Tag Archives: writers/journalists

Global Event: The Afghanistan Exodus

The International Situation of Afghan Asylum-Seekers

The pullout of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and the subsequent collapse of the Afghan government has generated a wave of Afghan people fleeing incoming Taliban rule. With the Taliban committed to governing according to fundamentalist interpretations of Islamic law, concerns are particularly heightened for women, ethnic and religious minorities, LGBTQ+ people, journalists, and those who supported the fight against the Taliban. Abroad, governments have debated whether and to what degree to accept asylum-seekers, with many seeking to either offshore asylum processing or contain refugees to the immediate region of southwest and Central Asia. For refugees who do make it out, the intensification of anti-immigrant sentiment across the world’s regions in recent years—including the increasing political power of far-right nativist movements—has created new threats for asylum-seekers in their destination countries.

While politicians and analysts around the world bicker over responsibility and blame, Afghans scramble to exit before the full weight of the new Taliban regime comes down. Here is a collection of reporting on the conditions in Afghanistan for those needing refuge, which countries are offering haven, and reactions from the Afghan diaspora.

Continue reading Global Event: The Afghanistan Exodus

Mexico News | Journalists

Murder in Playa del Carmen brings official count of journalist deaths to eight in Mexico
  • Ruben Pat, security reporter and founder of Facebook-based Playa News, was shot and killed outside of a bar in the Quintana Roo resort town after having received threats for the last six months.
  • Pat’s murder was the second involving Playa News staff, with another, Chan Dzib, having been shot less than a month earlier.
  • The deaths come amidst a 132% increase in homicides in the state of Quintana Roo in the first six months of 2018 vs. 2017.
Read

Two Mexican journalists killed in separate attacks” (Al Jazeera | July 2018)

Journalist shot dead in Mexican resort town of Playa del Carmen” (Reuters | July 2018)

Another Mexican Journalist Murdered As Violence Escalates” (teleSUR | July 2018)

Myanmar News | Journalists

Reporters arrested in Myanmar following Rohingya coverage
  • Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested on the outskirts of Yangon after working on stories related to the military crackdown on the Rohingya community in Rakhine state.
  • The Ministry of Information said the reporters faced charges of violating the colonial-era Official Secrets Act for having “illegally acquired information” for dissemination to foreign media.
  • The event has prompted international condemnation, including by the United Nations, foreign governments, international journalism organizations, and press freedom advocates.
Read

Factbox: International reaction to arrest of Reuters reporters in Myanmar” (Reuters | December 2017)

Analysis: Government Turning Back the Clock on Press Freedom” (The Irrawaddy | December 2017)

UN chief calls on Myanmar to release Reuters journalists” (CNN | December 2017)

Gabon News | Danish

Danish journalists wounded in knife attack in Gabon capital
  • Two Danish reporters for National Geographic were wounded after a Nigerien national living in Gabon attacked them with a knife in Libreville.
  • The attacker told police the assault was in retribution for the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, although it was unclear if the Danes were mistaken for Americans.
  • The attack was reportedly the first of its kind in Gabon, a Christian-majority country with peaceful interfaith relations.
Read

2 Danish journalists violently attacked in Gabon” (The Associated Press | December 2017)

Two Danish journalists wounded in Islamist knife attack in Gabon” (Reuters | December 2017)

Two Danish journalists wounded in Gabon knife attack” (AFPvia France 24 | December 2017)

Egypt News | Critics, Advocates & Journalists

Travel bans trap Egyptian activists in “giant prison”
  • Two prominent human rights advocates—Aida Seif al-Dawla and Azza Soliman—recently discovered they were barred from traveling in and out of Egypt as President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi continues targeting civil society and human rights organizations.
  • Human rights monitors report that 217 people have been subject to travel bans between 2014 and 2016, 115 of whom are critics of the Sisi-led government.
  • Activists and journalists reported being met with deferral or radio silence when inquiring about the cause or origin of their bans, with the government denying a crackdown.

Read more:
Egypt is giant prison, activists banned from travel say” (Reuters)
Egypt imposes travel bans on human rights activists” (The Financial Times)
A Top Egyptian Human Rights Activist Banned From Travel” (AP via The New York Times)

Bhutan News | Journalists

Bhutanese journalist faces charges of defamation following social media share
  • Namgay Zam, an independent journalist, has been accused of defaming a prominent Bhutanese businessman after sharing a critical post on Facebook.
  • The post targeted a property dispute involving the businessman, and the author, Dr. Shacha Wangmo, was charged with libel and petty misdemeanor.
  • If convicted, Zam faces a fine of up to 2.59 million Bhutanese ngultrum—around $38,500, or 10 times the average salary of a journalist—or up to three years in prison.

