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IFEX Communiqué Vol 20, No 42 | 26 October 2011


Free Expression Spotlight
1. Tunisia: Media Freedom In Question After First Post-Revolution Elections

Regional News
2. Tibet (China): Monks Burn Themselves Alive To Protest Police Attacks, Confinement And Surveillance
3. Nigeria: Tv Journalist Gunned Down By Notorious Islamic Sect
4. Mauritius: Journalist Sentenced To Jail For First Time Ever In Island-State

Also In This Issue

5. Mexico: Draw Attention To Murdered Writers By Holding Your Own Day Of The Dead Event
6. International: New Un Report On Internet Regulation Around The World
7. International / Awards: Four Women Journalists Recognised By Iwmf For Their Courage
8. International / Awards And Other Opportunities: Martin Ennals Award Calls For Nominations
9. International: Ifex Launches International Day To End Impunity Poster Contest


Free Expression Spotlight

1. Tunisia: Media Freedom In Question After First Post-Revolution Elections

With 90 per cent of eligible voters in Tunisia participating in a free election for the first time in 55 years on 23 October, IFEX members are calling for numerous reforms and political commitments to nurture this great yearning for democracy. Violent attacks on a Tunis TV station earlier this month have hit home the need for security, legal reform and educational campaigns.

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With more than half the votes counted, the moderate Islamist party Ennahda has won approximately 40 per cent of the seats, with around 100 political parties running. The first in the region since the start of the Arab Spring, the elections have been widely reported as free and fair.. The 217-member constituent assembly is tasked with drafting a new constitution, acting as an interim government and setting a date for full parliamentary elections.

"The stage is set for a complex debate that will test the Tunisian media and its capacity to communicate the works of the new assembly," says Index on Censorship's Rohan Jayasekera, who chairs the IFEX Tunisia Monitoring Group (IFEX-TMG). "Despite solid efforts by the country's post-revolution National Authority to Reform Information and Communication (INRIC) - the media landscape evolution has been slow."

At this crucial political juncture, measures to support a pluralistic and free media landscape and online information sharing were recommended by civil society organisations attending an IFEX-TMG workshop in Tunisia in September.They included the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women (ATFD), the Tunis Centre for Freedom of the Press, Observatory for Press Freedom, Publishing and the Creative Arts (OLPEC), the National Union of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT) and Tunisian Union of Free Radios (STRL). The workshop was led by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).
IFEX-TMG acknowledged "the outstanding dedication of media professionals, civil society groups and consultative bodies in reforming the media sector... after decades of repression and hardship. Their ambition and vision for their profession and society can no longer be held hostage by those whose only desire is to stall the reform process to protect their own interest."

In a joint statement, IFEX-TMG called for the 12 radio and five TV stations recommended by INRIC to be authorised to broadcast; that the new constitution enshrine freedom of expression, information and the press; that the government support the viability of new, independent media through fiscal and other policies and that repressive Internet censorship laws be repealed.

The importance of media protection measures became even clearer after a violent attack on Nessma TV, report IFEX members. On 9 October, more than 300 angry demonstrators attempted to storm the TV station's headquarters after it aired the film "Persepolis," which the protesters deemed anti-Islamic for the character's imaginary depiction of God, according to IFEX members. The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) adds that the mob wanted to set the station on fire.

Several demonstrators were arrested, however, the threats continued when two days later, two men entered the TV station's premises and threatened to kill employees, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Cars parked outside the home of Nabil Karoui, head of Nessma TV, were also torched that day.

Also worrying is that 144 lawyers kick-started the crackdown on Nessma TV by signing a letter claiming the film's airing breached the pre-revolution media law, which is still on the books, Index on Censorship reports. Karoui has been questioned and may face three years in jail, RSF says.
On 16 October, thousands of free expression advocates marched peacefully in the Tunisian capital decrying censorship attempts from pro-Islamic groups. "We do not want to go from a police dictatorship to an Islamic dictatorship," one demonstrator blogged, according to Index on Censorship.
Adding to the unease about Tunisia's future, Human Rights Watch reports that prominent Ennahda member Sadok Chourou said earlier this month that his party will criminalise defamation or insult against Islam.

