Members Raise Censorship Fears Following Coup
----| IFEX COMMUNIQUÉ VOL 15 NO 38 | 26 SEPTEMBER 2006 | ------
The IFEX Communiqué is the weekly newsletter of the International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX), a global network of 72 organisations working to defend and promote the right to free expression. IFEX is managed by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (www.cjfe.org).
--------------| Visit the IFEX website: http://www.ifex.org |------------------
----- | INDEX | ------
FREE EXPRESSION SPOTLIGHT:
1. Thailand: IFEX Members Raise Censorship Fears Following Coup
2. Eritrea: 13 Journalists Still in Jail on Five-Year Anniversary of Crackdown
3. South Africa: FXI Report Slams Protest Bans
4. Pakistan: Earthquake-Hit Area Suffers Information Clampdown
5. International: Impunity Rife in Journalists' Killings: CPJ
6. IFLA/FAIFE Highlights Libraries' Role in Fighting Global Problems
7. Freedom House Seeks Senior Africa Programme Manager
8. Conference Examines Global Music Censorship
AWARDS AND FELLOWSHIPS:
9. Iranian Woman Awarded IPA Publishers' Freedom Prize
10. Nieman Journalism Fellowships
11. U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression
ALERTS ISSUED BY THE
IFEX CLEARING HOUSE LAST
FREE EXPRESSION SPOTLIGHT
1. THAILAND: IFEX MEMBERS RAISE CENSORSHIP FEARS FOLLOWING COUP
Almost one week after a bloodless military coup in Thailand toppled a government led by controversial Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, free expression groups have raised fears over the uncertain situation facing freedom of expression in the country.
The Bangkok-based Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) reports that with all major broadcast stations under the military's ownership and control, and the newspapers largely supportive of interim military rule, there has been little room for alternative viewpoints except on the Internet. The military junta, calling itself the Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy (CDR), has closed down more than 300 of the country's 3,000 community radio stations to prevent supporters of the deposed prime minister from mobilising.
On 21 September 2006, the CDR ordered all radio stations to cancel phone-in news programmes and told television stations to stop displaying on the bottom of their screens text messages sent by viewers from their mobile phones, reported the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). The CDR also ordered web-based chat rooms to screen and censor any comments viewed as provocative.
The Information and Communications Technology Ministry has been empowered to censor any news that questions or undermines the junta's authority. The website www.19sep.org was ordered closed on 22 September after it had posted comments critical of the coup.
The moves have prompted criticism from SEAPA, RSF, CPJ, IFJ, the Federation of Nepalese Journalists, Human Rights Watch, and the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters.
SEAPA notes that despite the restrictions, public criticism of the coup is still tolerated to some extent. On 25 September, a group of 50 human rights activists, students and academics from various universities held a public discussion at Thammasat University challenging the CDR's ban on gatherings of more than five people. No uniformed police personnel were seen monitoring the discussion, nor was the meeting disrupted.
News websites critical of the coup are still functioning, although a popular alternative news website, Prachathai (http://www.prachathai.com), announced on 24 September 2006 that it had to suspend its web chat room due to "a disturbance", SEAPA reported. Prachathai has increasingly played an important role in hosting academic and public exchanges of views on critical issues facing Thais. It has run several articles offering different views about the coup.
SEAPA also notes that foreign correspondents and Thai journalists have so far been free to report on the coup and their movements have not been restricted.
Meanwhile, press groups, including the Thai Journalists Association (TJA), have issued an open letter to the military rulers demanding the guaranteeing of free expression and press freedom rights in the interim Constitution, which takes effect on 3 October. They have urged the rulers to preserve the language of the rights guaranteed under the 1997 Constitution.
