Press Cuts – 10: Media Freedom Round-Up

India | Belarus | Australia | #ArticleAlert

India | Belarus | Australia | #ArticleAlert

India

Update:

Second time in the same month, Manipur journalists have ceased work in light of the latest developments surrounding the daily Poknapham – the newspaper office that was subjected to a grenade attack mid-February.

According to reports, the newspaper was threatened by an “underground outfit”. The All Manipur Working Journalists Union (AMWJU) and the Editors Guild Manipur (EGM) condemned the threat and resolved to stop news publication and broadcasting from February 27.

End of update.

Manipur journalists, on February 18, called off their indefinite strike held in protest against a grenade attack on a media office that publishes Poknapham, a vernacular daily, and the English paper People’s Chronicle. 

Local cable networks blacked out news channels and newspapers halted publication since February 13 – the day of the attack on Poknapham’s office.

The Hindu reported that according to a joint press release issued by the AMWJU and the EGM, newspapers and cable networks will end cease-work and resume duty from February 19. 

The decision was made following a meeting at the Press Club, in which it was observed that no rebel group had claimed responsibility for the attack, according to The Hindu.

Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh has set up a four-member Special Investigation Team to look into the grenade attack. 

Belarus

Belarus has jailed journalists Katsiaryna Andreyeva and Darya Chultsova for two years on charges of orchestrating protests against President Alexander Lukashenko. Andreyeva and Chultsova were detained in November 2020, after they filmed demonstrations over the death of a protester killed several days earlier.

The two journalists worked for the Poland-based Belsat TV, which was reported to have rejected the accusation that by broadcasting footage of the demonstration the two journalists had disrupted bus services in the Belarusian capital.

According to a Reuters report, Belarus has detained more than 33,000 people since the August 2020 elections, which Lukashenko’s opponents and dissenters say was rigged. 

Hours after the sentencing of the two journalists, the United States Secretary of State has announced visa restrictions for 43 Belarusian officials identified as taking part in President Alexander Lukashenko’s “crackdown” on protesters and journalists.

Al Jazeera quoted US State Secretary Antony Blinken saying the US, “remains alarmed by the Lukashenka regime’s continuing violent crackdown on peaceful protesters, pro-democracy activists, and journalists.”

Australia

Facebook has blocked Australian users from viewing and sharing news content on its platform, in response to Australian government’s law demanding tech giants to pay publishers for their news content.

Australia’s proposed media law, which is being hailed as path-breaking, requires Google and Facebook to compensate news publishers for the content that appears on their sites. 

Announcing the move in a blog post, Facebook said, “The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content. It has left us facing a stark choice: attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia. With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter.”

After months of disputes and mounting criticism against the tech platforms, Google has striked deals with news companies, including Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp. An article in The New York Times noted, “Google’s rush to pay up in Australia shows how regulation in a relatively small country — or just the threat of it — can sharply alter the behavior of a global tech behemoth that grew with impunity back home in the United States.”

#ArticleAlert

An article titled, “Inside India’s War To Silence The Free Press”, published in Article14, a platform that discusses issues pertaining to India’s legal system, examines the actions of state authorities towards independent media. 

The author, Kavitha Iyer, writes that there has been a surge in violations against independent media since 2020 even as a “right-wing ecosystem issues rape and death threats and discredits any narrative against official interests.”

Iyer notes the sprouting of Youtube channels and Twitter handles that seek to “expose” the “anti-India conspiracy” laid by journalists such as Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair, Washington Post columnist Rana Ayyub, independent journalist Faye D’Souza, television anchor and owner of Mojo Story Barkha Dutt, senior editor of The Wire Arfa Khanum Sherwani, to name a few. One of the videos, she says, called for the hanging of the country’s prominent journalists.     

Detailing incidents of arrests, raids, threats, and sedition cases, the article juxtaposes the shrinking spaces for journalism and the impunity granted to pro-government media. 

“As more and more news consumers rely on non-legacy media outlets and independent reporters, a crackdown against such reporting has gathered pace,” writes Iyer.

Read the full article here – 

https://www.article-14.com/post/inside-india-s-war-to-silence-the-free-press

Also read:

Media Freedom India Round-Up

Three videos about the press freedom situation in Belarus

Australia news code: What’s this row with Facebook and Google all about?