World Press Freedom Day 2005

The more things change, the more things remain the same...

Every year on May 3 media activists and politicians take the time this day to analyse the current state of press freedom and commemorate those journalists who are harassed, injured or, in many countries, killed trying to tell the story. If the behavior of Kenya's First Lady gives any indication, the world's press corp is seriously in trouble.

The latest antics by Lucy Kibaki took on a whole new dimension Friday evening when she stormed into the offices of Nairobi's Daily Nation.

She was angry over reports of how she had interrupted a farewell party for outgoing World Bank Kenya director, saying the music was too loud. It is reported that she slapped a cameraman and took away reporters' notebooks.

The BBC's Adam Mynott in Nairobi says the drama began on Friday night when the first lady went round to the house of Senegalese outgoing World Bank Kenya director Mukhtar Diop and three times demanded that he turn the music down.

It is reported she is said to have tried to disconnect the electricity from the sound system.
Surrounded by armed guards, she called on a local police station, demanding that Mr Diop be arrested.

The antics of the charismatic first lady, who has a reputation as a woman not to be trifled with, was splashed all over the front pages of Kenya's newspapers. This is this what prompted her to walk into the Daily Nation's offices.

In this same report, the camaraman Clifford Derrick said he was "terrified at the way she was behaving" when she slapped him "hard" for refused to give her his camera.

Mrs Kibaki said reports about her and her family were "unkind."

"If you think Kenyans are blind, and not intelligent, you cheat yourselves," she said. "They know who are the people you support in this country.

Could you imagine if Laura Bush did this? Maybe she gave herself cover from an pending scandals by entertaining the scribes at the White House Correspondents' Dinner last Saturday.

But I digress...

In Nepal King Gyananedra has banned the media from covering scuffles between the army and the Maoist rebels.

Unfortunately Mrs Kibaki and King Gyananedra are not the only people in power who try to suppress freedom of the press. According to a report released today by the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Philippines, Iraq, Russia, Colombia and Bangladesh were among the most dangerous countries for journalists to work in last year.

Human rights activists believed that the internet was going to be the new frontier for oppressed media workers around the world to be beat totalitarian government officials. But many regimes are finding ways to even censor cyberspace.

The Thai news website, Prachatai, has been getting a lot of steam from Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra for disseminating photos and video showing that the death of 78 Muslims in southern Thailand was at the hands of the government's militia and banned any visuals of Maoist rebels.

On Nov. 15, 'Prachatai' posted an account on its webpage that criticized the explanation of the government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra of the manner in which the 78 Muslims died. The premier told the press that the deaths happened because the detainees were weak and exhausted since the incident took place during the Islamic month of Ramadan.

In Iran the conservative government tried to ban internet bloggers that objected to press censorship. A lively culture of news blogging captivated young readers, as evidenced by a 2004 survey suggesting that many Iranians trust the Internet more than other media, the Iranian Students News Agency reported. In an online protest during several days in September, bloggers renamed their sites after government-shuttered newspapers and ran outlawed articles

Amir Mojiri, Babak Ghafori Azad, Hanif Mazrui, Omid Memarian, Shahram Rafizadeh, and Fereshteh Ghazi were among a number of Internet journalists and technicians arrested. All were eventually released, most on bail while their cases remained pending. Several other bloggers and Web technicians were questioned and briefly detained. In October, judiciary spokesman Jamal Karimirad said that individuals operating unauthorized Web sites would be prosecuted for "acting against national security, disturbing the public mind, and insulting sanctities."

From where to where have we come...


Post a Comment

<< Home