#India -No arrests yet in, Journalist Tongam Rina case #Vaw #Northeast #womenrights


Seven months after she was shot, journalist Tongam Rina is still waiting for the culprits to be nabbed. In an exclusive interview with TERESA REHMAN, she says this apathy emboldens miscreants.
Posted/Updated Friday, Jan 18 16:39:26, 2013

It was in July 2012 that the Itanagar-based Associate Editor with The Arunachal Timeswas shot at while entering her office. Despite public protests and support from across India, all she gets are empty assurances. An indifferent state administration has only added insult to the injuries she sustained.

It’s been six months since you wereshot at. What kind of response have you received from the authorities so far? Was there any action from the police?

 

All I have received is assurance after assurance. Nothing else. The police is not bothered and the government seem to think its job is finished with handing out Rs 2.50 lakh and arranging a chopper ride for me and two family members from Itanagar to Guwahati.

Why do you think the authorities have not been able to nab the culprits in spite of CCTV?

Unfortunately, there is no CCTV footage. But authorities have not been able to nab the culprits because they are not serious.

 

It must have been a difficult time for you and your family. What kind of circumstances have you been through?

It has been a very difficult time for us. Everything has come to a halt after the attempt on my life. I am yet to work from office as I still find it difficult to sit up for long hours. I have not written anything in the last six months, which is incredibly sad.  I and my family are yet to come out of shock. My mother refuses to let me get back to work while I and my partner discuss physiotherapy, counselling and visits to doctors instead of holidays!  But we have found enormous courage because of the support we received from the people of my state and also media fraternity from across the country. People have gone out of their way to support us. They have prayed for us. We are indebted. I wish police was more responsible and willing and government took note of this.

Do you have any idea about the motive of your attackers since your office was attacked on a previous occasion as well? Has it got something to do with the kind of stories your newspaper was doing?

Our office has been targeted five times in the last one year. That’s no joke. It’s very easy to figure out that we have been attacked because of the stories we do and because of the stand we take. These attacks are also a sign that there is no law and order. The criminals know that they can get away with anything in Arunachal, even murder. These repeated events clearly show what kind of policing, governance and judiciary we have in Arunachal Pradesh.

What kind of injuries did you suffer? What is the present state of your health? How has it affected your life, personally as well as professionally?

The bullet missed the vital organs by a few milimetres but it tore open a portion of my stomach. The doctors removed the bullet and every time I see a doctor, they always tell me that I am very lucky as the attack could have been fatal. My life has been turned upside down, inside out. I and my partner are trying to rebuild our lives. It’s been slow and painful. And it’s been extremely difficult on my parents and my partner as I am prone to angry outbursts after the attack. We are seeking help for it.

Could you find any kind of remedy for the psychological trauma you underwent? 

There is no quick remedy. It’s a slow process and we are still dealing with it.

Are you confident enough to walk into your office now?

Yes. I am not scared and they can’t win. They are cowards. Imagine shooting someone from behind.

How supportive has the local press fraternity been?

The local press has been very supportive. They are doing everything possible. They took out a silent protest rally on January 15 to question why it was taking so long to nab the culprit.

Did anyone approach the Press Council of India and other such bodies at the national and global level?

I am not sure about the Press Council of India. I got a letter informing me that they were planning a visit to Itanagar regarding my case. But I got no further information. Perhaps they are busy. The Committee for Protection of Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, South Asia Women in Media have been extremely supportive. I am in regular touch with them.

What do you have to say about the safety of journalists in Arunachal Pradesh? How difficult is it to work in the frontier state?

There is no safety for journalists as well as common citizens in Arunachal since there is zero conviction rate. As I said, criminals get away with everything. There is a criminal-politician-police nexus in the state. And their favourite targets are journalists, as some of us dare report the truth. Even owners of media houses are not doing enough. Journalists work at their own risk as media houses have not done enough to protect their journalists and they pay abysmally.

Do you still hope for some justice at the end of the day?

At the rate things are going, I see no hope. But let’s hope for the best. Hopefully, my grandmother will know who harmed her favourite child before she dies.

 

Do you think some kind of a systematic campaign for justice can be carried out?

