[Philippines] Arrest of Maria Ressa is persecution by a bully government

Even as we are certain they will hold the line, we stand with Maria and our colleagues at Rappler and urge all colleagues who value the work we do and the independence essential to it to circle the wagons and resist this blatant assault on our right and liberties.

We call on all freedom-loving Filipinos to stand with the independent Philippine press in defense of the rights not only of media but of the people. For in suppressing the press it is the people’s right to know that is trampled on.

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[Philippines] Rappler’s Maria Ressa arrested for cyber libel

Journalist Maria Ressa was arrested Wednesday, 13 February 2019, for online libel by officers of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) at Rappler’s office, in Pasig City. 

We will “cooperate with the authorities and try to post bail tonight,” Ressa said during the brief press conference held at Rappler’s office immediately after the arrest warrant was served.

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NUJP national chairperson Nonoy Espina and Negros Press Club president Boy Duran react on the “drug list” implicating local journalists in Bacolod City.

[Philippines] Negros media up in arms over ‘drug list’

The media community in the central Philippine province of Negros Occidental was up in arms following the circulation since late last week of at least three lists of purported “drug protectors” that included at least 15 of their colleagues.

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Photo from the Facebook of Sirote Klampaiboon, Voice TV news host

[Thailand] Voice TV shutdown yet another assault on press freedom —SEAPA

Such perceived risk is unwarranted and could only be construed as yet another unmistakable curtailment of press freedom by the ruling junta. At a time when Thailand is on the cusp of a new election that has been put off countless times, much to the frustration of a nation that has grown weary of military rule, the NBTC’s order could not have sent off a stronger signal. That is, the state will not countenance media outfits, who, in asserting their fundamental right to inform and engage the public in meaningful discussions of important issues, dare cross the former’s path. 

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Weekly Media Roundup (2 – 8 February 2019)

Some of the press freedom- and free expression-related events and issues you might have missed last week

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Photo from Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI, Alliance of Independent Journalists)

[Indonesia] President Jokowi revokes commutation of death sentence for convicted journalist killer (UPDATED)

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has revoked his grant of remission to convicted mastermind in the killing of Radar Bali journalist Anak Agung Bagus Narendra Prabangsa, Jakarta Post reported on 9 February 2019. 

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Photo from AJI Indonesia

[Indonesia] National Press Day ‘more ceremonial’ than substantive – AJI

The just concluded Hari Pers Nasional (HPN, or the National Press Day) may have been touted as a celebration of the role of the press in a still largely democratic society like Indonesia, and, as in years past since 1985, was meant to be a meaningful occasion for the entire nation – except that not everyone, let alone some journalist groups, found any reason to celebrate it.

The choice of date, February 9, remains contentious for many, for the historical baggage that it carries.

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Photo by FJPI

[Indonesia] Women journalists tell their stories in new book

Published by Forum Jurnalis Perempuan Indonesia (FJPI, Indonesian Women Journalists Forum), the book, Jurnalis Perempuan Meliput Indonesia: 50 Kisali di Balik Berita (Female Journalists Covering Indonesia: 50 Stories Behind the News), was launched Friday, 8 February 2019, at Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Surabaya, capital city of East Java. The launch coincided with the commemoration of the National Press Day of Indonesia, which is celebrated annually on February 9.

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[Vietnam] Radio Free Asia blogger goes missing after seeking refugee status in Thailand

Vietnamese blogger Truong Duy Nhat has been missing since 26 January 2019, and no one knows his whereabouts. Just three days ago, on 5 February 2019, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported that they have lost contact with Nhat and are “extremely concerned” about his safety and well-being.  

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[Myanmar] Facebook ramps up ban on hate mongers’ accounts

Social media giant Facebook has banned four more groups, which it described as “dangerous organizations” based on their verified use of the platform to incite violence and attacks on civilians in Myanmar. 

The Arakan Army, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, Kachin Independence Army, and Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) were taken down Tuesday, 5 February 2019, and prevented from using Facebook’s services to “fuel tension on the ground.” 

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Arlene Django

[Philippines] Romancing storms, worms and leaves: Growing native ‘batek’ in the shadow of environmental perils

The town leadership more than a decade ago, as early as 2006, had the foresight to envision environmental management strategies for its communities that included the introduction of organic farming methods for all crops for this largely agricultural town, where residents grow rice, corn, coconuts and other cash crops like bananas, coffee and tobacco on 4,366 hectares, 42 percent of its land area.

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Ruthela Mabalo, 73, a comprador at the Bagsakan, the tobacco trading center in Laguindingan town in Misamis Oriental, examines a mano (a sheaf of 100 batek leaves) before she decides to buy them from a farmer-seller. (photo by Lina Sagaral Reyes)

[Philippines] Romancing storms, worms and leaves: Growing tobacco in the shadow of environmental perils in Misor

In October 2018, at the eighth Conference of Parties (COP8) in Geneva, the WHO FCTC spotlighted Article 18, which commits signatory countries like the Philippines, to addressing the environmental impacts caused by tobacco agriculture as well as the health of growers. 

On the ground, however, it is easier said than done. While the number of farmers and the hectarage had significantly declined in the past seven years nationwide, Misamis Oriental had seen an upsurge as farmers turn to tobacco as major crop once again.

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A makeshift hut in Bin Dong camp, one of five temporary shelters for people affected by a dam collapse in southern Laos in July. People here have built the huts as extensions, saying the tents are too hot during the day time / Credit: Visarut Sankham

[Laos] Left to fend for themselves

Even six months after the collapse of the Saddle Dam D section of the Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy hydropower project, which severely destroyed six villages in southern Laos and buried more than 55,200 hectares of land under deep floodwater, the victims still have no certainty about their future.

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The Ton River is seen in Kua village, Laos, on Dec. 24, 2018 / Credit: Somphavanh

[Laos] Poisoned fish worries village as Sangthong district promotes good agricultural practices

The people of Kua village in Sangthong district depend on the Ton River for their livelihoods. It is a prime source of food for the community and provides fishermen an income. It is a source of drinking water for the many diverse animals that live in the area. Locals use the water from the river on a daily basis for drinking, bathing and washing.

Villagers say the number of fish and aquatic life in the Ton River has been on the decline ever since the Chinese-owned Yongzhen Import-Export Production Promotion Company started planting bananas there in 2014.

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(L-R) Orapin Yingyongpathana, The Momentum; Chonthicha Jangrew, Democracy Restoration Group; Tanawat  Wongchai, Student Union of Thailand; Prasong Lertratanawisute, ISRA News Agency; Kulachada Chaipipat, formerly of SEAPA

[Thailand] In run-up to next election, media must step up its game — says forum

The event, called “A Public Forum on Election and Media Coverage in Thailand: Challenges and Opportunities for Broadening Public Discourse,” gathered 60 representatives from news organizations, journalists’ groups, and civil society to discuss the role of the media during elections, and the state of its coverage of political issues.

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Sorn Sithy (Photo from Facebook)

[Cambodia] Journalist beaten to death in Kratie province

A motorcycle-riding journalist was stoned and beaten to death by a group of unidentified male attackers on Monday midnight, 4 February 2019. 

Suos Chamroeun, provincial deputy police chief in charge of criminal cases, said in an interview Monday that Kratie provincial and Snuol district police were investigating the murder of 18-year-old Sorn Sithy, who worked for BTBP TV Online, in Pi Thnou commune.

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[Thailand] Media-public forum shines a light on bleak realities of election reporting

Now that the long-awaited national election in Thailand is a certainty, how does the local media fare in the public eye in terms of its coverage of important issues that are relevant to the highly anticipated political exercise?

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