Friday, January 05, 2007

Hard Rain Journal 1-5-07: Global Free Press Update -- “2006 was the worst year on record — a year of targeting, brutality, continued impunity..."

Image: Pablo Picasso, Guernica

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said today that 2006 was a year of tragedy for the world’s media as killings of reporters and media staff reached historic levels with at least 155 murders, assassinations and unexplained deaths.
“Media have become more powerful and journalism has become more dangerous,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “2006 was the worst year on record – a year of targeting, brutality and continued impunity in the killing of journalists.”
During the year the numbers began to accumulate with civil strife and resistance to military occupation in Iraq. The IFJ says media became prime targets of terror attacks or victims of poor soldiering. By the year’s end, 68 media staff had been killed, bringing to 170 the number killed in the country since the invasion in April 2003.
Elsewhere, the IFJ says continuing violence in Latin America, particularly Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela, claimed the lives of 37 media staff while in Asia relentless attacks in the Philippines and Sri Lanka pushed the total of killings to 34.

Journalism Put to the Sword in 2006: IFJ Reports 155 Murders and Unexplained Killings in Year of Unprecedented Brutality, 12-31-06

Hard Rain Journal 1-5-07: Global Free Press Update -- “2006 was the worst year on record — a year of targeting, brutality, continued impunity..."

By Richard Power

No aspect of life is more vital to the establishment (or preservation) of a civil and open society than the cultivation of an independent news media. Rich in diverse views and empowered to challenge both government and business, independent news media is the life-blood of democratic political life. Without it, the populace is at the mercy of those who wield state power and corporate influence.

Here are four stories that underscore how bad conditions are for independent journalists in some of the world's most troubled regions:

According to IFJ General Secretary Aidan White: “2006 was the worst year on record — a year of targeting, brutality, and continued impunity in the killing of journalists.”
In the Philippines alone, IFJ said 13 journalists died last year, bringing to 49 the number of media practitioners murdered since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo came to power in 2001. This number, IFJ reported, surpasses the numbers killed during the Marcos regime.
This also makes the country the most dangerous place in the world for journalists, second only to Iraq. In that war-torn country, 68 media staff had been killed, bringing to 170 the number killed since the invasion in April 2003. There is also continuing violence against journalists in countries like Mexico, Colombia, Sri Lanka, and other parts of Africa, IFJ said.
2006: The Worst Year for Journalists, Philippine Center for Independent Journalism (PCIJ), 1-5-07

The blurred line between media and politics in Lebanon all but disappeared following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on 14 February 2004....The assassination threw the nation into political turmoil, from which the media was in no way immune. Newspapers and radio and television stations either owned or supported by anti-Syrian groups devoted their columns and airwaves to what became known as the “Cedar Revolution." In the months that followed, many media outlets became major players in the nationwide revolts that led to Syria’s withdrawal of forces in April 2005. Journalists were to pay dearly for their role in expressing such criticism. 2005 saw a wave of appalling and deadly attacks on the press. The murders of An-Nahar publisher Gebran Tueni and leading columnist Samir Qassir, and the maiming of LBC TV journalist May Chidiac, all of them car bomb attacks, had a chilling effect on the nation’s media and created a climate of fear and insecurity....
In the summer of 2006, Lebanese journalists faced security risks from another direction as they reported on the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. On 14 July, Israel launched air and sea attacks on targets in Lebanon after Hezbollah conducted a raid into Israel, killing seven soldiers and capturing two others....The Israeli military targeted a number of transmission towers belonging to both private and state-run media outlets in the first two weeks of the conflict, injuring a number of media employees.
On 23 July, Layal Najib, a freelance photographer for the Lebanese magazine Al-Jaras and Agence France-Presse was killed when an Israeli missile exploded near her car as she was travelling in southern Lebanon.
“Media in Lebanon: Reporting on a Nation Divided,” IPI, 12-06

