South Asia Media Solidarity Network Bulletin - October 2013
South Asia Media Solidarity Network Bulletin - October 2013
Welcome to the e-bulletin of the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) for the month of October 2013. The next bulletin will be sent on November 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: email@example.com
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
killed in India, Pakistan
The gunning down of a journalist outside his home in the district of Karak in Pakistan’s northern province on October 11 has taken the country’s journalist death toll to nine this year. SAMSN partner, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has strongly condemned this killing and called for the quick identification and prosecution of those responsible. Further details here.
In the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Rajesh Verma, a news cameraman for a national broadcaster and Israr, a freelance photographer, were killed when communal riots broke out in the district town of Muzaffarnagar on September 7. Further details here.
2. Assaults and intimidation
reported in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka
Sardar Shafiq, a journalist in Abbottabad in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan was assaulted with iron rods as he left office for home on October 10. Shafiq is the general secretary of the local journalists’ union. In the north-eastern Indian state of Assam, baton wielding policemen assaulted journalists as they covered a public demonstration, injuring at least four among them. And in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, journalists were attacked by supporters of a religious cult leader wanted on sexual assault charges, as they gathered at an institution run by him to cover his possible arrest. Further details here, here and here.
In Sri Lanka, armed intruders entered the home of a journalist couple, Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema and Romesh Abeywickrema, just before dawn on August 24. They ransacked the house, took away valuable items including jewelry and closely examined files and documents belonging to the couple. Mandana was associate editor of the Sunday Leader, and her husband Romesh, business editor of the same newspaper. Just three weeks later both Mandana and her husband joined scores of their colleagues who have gone into exile fearing for their safety. Further details here and here.
3. Job losses in Indian media
SAMSN partners have denounced the rising job losses in the Indian media industry as an economic slowdown continues to take a heavy toll of revenue. In August, the highly diversified media company Network 18, laid off an estimated 350 workers from its TV operations. And in early October, news channels in the cities of Hyderabad in the south of India and Guwahati in the north-east, shut down abruptly, putting an estimated 320 workers out of their jobs. Further details here and here.
4. Attacks on media in
Pakistan and the Maldives
Two workers of the Express media group in Pakistan’s commercial metropolis of Karachi were killed in a drive-by shooting by motorcycle riding assailants on August 16. In the Maldives, the news studios of Raajje TV were attacked and set afire on October 7, obviously in an effort to intimidate it for its editorial policy that is supportive of presidential candidate and opposition lader Mohammad Nasheed. Further details here and here.
5. Report on journalists’
safety in Afghanistan released
The Afghan Journalists’ Safety Committee in August released a report covering the safety situation for journalists through the first six months of 2013. The report documents cases of violence against the media and also considers the prospects for the continuing economic viability of the industry with international donor assistance declining. It records that “violence against media workers, instigated by various parties, increased significantly this year in comparison to the past couple of years”. The sustainability of numerous media outlets has also become a critical issue. As the report notes: “employers have not paid some .. media workers for months and some others have been notified that their respective media outlet would not afford to pay them due to bankruptcy”. Further details can be found here and here.
6. Protests over move to
close down newspaper in India’s Kerala
Journalists, writers and social activists in the southern Indian state of Kerala have protested a move by the state government to cancel the registration of Thejas, a newspaper published in the local language, Malayalam, on grounds that it threatens national security. The newspaper is published from ten cities of Kerala and four centres in the Arab countries. Its publishers were served with a notice by the local magistrates in two cities and asked to show cause why its registration should not be cancelled. Further details here and here.
7. India witnesses sharpest
fall in internet freedom; Pakistan among least
The U.S. based organisation Freedom House, has issued its report on internet freedom around the world. On a scale of 0 (totally free) to 100 (totally unfree), India has been rated at 47. This represents the sharpest fall among all the countries assessed, since India’s rating in 2011 stood at 39. Pakistan has been rated at 67. All countries in South Asia have been judged to fall in the “partly free” category in terms of internet access, except for Afghanistan, which is rated as “unfree”. Further details here.
8. Press Council of India
intervenes as security hazards multiply for journalists in
Following a mass closure of newspapers in the north-eastern Indian state of Manipur to protest the multiple security hazards that journalists face, the Press Council of India (PCI) chairman, Justice Markandey Katju, wrote to the chief minister of the state, reminding him of his obligations to protect the constitutional rights, including the right to free expression. A delegation of the PCI subsequently visited Manipur for an interaction with the All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union (AMWJU). The PCI is expected to come up with concrete recommendations regarding the protection of press freedom in the insurgency prone state of India. Further details here, here and here.
9. Journalists in Nepal
discuss continuing impunity
The Federation of Nepali Journalists participated in an orientation meeting towards launching the U.N. Action Plan for the Safety of Journalists in Kathmandu early September. FNJ president Shiva Gaunle said that journalists are still unsafe “due to internal and external causes.” There are more than nine thousand journalists working in Nepal according to the FNJ. In all, 272 cases involving attacks on journalists were registered in 2012, though only a “handful” among them led to anybody being booked. Another expert speaker at the event pointed out that ninety percent of cases involving the killing of journalists, still remain unsolved. Further details here.
10. Glossary on journalism
released in Nepal
A glossary on journalism and mass communication was released by FNJ president Shiva Gaunle, Nepal Press Council chair Borna Bahadur Karki and senior journalist Ram Krishna Regmee on September 7. This is the first time that such a resource is being made available for journalists in Nepal. The book includes about 3000 headwords that have a significance in the practice of journalism and deals with their various meanings. The writer is Bhanu Bhakta Acharya, a doctoral candidate at the University of Ottawa in Canada. Further details here.
11. Two provinces in
Pakistan pass right to information laws
Two among Pakistan’s provinces – Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – have introduced laws to enable the public to access information held by the government and its agencies. These laws are in line with the eighteenth amendment to the Pakistan constitution, which introduced the right to information as a fundamental right. There is public debate over the scope of the laws and also about the ordinance route taken for their promulgation, rather than formal legislation. Further details here and here.
12. Provincial government in
Pakistan bans VoIP and instant messaging
Media freedom groups in Pakistan have termed as absurd the decision by the provincial government in Sindh to ban instant messaging services and VoIP services such as Skype for a period of three months. The government has argued that this is required for security reasons. Further details here.
13. SAMSN pays tribute to Sri
Lankan human rights defender, Sunila Abesekara
SAMSN has joined partners in Sri Lanka and elsewhere in honouring the memory of Sunila Abeysekara, human rights activist and campaigner for press freedom, after she died on September 9 after a long battle with cancer. She was sixty-one. Further details here.
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