[Regional] SEAPA Bulletin: World Press Freedom Day 2019

May 3 marks World Press Freedom Day (WPFD), a celebration of media freedom as a basic human right. It is a call for the promotion and protection of free expression around the world and a salute to journalists and media workers who are at risk for upholding the people’s democratic right to information.

The United Nations (UN) General Assembly proclaimed World Press Freedom Day in 1993,  following a recommendation adopted during the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s General Conference in 1991. For more than two decades, it has discussed the media’s critical role in securing peace, freedom, and democracy.

This year’s theme Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation focuses on the challenges faced by media and journalists during campaigns and elections. Its accompanying campaign “Defend Journalism” calls for a free and independent media all over the world.

To commemorate #WorldPressFreedomDay, the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) is releasing its Annual Media Freedom Report on 3 May 2019. The compilation is composed of country (10) and regional reports that analyze the media environment and press freedom principles in Southeast Asia. SEAPA is also hosting the forum Toward Constructive Dialogue and Shared Narratives: Exploring Media’s Role in Conflict-Prone Societies in the main celebration of World Press Freedom Day in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 3 May 2019.

Here’s a list of events and activities commemorating World Press Freedom Day 2019 in Southeast Asia:

Cambodia

Indonesia

  • The Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI, Alliance of Independent Journalists) will be launching a social media campaign and conduct a panel discussion “Kembali Merawat Kemerdekaan Pers (Going back to protect press freedom)” in central Jakarta. The panelists for the discussion include Imam Wahyudi (Indonesian Press Council), Asfinawati (Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation), and Col. Edys Riyanto of the Indonesian military. “We hope that the discussion and public campaign activities on social media will increase public awareness about press freedom which is still not fully good in Indonesia,said AJI chairperson Abdul Manan. On the same day, they will also distribute stickers about the WPFD.

Myanmar

Philippines

Thailand

  • The สมาคมนักข่าวนักหนังสือพิมพ์แห่งประเทศไทย (Thai Journalists Association, TJA) released a statement of solidarity: “(TJA) continues to support the principles to ensure that professional media members of all channels is aware of the value of ‘press freedom’ and commits themselves to the morals of the media profession under the principles of ‘freedom with responsibilities’. In the era of online and social media, press media has high expectation from the public and is monitored by all sectors in society. As a result, members of the press media must share their responsibilities in all forms.”

Partners and networks

  • IFEX, the global network defending and advocating free expression, shared some original content on cases of violations against press freedom over the past year on a Twitter thread. Annie Game, executive director of the IFEX network, writes: “Let’s renew our vow to use our passion, our energy and our skills and move beyond resistance to actively change the paradigm, to interfere with attempts to interfere with the media, to obstruct those trying to obstruct the media, and ultimately, to work to create space for a free media to do the job we all need it to do.
  • Awarding of UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize to Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo on 2 May 2019 at Sheraton Addis in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Splice BETA by Splice from 1 to 3 May 2019 in Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • One hundred and ninety Myanmar civil society organizations honors and commemorates the World Press Freedom Day: “The media is the backbone of democracy and a bridge that links the gap between governments and the people. The media have been the eyes and ears of the people during Myanmar’s democratization, and we, as civil society organizations, greatly value the role that they play. We express our highest acknowledgment and respect as we take a bow to honor workers in the media who have lost their lives while carrying out their duties. Although Myanmar has democratic ambitions, indicators show that freedom of the press is currently restricted and under threat.”
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