Right now I have no idea but yes, I look for support from everywhere. The state police and the government in Arunachal need to know that their long vacation is over and they have to work. They have to give an honest answer to my family and fellow journalists and people who care.

 

Teresa Rehman is the Editor of The Thumb Print (www.thethumbprintmag.com)

 

Jailed Iranian Women Stop Hunger Strike #prisons #Vaw


Jailed lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh (in an undated photo) began her hunger strike on October 31.
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By RFE/RL’s Radio Farda

November 06, 2012

Sources in Tehran say that eight female inmates in Evin prisonhave stopped their hunger strike and plan to pursue legal action against prisonguards whom they accuse of mistreating them.Nine women started the hunger strike last week to protest beatings and insults by the guards.

One of the women ended her hunger strike earlier after she was hospitalized due to her deteriorating health.

Earlier, the international media-rights group Reporters Without Borders urged the women to begin eating, fearing they could die.

Three of the women are journalists and online activists.

Jailed Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh continues her hunger strike in the same prison.

She stopped eating on October 31 after prison authorities banned her relatives from visiting.

Last month, Sotoudeh was awarded the European Parliament‘s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought for 2012.

Jailed Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi also won the prize.

 

Revolutionary newspapers, websites bloom underground #fiightcensorship


Fri, 28 September 2012, The observer

BEIRUT — In a country suffocated for decades by state censorship and media control, dozens of independent grassroots newspapers and websites have emerged since the outbreak of the revolt last year.

Most of these pro-revolution outlets operate in a shroud of secrecy, their contributors using pseudonyms for fear of persecution.
But their content is widely read by Syrians hungry for local censorship-free coverage, both inside and outside the country.
Suryitna (Our Syria), Oxygen, Hurriyat (Freedoms) and Enab Baladi (Local Grapes) are just a few newspapers set up by opponents of President Bashar al Assad’s government, which met the uprising that began in March 2011 with brutal repression.
“When we set up Suryitna in September last year, I felt that many peaceful, civil society initiatives were not getting proper coverage,” the independent publication’s chief editor Jawad Abul Muna said.
Most of the “papers” are online, but some activists also print and distribute hard copies in their areas.
“We were so surprised when we found out that hundreds of copies of our paper are being printed in the (central) city of Homs,” some 40 per cent of which is in opposition hands, he added.
“As young Syrians, we wanted to participate and support the revolution in any way we could,” said Abul Muna. “The newspaper is a result of our joint effort.”
Like most Syria-based dissidents, Abul Muna uses a pseudonym.
In a state with an Orwellian track record of censorship and persecuting journalists who dare break the rules, dissidents who have spoken out and been caught have paid a high price, said Abul Muna.
“Anyone suspected of contributing to publications like ours gets jailed,” he said. “Many people have sought refuge outside Syria to avoid that fate.”
Last week, international media freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) warned of the perils facing media workers in the “Bermuda Triangle” of the Syrian conflict.
“We also want to document the history of the past 40 years, which has been blacked out throughout its entirety under (Assad’s) Baath party,” said Abul Muna.
While most readers access Syria’s new publications online, some are printed and handed out. Distribution is carried out secretly and openly in what the opposition refers to as “liberated” zones.
The citizen journalists also face a more mundane obstacle, and that is the lack of funding, said Abul Muna.
“What really worries me is the extent to which our outlets will manage to keep participating in the process of change as time goes on, especially after the fall of the government,” he added.
The citizen journalists behind some of the most popular grassroots projects make no bones about their lack of experience, but take pride in their exercise of free expression.
According to Enab Baladi’s “About Us” section, the online paper is “a space to allow for totally free thought.”
It is published weekly from Daraya, a town southwest of Damascus where more than 500 people were massacred in August, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The government and the fighters of the Free Syrian Army exchanged blame for the killings, though Daraya has been a hotbed of sympathy for the revolt from early on in the uprising.
Four weeks after the horrific massacre became “old news” for much of the rest of the world, the paper’s editorial focused on the need to start rebuilding, and on helping the families of victims to overcome their loss.
“We are witnesses to our history, and we are part of the society that is going through this revolution,” said Enab Baladi’s volunteer chief editor, who identified himself as “Natur.”
“We feel we have a responsibility to speak out and document what is happening around us,” he said via the Internet.
Asked why he thought so many free media initiatives have sprouted in such a short space of time, Natur said: “Free expression is a form of self-defence, a way to resist violence. And after so much violence, we are not afraid any more.”
Natur is open to criticism of Enab Baladi and looks forward to the day that peace will return to Syria, so he and his team of 25 volunteers can move on to running a professional paper.
“Our goal is to run an objective paper that is open to every Syrian’s views,” he said. “Right now, while we’re being shelled, it’s a little hard not to take sides.” — AFP

