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South Asia Media Solidarity Network Bulletin—July 15, 2011

South Asia Media Solidarity Network Bulletin—July 15, 2011

Welcome to the monthly e-bulletin of the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN). The next bulletin will be sent on August 15, 2011 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

In this bulletin:

1. Journalist killed in bomb attack in Pakistan; another injured in revenge assault
2. Judicial inquiry ordered in killing of Pakistan journalist Saleem Shahzad
3. Police claim J. Dey murder case solved in India
4. 2011 SAMSN meeting planned for Kathmandu, July 29-31
5. PFUJ and IFJ release safety guidelines for journalists
6. Long kidnap ordeal ends in Afghanistan
7. Sri Lankan parliament rejects right to information legislation
8. News portals in Sri Lanka temporarily blocked
9. Journalists in the Maldives questioned on sources by police

1. Journalist killed in bomb attack in Pakistan; another injured in revenge assault

Shafiullah Khan, 28, a trainee reporter with Pakistan’s widely circulated English-language newspaper, The News International Pakistan, died on June 16 after suffering serious injuries in a double bomb attack in Peshawar on June 11. SAMSN partners join the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) in mourning his death. Another journalist, Waqar Kiani who writes frequently for national and international publications, was assaulted late in the night on June 18 in the capital city of Islamabad by men reportedly wearing police uniforms. Kiani had written just a few days before in the Guardian of how he had been abducted and tortured in July 2008 by personnel suspected to be from the Pakistani intelligence agencies.

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/ifj-mourns-death-of-young-reporter-in-pakistan and http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/another-assault-on-journalist-in-pakistan-condemned

2. Judicial inquiry ordered in killing of Pakistani journalist Saleem Shahzad

SAMSN partner the PFUJ succeeded in securing a judicial inquiry into the killing of senior Pakistani journalist Saleem Shahzad after a nation-wide campaign amid global condemnation of his death. Shahzad went missing while on his way to a television studio in the national capital of Islamabad on May 29. He was found dead with marks of beating and torture two days later. The Pakistan Federal Government initially sought to entrust the inquiry to a judge of the national Sharia court, or religious tribunal. At the PFUJ’s insistence, a sitting judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Justice Mian Saqib Nisar was nominated to lead the inquiry. This nomination was subsequently approved by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Choudhary, after petitions were filed in the Supreme Court by both the PFUJ and the Federal Government.

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/pakistan-supreme-court-approves-inquiry-into-shahzads-murder; http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/pakistan-union-wins-government-backing-for-murder-inquiry.

3. Police claim J. Dey murder case solved in India

Police in the western Indian city of Mumbai claim to have solved the murder of senior investigative journalist Jyotirmoy Dey, who was killed in a northern suburb of the city on June 11. In submissions made to the High Court, which has been monitoring the case in response to widespread public concern and anger, the city police claim that eight persons from an underground network carried out the murder on the orders of their leader. A possible motive for the killing has not been revealed and the High Court has asked the police to be discrete about leaking details to the media, so that unfounded rumours are not spread.

See: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article2201792.ece; http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/J-Dey-murder-case-solved-govt-tells-HC/articleshow/9205419.cms.

4. 2011 SAMSN meeting planned for Kathmandu, July 29-31

Preparations are under way for the 2011 meeting of the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN), to be held in Kathmandu, Nepal from July 29-31. This important gathering offers leaders of the region’s journalists’ unions, professional associations and press freedom advocacy groups an opportunity to devise common campaign strategies to promote and defend press freedom in the region and promote cross-border solidarity and cooperation. This year’s meeting will focus on the use of social media and other online tools in campaigning and advocacy and will strengthen ties between the members of the network by formalising its structure.

5. PFUJ and IFJ release safety guidelines for journalists

The IFJ and SAMSN partner the PFUJ have released a set of posters and brochures around the theme of safety in the profession, in English and Urdu in response to the growing safety crisis for journalists in Pakistan. The poster and brochure is titled “22 Steps to Safety” and is accompanied by a handbook titled “Protect Our Media”. The PFUJ was associated at all stages in developing the material which will be distributed widely across newsrooms and union offices in Pakistan. The material incorporates the safety guidelines of the IFJ, the International News Safety Institute (INSI) and fellow IFJ affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/ifj-and-pakistan-union-release-safety-guidelines.

6. Long kidnap ordeal ends in Afghanistan

SAMSN partner the Afghan Independent Journalists’ Association (AIJA) has welcomed the release of two French journalists and their Afghan interpreter 18 months after they were taken hostage in the north-eastern Afghan province of Kapisa. Reporter Hervé Ghesquière and cameraman Stéphane Taponier, of France 3 TV, and their Afghan interpreter Reza Din, were confirmed released by the Afghan authorities on the evening of June 29. A driver and a local facilitator for the news crew, identified only by the names of Ghulam and Sattar, were also taken captive at the same time and released some weeks before. This detail was kept secret till the three other hostages were released to ensure that no harm came to them.

Seet: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/five-members-of-media-crew-in-afghanistan-finally-safe.

7. Government majority in Sri Lankan parliament rejects right to information legislation

Sri Lankan SAMSN partners have reacted with dismay to the defeat of a draft law on the right to information on the floor of the country’s parliament on June 21. The private member’s bill introduced by Karu Jayasurya, deputy leader of the main opposition, the United National Party, was defeated by a margin of 63 votes after the Government benches mobilised their numbers against it. The legislative defeat of the bill represents a serious setback for the forces working for democratic reform and is a reversal of commitments made to press freedom organisations and other civil society groups by both the ruling party and the opposition.

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/sri-lanka-government-rejects-right-to-information-bill

8. News portal in Sri Lanka temporarily blocked

The IFJ joined SAMSN partners in Sri Lanka in protesting the blocks placed on two independent news portals, Groundviews and Vikalpa by the Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) management on June 20. The two partner websites, in English and Sinhala, are known to be a source of independent news and critical commentary on current affairs in Sri Lanka.

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/online-news-portals-temporarily-blocked-in-sri-lanka.

9. Journalists in Maldives questioned on sources by police

The IFJ has joined partners in the Maldives in expressing concern over police interrogation of journalists who reported on the leak of an examination paper administered by an international education board. SAMSN partners have urged the authorities to use independent regulatory bodies such as the Maldives Media Council to determine the veracity of particular stories when they are of interest to the criminal investigation agencies.

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/ifj-concerned-by-police-investigation-into-maldives-journalists-sources.

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

*************

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