhir Choudhary and Samir Ahluwalia, the two journalists arrested, have since applied for bail, though the matter is yet to be decided.

Further details at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sumit-galhotra/a-malaise-in-the-indian-m_b_2239872.html; and http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-11-28/india/35409900_1_samir-ahluwalia-zee-business-zee-news.

6. Journalists strike over unpaid wages in Pakistan

SAMSN partner, the PFUJ has extended its support and solidarity to workers of the English newspaper, the Daily Times who struck work on December 11 in protest against a failure by the company management to pay wages and salaries for eleven months. The crisis of livelihoods in the newspaper came to a head on December 10, when two employees attempted to set themselves alight on the premises in protest at the continuing denial of wages.

Further details at: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/ifj-supports-striking-newspaper-workers-in-pakistan.

7. Situation Reports on Bangladesh, Sri Lanka Launched

The International Federation of Journalists, in collaboration with partners and affiliates released situation reports on journalists’ rights and the state of media freedom in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The information presented in the reports is the result of extensive consultations between the IFJ and its partners, field visits and interviews by IFJ personnel in the two countries.

The reports highlight the current priority areas for campaign and advocacy work in the two countries and identify focus areas for future international solidarity actions.

The full reports-- on Bangladesh, which is available in English and Bangla, and on Sri Lanka, available in English, Sinhala and Tamil, and be found here.

8. Situation Report on Journalism in India’s Insurgency Areas Released

The International Federation of Journalists released a situation report on the challenges facing journalists in areas of India affected by a long-running Maoist insurgency. The report is the outcome of consultations with and inputs received from working journalists in three states of special concern: Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Orissa.

The report reflects a broad consensus among journalists from these three states that the hazards for journalists have been mounting in recent years, with levels of violence increasing and the demands from the Maoist cadre for favorable and uncritical coverage becoming unrelenting.

The full report can be found here.

9. Maldives journalists welcome the winding up of Information Department

SAMSN partner, the Maldives Journalists’ Association (MJA) has in a November 26 statement, welcomed the decision by the government of the republic, to dissolve the Department of Information, which was set up to oversee the media. The MJA has said that it is not the responsibility of the government to register and dissolve newspapers and magazines, or issue and terminate licences. These functions, it has held, should be delegated to autonomous bodies created under law, such as the Maldives Media Council and Maldives Broadcasting Commission.

Further details can be obtained from the MJA president at: hirigazahir@gmail.com.

10. Sri Lankan editor injured in confrontation between Jaffna students and army

The Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka has demanded an investigation into the circumstances in which T. Thevananth, editor of the Tamil daily Uthayan, published from the northern city of Jaffna, was injured during student protests on November 28. Students of Jaffna University had gathered in the city to commemorate lives lost during the quarter-century long civil war on the island nation, but were dispersed by units of the Sri Lankan army. Thevananth was present at the venue of the protests to cover the event and suffered injuries in the process. The Sri Lankan army has denied that it was responsible for the attack on the journalist.

Further details at: http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=67264- and http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=67375.

11. International news agencies boycott cricket series in India

International news agencies have withdrawn from covering the ongoing cricket series between India and England, following restrictions placed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on photographic coverage. News agencies that provide visual images to multiple clients were denied accreditation for coverage of the events in the series, in place of which the BCCI undertook to make available a limited number of its own photographs for use by the print media. The BCCI has denied any intent to restrict media coverage, though the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has sharply criticised the governing body for cricket in India, for allegedly showing “contempt” for the sporting public worldwide which would like to follow the ongoing series. Global bodies of the print media industry, such as the World Association of Newspapers, have supported the decision by the news agencies to withdraw from coverage of the cricket series.

Further details at: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/bcci-defies-intl-media-boycott-of-indiaengland-cr.../1034693/; http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-11-15/top-stories/35134095_1_wan-ifra-jacob-mathew-global-organisation;
and http://sports.ndtv.com/india-vs-england-2012/news/item/199424-ioc-criticises-bcci-for-attacking-press-freedom.

IFJ Asia-Pacific
http://asiapacific.ifj.org
ifj@ifj-asia.org

SAMSN Members:

Afghan Independent Journalists' Association, Afghanistan
Bangladesh Journalists' Rights Forum (BJRF), Bangladesh
Dhaka Reporters' Unity, Bangladesh
All India Newspapers Employees' Federation (AINEF), India
Indian Journalists' Union (IJU), India
National Union of Journalists India (NUJI), India
Maldives Journalists Association
Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), Nepal
National Union of Journalists Nepal (NUJN), Nepal
Nepal Press Union (NPU), Nepal
Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Pakistan
Pakistan Press Foundation, Pakistan
Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association (SLWJA), Sri Lanka
Federation of Media Employees' Trade Unions (FMETU), Sri Lanka
Free Media Movement (FMM), Sri Lanka
Bangladesh Manobadhikar Sangbadik Forum (BMSF: Human Rights Journalists Forum of Bangladesh)
Media Watch, Bangladesh

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