- SEAPA: http://seapa.wordpress.com/
- TJA: http://www.tja.or.th/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=421
- AMARC: http://asiapacific.amarc.org/site.php?lang=EN
- Human Rights Watch: http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2006/09/19/thaila14221.htm
- FNJ: http://www.fnjnepal.org/
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=18976
- CPJ: http://www.cpj.org/news/2006/asia/thai22sept06na.html
- IFJ: http://www.ifj.org/default.asp?Index=4237&Language=EN
- Freedom House: http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=70&release=414
- Global Voices: http://www.globalvoicesonline.org/-/world/east-asia/thailand/
2. ERITREA: 13 JOURNALISTS STILL IN JAIL ON FIVE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF CRACKDOWN
Five years after Eritrean authorities launched a massive crackdown on independent journalists and media outlets, 13 journalists continue to be held in secret jails, say the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF).
The organisations have called for the release of the journalists, all of whom have been denied access to families, lawyers and other visitors. Basic information about them has become nearly impossible to obtain from official sources. Eritrean authorities have also tightened restrictions on all foreigners seeking to travel inside the country, requiring them to obtain permits as of June 2006.
Eritrea is the fourth leading jailer of journalists in the world after China, Cuba and Ethiopia, says CPJ. Most of the 13 journalists were swept up in a crackdown against opposition leaders and the independent press as part of a drive to suppress political dissent ahead of scheduled elections, which the government subsequently canceled without explanation. Another two journalists who were initially arrested have since been forced into military service.
Since the September 2001 crackdown, there have been no independent newspapers or magazines published. For news, the population has to rely on Soviet-style government media and a few foreign radio stations whose signals can only be received in the capital Asmara, says RSF.
According to Human Rights Watch, there are serious concerns about prison conditions in Eritrea. Many of those arrested are held incommunicado in secret detention sites, and prison escapees have reported that prisoners are subjected to psychological and physical torture.
CPJ notes that a recent anonymous report which first appeared on www.aigaforum.com paints a picture of the brutal prison conditions in which the 13 jailed journalists live. It claims that jailed opposition leaders and journalists were moved to a secretly built prison in 2003, which is located in the desert and accessible only by foot. CPJ's sources said they believed that the description of the place was credible but some of the report's details were inaccurate. They could not verify its claim that at least three journalists had died in custody. The report has also been posted on http://www.awate.com and http://www.asmarino.com.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
1) Write a letter calling for the journalists' release: http://www.pen.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/770/prmID/174
Stay informed. Visit these links:
- CPJ: http://www.cpj.org/news/2006/africa/eritrea15sept06na.html
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=18887
- Human Rights Watch: - http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/05/05/ethiop10659.htm
- Freedom House: http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=22&year=2006&country=6959
- Meftih: http://meftih.com
3. SOUTH AFRICA: FXI REPORT SLAMS PROTEST BANS
In South Africa, the right to protest and express one's opinions is guaranteed by the Constitution. However, local municipalities and police routinely violate this right by banning demonstrations held by anti-poverty activists, a new report by the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) has found.
FXI analysed official records between 2004 and 2005 and found that of the 6,000 protests registered in the country, close to 1,000 were banned by local authorities under the Regulation of Gatherings Act.
FXI argues that there is a gap between what local authorities perceive the Act to allow and what the legislation actually says. The legislation regards a demonstration as a constitutional right that does not require the prior approval of the State.
However, "police officers are often ignorant of the Gatherings Act or abuse the Act to prevent people from protesting and marching in public," says FXI.
Protesters from poor and marginalised communities who oppose the government's economic policies and seek to raise awareness of poverty issues, are finding themselves targeted by municipalities and the police. For such groups, including the Anti-Privatisation Forum and the Abahlali base Mjondolo (Shack Dwellers Movement), public protests are often the only form of free expression available to them, FXI argues.
Last February, FXI helped the Shack Dwellers Movement win a court case in which the judge ruled that officials in the municipality of eThekwini violated the Regulation of Gatherings Act by trying to prevent the movement from holding a demonstration. The judge said protest organisers did not need to apply for a permit to hold the demonstration and needed only to notify local authorities of their intention to hold a gathering.
