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South Asia Media Solidarity Network eBulletin: January 2012

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.

Visit www.ifj-asia.org/page/samsn.html

In this bulletin:

1. IFJ Report Lists 106 Targeted Killings, 20 Other Deaths of Journalists in 2011
2. Indian Court Summons Owners of Social Media Sites
3. Sri Lanka Government Bans Websites that Fail to Register
4. Commission of Inquiry in Saleem Shahzad Murder Submits Report
5. Attack on Car of Journalist in Pakistan
6. Probe Demanded as Pakistan TV Anchor is Threatened
7. Bangladesh MP Assaults Journalists
8. Bangladesh Journalists Call for 8th Wage Board
9. Nepal Journalists’ Groups Fault New Media Policy
10. Maldives Journalists Protest Threatening Tone by President’s Spokesperson
11. Anniversary of Lasantha Assassination
12. Applications Invited for Persephone Miel Fellowships

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1. IFJ Report Lists 106 Targeted Killings, 20 Other Deaths of Journalists in 2011

The International Federation of Journalists on December 31 released its annual listing of journalists killed in the line of duty. Noting an unacceptably high level of violence against media persons, the IFJ has written to the UN Secretary General drawing attention to governments' failure to uphold their international obligations to protect media from targeted attacks. The IFJ has called for effective implementation of international legal instruments to combat the prevailing culture of impunity for crimes against journalists.

See: http://www.ifj.org/en/articles/ifj-presses-un-for-action-on-media-killings-after-violence-claims-106-lives-of-journalists-and-media-staff-in-2011.

2. Indian Court Summons Owners of Social Media Sites

The Delhi High Court in India, acting on a private citizen’s complaint, has issued summons to ten companies that run social media websites for allegedly hosting “objectionable content”. The court has directed the Indian government to facilitate the process of obtaining the compliance of these companies with its order. Though unrelated, this petition comes weeks after India’s Minister for Telecom and Information Technology, began a public debate on the need to censor social media sites.

See: www.firstpost.com/tech/court-summons-facebook-google-over-objectionable-content-181177.html

3. Sri Lanka Government Bans Websites that Fail to Register

The Sri Lankan Government has, in line with a directive issued in November 2011, registered 45 websites that host news content on the country. Another 30 websites that failed to register in accordance with the controversial directive have been blocked and will not be available through the Government-owned telecom service provider and certain other private operators.

See: http://www.lankastandard.com/2012/01/sri-lanka-bans-30-websites-registers-45/

4. Commission of Inquiry in Saleem Shahzad Murder Submits Report

The judicial commission of inquiry into the murder of Pakistan journalist Saleem Shahzad in May 2011 has submitted its report. While identifying the state and non-state actors that are active belligerents in the Pakistan context and contribute to the hostile environment for journalists, the commission has failed to name any individual or agency for being responsible for the murder. SAMSN partners in Pakistan and Shahzad’s family have expressed disappointment at the findings of the commission of inquiry.

See: http://www.dawn.com/2012/01/14/saleem-shahzad-report.html; and
http://tribune.com.pk/story/321777/shahzad-family-disappointed-by-commission-report/

5. Attack on Car of Journalist in Pakistan

The car of Mahesh Kumar, former president of the Hyderabad Press Club in the Pakistan province of Sindh, was attacked on December 31 when he was within the premises of the club. Three assailants on motorcycles fired several shots at the car and rode away. This is the second occasion in recent times that his car has been attacked.

See: http://www.humanrights.asia/news/forwarded-news/AHRC-FPR-001-2012 and
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\01\08\story_8-1-2012_pg7_4.

6. Probe Demanded as Pakistan TV Anchor is Threatened

Journalists’ bodies in Pakistan have called for an investigation after Hamid Mir, a prominent news anchor with the Geo TV channel was issued a death threat by text message and through e-mail. Mir has recently been hosting discussions on highly sensitive security-related issues.

See: http://tribune.com.pk/story/311240/threats-to-tv-anchor-media-organisations-demand-probe/.

7. Bangladesh MP Assaults Journalists

Journalists’ organisations, including SAMSN partner the Bangladesh Manobadhikar Sangbadik Forum (BMSF) participated in a human chain outside the Jatiya Press Club on January 4 in the capital city of Dhaka, to protest against the attack on a news team by Kamal Majumdar, a Member of Parliament from the ruling Awami League. Aparna Singha, a news reporter with the satellite TV channel Rtv and her colleagues Syed Haider and Shahin Parvez, were assaulted by the MP and his associates when they went to a school owned by the MP to interview him on allegations it was charging excessive fees.

See: http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=217058.

8. Bangladesh Journalists Call for 8th Wage Board

Journalists in Bangladesh, including SAMSN partners, have called for the constitution of a statutory board under the country’s laws for determining wages and working conditions for journalists and other media workers. Seven wage boards have so far been constituted but journalists believe that the time is now overdue for the eighth. Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed had assured journalists’ bodies that the Eighth Wage Board would be constituted as far back as October last year, but procedural delays have since held up the formal notification of the new body.

See: http://thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=218410

9. Nepal Journalists’ Groups Fault New Media Policy

Nepal’s journalists, including SAMSN partner, the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) have faulted the Government’s proposed media policy for 2012 which they allege, was drafted by donor agencies without any manner of consultation with journalists’ organisations.

See: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=40569

10. Maldives Journalists Protest Threatening Tone by President’s Spokesperson

SAMSN partner the Maldives Journalists’ Association has protested the strong language used by the official spokesperson of the President of the Maldives, in threatening media outlets that carry “false allegations” with criminal prosecution. The MJA has argued that statements made by opposition politicians can be reported factually even when there are no opportunities to verify or cross-check every detail in them.

See: http://minivannews.com/politics/false-allegations-against-government-a-criminal-offence-presidents-office-30661

11. Anniversary of Lasantha Assassination

SAMSN partners in Sri Lanka observed the third anniversary of the assassination of the campaigning newspaper editor Lasantha Wickrematunge on January 8. Investigations into his murder, which occurred in a busy Colombo street in broad daylight, have made little progress. At a protest meeting on January 11, SAMSN partners were joined by numerous other organisations in decrying the culture of impunity that continues to prevail in Sri Lanka. The meeting also recalled Lasantha’s sterling contributions to journalism in Sri Lanka.

See: http://colombotelegraph.com/2012/01/08/lasantha-was-murdered-3-years-ago-remembering-lasantha/ and http://www.lankastandard.com/2012/01/ranil-to-speak-at-protest-meeting-to-mark-lasanthas-death-anniversary/

12. Applications Invited for Persephone Miel Fellowships

Applications are invited for the 2012 Persephone Miel fellowships. Under the fellowships, administered by the Pulitzer Centre in collaboration with Internews, a travel grant of USD 7500 will be provided for a reporting project on topics and regions of global importance, with an emphasis on issues that have gone unreported or under-reported in the mainstream media in the United States.
See: http://pulitzercenter.org/grants/persephone-miel-fellowship.


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

ENDS

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