The tightening grip on news media outlets has been an increasingly disturbing feature of the former Soviet Union’s authoritarian-minded regimes. This trend is noticeable in Azerbaijan, where recent government moves have weakened an already enfeebled independent media sector.
The reality on the ground in Azerbaijan belies official assertions that the government is interested in encouraging a free press. Measures introduced in late 2006 created the appearance of a design to close down the remaining few media outlets that provide independent information....
Analysis produced by the OECD identifies the lack of press freedom as one of the key factors enabling corruption in resource-based economies. Authorities’ recent ratcheting up of pressure on selected media outlets, therefore, raises concerns about Azerbaijan’s ability to take the steps needed to avoid the “resource curse.”
Freedom House findings identify a host of obstacles for independent media in Azerbaijan’s legal, political, and economic spheres. Freedom of the Press, Freedom House’s annual survey of global press freedom, places Azerbaijan in the “not free” category. Another annual Freedom House publication, Nations in Transit, reports that “Azerbaijan’s media sector encounters numerous obstacles to conducting its work and maintaining independence.” Among the issues highlighted in the report was the fact that media “continue to operate under governmental and legal pressure, with most opposition outlets facing substantial financial hardship in the face of unreasonably high libel penalties.”
Christopher Walker, The Wider Implications of the Crackdown on Press Freedom, Freedom House, 1-3-06

When you step off the elevator at the Reuters news offices in Washington, D.C., you see a large book sitting on a wooden stand. Each entry describes a Reuters journalist killed in the line of duty. Such as Taras Protsyuk. The veteran Ukrainian cameraman was killed on April 8, 2003, the day before the U.S. seized Baghdad. Protsyuk was on the balcony of the Palestine Hotel when a U.S. tank positioned itself on the al-Jumhuriyah bridge and, as people watched in horror, unleashed a round into the side of the building. The hotel was known for housing hundreds of unembedded reporters. Protsyuk was killed instantly. Jose Couso, a cameraman for the Spanish network Telecinco, was filming from the balcony below. He was also killed.
The difference between the responses by the mainstream media in the United States versus Europe was stunning. While in this country there was hardly a peep of protest, Spanish journalists engaged in a one-day strike. From the elite journalists down to the technicians, they laid down their cables, cameras and pens. They refused to record the words of then-Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, who joined British Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush in supporting the war. When Aznar came into parliament, they piled their equipment at the front of the room and turned their backs on him. Photographers refused to take his picture and instead held up a photo of their slain colleague. At a news conference in Madrid with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Spanish reporters walked out in protest. Later, hundreds of journalists, camera people and technicians marched on the U.S. embassy in Madrid, chanting "Murderer, murderer."
The U.N. Security Council agrees. On Dec. 23, it passed a unanimous resolution insisting on the protection of journalists in conflict zones.
More than 120 reporters and other media workers have been killed in Iraq since the invasion....The Pentagon should adopt the U.N. standard and send a clear message to its ranks: Shooting the messenger is a war crime that will not be tolerated.
Amy Goodman, Shooting the Messenger is a War Crime, Common Dreams, 12-28-06

Some Related Posts

Hard Rain Journal 10-10-06: Global Free Press Update -- Tales of Violence, Intimidation & Censorship Perpetrated By Both Governments & Corporations
Hard Rain Journal 9-7-06: While ABC Catapults the Propaganda, Bush’s “Key Ally” Makes Peace with Al Qaeda
Hard Rain Journal 8-12-06: News Media Control on the Poorest Continent & in the Richest Nation
Hard Rain Journal 8-7-06: Coked Out? ABC Ignores 3 Blockbusters on War & Treason to Suggest Lamont, Not Lieberman, Would Be A "Disaster"
Hard Rain Journal 7-22-06 Weekend Edition: Updates on US Election Fraud and the Dan Rather Watch
Hard Rain Journal 7-13-06: Dan Rather Not -- Will Former CBS Anchor Join Moyers & Cronkite in Wilderness, & Speak Truth to Abuse of Media Power?
Hard Rain Journal 7-5-06: Al Qaeda Endorsed Bush-Cheney in 2004, But US Mainstream News Media Chose to Ignore It
Hard Rain Journal 6-29-06: What are the Global Implications of Neo-Totalitarianism in both US and China? Will The New York Times Fight for Freedom?
Hard Rain Journal 6-19-06: Coulter, Beck and The Death of The News

Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: For more information, go to

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