FXI has called for an official inquiry to review the policies and guidelines under which police operate during protest marches.
Read the report here:
- FXI: http://www.fxi.org.za
- Growing Pressure on Government to Alleviate Poverty: http://www.irinnews.org/S_report.asp?ReportID=47366&SelectRegion=Southern_Africa
- Anti-Privatisation Forum: http://www.apf.org.za/
- ZNet: http://www.zmag.org/sustainers/content/2005-12/06majavu.cfm
4. PAKISTAN: EARTHQUAKE-HIT AREA SUFFERS INFORMATION CLAMPDOWN
In the Pakistani-controlled territory of Azad Kashmir, one of the most closed in the world until a massive earthquake in October 2005 attracted international media attention, authorities keep tight controls on freedom of expression, says Human Rights Watch.
"Pakistan has prevented the creation of independent media in the territory through bureaucratic restrictions and coercion. Publications and literature favoring independence is banned, and groups promoting an independent Kashmir find their speech sharply, sometimes violently, curtailed," the organisation says in a new report called "With Friends Like These: Human Rights Violations in Azad Kashmir."
Human Rights Watch spoke extensively to working journalists and writers in the major towns of Azad Kashmir and found widespread self-censorship. Speaking anonymously, many complained of the intrusive and coercive policies of the Azad Kashmir government but particularly of the Pakistani military and intelligence services. Almost every journalist interviewed described incidents of coercion, intimidation, threats and occasional violence against the media by the military, its intelligence agencies, and militant groups.
Human Rights Watch says information, particularly about the human rights situation, governance, the rule of law, and the institutions that hold real power in Azad Kashmir, is more important than ever as the territory rebuilds and opens up to the international community in the aftermath of the earthquake. Immediately after the earthquake, aid organisations and donors quickly discovered that there was virtually no published information on which they could rely to respond in a useful and informed manner.
Read the report: http://www.hrw.org/reports/2006/pakistan0906/
- IFEX Alerts on Pakistan: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/158/
- Freedom House: http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=22&year=2006&country=7107
- International Crisis Group: http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=4173&l=1
- Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kashmir
5. IMPUNITY RIFE IN JOURNALISTS' KILLINGS: CPJ STUDY
A new study by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has found that 580 journalists have been killed for their work in the past 15 years, and in the vast majority of cases, they were murdered with impunity.
According to CPJ, seven out of every 10 journalists killed since 1992 were murdered in retaliation for their reporting. Roughly 85 per cent of journalists' killers in the last 15 years faced neither investigation nor prosecution for their crimes. Even when murders were more fully investigated and some convictions obtained, the masterminds were brought to justice in only seven per cent of cases.
The second leading cause of death is cross-fire in combat, claiming 107 lives. Of the 89 foreign correspondents killed since 1992, 49 died in combat-related crossfire, according to CPJ.
CPJ's analysis is based on a database containing detailed records of journalists' deaths dating back to 1992. Unlike other press freedom groups that monitor journalists' deaths, CPJ includes only those cases in which it is reasonably certain that a death was directly related to a journalist's work. CPJ continues to track - but does not include in its records database - another 216 journalist deaths in which the circumstances are not clear. CPJ does not include journalists who are killed in accidents unless they are caused by hostile action.
Read the study:
REPORTS AND PUBLICATIONS
6. IFLA/FAIFE HIGHLIGHTS LIBRARIES' ROLE IN FIGHTING GLOBAL PROBLEMS
Libraries have an important role to play in addressing some of the major challenges facing the world today, such as the fight against HIV/AIDS, poverty and corruption, says the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA).
In its recently published 2006 World Report, IFLA argues that by providing free access to information, libraries can help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, fight poverty by increasing literacy rates and promote transparency.
The report, "Libraries and the fight against HIV/AIDS, poverty and corruption", contains chapters on Africa, Asia, Central America and the Caribbean, and Eastern Europe. The authors of the report call for libraries to engage in strong educational efforts and for governments to enact laws guaranteeing citizens the right to access information.
