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16 February 1999

Volume 08 - 1999 Issue 06 (16 February 1999)


: JAILED ENTREPRENEUR LIN HAI RECEIVES INTERNET FREEDOM AWARD

Entrepreneur Lin Hai, who was sentenced in January to two years in jail by a Shanghai court for providing 30,000 email addresses to a United-States-based pro-democracy magazine "VIP Reference", has won the Freedom of Cyber-Speech Award offered by the U.S.-based Webcasters Coalition for Free Speech. Lin was charged with "inciting the overthrow of state power," in what the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called the first case of someone being jailed in China "on charges of subversion growing out of Internet use." [See IFEX "Communiques"

: JOURNALISTS AND NEWSPAPER OFFICES ATTACKED

Newspaper offices and journalists have become the target of political activists again in Bangladesh, reports Media Watch. Leading opposition parties, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the Jatyo Party (JP), Jamat-e-Islami and Islami Okkyo Jote, called a three-day national general strike from 9 to 11 February 1999. During the strike, two newspaper offices were attacked, four vehicles carrying journalists were burned, four photojournalists were assaulted -including one who was shot - and five other journalists were stopped from carrying out their work. On 9 February, a group of strike supporters in the capital Dhaka trying to set fire to a rickshaw shot a photojournalist of the "Bhorer Kagoj" newspaper, Masud Parvez Anis, when he tried to take a picture of them. On the same afternoon, in Dhaka, strike supporters attacked offices of the "Daily Star" newspaper, one of the country's most respected English language dailies. After five other journalists were assaulted by opposition activists, local journalists reacted by boycotting "news of the opposition parties until they apologised for their supporters' actions," says Media Watch.

: RUSSIAN SUMMER SCHOOL TO DISCUSS MEDIA AND ELECTIONS

The Mass Media Center (MMC) of the School of Journalism at St. Petersburg State University in Russia invites scholars, educators, journalists and students in media and mass communication to its Fourth International Summer School from 28 June to 9 July 1999. The course is designed to widen one's view on media studies while "studying Russian media and journalism in a political, economic, legal, ethnic, cultural and environmental perspective." This year's theme will be "Media and Elections." In addition to elections coverage, press freedom and independence, topics discussed will include the relationship between journalists and politicians, and media regulation.

: MORE JOURNALISTS MURDERED AND REPORTED MISSING

The seemingly never ending toll of journalists who have been murdered, or who are missing and feared dead, has increased again in Sierra Leone, reports the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). (For more information, see IFEX "Communiques" #8-4, #8-3, and #8-1.) While most of the journalists are presumed to have been murdered by Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels, CPJ reports that Abdullai Jumah Jalloh, news editor of the independent newspaper "African Champion", was murdered by a soldier of the West African Peacekeeping Forces (ECOMOG) in Freetown on 3 February. Jalloh was apparently mistaken for a RUF rebel and executed point blank. CPJ has discovered that sometime between 9 and 15 January, Munir Turay, a freelance broadcast and print journalist, died, reportedly after being shot in the back. According to IFEX's partner in Nigeria, who must remain anonymous for safety concerns, Nigerian journalist James Ogogo, previously declared missing and feared dead, has indeed been killed in Sierra Leone. ">http://communique.ifex.org/articles.cfm?category=1%20Regional%20News&volume=8&issue_no=4&lng=english#329">#8-4, #8-3, and #8-1.) While most of the journalists are presumed to have been murdered by Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels, CPJ reports that Abdullai Jumah Jalloh, news editor of the independent newspaper "African Champion", was murdered by a soldier of the West African Peacekeeping Forces (ECOMOG) in Freetown on 3 February. Jalloh was apparently mistaken for a RUF rebel and executed point blank. CPJ has discovered that sometime between 9 and 15 January, Munir Turay, a freelance broadcast and print journalist, died, reportedly after being shot in the back. According to IFEX's partner in Nigeria, who must remain anonymous for safety concerns, Nigerian journalist James Ogogo, previously declared missing and feared dead, has indeed been killed in Sierra Leone.

: FRY: FREE2000 MAKES MEDIA RECOMMENDATIONS ON KOSOVO

On 12 February, Free2000, an international coalition of human rights and media freedom organizations working on press freedom in Yugoslavia, released its recommendations on the media to the Contact Group monitoring discussions on a Kosovo peace accord that began last week in Rambouillet, France. Serb authorities are meeting with Kosovo Albanians to try to come to an agreement to end the conflict that has been raging in Kosovo for nearly a year. The meetings will continue until this Saturday. Free 2000 is composed of local groups such as the Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM), along with IFEX members the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC), ARTICLE 19, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Human Rights Watch, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the International Press Institute (IPI). It was established in August 1998 to promote an atmosphere of free media in the FR of Yugoslavia by the year 2000. Further information on the committee and its activities at:

: IPI RECORDS 50 JOURNALISTS MURDERED IN 1998, EXAMINES FREE EXPRESSION IN 168 COUNTRIES

Press freedom violations, including the murder of at least 50 journalists, and major media developments in 168 countries in 1998 are covered in the International Press Institute's (IPI) "World Press Freedom Review". Of the journalists murdered, IPI believes at least 31 were killed because of their work, and the remaining cases are under investigation. There were also hundreds of journalists arrested in 1998 and over 100 remain in jail today. IPI says, "Through murder, beatings, harassment, threats, legal devices, administration and bureaucracy, among other methods, the free flow of information and ideas is all too frequently impeded." IPI's report concludes that true free expression is only experienced by one third of the world's population. It also documents in detail "the manifold methods that those with something to hide use to smother the free flow of information, opinions and ideas."

: CHINESE JOURNALIST GAO YU FREED FOR MEDICAL REASONS

Prominent Chinese journalist Gao Yu, whose case sparked a massive international campaign against repression in China, was just released from prison, report the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) and the World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC). Gao was arrested in October 1993 and sentenced a year later to six years imprisonment for "divulging state secrets" overseas in articles that she wrote for the "Mirror Monthly", a Hong Kong-based magazine. She was convicted for reporting on speeches by Communist Party leaders about China's structural reforms - information that was public knowledge and that she had received permission to copy and publicize. Her release was announced seven months before her sentence was due to run out next October. Gao had previously spent 14 months in prison after the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square. Gao, who has a heart problem, was released early on medical parole. She was the laureate of WAN's 1995 Golden Pen of Freedom and the winner of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's 1997 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. WAN welcomes Gao's release, but says it "does not solve the underlying problem of freedom of expression in China." Timothy Balding, Director General of WAN, says, "Gao should never have been imprisoned in the first place, and, in fact, went to jail merely for reporting information that was already part of the public record. It is an act that journalists elsewhere do every day without putting themselves in danger. China will never enter the modern age until it allows its people the basic human right of freedom of expression." However, Balding notes, "The Chinese government has rarely reacted positively to international campaigns, but the release of Gao Yu may be an indication that even the most repressive regimes can be influenced by international opinion. Her release before the completion of her sentence highlights the need to continue such campaigns."

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