Category Archives: Africa/Asia

good news of released Ethiopian journalist from prison

Eskinder Nega,



NEW YORK—The news that Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega, the 2012 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award winner, has finally been released from prison after close to seven years is outstanding news, said PEN America in a statement today. After a week of uncertainty following news of a large-scale amnesty of prisoners last week, Eskinder walked free from Kaliti Prison.

Imprisoned since 2011, Eskinder​ was given an 18-year sentence in 2012 for violating anti-terrorism laws after he criticized the government for arresting journalists and anti-government activists. With his release, 38 of the 42 jailed writers who have been awarded PEN America’s Freedom to Write Award are now free.

“We are overjoyed that Eskinder has been freed, and call on the governments of Ethiopia and the United States to ensure that he can be speedily r​eunited with his family in the United States and return to his writing unhindered by interference or harassment,” said PEN America Executive Director Suzanne Nossel. “Coming a day after the announcement that PEN America’s 2018 Freedom to Write Award will honor two imprisoned journalists in Myanmar, this news gives us hope that shining a spotlight and ensuring that the faces and voices of those unjustly held behind bars are still seen and heard can help ensure their ultimate freedom.”

Ethiopia’s 2009 anti-terrorism law, which criminalizes reporting deemed to “encourage” or support alleged “terrorist” groups is vague and overbroad and has been used to imprison several leading journalists. Eskinder has been detained at least six times for his writings as a journalist. In 2005, Eskinder and his wife Serkalem Fasil were jailed together with 12 other journalists for treason for reporting on the government’s violent crackdown following disputed parliamentary elections. Serkalem gave birth to the couple’s son in prison, before she and Eskinder were acquitted in 2007.

While in prison, Eskinder​ wrote a piece entitled “Letter from Ethiopia’s Gulag,” and after his appeal was denied in 2013, he penned a letter that began with the words, “Individuals can be penalized, made to suffer (oh, how I miss my child) and even killed. But democracy is a destiny of humanity which cannot be averted. It can be delayed but not defeated.”


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

CONTACT: Karin Karlekar, Director of Free Expression At Risk Programs:


Northern Rakhine not safe for refugee return: UNHCR chief


Northern Rakhine not safe for refugee return: UNHCR chief

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi speaks during a visit to nothern Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp on December 19, 2017. (AFP)
 Wednesday, February 14, 2018


YANGON — Even as Myanmar says it is ready to begin the process of repatriating refugees who fled the country to Bangladesh, senior UN officials have warned conditions on the ground are still not conducive for their voluntary return.

Speaking at the United Nations Security Council in New York on Tuesday, Mr Filippo Grandi, UN High Commission for Refugees, said that the causes for people fleeing northern Rakhine State, amid violence and desperation, had not yet been addressed and that there has not been enough progress on tackling the “exclusion and denial of rights” that the Rohingya minority have faced over several decades.

“UNHCR has extended an offer of support to both [Myanmar and Bangladesh] governments, including by participating in the joint working group established for its implementation,” Grandi said by video link.

“The framework for return should eventually be defined in a tripartite agreement between the two governments and UNHCR. Our offer of support remains open.”

In January, Myanmar and Bangladesh agreed a deal to begin repatriation on January 23, but the process has been delayed by Dhaka. Human Rights groups, and refugees in Bangladesh, have expressed concern about their safety if they were to return.

In his speech on Tuesday, Grandi warned Myanmar against rushing the repatriation process.

“The construction of infrastructure to support the logistics of return should not be confused with the establishment of conditions conducive to voluntary repatriation,” he said. “An end to violence and destruction of property, and granting humanitarian access throughout Rakhine State – as called for by the Secretary-General – are critical, and basic steps.”

Mr Pierre Peron, spokesperson for UN OCHA in Myanmar, told Frontier on Tuesday that most humanitarian organisations who have been operating in northern Rakhine State for several years “have still not been able to resume lifesaving programmes for some of the most vulnerable people in the world”.

Some organisations have been given travel authorisations to the area, Peron said, but in a short-term and unpredictable manner that has impacted the delivery of assistance and an assessment of the people’s needs.

“We are talking about people who are stateless, who don’t have freedom of movement, who have limited access to essential services such as health and education, and who for years have had no choice but to depend on humanitarian assistance. When you cut that lifeline, there is a very real human impact,” Peron said.

In central Rakhine, UN agencies and NGOs are facing bureaucratic obstacles that are affecting their ability to deliver aid and assistance

“This is affecting both humanitarian aid and longer-term development initiatives, so people need to understand that the restriction of access is bad news for everyone, including for the ethnic Rakhine communities who rightly call for more development assistance from the international community,” Peron said.

Myanmar has faced fierce international criticism for its handling of the crisis in Rakhine State, in which an estimated 688,000 people – overwhelmingly Rohingya – have fled to Bangladesh since late August, when fighters from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army attacked police outposts and an army camp, killing about a dozen security personnel.