To help voters inform themselves ahead of the election, Human Rights Watch surveyed a wide range of political parties on their position on various human rights issues using a questionnaire and independent research. While Ennadha refused interview requests, the 13 parties that did respond all agreed that defamation, currently subject to criminal law, should be subject to civil law.

"In order for the democratic transition to succeed... the media landscape must be transformed," states the ATFD, which monitored the media during the elections in coalition with other rights groups including SNJT and OLPEC. It is important, says the group, to "break the monopoly of public and private media" and encourage the "development of a space for different opinions, where the independence of editorial choices is provided in respect of the public interest."

Thanks to the prospects for independent media, RSF opened a bureau on 13 October in Tunisia and has launched a public campaign to raise awareness about the importance of free media through newspaper ads and posters. Human Rights Watch and other rights groups have also opened local and regional offices in the country since the revolution led the President to flee in January after three decades of control.

Related stories on
- Report on IFEX-TMG Strategy Workshop: Campaign for Free Expression (September 2011):

- Authorities shut down TV station, extremists try to burn down another

- Political parties' responses to Human Rights Watch questionnaire shed light on their human rights stances:

More on the web:
- Tunisian elections:media reform key to democracy (Index on Censorship):

- The Legal Enabling Environment for Independent Media in Egypt and Tunisia (Center for International Media Assistance):

- Observation des medias dans la transition démocratique (ATFD):

- Tunisian elections: full results (The Guardian):


Regional News

1. Tibet (China): Monks Burn Themselves Alive To Protest Police Attacks, Confinement And Surveillance

Violent raids, arbitrary detentions and permanent police surveillance drove two former Tibetan monks to fatally set themselves on fire on 7 October, reports Human Rights Watch. The tragic deaths follow a pattern, with four others self-immolating this year alone in the Sichuan region.

Choephel, 18, and Khaying, 20, set themselves aflame to protest the harsh conditions at Kirti monastery in the Aba region of Sichuan province, according to the organisation. They later died in hospital.

According to Human Rights Watch, at least one of the four others who set themselves on fire earlier this year, 20-year-old Phuntsok Jarutsang, died from his injuries. However, the organisation has been unable to track down any information on the others' whereabouts or physical wellbeing.

Numerous monasteries and communities in the Tibetan plateau have been targeted with police crackdowns since the 2008 separatist protests. Since 2002, the Chinese government has especially increased expenditures on security in Aba and Ganzi prefectures, with up to five times as much security spending than non-Tibetan prefectures in Sichuan, says Human Rights Watch. This has led to police being posted at monasteries and heavy-handed tactics, including the forcible removal of monks deemed troublesome.

In addition, monks at Kirti must now have letters from three different guarantors if they wish to leave monastery grounds, Human Rights Watch notes.

"Recent developments in and around Kirti monastery show the terrible human cost of ongoing repression," said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. "Cleary the Chinese government can't spend its way out of this problem - genuine stability is the result of protecting, not denying people their rights."

Despite the fact that the self-immolations were individual actions, the Chinese government's response has been to collectively punish monks at Kirti and in neighbouring areas, Human Rights Watch reports. After the first immolation in March, food and water was cut off to Kirti for several days. In April, more than 300 Kirti monks were shipped off to unspecified locations and subjected to weeks of "patriotic education," after which some were forced to go back to their homes and stay away from the monastery.

Shockingly, in September, three Kirti monks were sentenced 10 to 13 years in jail for allegedly aiding Jarutsang in setting himself on fire, Human Rights Watch reports. Numerous others suspected of involvement were sentenced to up to three years of labour, adds the organisation.

Human Rights Watch is demanding that the Chinese government release information about monks who have been forcibly removed from the Kirti monastery and called on governments worldwide to pressure Chinese authorities to do something about the deteriorating state of human rights in China, especially in Tibet.