Read more:
Bhutan journalist hit by defamation suit for sharing Facebook post” (The Guardian)
Lawsuit Over Facebook Post Raises Fears of Online Censorship in Bhutan” (Global Voices Advox)
In Bhutan, a Facebook Post Leads to Defamation Charges” (The Diplomat)

(Image Credit: via The Guardian)

Turkey News | Advocates & Critics

Turkey halts activities of 370 NGOs as “purge” continues
  • Following the failed coup attempt of July 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has banned the activities of hundreds of organizations, including human rights and children’s organizations, arrested opposition lawmakers, and shuttered more than 100 media organizations on charges of collusion with terrorists.
  • Of the suspended, 153 were allegedly connected to U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen (whom Erdogan has accused of masterminding the coup), 190 with Kurdish militant group Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), 19 to far-left militant group DHKP-C, and 8 to the Islamic State.
  • More than 100,000 in the military, police, political administration, journalism, and academia have lost their jobs and tens of thousands have been arrested, prompting condemnation from human rights monitors and warnings from foreign governments.

Read more:
Turkey halts activities of 370 groups as purge widens” (Reuters)
Erdogan Renews Putsch Purge With Targets in Media, Academia” (Bloomberg)
Erdogan’s ‘One-Man Regime’ Sacks 10,000, Closes Kurdish Media” (teleSUR English)

Mauritania News | Writers

Mauritanian clerics push for application of death penalty for blogger convicted of apostasy
  • Mohamed Ould Cheikh Ould Mkhaitir was convicted in 2014 over a blog post discussing Mauritania’s racial stratification and the history of racial discrimination in Islam.
  • The Forum of Imams and Ulemas recently issued a fatwa calling for Mkhaitir’s execution in line with absolutist laws regarding heresy in Islam.
  • If carried out, Mkhaitir’s execution would be the first in the country since 1987, prompting international human rights organizations including Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders to advocate for his pardon.

Read more:
Mauritanian clerics urge for blogger’s death penalty to be applied” (Reuters)
Millions of people rallied to the support of Raif Badawi – who will care for a poor young man in Mauritania?” (The Independent, August 2015)
Death Sentence in Mauritania for Islam ‘Insult’” (Reuters via The New York Times, December 2014)

Vietnam News | Writer-Activists

Vietnamese government detains blogger following post listing deaths under police custody
  • Blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (“Me Nam,” or “Mother Mushroom”) was arrested on charges of propagandizing against the state, which carries a sentence of up to 12 years in prison.
  • Quynh’s posts included a report on more than 30 civilians who had died in police custody, which roiled a government largely intolerant of criticism.
  • She had previously been arrested in 2009 for receiving funding from Viet Tan, an activist group based in California.

Read more:
Vietnam Arrests Mother Mushroom, a Top Blogger, for Criticizing Government” (The New York Times)
Vietnam detains blogger after police custody deaths post” (Reuters)
Dissident blogger faces prison in Vietnam” (Deutsche Welle)

(Image Credit: Jonas Gratzer/Civil Rights Defenders, via The New York Times)

ClimateWatch | Turkey

ClimateWatch
Turkey’s “Purge”

The recent attempted coup by a faction within Turkey’s military has left the country in the throes of uncertainty, further increasing citizens’ and human rights watchdogs’ already pronounced concerns about the future of civil liberties in Turkey. Ground zero for the attempted overthrow of the government were Ankara and Istanbul, home to journalists overrun on the air by military forces and ordinary citizens called into the streets by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan via FaceTime.

Daylight illuminated the deaths of nearly 300, the wounds of the 1,400 injured, and the beginning of a so-called “purge” that has further endangered groups already vulnerable under Erdogan’s regime: political critics, journalists, and intellectuals. Women, too, found themselves targeted amidst the instability, and Turkish Kurds worry that the aftermath will further heighten anti-Kurd sentiment.

But the coup attempt and retaliation are only the latest in Turkey’s security woes. Terrorist attacks in Istanbul and Ankara, conflict with Kurdish militants and pro-Kurd advocates, ongoing intimidation and blackouts of journalists and political dissidents, and a regional refugee crisis have upended the tenuous stability in the country secured through a 2013 ceasefire with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). While the restoration of Erdogan’s government was seen as a victory for democracy, Turks and observers alike fear what measures Erdogan, already intolerant of dissent, will take in its wake.

Here is a look at coverage of the destabilizing security situation for at-risk communities in Turkey: Continue reading ClimateWatch | Turkey

Egypt News | Political Critics

Egyptian government limiting movement rights of critics
  • Nearly 500 journalists, activists, and advocates have been deported from Egypt since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s inauguration in 2013 for having criticized the government, according to one civil rights group.
  • Critics of Sisi, the judiciary, and other government powers have been subjected to travel restrictions, limiting their movement in and out of the country.
  • Those subject to travel bans often don’t find out about their status until at airports, with the requirement of a judicial order only infrequently being met.

