Weekly Media Roundup (23 – 29 March 2019)

Here are some of the press freedom- and free expression-related events and issues you might have missed last week:


Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)


[Myanmar] Burma News International (BNI): “Negotiations Fail Between Myitkyina Journal and Mining Company

[Philippines] Ressa’s latest arrest yet another sign of government’s unflagging harassment of media —SEAPA

See also:

Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR): “Rappler CEO Arrested on Anti-Dummy Law Charge” ; “Rappler Correspondent Barred from PDP-Laban Rally

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP). “[On Maria Ressa’s arrest] Resist the Silence: Stand with Rappler and the independent Philippine press” ; “Rappler correspondent evicted from CDO school where Duterte appeared

Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR): “2 Broadcasters Convicted of Online Libel in Cotabato


[Regional] IFEX: “Women’s Day marchers attacked, Thai media restricted, and report on media killings in Afghanistan

[Thailand] Strong headwinds blew against free expression, media freedom ahead of polls —election observers


General news

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). “Covering elections: Journalist safety kit

“During elections, journalists frequently cover rallies, campaign events, and protests, which can increase their risk of being attacked, harassed, and detained. CPJ’s Emergencies Response Team (ERT) has compiled a Safety Kit with information for editors, reporters, and photojournalists on how to prepare for elections and how to mitigate digital, physical and psychological risk.”


Google: “Here are the winners of the GNI Innovation Challenge in Asia Pacific

“Within two months of opening up the Innovation Challenge, we received 215 applications from 18 countries. We heard from news startups in Indonesia, web publishers in Mongolia and Nepal, and video and audio broadcasters in Australia. After a rigorous review, a round of interviews and a thorough jury selection process, we ended up providing support to 23 projects in 14 countries—amounting to a total of $3.2 million.”



.coda: “Cambodia’s Internet Crackdown Reaches its Activist Monks

“Scores of Cambodia’s monks have taken to social media in recent years to shine a spotlight on a string of social and political issues. Some have marched alongside street protesters, using their smartphones to livestream and document any police brutality. A group called the Independent Monk Network for Social Justice has tackled deforestation, posting images and videos of illegal logging. Their work has been popular on Facebook and YouTube, drawing -tens of thousands of followers and likes. The government’s violent response to dissent has discouraged many monks. But a more recent clampdown on criticism online has been especially foreboding, forcing them to censor their work or risk prison.”



The Jakarta Post: “AJI Jakarta tells police to prosecute gang leader Hercules for assaulting journalist

“The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Jakarta lambasted alleged assault conducted by infamous gang leader Hercules Rosario Marshal prior to his verdict hearing at the West Jakarta District Court on Wednesday (27 March 2019)…. The AJI condemned the alleged assault targeted at journalists, saying it violated the 1999 law on the press, which guaranteed legal protection for journalists on duty, AJI Jakarta chairman Asnil Bambani Amri said.”


The Jakarta Post: “‘Suara USU’ student website faces permit revocation for publishing LGBT-themed story

“The rector of state-run North Sumatra University (USU), Runtung Sitepu, has threatened to revoke the publishing permit of the campus’ student website, Suara USU, after the news outlet published a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)-themed short story … The short story, titled Semua Menolak Kehadiran Diriku di Dekatnya (Everyone Refuses My Presence Near Her), was promoted through Suara USU’s social media account on Monday (18 March 2019) and went viral not long after.”

See also:

Human Rights Watch (HRW): “Indonesian University Censors Lesbian Love Story



Malaysiakini: “We were doing our job, not protesting – M’kini interns set record straight

“We wish to make one thing clear: we were harassed by Umno leaders and Najib’s (former premier Najib Abdul Razak) supporters who were upset about Malaysiakini’s report on the scuffle with the students, and not because we participated in the protest…. We were just journalists in training doing our job. Nothing more, nothing less.”

See also:

Malay Mail: “Communications minister condemns attack on journalists


CIVICUS: “Criminal defamation laws used to prosecute online criticism of religion and monarchy

“On 14th March 2019, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted the final outcome of Malaysia’s third Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Malaysia accepted 147 of the 268 recommendations. At least 13 recommendations were related to civic space including repealing or revising restrictive laws such as the Sedition Act, provisions of the Communications and Multimedia Act and the Printing and Publication Act; to guarantee the freedoms and safety of human rights defenders; to ensure a free, independent and diverse media landscape and to take measures to create a safe and enabling environment for the media and civil society.”


Malay Mail: “CIJ disappointed CEP report will remain under OSA

“The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) voiced their disappointment that the report by the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) will remain under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) … Sonia (CIJ Executive Director Sonia Randhawa) said that OSA should only be confined to documents concerning national security, defence and international relations or ‘other clearly and narrowly defined criteria’.”



