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IFJ Asia-Pacific Regional eBulletin: August 2012

IFJ Asia-Pacific Regional eBulletin: August 2012

In this bulletin:

1. Media Owner Murdered; Threats Made Against Journalists Continue in Nepal

2. Alleged Torture of Journalist in Bangladesh

3. Savage Attack on Foreign Journalist in China

4. Series of Threats Made Against Journalists in the Philippines
5. Attempted Murder of Indian Journalist
6. Media Personnel Attacked for Election Reporting in Mongolia
7. Wave of Violence Against Journalists in the Maldives
8. Detention of Journalist by Hong Kong Police
9. Crackdown on Web-based Media in Sri Lanka
10. Slow Reaction to Media and Human Rights Violations in the Philippines
11. Striking Philippines Radio Employees Supported by IFJ and NUJP
12. Chinese Authorities Ban Reporting of Train Crash Anniversary
13. Removal of Senior Media Personnel in China

1. Media Owner Murdered; Threats Made Against Journalists Continue in Nepal

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joined its affiliate the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) in condemning the murder of Santosh Gupta, Media Owner and Managing Director of Birgunj-based Bindas FM, in the Central Region of Nepal on July 6, 2012. According to news reports, Gupta had established Bindas FM three months earlier and was found dead with severe injuries to his body in Musouriya village in Bihar State, India. The management of Bindas FM allege that Gupta went to Bihar after an unidentified person called and requested he come to him talk about advertising for the FM station. It was reported that Bihar’s police have arrested four local residents in connection with the incident.

There were further incidents of threats to journalists in Nepal in the past month. Reports were received by the IFJ that on July 10, threats were made against a journalist by a police officer in Lahan, in Nepal’s eastern Siraha region. Mithilesh Yadav, a Lahan-based journalist for Nagarik Daily was allegedly threatened by a police constable over news published about continuing criminal activities such as beatings, abductions and explosions in Lahan in the last five months.

The IFJ also joined the FNJ in expressing serious concern over the threats reportedly made against a journalist by a staffer of the District Veterinary Office in Panchthar District, in Nepal’s Eastern region on July 18, 2012. According to representatives of FNJ’s Panchthar Chapter, Deepak Dulal, affiliated with radio station Eagle FM was visiting the office to investigate complaints of poor service when he was threatened.

The FNJ alleged that similar incidents of threatening journalists have occurred repeatedly in the district.

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/media-owner-murdered-in-nepal

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/journalist-threatened-in-nepal-2

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/journalist-threatened-by-government-employee-in-nepal

2. Alleged Torture of Journalist in Bangladesh

The IFJ joined partners in Bangladesh in strongly condemning the arrest and subsequent alleged custodial torture of Mostafizur Rahman Sumon, a crime reporter with the web-based news portal, justnewsbd.com. Sources in Bangladesh informed the IFJ that Sumon was arrested on July 13 in the vicinity of a computer store in Dhaka. He was taken to an unknown location by the Detective Branch of the local police and held for two days, during which he was allegedly severely tortured.

The president and general secretary of the National Press Club, Kamal Uddin Sabuj and Syed Abdal Ahmad, issued a joint statement, denouncing Sumon’s arrest and torture. Sumon’s family believes that he is being victimized for his active involvement in the protests over the police failure to bring to justice the perpetrators of the twin murder of the journalist couple Meherun Runi and Sagar Sarowar in March.

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/ifj-condemns-arrest-alleged-torture-of-journalist-in-bangladesh

3. Savage Attack on Foreign Journalist in China

The IFJ condemned an alleged assault of a Japanese journalist by Chinese police, and the censoring of independent reporting of public protests, in the city of Qidong, in China’s Jiangsu Province on July 28, 2012. According to reports, Atsushi Okudera, 41, an experienced China reporter for the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun was physically assaulted by more than a dozen of policemen in Qidong while he was taking photos of police beating protestors.