While it initially exonerated its personnel from conducting any human rights abuses during its Rakhine operation, in January the military admitted that security forces were involved in the killing of 10 Rohingya men at Inn Din village, Maungdaw Township.

The statement, published on the Facebook page of the Commander-in-chief, said the military personnel and some villagers killed the men after they came under attack from “terrorists”.

The admission came about a month after two Reuters journalists, Ko Wa Lone and Ko Kyaw Soe Oo, were arrested in Yangon while researching the Inn Din incident.

Last week, Reuters published its version of the story, which differed from the military’s account. Based on testimony from witnesses and people involved in the killings, the Reuters report said there was no attack by insurgents in Inn Din.

Also speaking at the Security Council on Tuesday, United States Ambassador to the UN Ms Nikki Haley called Myanmar’s denial of ethnic cleansing “preposterous”.

To make sure no one contradicts their preposterous denials, they are preventing access to Rakhine to anyone or any organisation that might bear witness to their atrocities, including the UN Security Council,” she said, adding her voice to the calls for the release of the Reuters reporters.

Hau Do Suan, Myanmar’s UN Ambassador, said that Myanmar recognises freedom of the press and the journalists were not arrested for reporting a story, but for “illegally possessing confidential government documents”.

“Every citizen is bound by the existing law of the land. It is important that the actions of the journalists must also be within the bound of the law,’ he said.

On Tuesday, PEN America, announced that it is honouring Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo with its PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award. PEN said that 42 jailed writers have received the award since 1987, 37 of which were released.

“It can help elevate the case diplomatically,” said Ms Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN America.

PEN America honors Reuters journalists with Barbey Freedom to Write Award

reuters journalsit burma

Association of N. American Ethnic Journalists call for the intimidate release of tow detained journalist. Journalism is not a crime

*PEN America honors Reuters journalists with Barbey Freedom to Write Award

Association of N. American Ethnic Journalists call for the intimidate release of tow detained journalist. Journalism is not a crime

Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, currently detained in Myanmar, were honored on Tuesday with the PEN America 2018 Barbey Freedom to Write Award. The PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award recognizes an imprisoned writer targeted for exercising freedom of speech. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have been detained in Myanmar since December 12 and are accused of violating the country’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act.

Reuters journalists Wa Lone (L) and Kyaw Soe Oo, who are based in Myanmar, pose for a picture at the Reuters office in Yangon, Myanmar December 11, 2017. Picture taken December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Antoni Slodkowski – RC1C7E5B9920

Reuters Editor-in-Chief Stephen J. Adler told Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian (here) the two men “embody the principles that PEN America champions. Their investigation into the Inn Din massacre illustrates both the vital importance of the freedom to write and the incredible power of the written word.”

PEN America Executive Director Suzanne Nossel said: “Ethnic violence in Myanmar has profound implications for the country’s social fabric, political future and international stature; it is a story that cannot be buried. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were unearthing dark truths with the rigor of professional journalists: interviewing eyewitnesses on all sides and collecting physical and photographic evidence. Having twice honored imprisoned writers during the junta, we at PEN America lauded the advent of reform, hoping that the jailing of writers was a thing of the past. It is now clear we celebrated too soon. The prosecution of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo for the crime of exposing alleged atrocities is a jarring reminder that the fight for free expression in Myanmar remains incomplete and urgent. We are proud to honor these dauntless reporters and hope the award sounds a powerful signal that global concern for human rights in Myanmar will not let up.”

Reuters recently published the investigation that prompted Myanmar police authorities to arrest Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. You can read the full report here

Association of N. American Ethnic Journalists call for the intimidate release of tow detained journalist. Journalism is not a crime