Reuters: “Myanmar’s top court to hear Reuters reporters’ appeal in official secrets case

“Myanmar’s Supreme Court was scheduled on Tuesday (26 March 2019) to hear the appeal of two Reuters journalists imprisoned for breaking a colonial-era official secrets law, in a case that has raised questions about Myanmar’s progress towards democracy…. Reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have spent more than 15 months in detention since they were arrested in December 2017, while investigating a massacre of Rohingya Muslim civilians involving Myanmar soldiers.”

See also:

Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Myanmar Supreme Court Agrees to Rule on Reuters Journalists’ Appeal


Frontier Myanmar. “Episode 71: Dawei journalist defiant, despite charges

“Press freedom in Myanmar has come under considerable scrutiny in recent years, highlighted by the sentencing of two Reuters journalists to seven years in prison for their reporting on the military’s 2017 crackdown in Rakhine State…. Journalists around the country also face considerable issues, including threats, harassment and abuse. Last month, the Dawei Township court fined the chief editor of local outlet The Tanintharyi Weekly K500,000 for a satirical article it published in November 2017. This week, Doh Athan looks at what the case means for press freedom across the country.”


Eleven: “Myanmar Press Freedom Center opened in Yangon

“Myanmar Press Freedom Center was opened at Olympic Tower in Yangon on March 24 with the aim of ensuring greater press freedom in the country…. Thar Lun Zaung Htet from Myanmar Press Council said the center was opened because journalists needed room for working freely to share news and information with civil service organizations.”



Rappler.com: “Maria Ressa arrested at NAIA over Anti-Dummy Law

“Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa was arrested early Friday morning, March 29, over a charge of violating the anti-dummy law…. Pasig police officers served the warrant of arrest the moment that Ressa deplaned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1. Police officers took Ressa and her lawyer on board their police car…. Ressa said she would immediately post bail as she was being escorted to the police car.”

See also:

Maria Ressa, Rappler board members charged again over anti-dummy law” ; “LIST: Cases vs Maria Ressa, Rappler directors, staff since 2018

ABS-CBN News. “Ressa arrest shows ‘obvious pattern of harassment’: media groups

Philippine Daily Inquirer: “Rappler’s Maria Ressa faces antidummy charges

INQUIRER.net: “Palace on latest arrest of Ressa: ‘All are equal before the law’

Channel NewsAsia: “Philippine journalist and prominent Duterte critic Maria Ressa charged again

Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “Another spurious charge against embattled Philippine website

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “Philippines issues arrest warrants against Rappler’s Maria Ressa, other executives


INQUIRER.net: “2 North Cotabato broadcasters found ‘guilty’ of online libel

“A local court found two broadcasters here ‘guilty’ of online libel on Friday (22 March 2019)…. The broadcasters were identified as Eric Dugaduga Rodinas, an anchor of Radyo Natin and Larry Baja Subillaga, both residents here…. The case was filed by Gov. Lala Taliño Mendoza after the two posted “malicious” statements in their social media accounts on March 14, 2017.”

See also:

Manila Bulletin: “2 radio broadcasters convicted of libel


AlterMidya – People’s Media Network. “STATEMENT: Alternative media outfits under attack fight back

“Marking the anniversary of the first ever internet connection in the Philippines, alternative media outifts are fighting back as they filed a civil complaint for damages against two companies found by experts to be the source of the relentless cyber-attacks against their websites … Complainants in the case filed today before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court include Bulatlat, Kodao, Pinoy Weekly, and AlterMidya. They were assisted by a team of lawyers from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers…. Through the solid and thorough digital forensic investigation of Sweden-based Qurium Media Foundation over time, it was discovered that the cyber-attacks were coming from companies IP Converge and Suniway.”

See also:

Kodao: “Alternative media outfits fight back, file complaints vs. cyber-attacks

Qurium (The Media Foundation): “Attributing the attacks against media and human rights websites in the Philippines

philstar.com: “Alternative news orgs sue IT firms over cyberattacks

Rappler.com: “Cyberattack vs alternative media traced to PH-based attacker


SunStar Pampanga: “Journos to gather for drafting of safety action plan on March 27

“Journalists from across Luzon will gather at the Xenia Hotel in Clark Freeport on Wednesday, March 27 for the Regional Multi-Stakeholder Consultation Workshop on the Drafting of the Philippine Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists…. The gathering is part of a series of regional consultations in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, which will provide concrete recommendations on what to integrate into the plan of action. Suggestions may include safety structures and mechanisms, policies, and training programs, among others.”


BBC. “Storyville | The Internet’s Dirtiest Secrets: The Cleaners

“7,000 miles from Silicon Valley in downtown Manila, a secret team of content moderators have a target of 25,000 Facebook, Google and Twitter posts to delete each day. Trawling through the world’s most violent, disturbing and highly contentious online material – in the form of terrorist videos, child pornography, self-harm material and political propaganda – ‘the cleaners’ are individually responsible for deciding what stays online and what gets removed. This film explores the hidden and complex world of digital content moderation where undesirable material is ‘cleaned’ from the internet by a hidden army of nameless people.”


