With more than 50 years of restricted media access, one of the least covered armed conflicts in the world is the long-simmering struggle between Indonesia's military and the secessionist Free Papua Movement. Under Indonesia's seven successive post-independence governments--the early ones led by autocratic strongmen, the recent ones more or less democratically elected--the world has been deprived of details of the persistent low-intensity battle for autonomy playing out in the Papuan provinces.
One year ago Raza Rumi, a TV anchor and widely-respected analyst in Pakistan, narrowly escaped death when gunmen opened fire on his car in an attack that killed his driver, Mustafa. When I wrote about the March 28 attack, the fourth on the Express Group in eight months that had left four people dead, I highlighted the lack of a police investigation.
What to make of Singapore's first and former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who died Monday morning in the city-state? Under the banner of the People's Action Party, Lee held government power for three decades. After stepping away from the prime minister's office in 1990, he held positions of senior minister and later "minister mentor" until 2004, when his son, Lee Hsien Loong, became prime minister. Under their rule (and the interregnum of Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong--not a Lee family member, but hand-picked for the role, with the elder Lee looming over his shoulder for 14 years), Singapore emerged from Southeast Asia's post-Second World War tumult as its most successful economy, a combination of authoritarian government, democratic trappings, and free markets that some predict will be the next century's model for growth and stability. And Singapore's media policies are being replicated across much of Southeast Asia.
What do Delhi, Beijing, and Villiers-sur-Marne have in common, but Ouagadougou does not? The first three recently banned access to films their governments deemed inappropriate. But a film festival in the fourth, the capital of Burkina Faso in West Africa, is stepping up security to show an acclaimed but controversial movie about Islamic militancy in neighboring Mali.
In November 2013, delays and some outright refusals in issuing visas for foreign correspondents in China were making headlines. A few months later, in its March 2014 survey of members, the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China (FCCC) described the situation as "grim." An emailed report on results of the most recent survey (which can be viewed here) found the visa registration process was smoother than in previous years, but "Chinese authorities are continuing to abuse the press card and visa renewal process in a political manner."
Pakistan's media, long under siege, face new challenges. "We had managed to get the genie out of the lamp," was the way one Pakistani journalist explained it to me during a trip there last month. "But now, the military has pushed it back in and I'm not sure when we'll be able to get it out again."
When we conduct the research for our annual list of jailed journalists, we rely on a range of sources. And we come across a lot of information that doesn't always make it on to our list. With China once again the largest jailer of journalists--44 this year--our research team spotted several stories that deserve notice, even if they don't fall precisely under the "jailed journalist" heading.
In 2014, a record number of journalists imprisoned in China was documented by the Committee to Protect Journalists. The 44 in prison this year is an increase from 32 in 2013, and is the largest figure for China since CPJ began tracking imprisoned journalists in 1990. In recent years, the generally rising numbers for China have been driven by the detention of journalists from ethnic minorities, mostly Tibetans and Uighurs. Many straddle the increasingly blurry line between journalism and activism.
The well-known and controversial Pakistani television talk show host Hamid Mir survived a murder attempt on April 19, even though he was hit with six bullets--two of which are still in his body. "I can move, I can walk and I can talk, but I am still undergoing physiotherapy and taking medication," he emailed to a small group of associates, including CPJ, over the weekend.
Do you believe the free flow of information must be protected? Sign the #RightToReport petition and demand that President Obama immediately:
1. Issue a presidential policy directive prohibiting the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations.
2. Limit aggressive prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers.
3. Prevent the harassment of journalists at the U.S. border.
Or click here to see the full petition, and join leading journalists like Christiane Amanpour, The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the AP Kathleen Carroll, and Arianna Huffington in signing on.