Also drawing global attention to violations of Tibetans' rights is the Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of PEN International, which will be featuring the case of Tashi Rabten, an imprisoned Tibetan poet and essayist, in its annual International Day of the Imprisoned Writer on 15 November. Rabten was convicted of encouraging separatism after he wrote several articles criticising the Chinese government's harsh repression of March 2008 protests in Lhasa.

Related stories on
- Heavy-handed security exacerbates grievances, desperation in Tibetan monasteries:

More on the web:
- PEN International's Day of the Imprisoned Writer:

2. Nigeria: Tv Journalist Gunned Down By Notorious Islamic Sect

A journalist was gunned down in front of his house by militants from the radical Islamic sect Boko Haram, report Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

A gunman travelling in a car with two others shot Alhaji Zakariya Isa at close range with a Kalashnikov rifle in Maiduguri, Borno in Northeastern Nigeria on 22 October, report the IFEX members. According to MRA and CPJ, the assailants specifically asked for Isa, who is a reporter and cameraman with Nigeria Television Authority (NTA).

MRA says the militant group Boko Haram has threatened a number of journalists for actions deemed offensive to the group, such as quoting people who claim to be part of the sect but are not official members. RSF reports that some journalists covering the Boko Haram movement, which wants to establish Sharia law in northern Nigeria, have also been harassed by security officials looking for information.

Agence France Press (AFP) reports that Boko Haram justified the brutal attack in an emailed statement by saying the journalist was giving information about the group's activities to security agencies. According to AFP, there is no evidence suggesting Zakariya, a father of two, was an informant, and Nigerian authorities also deny this fact.

The Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) warns that other journalists could also be brutally murdered if the government doesn't put in place concrete measures to protect journalists. CPJ also condemns the failure of Nigerian officials to properly investigate and bring accountability in past murders of journalists and calls on authorities to counter this trend.

The news manager for the local NTA bureau told CPJ that three other journalists fled the area after receiving threatening phone calls from Boko Haram members. Boko Haram, which translates to "western education is forbidden," has also claimed responsibility for numerous fatal shootings and bombings in Nigeria, including the August suicide bombing at the United Nations headquarters in Abuja that killed 23 people.

Related stories on
- Journalist killed in Maiduguri:

3. Mauritius: Journalist Sentenced To Jail For First Time Ever In Island-State

A news editor fainted in a courthouse after he was sentenced to three months in jail following his coverage of a fraud case, report the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The detention marks the first time a Mauritian journalist has been sentenced to prison, according to CPJ.

Dharmanand Dooharika, editor of "Samedi Plus", was convicted of bringing the Supreme Court into "disrepute" on 17 October, says RSF. He fainted due to high blood pressure and was taken to hospital, according to local news reports.

In July and August 2010, Dooharika quoted a disgraced businessman and former lawyer, Dev Hurnam, who accused a Supreme Court justice of bias after he lost his client's fraud case against financial services giant Barclays. Dooharika wrote an article arguing that Hurman's claims, which were widely covered by the media at the time, should be investigated, says CPJ.

The case was "not about the administration of justice but about shielding the Supreme Court from criticism," says CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita.

The parent company of "Samedi Plus" and another radio station that reported on the accusations were additionally sentenced to US $10,300 and $6,900 respectively for contempt of court.

Related stories on
- Journalist jailed, others fined for contempt of Supreme Court:


Also In This Issue

4. Mexico: Draw Attention To Murdered Writers By Holding Your Own Day Of The Dead Event

Join PEN International in honouring fallen writers on Mexico's national Day of the Dead on 2 November. On Day of the Dead, an annual holiday in Mexico, people pay tribute to late friends and family members through numerous rites, including creating altars, visiting gravesites and cooking their deceased loved ones' favourite foods.

PEN International is calling for worldwide participation in this year's Day of the Dead to raise awareness about the 33 journalists, one author and one poet who have been killed by drug cartels since President Calderón began his military war on drugs. Another eight journalists have gone missing during the past five years, according to PEN International.

