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2 February 1999

Volume 08 - 1999 Issue 04 (02 February 1999)


: INDEPENDENT MEDIA ABSENT FROM RECENT ELECTIONS

There was little evidence of an independent media during presidential elections in Kazakhstan on 10 January 1999, says the Glasnost Defence Foundation (GDF) in a report issued on 25 January, which was prepared with a local NGO, the Kazakh International Bureau for Human Rights and International Law. President Nursultan Nazarbayev was elected once again. According to the report, there were no real opposition media in existence in 1998 in the country, because "opposition-orientated, non-governmental broadcast media outlets established during the first years of independence were eliminated as a result of frequency tenders" and likewise many independent newspapers were bought by pro-government owners and forced to change their allegiances.

: FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION STILL LAGGING

Freedom of expression suffers in Turkmenistan, where there are no independent newspapers, reports the Glasnost Defence Foundation (GDF). In a 25 January letter to President S. Niyazov, GDF writes, "Since October 1996, subscriptions to foreign, including Russian, newspapers and magazines are absolutely prohibited for private persons and non-governmental organisations." Along with the arrests of a number of journalists, GDF says, "these facts are evidence of the Turkmen authorities' unwillingness to observe principles of freedom of the press and freedom of expression."

: POLICE BLOCK PROTEST AFTER JOURNALISTS TORTURED

On 26 January, police in the Zimbabwean capital Harare prevented several hundred protesters from delivering a petition to the Speaker of Parliament to protest the recent detention and torture of two journalists, reports the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA). The case has provoked international outrage. Lawyers for Human Rights had marched to Parliament to protest the detention and torture of editor Mark Chavunduka and reporter Ray Choto of "The Standard" newspaper. The demonstrators, most of them lawyers, wanted to give the Speaker a petition citing numerous complaints against alleged state abuse of human rights. However, about 60 riot police, armed with AK-47 assault rifles, button sticks, dogs and tear gas canisters blocked the demonstrators in front of Parliament.

: "INDEX ON CENSORSHIP" MARKS END OF CENSORSHIP THAT ENSHROUDED PORTUGAL'S EMPIRE

The handover of Macau to China on 19 December 1999 marks the end of Portugal's empire, which was enshrouded in censorship for most of its 500-year reign, says "Index on Censorship" in the latest issue, entitled "Portugal: The Last Empire" (1/1999.) In an article entitled "The shallow grave of empire", Antonio de Figueiredo writes, "In 1974, Portugal held not only the remnants of the oldest overseas empire in history but the longest record of censorship in the western world." He points out that censorship had the effect of perpetuating the empire by "isolating the monolinguistic Portuguese from the outside world, while secluding their far-flung colonies in Africa and Asia from inquisitive international observers." Hidden behind policies of censorship was the policy of exploiting Africans as slaves in their own countries or others, for example sending people from Mozambique to work in South Africa's mines and sending 3.5 million Africans to Brazil's plantations. "The relations between empire and censorship and, in turn, censorship and slavery, formed part of a hidden history which had to be told if both Portuguese and Africans were to disentangle themselves from the quagmire into which they had fallen."

: MORE JOURNALISTS MURDERED, FEARED DEAD

At least one other journalist has been murdered and at least four others are missing and presumed dead during recent turmoil in Sierra Leone, report the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters sans frontières (RSF). In addition to those previously reported murdered (see IFEX "Communique" #8-3), Paul Mansaray, deputy editor of the newspaper "Standard Times" was killed on 9 January by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels, report CPJ and RSF. Mansaray was murdered in his home in Freetown along with his wife, two young children and a nephew, when rebels set their house on fire and sprayed it with gunfire. According to CPJ, "A fellow journalist, who alerted Mansaray when he saw RUF rebels approaching, sought refuge in a neighbor's house and overheard the rebels threatening Mansaray about his journalistic work."">http://communique.ifex.org/articles.cfm?category=0X&volume=8&issue_no=3%26amp;lng=english#307">IFEX "Communique" #8-3), Paul Mansaray, deputy editor of the newspaper "Standard Times" was killed on 9 January by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels, report CPJ and RSF. Mansaray was murdered in his home in Freetown along with his wife, two young children and a nephew, when rebels set their house on fire and sprayed it with gunfire. According to CPJ, "A fellow journalist, who alerted Mansaray when he saw RUF rebels approaching, sought refuge in a neighbor's house and overheard the rebels threatening Mansaray about his journalistic work."

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