Pakistan Closes US-Funded Radio Mashaal Office In Islamabad

mashal radio
 .Pakistan Closes US-Funded Radio Mashaal Office In Islamabad
Journalist watchdog CPJ said the office was closed after ISI accused the broadcaster of airing programs “against the interest of Pakistan”.
The Committee to Protect Journalism has condemned Pakistan’s closure of RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal office in Islamabad, calling it a “direct threat to press freedom” in Pakistan.
According to the CPJ, Pakistan’s Interior Ministry ordered the closure on Friday after Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) agency accused the private, US-government-funded broadcaster of airing programs “against the interest of Pakistan” and “in line with [a] hostile intelligence agency’s agenda.”
“The order to close Radio Mashaal is a draconian move by Pakistani authorities and a direct threat to press freedom,” said Steven Butler, the Committee to Protect Journalism’s Asia program coordinator.
“Radio Mashaal is an important source of information and should be allowed to continue operating without delay,” he said.
Butler meanwhile told the Associated Press in an email that the move is part of a pattern of increasing pressure on journalists in Pakistan.
“It’s hard to know precisely what prompted the order,” he told AP.
“However, it is certainly only the latest move from the military that puts pressure on the media to stay away from sensitive issues, including criticism of the military itself.”
Butler told AP that the closure might also be retaliation for US President Donald Trump’s New Year’s Day tweet accusing Pakistan of “lies and deceit.”
“It also comes just after the Trump administration cut off military aid to Pakistan and could possibly be a kind of retaliation,” said Butler.
“It does not bode well for press freedom inside the country.”
On January 1, Trump accused Pakistan of “lies and deceit” and said the US would suspend up to $1.9 billion a year in military aid until Islamabad moves decisively against Afghan Taliban fighters and Haqqani network militants who he said have found safe haven within Pakistan’s borders.
CPJ reported that Pakistan’s order against Radio Mashaal accused the news outlet of “portraying Pakistan [as] a hub of terrorism and [a] safe haven for different militant groups.”
The order stated that Radio Mashaal programming presented Pakistan as a “failed state in terms of providing security to its people,” in particular minorities and ethnic Pashtuns.
It said Radio Mashaal showed ethnic Pashtuns in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, Balochistan Province, and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the border with Afghanistan as “disenchanted with the state.”
It also accused the broadcaster of “distorting facts [to] incite the target population against the state and its institutions.”
RFE/RL said Pakistani Interior Ministry officers went to the broadcaster’s Islamabad bureau on Friday and met with the bureau chief and administrator to discuss the closure order.
RFE/RL President Thomas Kent said he was “extraordinarily concerned by the closure” and was “urgently seeking more information about the Pakistani authorities’ intentions.”
Kent said Radio Mashaal, which broadcasts from Prague and has both radio and digital operations, is a “private news organization supported by the US Congress with no connection to the intelligence agencies of any country.”
“Radio Mashaal is an essential source of reliable, balanced information for our Pakistani audience,” Kent said.
“We hope this situation will be resolved without delay.”
In emphasizing that “Radio Mashaal serves no intelligence agency or government,” Kent said “our reporters are Pakistani citizens who are dedicated to their country and live and raise families in the villages in which they report.”
“We demand that their safety be ensured, and that they be permitted to resume their work without fear or delay,” Kent said.

Newspapers seized, journalists arrested as Sudan protests boil over


Newspapers seized, journalists arrested as Sudan protests boil over

File: The Sudanese Journalists Network said copies of newspapers were seized and journalists were arrested earlier this week while reporting on anti-inflation protests in Khartoum. Photo: Martin Bureau /AFP/Getty Images
JOHANNESBURG – Authorities in Sudan have seized copies of newspapers and arrested several reporters over articles on “anti-inflation protests” prompting calls from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) against the harassment.“Sudanese authorities should cease harassing and arresting journalists and confiscating newspapers, and should allow journalists to report on matters of public interest without fear of reprisal,” the CPJ said on Friday.

The Sudanese Journalists Network (SJN) said on Tuesday and Wednesday Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) arrested seven journalists while they were reporting on anti-inflation protests in Khartoum.


Reporters from privately owned newspapers Magdi al-Ajib of al-Watan, Rishan Oushi (Mijhar al-Siyasi), Imtenan Al-Radi (al-Youm al-Tali), and freelance journalist Amal Habani were arrested on 16 January.

The next day, Shawky Abdelazim, al-Youm al-Tali editor, Khalid Abdelaziz, Reuters’ Sudan correspondent, and Abdelmunim Abudris, AFP’s correspondent, were arrested.

They all remain in custody.


A spokesperson for SJN, who does not want to be named said family members of the arrested journalists did not know their whereabouts or if they were facing any charges.

NISS agents also confiscated at least three newspapers multiple times this week over critical coverage of the protests, according to news reports.

“By arresting and intimidating journalists, confiscating newspapers and attempting to censor news dissemination, the Sudanese authorities keep trying to get journalists to stick to the official narrative or pay the price,” CPJ Middle East and North Africa program coordinator Sherif Mansour said.

“We call on the authorities to release the seven journalists immediately and allow the press to do its job.”

African News Agency

Charges sought against Reuters journalists detained in Myanmar

reuters journalsit burma

Charges sought against Reuters journalists detained in Myanmar

French journalist arrested on duty in India

Comiti Edward

French journalist arrested on duty in India

Indian police arrested a freelance French journalist in Kashmir for violating visa regulations, the city police chief said, after he was found filming for a documentary without permission. Comiti Edward was arrested late Sunday in the Kothibagh area of Srinagar, the summer capital of Kashmir, Senior SP Imtiyaz Parray told Reuters.

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Car bomb kills journalist in Somalia capital, says witness

Mohamed Ibrahim Gabow

Car bomb kills journalist in Somalia capital, says witness

Mohamed Ibrahim Gabow


Tajikistan: Khayrullo Mirsaidov Journalist Detained


Tajikistan: Independent Journalist Detained

Politically Motivated Charges for Corruption Report

Commentary: Aung San Suu Kyi’s free press dilemma Alex Lazar 7 MIN READ

Aung San Suu Kyi

Commentary: Aung San Suu Kyi’s free press dilemma

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