Journalist Naveen Soorinje granted bail #goodnews


His arrest had raised many important questions about the violation of democratic rights and media freedom in India
Tehelka Bureau

March 18, 2013

Naveen Soorinje. Tehelka photo

Naveen Soorinje, the private Kannada channel reporter who was arrested for exposing an assault on women by Hindu extremists in Mangalore has finally received bail after four months. Justice Sreedhar Rao of the Karnataka High Court granted the bail after a surety and a bond of Rs 5 lakh. Naveen is likely to be released either today or tomorrow after the order copy is received and signed. “Finally justice has been done after four months. I hope the freedom of the press will not be muzzled any longer by the present government and the local police in Mangalore will not resort to harassing those media persons who exposed the issue,” his lawyer Nitin R said.

“We are very happy with the news and want to congratulate and thank all the people who rallied around him in support,” his brother Prem Soorinje said.

On 7 November, Soorinje was arrested by the Mangalore Police who lumped him along with the Hindu Jagaran Vedike group who groped and attacked the boys and girls celebrating a birthday at a homestay in Mangalore on July 28, 2012. Since he and his cameraman had caught the men chasing, slapping, and groping teenaged women, the arrest made this one of the most bizarre examples of shooting the messenger. The 43 attackers who were charged in the case were identified on the basis of Soorinje’s footage. TEHELKA had raised many important questions after his arrest and the violation of democratic rights and media freedom.

 

Myanmar censors publication of magazines #Censorship


 

Icon for censorship

Icon for censorship (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar’s censors have suspended two weekly magazines indefinitely in the latest confrontation between the government and the newly aggressive press.

The Press Scrutiny Board informed Voice Weekly and Envoy editors Tuesday that their publications have been suspended for violating regulations. The authorities did not explain the reasons for the bans.

Reporters at the publications said privately they suspected they were linked to articles speculating about the details of an anticipated Cabinet reshuffle.

President Thein Sein eased censorship as one of his reforms after decades of repressive military rule. The flourishing of press freedom has brought serious investigative reporting and sensationalism, both of which make the government uncomfortable.

Voice Weekly also faces a defamation suit over a story alleging irregularities in several government ministries’ accounts.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

Turkish jails filling up with journalists


Flag of Turkey.

Image via Wikipedia

By DAVID ROSENBERG/THE MEDIA LINE 02/04/2012

Kurdish reporter’s arrest over weekend is the latest in wave of detentions. Aziz Tekin, a correspondent for the Kurdish-language newspaper Azadiya Welat, had the misfortune of becoming a news item himself over the weekend when he became the 105th journalist in Turkey to be put behind bars. That places Turkey ? a country usually hailed as an exemplar of democracy and Islam ? ahead of such repressive regimes as Iran and China with the largest number jailed journalists in the world according to the Platform of Solidarity with Imprisoned Journalists.

Others take issue with exactly how many of the detainees are being held purely for doing their jobs, but they don’t deny that scores of media professionals are being detained and face laws and a judicial system that makes it easy to put and keep them behind bars.

“The press is quite pluralistic and rather free, but it remains dangerous for a journalist who writes a critical article against the government, especially on the Kurdish issue or criticizing the judiciary.The risk of getting arrested is really high,” Johann Bihr, head of the Europe desk at the international press freedom group Reporters Without Borders, told The Media Line.

The number of detentions has increased “exponentially” in recent months, he said. Turkey fell 10 places on Reporters’ International Press Freedom Index to 148 among 179 countries.

In December, some 30 journalists were rounded up in raids across the country targeting the Kurdish separatist movement. A day before Tekin was hauled in, a court in Istanbul refused to release 13 journalists including Ahmet S?k and Nedim Sener of the Oda TV news portal.

The wave of arrests prompted the US author Paul Auster, whose books are popular in Turkey, to declare he is boycotting the country. “I refuse to come to Turkey because of imprisoned journalists and writers. How many are jailed now? Over 100?” Auster told the Istanbul daily Hurriyet this week.

The arrests come against a background of a changing power dynamic in Turkish politics. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), the first Islamist movement ever to rule in Turkey, is marking a decade in power, presiding over a booming economy while it gently inserts more religion into public life and its backers into key institutions like the courts and the military.

The army, which once dominated Turkish politics and served as a guardian of the country’s secularism, is in retreat. Erkan Saka, who teaches at Istanbul Bilgi University’s communications school and blogs at Erkan’s Field Diary, said the arrests are part of that realignment, which is now encompassing the secular, establishment media. “Under normal conditions, mainstream media has values in parallel to establishment, but now establishment itself is changing,” he said.

The arrests almost always involve journalists linked to Kurdish separatism or a shadowy anti-government conspiracy called Ergenekon that officials have been investigating in what they say was a wide-ranging plot by the army and other members of the old elite to overthrow the AKP. Critics say the judiciary, which is directly responsibility for the arrests, makes little effort to distinguish between people covering controversial issues and the people and movements they are covering. Thus last December, the scores people rounded up for alleged links with a Kurdish separatist movement included journalists and Kurdish activists alike. “All their interrogations have focused on the articles they have written and trips they have made — why did you attend a conference by left-wing or pro-Kurdish academics? Why did you decide to cover a pro-Kurdish demonstration?” said Reporters Without Border’s Bihr. “It’s really likely that prosecutors have nothing on them except their profession.” Arrests are not the only problem besetting the country’s media.

Turkey has introduced tougher Internet censorship, has pursued what critics say is politically motivated tax cases against media groups and deals harshly with people who violate bans on denigrating the Turkish state. Media observers blame the judiciary first and foremost for the arrests. Turkey’s anti-terrorism law and penal codes give them a lot of latitude to detain people and to keep them under lock and key without filing formal indictments. One of the reasons media experts are not sure about the number of journalists under arrest is that it is impossible to see the charges filed against them. When the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) published in December its annual census of imprisoned journalists it could only verify that eight were actually being held for their writing and reporting, a fraction of the 64 or so others counted.

The estimate triggered a sharp debate in the human rights community. But Erdogan and others in the government have come to the defense of the country’s media freedom. “Turkey does not deserve the negative image portrayed to the world by the main opposition and some journalists and writers,” he said last week at an event marking the 25th anniversary of a pro-government newspaper, Zaman.

Others would beg to differ. They say that Erdogan has encouraged an atmosphere of press hostility with personal attacks on journalists who criticize him and his government and by personally pursing defamation lawsuits. Indeed, while defending the country’s record on media freedom, he decried in the same speech media conspiracies against the government.

“If you claim to have media freedom, you shouldn’t launch attacks on [newspaper] columnists who are critical of you. But he does that all that time,” Saka said. “That triggers anti-journalist feeling in the bureaucracy and judiciary.”

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