On Wednesday, we identified Pakistan as the country where the most journalists--eight--have been killed for their work in the past year. Six of them were on the job when they were killed in crossfire or a suicide bombing. Two others were assassinated.
I've been posting reports on one journalist--Umar Cheema--who wasn't killed, but whose case represents the other ugly reality, that the killings and abductions of journalists go uninvestigated in Pakistan. We rank Pakistan as 10th worst in the world when it comes to investigating journalists' deaths. The other pieces on Cheema can be found here.
At least 42 journalists are killed in 2010 as two trends emerge. Suicide attacks and violent street protests cause an unusually high proportion of deaths. And online journalists are increasingly prominent among the victims. A CPJ special report
As CPJ reports today, eight of the 42 journalists killed this year were on the job in Pakistan. It's accurate to say the Pakistani victims were like most journalists killed worldwide: They were local journalists covering stories in their communities. But with Pakistan's political and sectarian unrest aggravated by a decade-long war in neighboring Afghanistan, these journalists are covering a local story of global significance.
Sen. Richard Lugar, ranking member of the
U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, wrote to Pakistani Prime Minster Yousuf Raza Gilani on September 22 to express concern about the brutal attack on Umar Cheema. The journalist was abducted on the weekend of September 4-5 by men in black
commando-style uniforms, who beat and humiliated him. It's a case I've written about repeatedly (you can find links here,
and here). But the prime minister has not yet responded to Lugar's letter, which was delivered through the U.S. Embassy in
November 3, 2007, was a dark day in the history of Pakistan's media. Former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf banned all private news channels, and some entertainment and sports channels, through an "oral order." He said he made the move to stop "irresponsible journalism." Many of the staff in the president's office who dealt with the media were unaware of his decision; intelligence agencies were used to tell the cable operators to pull the channels off air. Media reacted strongly. After 80 days of struggle, jailings, and legal battles, including sedition cases brought against some journalists, the government backed down from its decision and allowed the channels back on air.
CPJ has always been careful to avoid making accusations when journalists are abducted or killed in Pakistan. Our tactic is to call for full investigations either by the police, the courts or special investigative bodies. In many such cases, the local journalists' community blames government security agencies, including the powerful Inter Services Intelligence group (ISI), as we noted a few days ago in an alert. Umar Cheema, who was abducted and humiliated over the weekend of September 4 and 5 near Islamabad, has specifically accused the ISI of being involved in his case and has stuck with those accusations.
The University of Toronto's Citizen Lab has announced a research project to analyze the global infrastructure of Research In Motion, maker of the BlackBerry. It's looking for BlackBerry users from any country to take part--especially those in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, India, Indonesia, Russia and China.
All of these countries have at some point demanded that RIM make their BlackBerry network more surveillance-friendly. Some have threatened to ban BlackBerry services outright if their demands are not met. Other reports suggest that RIM has made concessions to some of these countries' demands.
One possible concession RIM might make is to move its Blackberry Internet Service (BIS) servers to locations within those countries' jurisdictions. BIS servers are the bridges between the internal BlackBerry network and the wider Internet. A locally-hosted BIS server would make it easier for domestic security services to monitor BlackBerry users' general Web traffic.
RIM has kept quiet about what agreements, if any, it has made with any government. Nevertheless, it is theoretically possible to work out the location of these BIS servers externally. If you're a journalist who uses a BlackBerry, all you have to do to help with this project is to visit the RimCheck website using your BlackBerry device and fill out a short form. The site will record the IP address of the machine your request comes from, and will attempt to determine where in the world that server could be located.
As most of the nation lay paralyzed and submerged in flood water, Pakistani journalists traveled in four-wheel drives and rickety boats to bring tidings from some of the hardest hit areas of the country. The Pakistani Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) compiled a list of journalists directly affected by the flood, many of whom had had their homes washed away, while journalists who were still on their feet faced a host of other challenges.
In an alert on Monday, we reported on an attack that left at least six women and children seriously injured at the home of local television journalist Zafarullah Bonari along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. A group of unidentified attackers threw grenades and opened fire on Bonari’s house. The information was scant when we first heard about the attack in a rushed e-mail message from a member of the Bajaur chapter of the Tribal Union of Journalists.
New York, July 26, 2010—At least six women and children were seriously injured late today after a group of unidentified attackers threw grenades and opened fire on a home connected to television correspondent Zafarullah Bonari, according to Pakistani journalists.
It’s not the first time the Pakistani government has tried to restrict broadcast coverage of extremist activities—and it probably won’t be the last. On Monday, a legislative committee forwarded a bill to the National Assembly that would restrict coverage “of suicide bombers, terrorists, bodies of victims of terrorism, statements and pronouncements of militants and extremist elements and other acts which, may, in any way, promote, aid or abet terrorists or terrorism.”
unemployed and carries himself with the innocence of a man who hasn't spent
much time outside his own village. But Egyptian blogger Tamer
Mabrouk is the real deal. Appearing at an international media conference in Bonn, Mabrouk's description of chemical dumping into a
brackish lagoon on the northern Nile Delta near the Mediterranean Sea was
punctuated by photos of unmistakable filth. He won over the audience when, in
response to a question on how one travels with sensitive material, Tamer deftly
removed a memory card secreted in an electronic device and held it in the air.
That, he said, is where he had carried documents for this trip.
Last week, users of Facebook and Twitter in Pakistan began reporting a strange security problem. When they visited those sites, they found they were logged in--but with the accounts and privileges of complete strangers. Private Facebook information and Twitter direct messages belonging to other users were viewable, and the surprised Pakistani users had complete control over these accounts. Soon after the problem was noticed, Facebook and Twitter themselves blocked anyone attempting to log in from Pakistan. Eventually the problem went away.
The murder of a journalist such as Ghulam Rasool Birhamani might tend to be quickly forgotten. After all, he was a local reporter for a small newspaper, the Daily Sindhu Hyderabad, in a country where violence is routine. But hundreds of his fellow journalists turned out on Wednesday for a march to protest his killing and push for justice, Dawn newspaper reported.
Last week, I attended an unusual event called the Courage Forum at which half a dozen speakers, from tightrope artist Philippe Petit and Sudanese rapper Emmanuel Jal to Virgin founder and chairman Richard Branson, talked about about overcoming fear.
New York, May 11, 2010—The Committee to Protect Journalists
is concerned by new demands made by a militant group calling itself the Asian Tigers,
the captors of freelance journalist Asad Qureshi, left, who has been held in Pakistan
since March 26. In a video
sent to the Rome-based news agency Adnkronos International today, the
kidnappers insisted that
New York, May 3, 2010—The Committee to Protect Journalists expressed concern today after a militant group executed a former Pakistani intelligence official who was abducted along with documentary filmmaker Asad Qureshi.
Today, May 3, is World Press Freedom Day. But on this day, this year, I am not thinking about the dangers for the many journalists whose bylines I’ve come to associate with places like Mogadishu or Manila, Kabul or Islamabad. It’s not because I don’t have immense respect for them and for the risks they take to bring their readers essential reports from some of the most dangerous corners of the world. I do.
Every day at CPJ, we count numbers:
18 journalists killed in Russia since 2000, 32 journalists and media workers slaughtered
in the Maguindanao massacre, 88
journalists murdered over the last 10 years in Iraq. But on Tuesday night at
CPJ’s Impunity Summit at
New York, April 8, 2010—Reports that freelance documentary filmmaker Asad Qureshi has gone missing on a reporting trip in a tribal area of Pakistan are deeply concerning, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
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