Free expression advocates are encouraged to participate in a range of ways, including, but not limited to: building traditional Day of the Dead altars and using them at public talks or panels, organising public readings of Mexican poetry compiled by PEN International for the event, demonstrating in front of Mexico's embassies with altars and music and sending press releases about the day to media outlets.

See PEN International's website (link below) for resources to support your Day of the Dead activities, including poetry, the Campaign poster, instructions on making an altar, and a list of writers killed in Mexico since 2006. Poems and other resources are available in Spanish, French and English. In a poem commissioned for PEN International, renowned poet Homero Aridjis writes, "Their ghosts stalk our cities. Deep in the nightmare their enforcers lie in wait for us with black daggers."

According to PEN International, the numbers of killed and missing have been increasing, with eight writers murdered and two journalists disappeared in 2011 alone.

While organised drug cartels are behind the majority of attacks, corrupt state agents, particularly local officials and police have also reportedly carried out or been complicit in the violence against journalist, PEN International reports. Almost all of the killings have not been properly investigated, and this impunity only motivates the killers further.

The goal of the campaign is to pressure the Mexican government to end the impunity and violence against journalists, solve past killings and make crimes against journalists a federal offence so that federal authorities have the power to investigate and prosecute these crimes.

On 23 November, IFEX members commemorate the inaugural International Day to End Impunity to raise public awareness of how prevalent impunity is in the free expression field, as well as to showcase the important work IFEX members have been doing to fight against it, such as the Day of the Dead campaign. Find out more at:

More on the web:
- Mexico Day of the Dead 2011 (PEN International):

5. International: New Un Report On Internet Regulation Around The World

The UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, Frank La Rue, released a report to the UN General Assembly this month highlighting trends in Internet use and censorship and guiding governments in Internet regulation and distribution policies.

Described as a "wake up call" by ARTICLE 19, the document makes clear that under international law, only child pornography, incitement to violence or genocide and hate speech can be censored on the Internet.

Among numerous other principles, the report states that all governments must promote universal access to the Internet. It also says that individuals who provide technical services such as hosting information should not be held liable for content generated by others. Restricting parts of the Internet "can never be justified, including on public order or national security grounds," says the Special Rapporteur.

One concern La Rue noted was the wide interpretation of terrorist threats that states may use to justify censorship. He maintains that the crime of incitement to terrorism must be based on the actual intent to incite others to terrorism and must be accompanied by the actual risk an offence will be committed as a result.

Noting that three quarters of the world's population lack Internet access, La Rue's report encourages governments to make the Internet more affordable and to ensure free public access. "The Internet is not only a crucial tool for expression but also for a country's development by educating and empowering people through access to previously unattainable information and knowledge," he explained in a speech to the UN on 21 October. Read the full report here.

More on the web:
- Internet: "Free flow of information and access for all" - UN expert (OHCHR):

- UN: Article 19 calls for global access to the Internet (ARTICLE 19):

6. International / Awards: Four Women Journalists Recognised By Iwmf For Their Courage

Four inspiring women journalists from around the world are being honoured this week in New York and Los Angeles by the International Women's Media Foundation. The winners of this year's Courage in Journalism Awards are Adela Navarro Bello, the editor of "Zeta" newspaper in Mexico, Parisa Hafezi, the Reuters bureau chief in Iran and Chiranuch Premchaiporn, a web editor of Thai news website "Prachatai".

Navarro leads a staff of 60 per cent female journalists and has refused to self censor her reports on crime and corruption, despite death threats. She has ruthlessly pursued independent investigations into the murders of two "Zeta" editors slain in 1988 and 2004, and she has published the names of members of drug cartels terrorising Tijuana. "We go everywhere and cover everything. We won't remain silent," she tells IWMF.

Hafezi has been beaten by riot police, threatened with arrest by Iran's Revolutionary Guard and endured raids on her home and office for ensuring the world gets to know about Iran's brutal suppression of popular movements.