The report is prepared by IFLA's Committee on Free Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (FAIFE).
To order a copy of the report (available in print for 27 Euro (US$34), including postage and handling), contact: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or IFLA@ifla.org.
information on IFLA/FAIFE's work, visit:
7. FREEDOM HOUSE SEEKS SENIOR AFRICA PROGRAMME MANAGER
Freedom House seeks a Senior Programme Manager who will supervise and provide support to all programmes in Africa. Under the direction of the Deputy Director of Programmes, the Senior Programme Manager is tasked with providing supervisory and management support for staffing decisions, programme design and implementation, financial management, fundraising and public relations. The Senior Programme Manager serves as the primary Washington D.C.-based representative for these programmes, including promoting the projects in the region to existing and potential funders, media and counterparts; assisting and/or writing programme proposals in cooperation with field staff; and interacting with partner organisations and existing funders.
Candidates must have a Bachelor's degree and a minimum of 5 years experience in democracy building, human rights or legal reform work. Candidates must also have experience managing democracy programmes funded by U.S. government and private foundations, and experience in research and writing on democracy building, human rights or legal reform.
For more details, see:
"IN OTHER NEWS"…
8. CONFERENCE EXAMINES GLOBAL MUSIC CENSORSHIP
Freemuse, the global network of organisations that work to defend freedom of expression for musicians and composers, will be holding its third World Conference on Music & Censorship in Istanbul, Turkey, on 25–26 November 2006.
The conference will bring together musicians and researchers from around the world to speak about music censorship and freedom of expression in Cuba, the Middle East, West Africa, Indonesia, Belarus, China, Zimbabwe and other countries.
Local partners in the conference include the Initiative for Freedom of Expression and Turkish PEN.
For more information, visit:
AWARDS AND FELLOWSHIPS
9. IRANIAN WOMAN AWARDED IPA PUBLISHERS' FREEDOM PRIZE
The International Publishers' Association (IPA) has announced that Shahla Lahiji, the first female publisher in Iran, has been awarded the inaugural IPA Publishers' Freedom Prize.
The award, worth 5,000 CHF (US$4,000), honours individuals or organisations anywhere in the world that have made a notable contribution to the defence or promotion of the right to freedom of expression.
Born in 1942, Lahiji became the first female publisher in Iran when she founded her publishing house, Roshangaran, in 1983. Since then, she has published over 200 titles, many of them works by women. Lahiji is also a writer and a translator.
Lahiji has been harassed and targeted on many occasions over the years for her work as a publisher, says IPA. In 2000, she was jailed for several months on charges of "acting against national security" after giving a speech at a cultural conference in Berlin about political reform in Iran. In 2005, her publishing house was fire-bombed by unknown assailants, resulting in the destruction of many manuscripts.
On 21 September, IPA presented the award to Lahiji at the Göteborg Book Fair in Sweden. The theme of this year's fair is freedom of expression and its programme is coordinated in partnership with IPA and International PEN.
For more information, visit:
- IPA: http://www.ipa-uie.org
- Göteborg Book Fair: http://www.ipa-uie.org/freedom/freedom_pub/English_sempro.pdf
10. NIEMAN JOURNALISM FELLOWSHIPS
Nieman Foundation for Journalism invites applications for the 2008 Nieman Fellowships, which give journalists from around the world an opportunity to study at Harvard University for the 2007-2008 academic year.
Nieman Fellowships are awarded to print, broadcast and online reporters, editors, photographers, producers, editorial writers and cartoonists with at least five years of full-time, professional experience in the news media.
The Nieman Foundation selects 12 U.S. and 12 international journalists for Nieman Fellowships each year. The foundation also chooses three Nieman Fellows in Global Health Reporting each year: one from the United States, one from Europe and one from the developing world. All fellowships are awarded to journalists of accomplishment and promise who have demonstrated a capacity for growth and leadership and whose application statements argue persuasively that their experience at Harvard will improve their abilities as journalists. Applicants must be fluent in speaking, reading and writing English.