Okudera suffered multiple injuries, including injuries to his head as a result of the beating and was hospitalised to undergo a CT scan and X-ray. Okuedera’s newspaper has lodged a formal complaint and asked for the return of his press card, camera and memory cards. The Japanese Consulate also expressed regret over the incident.

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/ifj-condemns-savage-attack-on-foreign-journalist-in-china

4. Series of Threats Made Against Journalists in the Philippines
5.
The IFJ expressed its alarm after learning of a series of serious threats made against journalists in the Philippines.

Threats were made against the lives of two Butuan-based ABS-CBN reporters, according to IFJ affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP). The journalists, Rodge Cultura and Richmond Hinayon received the death threats following reports they filed reports of illegal logging in Northern Mindanao and the Caraga Region. According to the NUJP, Richmond Hinayon received a text message on July 24, 2012, warning him that his days are numbered. Hinayon said he received the text message following a tip he gave to the city’s anti-illegal logging task force a day earlier which led to the seizure of illegally logged timber. On July 29, a boy handed Rodge Cultura an envelope outside the ABS-CBN Butuan City office containing a single bullet. The two incidents are believed to be related.

In another incident, Mayon Times Publisher Leonard “Leo” Balsarza, Jr received a .38 calibre bullet in a brown envelope with the words “Doronela and Balsarza Warning” on the front. The 63 year old publisher said his son found the envelope at the front door of their family home in Lagazpi City on the morning of July 27. Balsarza also said a witness saw a person wearing a mask on board of a motorcycle near their house.

The IFJ called on the Philippines’ authorities to take all necessary steps to ensure that the journalists are protected and secure, that the threats are thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators face the full force of the law for the crimes.

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/ifj-condemns-threats-made-against-journalists-in-the-philippines

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/ifj-condemns-serious-threats-against-two-journalists-in-philippines

5. Attempted Murder of Indian Journalist

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joined partners and affiliates in India in condemning the attempt on the life of Tonggam Rina, Associate Editor of the Arunachal Times, in Itanagar, capital of the north-eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, on June 15. According to information received from the IFJ-affiliated Indian Journalists’ Union, Rina was shot, sustaining a serious abdominal injury, as she entered her office that evening. She was taken to a local hospital for treatment and her condition was described by the head of the state police force as “out of danger”.

Rina reportedly faced threats in the recent past over her reporting. One such instance followed her reporting on certain irregularities in the functioning of the public distribution system for food and other essential commodities in the state. There were also threats made against her after she reported on the factional rivalries within an armed underground group in two districts of the state. The office of her newspaper was ransacked on April 16 this year, with the assailants remaining at large. Two other female journalists in Itanagar have also received telephoned threats from unknown callers recently.

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/ifj-condemns-attempted-murder-of-indian-journalist

6. Media Personnel Attacked for Election Reporting in Mongolia

The IFJ and its affiliate the Confederation of Mongolian Journalists (CMJ) were deeply concerned by reports of an attack on eight journalists and camera operators from local television broadcaster Sky TV on June 28, 2012 in Khuvsgul aimag, in Mongolia’s north. According to CMJ reports, the attacks on the television crew were in response to their coverage of the elections for the State Greal Hural of Mongolia - the country’s highest legislative and governing body.

At the start of the reporting of preliminary voting results on June 28, B.Ganzorig, Executive Director of Khuvsgul News LLC - the investing company of Sky television - entered the Sky TV premises with a number of other people and directed them to beat four journalists and four camera operators, accusing them of airing one-sided news that did not serve the interests of their primary investor, Mr.Lhagva Munhbaatar, who ran for a seat in the election on behalf of the Mongolian People’s Party. Local Police and Prosecutors launched an investigation into the attacks.

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/media-personnel-attacked-for-election-reporting-in-mongolia

7. Wave of Violence Against Journalists in the Maldives

The IFJ was informed by affiliates and partners of an alarming rise in incidents of violence against journalists in the Maldives. The Maldives Journalists’ Association, an IFJ-affiliate, strongly condemned the tendency for police and party activists to target journalists as political agitations escalated in the Indian Ocean republic.

