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China – Chinese writer released, remains under tight surveillance

1 Oct

1 October 2012

Source: Writers in Prison Committee, PEN International
(WiPC/IFEX) – 1 October 2012 – The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of PEN International welcomes the release of writer and member of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC) Dr Jiao Guobiao on 27 September 2012 after two weeks in prison. However, he remains under tight surveillance. The WiPC calls for all restrictions against Jiao Guobiao to be lifted, and for the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently detained in the People’s Republic of China for peacefully expressing their views.

According to PEN’s information, Dr. Jiao Guobiao was arrested on 12 September 2012 on charges of “suspicion of inciting subversion of state power” following the publication of an article on the Chinese-language web site on 11 September 2012 which criticised the Chinese government’s policies, including the territorial dispute with Japan over the Daioyu Islands. Dr Jiao had been placed under strict house arrest and surveillance since 6 September 2012, when he was banned from travelling to the 78th PEN International Congress in Gyeongju, South Korea, at which he was registered to attend. On 12 September 2012 PEN International sent a letter to the Chinese authorities protesting the travel ban.

Dr. Jiao Guobiao is based in Beijing and is a former associate professor at Beijing University’s College of Journalism and Communications. He is a prominent journalist who worked for the Chinese Cultural Newspaper from 1996-2001, and has published widely on the issues of press freedom and human rights in China. He is internationally known for his journalistic writings and commentaries, and from 1998-2006 published seven major collections, many of which have been translated into English and Japanese. He was suspended from his teaching duties in March 2005 following the online publication of his critical article entitled “Denouncing the Central Propaganda Department“, published in March 2004, which promoted press freedom. He has since been subject to heavy surveillance and harassment, and left China for Germany in November 2006, fearing arrest. In February 2008 he was invited to be Writer in Residence on the Norwich City of Refuge Programme. He returned to China at the end of the residency.

For more on Jiao’s story and the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) click here.

Please send appeals:

* Welcoming the release of writer and ICPC member Dr Jiao Guobiao, and calling for all remaining restrictions against him to be lifted;
* Expressing alarm at the crackdown on dissent in which writers, journalists and human rights defenders are amongst those to have been targeted;
* Reminding the Chinese authorities of their obligations under Article 35 of the Chinese constitution and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which it is a state party;

Send appeals to:

His Excellency Hu Jintao
President of the People’s Republic of China
State Council
Beijing 100032
P.R. China

Please note that there are no fax numbers for the Chinese authorities. WiPC recommends that you copy your appeal to the Chinese embassy in your country asking them to forward it and welcoming any comments.

You may find it easier to write to the Chinese ambassador in your own country asking him or her to forward your appeal. Most embassies are obliged to forward such appeals to the relevant officials in the country. A letter or petition signed by an eminent member of your Centre may give make it more likely for your appeal to be considered. Similarly if your appeal is published in your local press and copied to the Chinese ambassador, this too may have greater impact.

See this useful link to find the contact details of the Chinese embassy in your country

**Please contact the PEN WiPC office in London if sending appeals after 31 October 2012**

via IFEX

Ecuador – Intruders threaten newspaper journalist in Ecuador

1 Oct

1 October 2012

Source: Fundamedios – Andean Foundation for Media Observation & Study
(Fundamedios/IFEX) – 26 September 2012 – On Sunday 23 September 2012, journalist Alejandro Escudero, of the weekly paper Independiente of the city of Nueva Loja, Amazon province in Sucumbíos, was threatened by two unidentified persons who, much to his surprise, burst into the paper’s office.

The incident took place at approximately 11:30, while he was alone in the offices talking to his family who are in Quito. According to his testimony, the subjects walked in and surrounded him while asking for four issues of the weekly. The journalist replied that he did not have any and that the week’s edition would arrive the next day.

One of the men stood in front of Escudero covering his face with a newspaper, while the second one stood behind him. “At that point one of the subjects said to me: ‘stop sticking your head in where it smells bad’. The other one laughed and lifted his t-shirt showing me a gun at his waist. They slammed the door but said they would return the following day”, he reported.

According to the journalist, the weekly paper has published articles on issues that have been covered by all the local media, so he does not know why he would be threatened. He said he did not know who was the source of the threat.

