Home International 25 journalists, media workers killed in South Asia in 2007

25 journalists, media workers killed in South Asia in 2007

New Delhi, Jan 1, IRNA, Twenty-five journalists and media workers in South Asia, including three from India, were killed in the line of duty during 2007, one of the bloodiest and difficult years for the media in the region.

Pakistan topped the list with seven killings followed by Sri Lanka (6) and Afghanistan (5), the South Asia Media Commission (SAMC), an independent body, said in its report.

Three journalists were killed in Nepal while one media worker in Afghanistan had a violent end.

The report was prepared by SAMC chairman N. Ram, its secretary general Najam Sethi and regional coordinator Husain Naqi.

Security of journalists remained a major issue in Pakistan, it said. The Musharraf regime which took pride in allowing private television channels was at the receiving end over massive public outrage against the suspension of Pakistan Supreme Court Chief Justice.

There was a clampdown on private electronic media that sympathized with the cause of independence of judiciary. With the imposition of a state of emergency in Pakistan by President Pervez Musharraf, all news channels were taken off air and blanket restrictions were imposed on free debate and live coverage of events.

In Pakistan, Mehboob Khan, a freelancer, Noor Hakim Khan of Daily Pakistan, Javed Khan of Markaz, Mohd. Arif of ARY TV, Zubair Ahmed Mujahid of Jang, Nisar Ahmed Solangi who worked for a Sindhi daily and Syed Kamil Mashadi, working with a private channel were killed during the year.

The restrictions continue to keep campaign for elections to the January 8 Parliamentary elections in Pakistan on a low key.

Under new regulations to electronic and print media, the TV owners and journalists can be imprisoned for three years and a fine up to Rs.one million imposed on them.

The publication can also be suspended for a month without notice.

The report noted that there were police raids on media organizations, printing presses and bureau offices and detention of journalists as Musharraf “ham-handedly” dealt with the media over the past year.

Journalists suffered immensely in the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. In Afghanistan, especially in the Pakhtun belt across the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the journalists had to pay heavily amid the cross fires of adversaries, it said.

“Journalists face a growing threat of attack both from the government and the militants,” it said. Five journalists were killed in Afghanistan in 2007.

Rahman Gul, editor of government-run magazine Andkhoy was shot dead, Ajmal Naqshbandi, a freelance journalists was slain by Taliban captors , woman scribe Zakia Zaki was killed in June while TV presenter Shokiba Sanga Amaaj was murdered in her Kabul home.

Abdul Munir, a producer and presenter of Radio Television Afghanistan in Jawzjan province was killed while traveling to northern Afghanistan.

The Afghan authorities showed their dislike to criticism. “Most worrisome was the introduction of illegal FM radio stations promoting hate and violence in the tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan,” the SAMC report said.

Attacks on media freedom from official agencies and non-state actors made the news in India. The media situation showed “disturbing trends” such as arrogance by the authorities, especially in the states, “misplaced” enthusiasm to reform the media and intolerance of militant groups.

Three media workers died when protestors set fire to daily Dinakaran’s office in Madurai. The protestors were angry at a survey in the paper which found their leader M.K. Azhagiri to be less popular than his brother and political rival M.K. Stalin, sons of Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi.

In Hyderabad, Majlis Itthadul Muslimen attacked the chief editor and owner of Urdu daily Saisat, which had carried material, critical of a legislator of their party.

United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) threatened a
Guwahati-based satellite news channel with closure, in case a report against the organisation was not substantiated within a specified period.

In Mumbai, members of little known Hindu Rashtriya Sena attacked the Star News headquarters, because the channel had “glorified” the elopement of a Hindu girl with a Muslim boy.

Government’s plans to regulate broadcast services through an official agency caused a big uproar by media organizations, forcing it to defer.