=> LAHORE: Twenty-one journalists and four media work
LAHORE: Twenty-one journalists and four media workers were killed in South Asia in 2007. Pakistan topped the list with seven deaths followed by Sri Lanka with six and Afghanistan with five killings, said an annual report launched by the South Asian Media Commission (SAMC) on Monday simultaneously from Pakistan, India Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bhutan and Afghanistan.
The report said three journalists were killed in Nepal and three media workers lost their lives in India.
“Freedom of the media will remain wishful thinking without ensuring the supremacy of the constitution, the independence of the judiciary and the restoration of democracy in Pakistan,” said South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) secretary general Imtiaz Alam.
He said the SAMC had been set up to monitor attacks on journalists, media organisations and violation of media freedom in South Asia.
Talking about the curbs on the media in the wake of the imposition of emergency on November 3, he said journalists from Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Maldives and Bangladesh had expressed solidarity with the Pakistani media. He said journalists had protested against the curbs imposed on the Pakistani media in their respective countries from the platform of SAFMA. He thanked the civil society members who stood hand in hand with the journalists.
He urged the media bodies to formulate their own codes of conduct rather than following the one set by the government to control the media, so that the government would not be able to intervene in their professional activities.
He slammed the government for banning private TV channels to announce results in the upcoming general elections. He said such a restriction could raise doubts in the minds of the people over the credibility of the elections.
SAMC Pakistan-chapter president IA Rehman said the overall situation regarding freedom of media had remained dismal in Pakistan. He said several journalists had been victimised, tortured and persecuted in 2007. He said the government had banned many FM radio stations in the country, which followed the government’s code of conduct.
On the other hand, he said, the government had not banned several illegal FM stations, which were disseminating anti-state propaganda among the masses. He said the government had imposed curbs on the media when the country’s situation had worsened. He said the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) was devised to ‘strangulate’ the press freedom, by the government, in the country.
He said Pakistani journalists had met the expectations of the people in the country by reporting in the volley of bullets in 2007. He urged the journalists and media organisations to stand united when the government was hell-bent on subjugating them. He hoped that the Pakistani journalists would sacrifice for the freedom of the media. He said the journalists were morally and professionally obliged to communicate the truth to the people.
SAMC regional coordinator Hussain Naqi said the lives of the journalists should be protected and ensured by the media organisations. He said the journalists had been doing their job in precarious conditions. He said SAFMA had played a significant role in the struggle of freedom of the media in Pakistan after the imposition of emergency on November 3. He said SAFMA had invited all media organisations, journalists’ unions and other stakeholders to formulate a policy for ensuring freedom of the media in Pakistan.
AFGHANISTAN: Five journalists were killed in Afghanistan in 2007. Rahman Qul, editor of government-run magazine Andkhoy, was shot dead in Faryab province. Ajmal Naqshbandi, a freelance journalist, was slain by his Taliban captors in Helmand province. Female journalist Zakia Zaki, Sada-i-Sulh, was killed in Parwan province and television news presenter Shokiba Sanga Amaaj was murdered in her home in Kabul. Abdul Munir, a producer and presenter of Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA), was killed in Jawzjan province.
BANGLADESH: There were several attacks on the media by political militants and gangs. Threats, attacks and abusive legal action were all used by the influential people in a bid to silence the media.
BHUTAN: Media freedom has been restricted by the government. Private broadcasters are opening their outlets, but cable television is said to be thriving with rival operators offering dozens of channels.
INDIA: Amid debate on sting operations and foreign investment in Indian media, attacks on media freedom by official agencies and non-state actors made the news. Three media workers died when protesters set the daily Dinakaran’s office on fire, in the town of Madurai.
In Hyderabad, the activists of Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen attacked the chief editor and owner of an Urdu daily, Siasat. In Guwahati, the United Liberation Front of Assam threatened a city-based satellite news channel with closure.
In Mumbai, members of Hindu Rashtriya Sena attacked the Star News headquarters, because the channel had ‘glorified’ the eloping of a Hindu girl with a Muslim boy.
MALDIVES: In 2007, the Maldivian journalists, like Fahala Saeed and Aminath Najeeb, continued to face the government’s wrath at the hands of the police.
Phillip Wellman, a journalist for the Minivan News website and a US citizen, was expelled again from the country just five days after returning to the Maldives on January 15, 2007.
NEPAL: The abduction and killing of three journalists in 2007 sealed the blotch of stigma on press freedom and security in Nepal. The editor and publisher of the Ajako Samachar Dainik and the vice-president of the Kanchanpur chapter of Federation of Nepalese Journalists, Prakash Thakuri, Birendra Shah of Nepal FM, Shankar Panthi, Naya Satta were murdered.
PAKISTAN: The security of journalists remained a major issue here. Highlighting the many risks journalists in Pakistan now face, Mehboob Khan, a freelancer, Noor Hakim Khan of Daily Pakistan, Javed Khan of Markaz and DM Digital TV, Muhammad Arif of ARY One World, Zubair Ahmed Mujahid of Jang, Nisar Ahmed Solangi, who worked for a Sindhi daily, and Syed Kamil Mashadi, working for a private TV channel, were killed.
SRI LANKA: Six journalists were killed, kidnapped, arrested, assaulted and threatened in conflict-stricken zones in the north and east. Subash Chandraboas of Nilam, Selvarajah Rajeewarnam of Uthayan and Isaivizhi Chempiyan, Suresh Linbiyo and T Tharmalingam of Voice of Tigers, and Sahadevan Nilakshan of Chaalaram were killed.
Source: Daily Times