On Monday he filed a formal complaint at the Prosecutor’s Office of Sucumbíos in the company of several colleagues from that province, requesting an investigation to find those responsible for the threat. The incident has been reported by several local media, which have rejected the threat publicly and expressed their support and solidarity with Escudero.

via IFEX

Pakistan – Journalist gunned down in Balochistan, Pakistan

1 Oct

1 October 2012

Source: Pakistan Press Foundation
(PPF/IFEX) – October 1, 2012 – Abdul Haq Baloch, a correspondent for the ARY News television station and Secretary of the Khuzdar Press Club, was gunned down by unidentified armed men on September 29, 2012 when he was on his way home in the town of Khuzdar in the militancy-plagued province of Balochistan, Pakistan. He left behind a widow and two sons.

According to press reports, unidentified masked armed men, riding a motorbike, sprayed a volley of bullets on Baloch and fled the scene. Baloch died on the spot.

Journalists in Khuzdar said it is difficult to guess who may be behind the murder as there are a number of opposing militant groups in the area; some support separatists while others are opposed to them. Essa Tareen, president of the Balochistan Union of Journalists (BUJ), told PPF that two days ago the separatist group Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) had warned, in a telephone message, all leading newspaper offices in Balochistan to give coverage to its activities or face dire consequences. However, the BLA today denied it was behind Baloch’s murder.

Tareen urged the separatist organizations not to kill journalists but work to resolve their grievances through dialogue. Journalists in Balochistan staged a protest demonstration in front of the Quetta Press Club. Journalists in Khuzdar locked the gate to the Khuzdar Press Club and suspended all activities to protest the murder of their colleague. Finally, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) strongly condemned the murder and demanded the formation of a high-level investigation team and the arrest of the killers.

Two former presidents of the Khuzdar Press Club (Mohammad Khan Sasoli and Faiz Mohammad Sasoli) have been killed in recent years as was the Press Club’s senior member, Munir Shakir.

via IFEX

Cambodia – Cambodian rights defender and broadcaster sentenced to 20 years

1 Oct

1 October 2012

Source: Cambodian Center for Human Rights
(CCHR/IFEX) – Phnom Penh, 1 October 2012 – CCHR condemns in the strongest possible terms the guilty verdict brought against Mam Sonando today at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. He was found guilty of all the charges brought against him – under articles 28, 456, 457, 464, 504 and 609 of the Penal Code 2009 – including instigating an alleged insurrection in Kratie province in May 2012 and inciting people to take up arms against the state authority. He has been sentenced to 20 years in prison and a fine of 10 million riel (approx. US$2,470). Bun Ratha, who is also accused of instigating the same alleged insurrection, was sentenced in absentia to 30 years; two others were sentenced in absentia to 15 years; and three other defendants held in pre-trial detention were handed sentences of ten months, three years and five years. Seven others were handed suspended sentences ranging from ten months to five years.

Over the course of three days of close monitoring of Mam Sonando’s trial last month, CCHR heard no evidence that in any way connected Mam Sonando with the May 2012 events in Broma village, Kratie province, or with any of the charges of which he has now been found guilty. Given the lack of evidence, the only rational, reasonable and legal thing the court could have done, as CCHR and many others urged during the trial, would be to acquit Mam Sonando of all charges against him and set him free immediately. Today’s events represent a gross travesty of justice – an outrageous violation of Mam Sonando’s right to freedom of expression and fair trial rights, including the fundamental right to be deemed innocent until proven guilty.

One of Cambodia’s most prominent human rights defenders, 70-year-old Mam Sonando founded Beehive Radio, one of only three independent radio stations in Cambodia which regularly broadcasts reports that are critical of the Royal Government of Cambodia (the “RGC”) and its allies. On 25 June 2012 Beehive Radio broadcast a report about a complaint brought to the International Criminal Court accusing the RGC of crimes against humanity. The following day, Prime Minister Hun Sen called for the arrest of Mam Sonando. After returning to Cambodia on 12 July 2012 to answer the charges filed against him, Mam Sonando was arrested at his home on 15 July 2012 in connection with the alleged secession movement in Kratie province during which a 14-year-old girl was shot dead by the military. He said from prison: “Even though I am incarcerated, in my heart I am free . . . I have done nothing wrong, therefore I will not hide.”