The foundation will begin accepting applications on 15 October 2006. The deadline for submitting applications is 15 December.
more information, visit:
11. U.N. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, Ambeyi Ligabo, acts as an independent watchdog of governments, calling attention to free expression violations around the world and lobbying states to improve the protection of free speech rights. Victims of credible free expression violations can file complaints to the Rapporteur, who upon verification, can take up cases with governments.
ALERTS ISSUED BY THE IFEX CLEARING HOUSE DURING THE PAST WEEK
18 SEPTEMBER 2006
Iran - Appeals court upholds one-year jail sentence of Kurdish journalist (CPJ) - alert update
http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/77117/ Niger - A third journalist sentenced to prison for publishing "false information" (CPJ) - alert update
http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/77116/ Zimbabwe - Journalist granted bail (MISA) - alert update
http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/77115/ International - Civil society organisation launches "Transparency Charter" for international financial institutions (ARTICLE 19) - press release
http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/77114/ Nepal - Journalists attacked by mob, their lives threatened, while covering activism by "untouchables" (FNJ) - alert
Uruguay - Journalists assaulted upon questioning general about human rights violations during dictatorship (IPYS) - alert
Cuba - State security agents arrest, jail independent journalist in Havana (RSF) - alert
Pakistan - Police officer implicates "The News" journalist in murder following critical articles, reports on extra-judicial killings (IFJ) - alert update
Uzbekistan - Newspaper editor stabbed, seriously wounded (Adil Soz) - alert
Pakistan - Three television journalists severely beaten by police; cable operators told to stop broadcasting television channel (PPF) - alert
Taiwan - Journalists attacked by demonstrators supporting President Chen (RSF) - alert
Iraq/United States - AP photographer held by US military for months without charge (CPJ) - alert
Ukraine - Radio journalists kidnapped and assaulted; broadcasting director assaulted; television crew denied access to conference (IFJ) - alert
Ukraine - Killers of journalist Georgy Gongadze still unpunished six years later (RSF) - alert update (RSF) - alert update
Nepal - Newspaper office padlocked shut by Maoist student group following critical article (FNJ) - alert
Mexico - Mexico City police beat three journalists from television documentary company (RSF) - alert
Burundi - News agency reporter gets five months in prison for criticising government in a bar (RSF) - alert update
Mongolia - Newspaper journalists repeatedly threatened over critical articles (Globe International) - alert
Bolivia - Protesting newsvendors block sales of newspaper, seize copies, assault its employees (IAPA) - alert
Eritrea - Journalists still jailed incommunicado after five years, brutal conditions and three deaths reported (CPJ) - alert update
Egypt - EOHR releases 2005 annual report on freedoms situation (EOHR) - press release
Mozambique - Press law under review (MISA) - alert
Philippines - President's husband suing 42 journalists for defamation (IFJ) - alert update
Iraq - Television correspondent murdered in Ramadi following death threats from insurgents (CPJ) - alert
Côte d'Ivoire - Court imposes heavy fine on three journalists for insulting president (RSF) - alert update
Tunisia - Journalist from website http://www.bakchich.info expelled (RSF) - alert
Cambodia - Editor fined for alleged defamation under UNTAC law (IFJ) - alert http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/77169/
Russia - Journalist covering fire assaulted by security guards (CJES) - alert
Eritrea - RSF marks tragic anniversary of 18 September 2001 (RSF) - alert update
Peru - Mayoralty candidate's son assaults radio journalist (IPYS) - alert
Cuba - One journalist arrested, another, imprisoned and awaiting sentence, goes on hunger strike (RSF) - alert
Democratic Republic of Congo - Two television channels destroyed by fire in Kinshasa, JED demands immediate investigation (JED) - alert update