On June 9, two reporters of the Raajje TV channel were taken into custody while covering a demonstration by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). Police claim that the arrests were made because the newsmen were obstructing them in their duty. But Raajje TV management has said that the journalists were arrested while filming the police physically assaulting a demonstrator. The MJA also reports that three journalists were attacked on July 11, while covering an MDP protest calling for early elections in the country. Murshid Abdul Hakeem, a reporter with the Sun Online news service received head injuries after being hit by a battery thrown by the MDP protesters.

During the course of the same demonstration, Raajje TV cameraman Mohamed Shanoon and Minivan Daily reporter Ahmed Haisan were reportedly attacked by riot police.

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/wave-of-violence-against-journalists-in-the-maldives

8. Detention of Journalist by Hong Kong Police

The IFJ condemned the detaining by Hong Kong Police of a journalist after asking Chinese President Hu Jintao a question about the Tiananmen Square massacre during his official visit to Hong Kong, to mark 15 years since the territory’s handover to China and to oversee the inauguration ceremony of the fourth term of Hong Kong’s Government. On June 30, Rex Hong Yiu-Ting, journalist for the Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily, shouted a question to Hu Jintao as he passed him at a distance of about 10 metres. Hong asked Hu if he was aware of the Hong Kong people’s calls for justice for the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. Hu did not respond to the question, and Hong’s attempt to follow Hu’s route was stopped. He was taken away by a group of plain-clothes police officers without explanation, and detained in a separate room for approximately 15 minutes until Hu left the vicinity.

The actions of Hong Kong’s police immediately sparked outrage from major journalists groups, including IFJ affiliate the Hong Kong Journalists Association and the Hong Kong News Executives’ Association. Journalism scholars from five local universities and several pro-democracy legislators also condemned the actions. In addition, many local and overseas journalists complained that they were unable to access relevant information from the Hong Kong Government regarding the schedule of President Hu’s visit, which seriously affected their ability to cover the story.

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/ifj-condemns-detention-of-journalist-by-hong-kong-police

9. Crackdown on Web-based Media in Sri Lanka

The IFJ and its partners in the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) strongly condemned the June 29 crackdown by Sri Lanka’s police and security agencies, in which the offices of two web-based news sites were raided and nine media workers arrested.

The IFJ learned from Sri Lankan affiliates that a team of approximately 25 law enforcement officials arrived at the shared premises of the two websites, SriLankaXNews and SriLankaMirror, on Friday morning. All the media workers present were detained within the locked premises for three hours and questioned by the police, following which they were taken away to the headquarters of the Crime Investigation Department (CID). They are yet to be released and no formal explanation was issued by the police authorities on the reasons for their arrest. Computers and other equipment were confiscated from the premises of the news websites.

Concurrently, the police also raided the residence of Ruwan Ferdinandez, formerly with the SriLankaMirror and now editor-in-chief of SriLankaXNews. The latter is widely regarded as the news website of Sri Lanka’s principal opposition, the United National Party. Just the day before the raids, Sri Lanka’s government had ordered the country’s main internet services to cut off access to five Tamil-language news websites: TamilWin, Athirvu, Sarithan, Ponguthamil and Pathivu. SriLankaMirror was one of five websites blocked by the government in November 2011, following a directive that all websites carrying news and current affairs content on the country should be registered with the Ministry of Information.

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/ifj-condemns-crackdown-on-web-based-media-in-sri-lanka

10. Slow Reaction to Media and Human Rights Violations in the Philippines

The IFJ joined its affiliate the National Union of Philippines (NUJP) in expressing disappointment in the delayed and minor punishment given to the perpetrator of an assault on a radio journalist in the Philippines in June 2011.