This verdict comes towards the end of a year which has seen Cambodia’s image on human rights take a real battering, with a leading environmental activist shot dead by the military in Koh Kong province in April 2012, female garment factory protestors shot by the city governor in Svay Rieng province, 13 Boeng Kak women sentenced for protesting for their land and housing rights, and whole communities violently evicted from their homes all around the country. Mam Sonando’s trial was an opportunity for the Cambodian judiciary to set the record straight on fair trial rights and ensure that Mam Sonando received a fair hearing, in line with Cambodia’s domestic and international legal commitments. Tragically, it has misguidedly decided to pass up this opportunity, and has fallen woefully short of its moral and legal obligations, proving that it is not fit for purpose.

CCHR President Ou Virak, attending the verdict today, comments:

“I am outraged and appalled at today’s verdict. Not a shred of evidence has been submitted in court that proves any connection between Mam Sonando and these bogus charges. Not only is this verdict a total violation of Mam Sonando’s human rights, it is also embarrassingly unsophisticated and brazen. There has been no effort whatsoever to disguise the political interference, and it will be no surprise now if whatever faith Cambodians still had in the judiciary to deliver justice evaporates for good. What’s more, the sentence is ridiculous and totally lacking in proportion. 20 years is practically a life sentence in many countries, and a death sentence for a man of 70. At a time when Cambodia should be making amends for the depressing roll call of human rights violations this year, the judiciary has only brought further shame to the country.”

via IFEX

Somalia – IFJ welcomes UN Human Rights Council resolution on safety of Somali journalists

1 Oct

1 October 2012

Source: International Federation of Journalists
(IFJ/IFEX) – 28 September 2012 – The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today praised the United Human Rights Council for adopting a resolution on “Assistance to Somalia in the Field of Human Rights”. The resolution was adopted by the 21st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The resolution, which was tabled by Senegal on behalf of the African Group that comprises African member States of the UN, strongly condemned “all attacks on journalists, including the deadly terror attack on 20 September and the assassination on 21 September of a prominent journalist in Mogadishu.” It also “calls upon the Government of the Federal Republic of Somalia to protect the safety of journalists; and calls on all states to provide the necessary technical assistance to the Government of the Federal Republic of Somalia, the sub-national authorities, the National Union of Somali journalists (NUSOJ) and individual journalist in this regard; and urges the State actors and non-State actors to refrain from intentional violence against and harassment of journalists and to respect freedom of expression.”

“We are encouraged to see that the terrible situation our Somali colleagues have endured for far too long is being addressed for the first time by the UN Human Rights Council,” said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. “This is also a ringing endorsement of the IFJ member union, the National Union of Somali Journalists, for its tireless campaign for the safety of its members.”

The Human Rights Council’s resolution emphasised “the need to hold perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses accountable, and to bring them to justice.” The IFJ said that the brutal murder of another journalist who was beheaded in Somalia yesterday served as a reminder of the safety crisis in Somali media. The organisation called on the international community to move beyond mere words of condemnation and condolences and work toward making the protection of Somali journalists and the independence of its union from all political forces, including unscrupulous employers, a reality.

“Our affiliate, NUSOJ, has proved once more that it is the only real, credible and legitimate voice for journalists and journalism in this war-ravaged country and if Somalia is to rebuild itself it cannot be achieved without journalists enjoying their fundamental rights of free expression and association,” added Boumelha.

The IFJ commends the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Somalia to the United Nations and its specialised agencies in Geneva and Switzerland, Yusuf Mohamed Ismail Bari-Bari, for his understanding of the dangerous state of journalism in his country and the urgency to protect freedom of expression, and his commitment to protect and promote human rights, particularly the safety and security of journalists.

“Our lengthy negotiations on the draft text of this resolution with the Somali delegation as well as with the African group of ambassadors and international partners of Somalia have in the end borne out successful results, and we should now concentrate on ensuring that these important decisions are fully implemented ” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General, who has taken part in the discussions at the Council.

via IFEX

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