Pakistan, June 6
“Pakistan’s mainstream media is being forced into censorship through threats, both physical and financial" my interview focusing on @SAFENewsrooms featured by Global Investigative Journalist Network (@gijn) https://t.co/lwuifQjpfn
— Taha Siddiqui (@TahaSSiddiqui) June 26, 2018
Pakistan’s political climate, heavily influenced by the military and intelligence departments, has created an environment where journalists are at risk of losing not only their livelihoods, but their actual lives.
One such journalist is Taha Siddiqui, whose work has appeared in The New York Times, the Guardian, France24 and Christian Science Monitor. Like many talented reporters in Pakistan, Siddiqui’s voice has only grown stronger as the government’s has grown stricter. After surviving an attempted abduction, the journalist continues his bold work in Paris.
In an interview with The Wire, Siddiqui explains the toxic cycle of censoring media to gain political power. In Pakistan, the opposition was nonexistent on mainstream media leading up to recent elections. Without the watchdog services provided by newsrooms, democratic processes are unable to take place effectively, resulting in pre-poll rigging and a military-friendly parliament, as Siddiqui points out is the case in Pakistan.
Zambia, June 8
#Zambia : 7 #journalists attacked, beaten and threatened by suspected United Party for National Development on 5 June on their way to the vote counting centre of the Chilanga by-elections. #PressFreedom✍️ https://t.co/2V5lFp1RYg pic.twitter.com/aw3ijYEXW7
— IFJ (@IFJGlobal) June 8, 2018
Political parties can sometimes use unethical strategies during election seasons. In certain parts of the world, the media is the first target. Newsrooms are scrutinized and sometimes silenced while journalists are exposed to an increase in threats and violence.
Leading up to the Chilanga Parliamentary by-election in Zambia, seven reporters were attacked while walking to a vote counting center. They belonged to the news outlets The Mast, News Diggers, Radio Phoenix and Prime Television and were beaten by suspected members of the United Party for National Development (UPND), the opposition to the political party, Patriotic Front.
Though Zambia has an organization dedicated to protecting journalists called the Zambia Union of Journalists (ZUJ), the suppression of press freedom and those that advocate for it by reporting on the world around them was used in order to gain political dominance. This incident failed to be prevented because of a disregard for reporters’ safety during the particularly hostile time of election season.
Ghana, June 8
— Nehanda Radio (@NehandaRadio) June 8, 2018
Investigative reporting paid off in Ghana when Kwesi Nyantakyi, vice president of the Confederation of African Football and member of the Fifa Council, was caught on camera accepting a fake $65,000 bribe from undercover reporter Anas Aremayaw Anas.
Anas’ exposure of this incident of corruption has led to further exploration into the lack of ethics found in African soccer or ‘football.’ Anas took a step further by creating a documentary called “When Greed and Corruption Become the Norm,” which he then sent to the authorities.
Others were ousted through the documentary including Kenyan referee Adel Range Marwa for taking bribes despite Fifa’s explicit rules against doing so. As a result of this lengthy in-depth reporting, Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, Ghana’s information minister announced that the government would dissolve the Ghana Football Association (GFA) to disrupt the widespread corruption.
Tanzania, June 11
— Drudge Report (@drudgeheadlines) June 11, 2018
Censorship comes in all forms. In recent years, governments have attempted to stifle critique and discussion by limiting content and access to the internet.
In June, Tanzania focused these efforts on bloggers who have failed to register their online forums. The price for not registering is suspension of websites or facing prosecution. These strict punishments serve only to disrupt conversation between digital activists who use online platforms to connect with others who don’t agree with the government’s policies.
While the government has claimed that its crackdown on internet activity is aimed at reducing cyberbullying and pornography, the government of President John Magufuli has been particularly hard on press freedom since he took office in 2015.
India, June 15
Shujaat Bukhari Was a Fearless Journalist in Kashmir. He Was Also My Friend https://t.co/vBC5OLeY5i
— Waheed Para (@parawahid) June 17, 2018
The death of a journalist is a tragedy because the loss of life means loss of press freedom and indicates the presence of people who are willing to kill in order to make others voiceless.
Shujaat Bukhari, editor of Rising Kashmir, was killed in Kashmir. He is described as a mentor, friend and exceptional journalist who covered everything from the cease-fire between India and Pakistan and the mass graves in the countrysides of Kashmir. Throughout his career, he endured countless threats and was even accompanied by two bodyguards.
Sameer Yasir, who commemorates his friend in this article, explains that though he and his colleagues were shocked and saddened by Bukhari’s death, the violence that surrounds Kashmir is a daily part of life. When a hostile environment is given room to thrive, journalists who try to inform readers of danger are at the most risk.
Rome, June 20
Exclusive: Pope urges press freedom, cites case of jailed Reuters reporters https://t.co/T3kVbqp7Un
— Reuters World (@ReutersWorld) June 20, 2018
Pope Francis has added press freedom to his prayers for the world. After the imprisonment of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo in Myanmar, the pope demanded for more transparency as to why the arrests occurred. The pope also met with Rohingya refugees, allowing him to see the importance of the journalists’ work first hand.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were investigating the mass graves in Myanmar when they were arrested. They could face 14 years in prison for violating the Official Secrets Act, which was enacted in colonial times and has been used to repress journalists throughout the years.
International awareness is an integral part in protecting journalists and press freedom. The pope’s powerful influence brings light to the need to treat journalists with dignity, especially when they are trying to expose the suffering of others.
Turkey, June 28
— Drudge Report (@drudgeheadlines) June 27, 2018
Despite the state of emergency enacted by President Erdogan in 2016, a Turkish court has released newspaper columnist Mehmet Altan after two years in prison.
Altan, along with his brother, writer Ahmet Altan, and journalist Nazli Ilicak were sentenced to life after being accused of being involved in the attempted coup in 2016. Erdogan has imprisoned over 100 journalists on similar terrorist charges, making Turkey the world’s leading country on incarcerating members of the media.
Though the release of Altan is a step in the right direction, countless other reporters are still locked away on fake charges of treason for simply daring to write the truth.
Mexico, June 30
Journalist murdered in southern Mexico before Sunday's elections https://t.co/YwYAtpDKGP
— Reuters World (@ReutersWorld) June 30, 2018
In the thralls of a violent election season, journalist Jose Guadalupe Chan Dzib was murdered in Mexico. Politicians have also been targeted, with over 100 murdered during this election cycle alone.
Since 1992, 45 journalists have been killed, making Mexico one of the most dangerous countries in the world for the media. Corruption in law enforcement and politics has created an unaccountable system where people with a voice are snuffed out. When journalists suffer, so do democratic processes.