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Prominent Tanzanian journalist killed in scuffle with police

4 Sep

The wife of journalist Daudi Mwangosi weeps at his grave. Mwangosi was killed in a scuffle with police on Sunday. (Gustav Chahe)

New York, September 4, 2012–A Tanzanian TV journalist was killed on Sunday during a confrontation with police over the arrest of another journalist, according to several local journalists who witnessed the shooting.

The victim was identified as Daudi Mwangosi, a reporter with the private station Channel Ten and chairman of the press club in the southern city of Iringa, who was covering an opposition party gathering in Nyololo village, local journalists told CPJ. Supporters of Chadema cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Party for Democracy and Progress) had gathered in defiance of a ban on political demonstrations, which had been put in place during an ongoing regional census, according to news reports. Violence ensued when police beat the Chadema supporters and fired tear gas at them, local journalists said.

Police attacked Mwangosi after he confronted them about the assault and arrest of Godfrey Mushi, a reporter with Nipashe newspaper, three journalists told CPJ. Neville Meena, secretary-general of the Tanzania Editors’ Forum, told Reuters that police fired a tear gas canister into Mwangosi’s stomach at close range. One widely circulated photo appears to show an officer pointing a rifle at an individual being held down by several officers. The scuffle was documented by several journalists, including Francis Godwin and Gustav Cheha.

Mushi told CPJ that police had beaten and detained him for photographing the demonstration. No other journalist was attacked, and he was released without charge two hours later, he said. Mushi also told CPJ he did not know why the police had targeted him.

Police spokesman Advera Senso did not return repeated calls from CPJ seeking comment. Reuters quoted police commissioner of operations Paul Chagonja as saying that “police deny any deliberate involvement in the death of the journalist.” He said a joint military-police inquiry would be conducted into Mwangosi’s death.

“We condemn the killing of Daudi Mwangosi, who witnesses say lost his life while defending a fellow reporter at a news event,” said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. “Preliminary statements show police have pre-judged this case, but with the abundance of photographic evidence and eyewitness testimony, we expect the Tanzanian government to set aside such preconceptions, undertake an immediate, independent investigation, and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Mwangosi, who began his journalism career in 2005, was elected chairman of the Iringa Press Club in 2011, according to local journalists. He is survived by a wife and four children.

Mwangosi’s death is the first work-related fatality documented by CPJ in Tanzania since the organization began keeping detailed records in 1992.

  • For more data and analysis on Tanzania, visit CPJ’s Tanzania page here.

from Committee to Protect Journalists


Clinton must speak up for international press in China

4 Sep

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jieche greets U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Beijing. (AFP/Jim Watson)

New York, September 4, 2012–U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should press Chinese officials in meetings this week to allow international journalists based in China greater access to news events and fewer restrictions of their coverage, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. 

Clinton is scheduled to meet with high-ranking government officials, including President Hu Jintao, his likely successor, Xi Jinping, and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, to discuss territorial disputes in the South China Sea, among other issues, according to international news reports. The meetings are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We’re hearing increasingly from international journalists who have been obstructed, attacked, and detained while trying to cover events in China,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “We ask Secretary Clinton to bring these concerns to the attention of the Chinese leadership because constructive international dialogue is dependent on a free flow of information overseas.”

Several international journalists have been obstructed in China this year, according to CPJ research. Authorities censored the U.S.-based Bloomberg news agency for reporting on the vice president’s family and its financial assets, and Al-Jazeera English correspondent Melissa Chan was forced to leave Beijing when her reporting credentials were not renewed. International journalists are also subjected to intense and sometimes organized harassment on the Internet.

International journalists have spoken out against obstruction. The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China, the Shanghai Foreign Correspondents’ Club, and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong circulated a joint statement by email on August 20 citing four incidents of harassment against international reporters. Unnamed journalists from Poland and the United States, as well as employees of Japan’s Asahi Shimbun, Hong Kong’s Asia Television and ARD German television, were assaulted or detained while reporting between July 28 and August 13, according to the statement. CPJ has not independently confirmed the incidents.

More than 20 German journalists wrote to Chancellor Angela Merkel on August 26 about the deteriorating conditions for the press in China, according to news reports.

Domestic journalists face even worse restrictions and often rely on the foreign press to publicize content that is banned at home, according to CPJ research.

  • For more data and analysis on China, visit CPJ’s China page here.

from Committee to Protect Journalists

Blog: Sandhya Eknelygoda speaks for Sri Lanka’s disappeared

4 Sep

When I first met Sandhya Eknelygoda in May 2010 in her home outside Colombo, she was a distressed mother of two young boys whose husband had gone missing. He was last seen four months earlier, just prior to the elections that returned President Mahinda Rajapaksa to power after the end of the decades-long war with Tamil secessionists. She still has no inkling of the whereabouts of her husband Prageeth, a cartoonist and columnist for the opposition website Lanka eNews (which has since ceased to operate in Sri Lanka because of arson attacks and legal harassment of its staff, but is maintained overseas).

Over the years, Eknelygoda has emerged as a compelling spokeswoman for Sri Lanka’s disappeared people. Abductions, not just of journalists, have apparently become endemic in the country. The independent Colombo-based news and opinion website Groundviews posted a report, “A disappearance every five days in post-war Sri Lanka,” and the documentation to support it. (Groundviews has emerged as the most reliable and responsible web resource in Sri Lanka. Given the crackdown on online media, it is one of precious few still in existence.)

For her part, Sandhya Eknelygoda presented a statement in Geneva on August 30, International Day of the Disappeared, at an event organized by the Society for Threatened Peoples. Amnesty International has just recently posted a moving video interview with her on their website.

We have posted a PDF of her powerful Geneva speech, but here are a few excerpts:

I am a Sinhalese, a Buddhist, and mother of two sons. We live close to our capital Colombo. There are many like me in Sri Lanka today, mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, and children of the disappeared. Many of them are from the north and east of the country, where even three years after the war ended they live under a heavily militarized regime. They don’t even have the freedom to cry out in their sorrow.

In the past years, as a law abiding citizen of my country, I have gone to every single place that I could, to seek help in my search for Prageeth–to the Police, to the National Human Rights Commission, to the Courts. I have written any number of letters appealing for help to find Prageeth, including to the President, to the President’s wife, to the Attorney General, to Ministers, and to Members of Parliament. Nobody has taken any responsibility for investigating his disappearance. Nor I have received any other kind of support from any of them.

Sandhya Eknelygoda has moved resiliently beyond the personal pain she and her sons face daily to dedicate her life to confronting Sri Lanka’s broader problems. In her Geneva presentation she also said:

In Sri Lanka today, disappearance has become a social issue. When you hear speakers on any public platform refer to opposition politics, to social issues, to human rights issues, to labor issues, they often end with the words ‘Who knows but I be the next person to be ‘disappeared’ because I spoke for social justice.’ Some social activists have been forced to stop some of their work. Other than a few who are close to the government, most people in Sri Lanka today are knowingly or unknowingly caught up in this new reign of terror.

from Committee to Protect Journalists

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