National media prevented from covering anti-nuclear protest in Tamil Nadu


Reporters Without Borders condemns police obstruction of national print and broadcast media today in Idinthakarai, a fishing village in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, where the authorities are trying to remove entrenched anti-nuclear protesters from their camp beside the Koodankulam nuclear power station.

“It is always disturbing to see the authorities establish a perimeter and deny access to the media, even temporarily, for reasons other than their security,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Installing police barricades and ordering the police not to let the media through is unacceptable. We urge the Tamil Nadu government to modify the orders and allow journalists full access.

“The authorities must not try to use security as pretext for restricting media coverage of a peaceful anti-nuclear demonstration that contributes to the debate on a subject of public interest. A continuing media presence will also help to dispel any concern about the way the police could be treating the demonstrators.”

Police prevented journalists with NDTV, Times Now, Times of India and other national media from entering the fishing village at 7 a.m. today.

After initially saying they had orders from their high command to deny access to all journalists, the police manning the barricades allowed print and video reporters through. But, according to the Madras Press Club, they continued to deny access to TV mobile broadcasting trucks on the grounds that live reports would just exacerbate the situation.

However, when reached by telephone by reporters outside the village, the head of the Tamil Nadu police denied giving any such orders and, according to the latest information obtained by Reporters Without Borders, TV trucks were finally allowed into the village.

The Tamil Nadu government launched its operation against the Koodankulam protesters at the start of the week. Led by the People’s Movement against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), the protesters have been camped for more five months beside the power station, which is supposed to start operating soon.

Demonstrators have been denied access to the protest site, including by sea, since 19 March. They say that journalists have also been denied access since 19 March and that some journalists have been forced to leave the protest site.

Freedom of information has deteriorated significantly of late in India, which was ranked 131st out of 179 countries in the 2011-2012 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

Immediate Release–New list of Enemies of the Internet


English: A map showing the level of Internet c...

Image via Wikipedia

REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS

Beset by online surveillance and content filtering, netizens fight on

Eritrea is among the list of “countries under surveillance”

Read more on Eritrea on http://en.rsf.org/eritrea-eritrea-12-03-2012,42060.html

More information on the full report on 12mars.rsf.org

To mark World Day Against Cyber-Censorship, Reporters Without Borders is today releasing its new list of “Enemies of the Internet” and “countries under surveillance.” This report updates the list released in 2011.

Two countries, Bahrain and Belarus, have passed from the “countries under surveillance” to the “Enemies of the Internet” category. Venezuela and Libya have been dropped from the “under surveillance” category while India and Kazakhstan have been added to it.

“The changes in this list reflect recent developments in online freedom of information,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Netizens have been at the heart of political changes in the Arab world in 2011. Like journalists, they have tried to resist censorship but have paid a high price.

“Last year will be remembered as one of unprecedented violence against netizens. Five were killed while engaged in reporting activity. Nearly 200 arrests of bloggers and netizens were reported in 2011, a 30 per cent increase on 2010. These unprecedented figures risk being exceeded in 2012 as a result of the indiscriminate violence being used by the Syrian authorities in particular. More than 120 netizens are currently detained.

“On World Day Against Cyber-Censorship, we pay tribute to the ordinary citizens who often risk their lives or their freedom to keep us informed and to ensure that often brutal crackdowns do not take place without the outside world knowing.”