The IFJ reported on the incident, in which Kalinga Governor Jocel Baac forced himself into the announcer’s booth of radio station dzRK in Tabuk, Kalinga on June 7 last year, and hit radio commentator Jerome Tabanganay, of the government-owned station, several times using a microphone. Before leaving the booth Baac also threatened Tabanganay, saying “talk again and I will kill you”. The entire incident was caught on video, web-streamed via the internet and heard live by listeners of Radyo ng Bayan-Kalinga, the only radio station operating in the area. It took over thirteen months for the Philippines authorities to decide on a punishment for Governor Baac, which was one month’s administrative suspension but no criminal charges.

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/ifj-concerned-by-slow-reaction-to-media-and-human-rights-violations-in-the-philippines

11. Striking Philippines Radio Employees Supported by IFJ and NUJP

The IFJ joined its affiliate the National Union of Journalists Philippines (NUJP) in expressing strong support for the striking employees from Radio Mindanao Network (RMN) in Davao City, southern Philippines who were protesting the RMN management’s on-going refusal to negotiate with their representative union the RMN Davao Employees Union (RDEU). According to the NUJP, the decision of the RDEU members to strike in front of the station on July 10 followed two years of RMN management refusal to recognise the legitimacy of the RDEU and negotiate with them in good faith for minimal improvements to the pay and working conditions of RMN employees under their Collective Bargaining Agreement. The NUJP reported that the strike was a success as it forced management to negotiate and sign a new collective bargaining agreement.

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/ifj-joins-nujp-in-support-for-striking-philippines-radio-employees

12. Chinese Authorities Ban Reporting of Train Crash Anniversary

The IFJ expressed its deep frustration with reports that China’s Central Propaganda Department blocked all media reporting of the anniversary of 2011’s deadly high-speed train crash in Wenzhou, in China’s eastern Zhejiang Province. On the evening of July 23, 2011, two high-speed bulletin trains collided in Wenzhou, killing 40 people and injuring at least 192 others. During the rescue, government officials quickly ordered the burial of the train the wreckage, drawing criticism from the public for their attempts to cover-up the incident.

Only state-owned media organisations, including Xinhua news agency and China Central Television, were allowed to attend a press conference to interview Railway Ministry officials, with other organisations blocked from attending. The Railway Ministry also contacted media organisations and pressured them to ask journalists to leave the scene of the accident. On July 30, 2011, the Beijing Propaganda Department issued an order to all local media forbidding independent reporting of the crash. At least two China Central Television media personnel were reportedly punished for criticising the rescue efforts in their programmes. The IFJ has learned that a similar directive has been given to local reporters this year, forbidding all independent reporting of the anniversary of the Wenzhou train crash.

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/chinese-authorities-ban-reporting-of-train-crash-anniversary

13. Removal of Senior Media Personnel in China

The IFJ expressed its deep concern with the recent removal of senior staff from two Chinese newspapers, both in apparent responses to political pressure. Lu Fumin, Editor-in-Chief for Xin Kuai Daily (New Express in English), a newspaper based in China’s southern Guangdong province, and Publisher Lu Yan and Vice-Publisher Sun Jian of the Shanghai-based Dong Fang Daily were reportedly removed or suspended from their duties in July.

It was reported that Lu Fumin was removed from his post at Xin Kuai Daily and moved to sister newspaper, the Yangcheng Evening Post, as an editor on Monday July 16. The decision to move Lu is believed to be related to his decision to re-publish an article detailing the political origins of several current members of China’s politburo, including Deputy President Xi Jinping. The article, in addition to other news, commentary and investigative content was also temporarily removed from the Xin Kuai Daily website. According to a local journalist, the international and commentary content was only restored to the site in response to public outcry. Although no reason was given for the sudden removal of Publisher Lu Yan and the suspension of Vice-Publisher Sun Jian, many in the media community suspect it was prompted by the Dong Fang Daily’s publication of an article in May which accused China’s government-owned corporations of stifling the country’s economic development.

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/ifj-concerned-by-removal-of-senior-media-personnel-in-china

Jacqueline Park

Katie Richmond

Josh Bird

Kristen Smith

Sukumar Muralidharan

Serenade Woo

IFJ Asia-Pacific

ENDS


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