Premchaiporn has endured hours of interrogation and faces 20 years in jail simply because she failed to delete a visitor's comment on her popular news website that was deemed critical of the Thai government. Rather than be cowed by the intimidation, Premchaiporn has focused on mobilising advocates around the world in support of Internet freedom. Take action to support her at:

The BBC's Katie Adie, who has reported from war zones all over the world, is also being recognised with the IWMF's Lifetime Achievement Award.

More on the web:
- Courage in Journalism Awards (IWMF):

7. International / Awards And Other Opportunities: Martin Ennals Award Calls For Nominations

The Martin Ennals Award Foundation is seeking nominations for its Human Rights Defenders Award before the deadline of 9 December. Especially sought for the award are those who are fighting for the human rights of others in courageous or innovative ways. The award honours the late Martin Ennals, the first secretary general of Amnesty International.

Individuals or organisations can nominate a human rights defender by filling out the application form on the Martin Ennals Award website and providing contact information for three referees who can advocate for the work of the individual. (Self nominations are not accepted).

To nominate an individual for the award, click here.

8. International: Ifex Launches International Day To End Impunity Poster Contest

A poster about impunity. That's what IFEX wants from you as we prepare to launch the inaugural International Day to End Impunity on 23 November. Deadline for entries is 4 November 2011.

Journalists, media workers, writers and others who speak the truth against power continue to be murdered with impunity in countries from Mexico to Russia, Iraq to Somalia. In our free expression community, impunity consistently ranks among the top concerns and remains a global issue that has defied all borders and political structures.

Fact: More than 500 journalists have been killed and the murderers have gone free in 9 out of 10 cases.

Help draw the world's attention to impunity by designing a poster that depicts impunity in some way. Watch our International Day to End Impunity trailer for some inspiration!

Our favourites will be featured on the International Day to End Impunity website, and the top three winners will receive cash prizes.

The fine print

What can I win?
First prize: US$500
Second prize: US$250
Third prize: US$100

As well, your name and poster will be featured on the International Day to End Impunity website.

Who can participate?
The competition is open to everyone from any country, whether or not you're an established artist, an individual or an organisation. You can submit as many posters as you like.

How do I participate?
All posters must be submitted by email to contest (@) along with your name, address, email and phone number. (This information is for administrative purposes only - please note that entries will be judged blind.)

The file must be submitted in jpeg, in standard poster format (11" x 17"). Please hang on to the originals! We may ask for them later.

Designs may use any form of photography, illustration, collage or typography, provided no copyrights are violated in the design.

By entering, you have cleared any material submitted to the competition. IFEX assumes all entries are original and are the works and property of the entrant, with all rights granted therein. IFEX is not liable for any copyright infringement on the part of the entrant and will not become involved in copyright disputes.

When is the deadline?
The deadline for entries is midnight EST on 4 November 2011. Winners will be revealed on the International Day to End Impunity website on 23 November.

How will my poster be judged?
Your design will be posted on the International Day to End Impunity Facebook page. Members of the public will be invited to vote on the posters from 7-21 November. The public's top 10 posters (as determined by the number of "likes" the posters receive) will make up the shortlist, from which the IFEX Clearing House will select the three winners.

Anything else I should know?
Materials may be reproduced freely by IFEX and/or any of its 95 members. Any material used by IFEX or its members shall carry the designer's credit line.

More questions?
Send us an e-mail: contest (@)


About IFEX

The International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) is the most extensive community of leaders defending and promoting freedom of expression around the world. We share content, analysis and tools on free expression cases and trends, campaign on critical issues, and support collaboration to increase our members' effectiveness.

More about the International Day to End Impunity
IFEX members chose the symbolic date of 23 November for the International Day to End Impunity because it's the anniversary of the Ampatuan massacre, the single deadliest day for journalists in recent history. The purpose of the day is to raise public awareness and showcase the work of organisations working for justice for those being persecuted for practising their right to freedom of expression. This is the campaign's first year.

The IFEX Communiqué is a service of the International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX), a global network of non-governmental organisations working to defend and promote the right to free expression.

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