Reporters Without Borders added: “As online censorship and content filtering continue to accentuate the Internet’s division and digital segregation, solidarity among those who defend a free Internet accessible to all is more essential than ever in order to maintain channels of communication between netizens and to ensure that information continues to circulate.”

Social networks and netizens versus filtering and surveillance

The last report, released in March 2011, highlighted the fact that the Internet and online social networks had been conclusively established as tools for organizing protests and circulating information in the course of the Arab world’s mass uprisings. In the months that followed, repressive regimes responded with tougher measures to what they regarded as unacceptable attempts to destabilize their authority.

At the same time, supposedly democratic countries continue to set a bad example by yielding to the temptation to put security above other concerns and by adopting disproportionate measures to protect copyright. Technical service providers are under increasing pressure to act as Internet cops. Companies specializing in online surveillance are becoming the new mercenaries in an online arms race. Hactivists are providing technical expertise to netizens trapped by repressive regimes. Diplomats are getting involved. More than ever before, online freedom of expression is now a major foreign and domestic policy issue.

Two new Enemies of the Internet – Bahrain and Belarus

Bahrain and Belarus have joined Burma, China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam in the “Enemies of the Internet” category. These countries combine often drastic content filtering with access restrictions, tracking of cyber-dissidents and online propaganda.

Bahrain offers an example of an effective news blackout based a remarkable array of repressive measures: keeping the international media away, harassing human rights activists, arresting bloggers and netizens (one of whom died in detention), smearing and prosecuting free speech activists, and disrupting communications, especially during major demonstrations.

As Belarus sinks further into political isolation and economic stagnation, President Lukashenko’s regime has lashed out at the Internet in response to an attempted “revolution via the social media.” The Internet was blocked during a series of “silent protests,” the list of inaccessible websites grew longer and some sites were the victims of cyber-attacks. Internet users and bloggers were arrested or invited to “preventive conversations” with the police in a bid to get them to stop demonstrating or covering demonstrations. And Law No. 317-3, which took effect on 6 January 2012, gave the regime additional Internet surveillance and control powers.

India and Kazakhstan added to “under surveillance” list

Since the Mumbai bombings of 2008, the Indian authorities have stepped up Internet surveillance and pressure on technical service providers, while publicly rejecting accusations of censorship. The national security policy of the world’s biggest democracy is undermining online freedom of expression and the protection of Internet users’ personal data.

Kazakhstan, which likes to think of itself as a regional model after holding the rotating presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 2010, nonetheless seems to be turning its back on all its fine promises in order to take the road of cyber-censorship. An unprecedented oil workers strike helped to increase government tension in 2011 and led to greater control of information. The authorities blocked news websites, cut communications around the city of Zhanaozen during unrest, and imposed new, repressive Internet regulations.

Venezuela and Libya dropped from “under surveillance” list

In Libya, many challenges remain but the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime has ended an era of censorship. Before his removal and death, Col. Gaddafi had tried to impose a news blackout by cutting access to the Internet.

In Venezuela, access to the Internet continues to be unrestricted. The level of self-censorship is hard to evaluate but the adoption in 2011 of legislation that could potentially limit Internet freedom has yet to have any damaging effect in practice. Reporters Without Borders will nonetheless remain vigilant as relations between the government and critical media are tense.

Thailand and Burma may be about to change places

If Thailand continues further down the slope of content filtering and jailing netizens on lèse-majesté charges, it could soon find itself transferred from the “under surveillance” category to the club of the world’s most repressive countries as regards online freedom.

Burma, on the other hand, could soon leave the “Enemies of the Internet” list if takes the necessary measures. It has embarked on a promising period of reforms that have included freeing journalists and bloggers and restoring access to blocked websites. It must now go further by abandoning censorship altogether, releasing the journalists and bloggers still held, dismantling the Internet surveillance apparatus and repealing the Electronics Act.

Other subjects of concern

Other countries have jailed netizens or established a form of Internet censorship. They include Pakistan, which recently invited bids for a national Internet filtering system that would create an Electronic Great Wall. Even if they are not on these lists, Reporters Without Borders will continue to closely monitor online freedom of information in countries such as Azerbaijan, Morocco and Tajikistan.