Thailand - Following coup, military seizes satellite operations, temporarily interferes with broadcasts; media situation uncertain, says SEAPA (SEAPA) - alert
Honduras - Broadcast journalist sued for alleged defamation and slander (PROBIDAD) - alert
Uzbekistan - One journalist disappears, another is arrested (CPJ) - alert
Nepal - Maoists enroll one journalist and another's wife in Maoist organisations without their consent (FNJ) - alert
United States - Blogger Josh Wolf ordered back to prison (RSF) - alert update
Nepal - Maoist activists assault, injure journalist, damage his motorcycle (FNJ) - alert
Democratic Republic of Congo - Editor jailed for criticising public tax director (JED) - alert
China - Three cyber-dissidents arrested and websites closed in new wave of Internet censorship (RSF) - alert
Turkey - Journalist faces possible imprisonment for biography on Atatürk's first wife, another acquitted of "insult to Turkishness" charges (WiPC) - alert
Thailand - Military asserts rules for media following coup, silences dissenting voices, arrests demonstrators (SEAPA) - alert
Iraq - Correspondent detained again by Iraqi security forces (CPJ) - alert update
Pakistan - Government opponents in "Free Kashmir" face torture, censorship and political repression, says Human Rights Watch report (Human Rights Watch) - alert
Sri Lanka - Supreme Court rules international covenant that protects press freedom to be invalid domestically (FMM) - alert
International - CPJ special report "Deadly News" documents and analyses 15 years of journalist murders (CPJ) - press release
Côte d'Ivoire - Editor, journalist arrested, detained and summarily tried but spared punishment in defamation case (RSF) - alert
Pakistan - Protests calling for implementation of the Seventh Wage Award vital to ensuring a free and independent media, says IFJ (IFJ) - alert
Ghana - Journalist assaulted by minister's wife and her companions (MFWA) - alert
The Gambia - Journalist, previously detained for "biased reporting" and removed from his post, reinstated (MFWA) - alert update
Peru - Murder suspect's friends and relatives threaten to kill journalists (IPYS) - alert
Venezuela - Journalist assaulted at opposition march (IPYS) - alert
United States - CPJ concerned by jail sentences imposed on two U.S. reporters (CPJ) - alert update
Russia - Journalist on trial for satirizing Putin (CPJ) - alert update
Thailand - Television station director taken into military custody, whereabouts unknown (CPJ) - alert
Bangladesh - Journalist brutally murdered; ruling party activists suspected (IFJ) - alert
Thailand - Internet now censored, website removed, over 300 community radio stations shut down, self-censorship on the rise as military rule continues (SEAPA) - alert update
Peru - Journalist and family receiving threatening calls and messages, journalist accused of extortion (IPYS) - alert
Democratic Republic of Congo - Ruling party politician suspected by crowd, security guards of starting fire in opposition party's broadcasting building (JED) - alert
Pakistan - Another journalist goes missing in Karachi (PPF) - alert
Iran - Blogger Mojtaba Saminejad gets early release after nearly 18 months in prison (RSF) - alert update
International/Iran - First IPA Publishers' Freedom Prize goes to courageous Iranian publisher Shahla Lahiji (IPA) - press release
Indonesia - Court deems basis of editor's indictment "inaccurate", but still considers his publishing of cartoon a crime (AJI) - alert update
Syria - Arrest of fourth online journalist in 16 months makes Syria Middle East's biggest jail for cyber-dissidents (RSF) - alert
Benin - All journalists freed, no charges laid (RSF) - alert
Benin - Four journalists arrested in four days (RSF) - alert
The "IFEX Communiqué" is published weekly by the International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX). IFEX is managed by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (www.cjfe.org) on behalf of the network's 72 member organisations.
The IFEX Communiqué is also available in French, Spanish, Russian (www.ifex.cjes.ru/) and Arabic (http://hrinfo.net/ifex/).
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