Facebook: “Removing Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior From the Philippines

“Today (28 March 2019) we removed 200 Pages, Groups and accounts that engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook and Instagram in the Philippines, misleading others about who they were and what they were doing…. We are constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don’t want our services to be used to manipulate people. We’re taking down these Pages and accounts based on their behavior, not the content they posted. In this case, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves, and that was the basis for our action.”

See also:

Rappler.com: “Facebook takes down fake account network of Duterte campaign social media manager

ABS-CBN News: “Former Duterte social media man ‘surprised’ with Facebook takedown

VERA Files: “FB links Duterte social media head to shady pages, groups


GMA News: “TV networks should have choice on drug tests, says media watchdog

“Media watchdog Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) said on Friday (29 March 2019) television networks should have the choice on whether celebrities will be required to undergo drug tests … Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency director general Aaron Aquino had challenged TV networks to conduct surprise and mandatory drug tests among their artists.”


INQUIRER.net: “Javellana appointed as Inquirer associate publisher

“Philippine Daily Inquirer president and CEO Alexandra Prieto-Romualdez has appointed Juliet Labog-Javellana as the company’s associate publisher…. With her new post, Javellana will be the management’s senior representative in the editorial group and will have post-oversight responsibility in the content, quality, style and image of the newspaper, management of editorial operations and output, editorial reputation of the Inquirer, and collaboration with the editorial and business groups.”


ANCX. “From Aduana to Port Area: the life and eventual demise of the Chronicle

“As Benpres prepares to be taken down to make way for a new Lopez structure, editor Vergel O. Santos recalls his time working inside one of its offices, The Manila Chronicle’s–a memorable period cut short by the declaration of Martial Law”



TODAY: “Rights groups ‘deeply troubled’ by charges against activist Jolovan Wham, call for review of laws

“Twenty-five non-government organisations (NGOs), including Maruah, Pink Dot and The Online Citizen, have banded together to support civil rights activist Jolovan Wham, calling the mounting charges against him a curb on civil liberties…. This comes as Wham, 39, faces fresh investigations earlier this month for holding a piece of paper outside the State Courts and calling for criminal defamation charges against The Online Citizen’s editor Terry Xu and contributor Daniel De Costa to be dropped.”

See also:

The Online Citizen (TOC): “Local groups call for greater freedom of expression in light of mounting charges against activist Jolovan Wham

The Independent: “Local groups call for greater freedom of expression in Singapore as Jolovan Wham faces investigations



Khaosod English: “9 Arrested for Sharing Election Hoax News

“Police said Wednesday (27 March 2019) they arrested a group of netizens who shared hoax news about the Election Commission…. Police Lt. Gen. Surachet Hakparn said the nine suspects were arrested and charged with cybercrime for sharing the news, which claimed that two Election Commissioners were fired after voting irregularities were discovered.”


International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). “Thailand: Ongoing judicial harassment of Sutharee Wannasiri and Nan Win

“The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoing judicial harassment of Ms. Sutharee Wannasiri, a former Thailand Human Rights Specialist with the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Fortify Rights [1], and Mr. Nan Win, a migrant worker from Myanmar, for denouncing labour rights violations by the Thai poultry company Thammakaset [2], against migrant workers from Myanmar…. According to the information received, on March 25, 2019, the Criminal Court in Bangkok decided that the defamation case filed by Thammakaset against Ms. Sutharee Wannasiri should proceed. The trial of Ms. Sutharee Wannasiri is set to begin on May 24, 2019. The Court also decided to combine her case with the case of Mr. Nan Win, which the Criminal Court had already ruled, on March 8, 2019, that it should proceed.”



The Vietnamese. “Vietnam: State-Owned People’s Army Newspaper Defamed Independent Media, Civil Society Organizations

“Among other things, it unfoundedly alleged that independent newspapers, media, and civil society organizations such as Luat Khoa, Cong Hoa TV, Vietnam Path Movement, and so forth, were promoting ‘fake democracy,’ and that the real intention of these organizations was to misrepresent information about the Vietnamese Communist Party and the government by portraying them in a negative light…. According to the author, some forms of citizen journalism and blogging by individuals who exposed wrongdoings and injustice in society could be criminal conducts.”



All information and materials in this roundup are for general information and use only and do not constitute any advice or recommendation.

All information and materials in this roundup are provided in good faith. Except for the information produced by SEAPA, we are not responsible for the contents or reliability of linked websites and do not necessarily endorse the views expressed within them. We have no control over availability of the linked websites.

x Logo: Shield Security
This Site Is Protected By
Shield Security