Read more:
Egypt’s Latest Tactic Against Critics: Block Their Movements, or Deport Them” (The New York Times)
Human rights lawyer Amin barred from traveling to Beirut” (Daily News Egypt)
Egypt: Travel Ban on Women’s Rights Leader” (Human Rights Watch, June 2016)

Turkey News | Press Advocates

Three press rights advocates arrested in Turkey
  • Erol Onderoglu (Reporters Without Borders), Sebnem Korur Fincanci (Human Rights Foundation of Turkey), and Ahmet Nesin (author) were charged with spreading terrorist propaganda.
  • Now held in pre-trial detention, the three guest-edited an edition of Ozgur Kundem, a pro-Kurdish rights newspaper subjected to multiple investigations and lawsuits as part of the government’s crackdown on Kurdish separatist groups and their supporters.
  • President Tayyip Erdogan has come under international fire for his campaign against critical journalism in Turkey, which has seen journalists imprisoned, television stations taken off the air, and publications seized and shuttered.

Read more:
Turkey arrests raise further concerns over press freedom” (AP via The Guardian)
Reporters Without Borders representative, two others jailed in Turkey” (Committee to Protect Journalists)
Turkey arrests three prominent press-freedom campaigners” (Reuters)

(Image Credit: Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images, via The Guardian)

Eritrea Feature | Eritreans

25 Years of Independence and Suppression in Eritrea

As it celebrates the 25th anniversary of the overthrow of Ethiopian rule, Eritrea continues to hemorrhage citizens under one-party, anti-democratic rule. Indefinite military conscription, mobility restrictions, and the absence of civil liberties have greatly diminished prospects for Eritreans, driving youth from the country in droves and into trans-Mediterranean trafficking networks in which thousands have died. Some estimates put the emigration rate at 5,000 people per month, second only to Syrians in contributing to the swelling of the Mediterranean migration crisis in 2015.

The Eritrean government has been particularly unfriendly to journalists and other writers, who have faced high insecurity following the 2001 roundup of independent newspaper editors in a push by the Eritrean president to crack down on public dissent. In the diaspora, Eritreans have found themselves involuntarily bound to the government as attempts to access documents and send remittances has subjected them to taxes international monitors liken to extortion. Amidst independence celebrations, both native and diasporan Eritreans continue to work to organize an effective opposition against the presidential regime and bring about a democratic renaissance for the country’s disenfranchised citizenry.

Read:
Eritreans still denied freedom 25 years after independence” (The Guardian)
A quarter of a century after independence Eritreans still yearn for freedom” (The Conversation)
How to End the Eritrean Refugee Crisis” (The Nation, December 2015)
‘If we don’t give them a voice, no one will’: Eritrea’s forgotten journalists, still jailed after 14 years” (The Guardian, August 2015)
Outside Eritrea looking in: a diaspora that stands divided” (The Guardian, August 2015)
UN Inquiry reports gross human rights violations in Eritrea” (UNHCR, June 2015)

Watch:
25 years of independence in Eritrea: Thousands continue to flee repressive regime (France 24 English)
Eritrea: Delving into a Sealed-Off Country (Deutsche Welle, April 2015)

Follow:
Eritrea profile: Timeline (BBC)
2015 prison census: 199 journalists jailed worldwide (The Committee to Protect Journalists, December 2015)

Connect:
Eritrean Solidarity Movement for National Salvation (Simret)

(Image Credit: Boris Roessler/EPA, via The Guardian)

Bangladesh News | LGBT

LGBT magazine editor murdered in Dhaka home as killings continue in Bangladesh
  • Xulhaz Mannan and a visiting friend were hacked to death by a group of youth posing as couriers to gain access to Mannan’s home.
  • Mannan was the editor of Roopbaan, Bangladesh’s only LGBT magazine, and a USAid worker.
  • The murders are the latest in ongoing attacks against minority intellectuals and follow the detention of LGBT activists attempting to march in Bengali New Year festivities.

Read more:
Editor of Bangladesh’s first and only LGBT magazine killed” (The Guardian)
LGBT magazine Roopbaan editor hacked to death” (The Dhaka Tribune)
LGBT activist among two hacked to death in Dhaka” (The Hindu)

(Image Credit: via The Guardian)

Bangladesh News | Secular Writers

Protests planned after secular Bangladeshi blogger killed by suspected Islamist militants in Dhaka
  • Nazimuddin Samad, a law student at a Dhaka university, was attacked at night by a group of machete-wielding men while returning home from class.
  • An online activist group described Samad as “a loud voice against all injustice and also a great supporter of secularism,” and students at Jagannath University have called for demonstrations in protest of his murder.
  • The murder follows six similar killings in 2015 and attacks on foreign nationals in Bangladesh.

Read more:
JnU student killed in suspected militant attack” (Dhaka Tribune)
Liberal Bangladeshi blogger killed by machete-wielding attackers” (Reuters)
Strike at Jagannath University on Sunday to protest Nazim murder” (bdnews24.com)

(Image Credit: via Dhaka Tribune)