Media freedom call: join the global day of action for press freedoms around the world

#journalismisnotacrime #freeAJstaff #PressFreedom #Cookednews

Join the global day of action for press freedoms, when rallies will be held around the world 

Three Al Jazeera English journalists have been imprisoned in Egypt since 29th December 2013.

They have suffered harsh conditions, solitary confinement, denied medical treatment and are now on trial for charges related to terrorism, along with six other foreign journalists being tried in absentia.

Peter Greste, Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, who were simply doing their jobs, are being tried in Cairo, charged with terrorism-related offences and “spreading false news“.

Another Al Jazeera Arabic reporter, Abdullah Al-Shami, has been in prison since August 14 and has been on hunger strike for more than 30 days.

And they are not the only press to be incarcerated by the Egyptian authorities.

Journalists are not terrorists. They risk their lives to shed light on abuse, suffering and injustice around the world. They are our eyes and ears, as well as our voices. An attack journalism is an attack on everyone who values the freedom to speak their minds and know the truth.

Please join the world’s press in a Global Day of Action on Thursday 27th February with peaceful demonstrations, silent protests and individual images that will send a message to Egypt and the world: if you silence the press, you silence us all.

The following is a list of demonstrations, open to both the public and the media, organised so far:


Tokyo, Japan –
 Solidarity stand outside the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Yurakucho Denki North Building 20F Yurakucho 1-7-1, Chiyoda-ku,1GMT, 10am local time.

Ramallah, Palestine – Solidarity stand at the Manara Roundabout, 9 GMT, 11am local time.

Gaza, Palestine – Solidarity stand Outside the Al Jazeera bureau, Burj al-Jalaa (al-Jalaa Tower), 9GMT, 12pm local time.

Istanbul, Turkey – Solidarity stand outside Outside the Egyptian consulate, 9GMT, 11am local time.

Khartoum, Republic of Sudan – Solidarity stand outside the Al Jazeera Bureau, Al Baladiya Street, Building: Institute of Arab Development and Agricultural Investment, 9GMT, 12pm local time.

Jerusalem – Solidarity stand at Zeitoun Hill, 10GMT, 12pm local time

Amman, Jordan –  Solidarity stand outside the Al Jazeera bureau, Jabal Amman, 2nd Roundabout, 10GMT, 12pm local time.

Ankara, Turkey – Solidarity stand with our journalists outside the Al Jazeera bureau, Karom Shopping Center, Çankaya 11GMT, 1pm local time.

Beirut, Lebanon – Solidarity stand at Martyrs’ Square, 11GMT, 1pm local time

Berlin, Germany –  Brandenburg Gate, 11 GMT, 12pm local time.

London, UK –  Trafalgar Square, 12 GMT, 12pm local time.

At the same time, silent protests are called for in newsrooms, offices, shops, commuters, tourists, pedestrians – everyone, everywhere. To show support, take a selfie with your mouth taped shut and share it via social media with the #FreeAJStaff tag.

Nouakchott, Mauritania –  Solidarity stand outside Al Jazeera Bureau, Mamado Konatee Stree, City Center Tent, 12GMT, 12pm local time.

Tunis, Tunisia – 
Solidarity at Tunis Center for Press Freedom, 4 Rue de Mexique, 12GMT, 1pm local time

Toronto, Canada – Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square, 17GMT, 12pm local time.

Montreal, Canada: Egyptian Consulate in Montreal, 1000 de la Gauchetière O., Montréal, 17GMT, 12:00pm

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil –  
Journalists and the general public are encouraged to take a photo with a “Journalism is not a Crime” sign at “Posto 7” in Arpoador Beach 2030GMT, 5:30pm local time.

Also, a plane pulling a banner reading #FreeAJstaff will fly over over Rio de Janeiro’s famous beaches of Leblon, Ipanema, Copacabana 1730GMT – 2030GMT, 2:30pm – 5:30pm local time.

Washington, DC, US- Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Ave NW, 21GMT – 2230GMT, 4pm – 5:30pm local time.

Sydney NSW, Australia – Martin Place, 130GMT, 12:30pm local time.

San Francisco, US- Justin Herman Plaza, 4 Embarcadero Centre, 2GMT – 4GMT, 6pm – 8pm local time.

Source:
Al Jazeera

#pressfreedom #FreeAJStaff #JournalismIsNotACrime #Cookednews

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Lau Chun-to, journalist of the daily Ming Pao, is in critical condition after attack

Kevin Lau Chun-to Hong Kong journalist attacked #cookednews

A former editor of a major Hong Kong newspaper known for its critical reporting has been stabbed and seriously injured. The attack on Wednesday is likely to fuel concern among journalists about what many see as an erosion of media freedoms.

A man in a helmet attacked Kevin Lau Chun-to, former chief editor of the daily Ming Pao, slashing him in the back several times.

The assailant rode off on a motorcycle with an accomplice.

Mr Lau is in a critical condition in hospital after managing to summon police himself.

Police said they so far had no clues as to who might have carried out the attack. No-one has been detained.

The attack took place days after 6,000 journalists marched to Hong Kong’s government headquarters to demand the city’s leaders uphold press freedom and repel what they see as intrusions from mainland China.

The Hong Kong Journalists’Association has denounced the stabbing and called on authorities to “pursue [Mr Lau’s] attackers and those malignant forces behind them without fear or favour.

“The attackers must be brought to justice as quickly as possible to allay public fears.”

Mr Lau was recently replaced by a Malaysian Chinese journalist with suspected pro-Beijing leanings who takes up his duties this week.

Although the motive for the attack is unclear, Mr Lau’s removal from the editorial post sparked a revolt in the Ming Pao newsroom by journalists who suggested the paper’s editorial independence may be undermined.

“We hope the police can swiftly prosecute the culprit as many cases of attacks against the media in the past have ended up being unsolved,” Ming Pao staff concern group Phyllis Tsang said.

“This attack will damage perceptions of Hong Kong as a safe city and its reputation for media freedoms.”

Ming Pao, co-founded by martial arts novelist Louis Cha, is owned by colourful Malaysian media baron, Tiong Hiew King, through his Media Chinese International.

Media outlets have periodically been subject to attacks in Hong Kong. The offices of a small independent media outlet were recently ransacked and a car rammed the front gate of the home of Jimmy Lai, publisher of Hong Kong’s popular anti-Beijing newspaper, the Apple Daily.

An incident of such brutality is unusual in the former British colony, which reverted to Chinese rule in 1997.

Hong Kong generally enjoys a high degree of autonomy and freedom, but Beijing’s Communist Party leaders have resisted public pressure for full democracy.

Beijing has agreed in principle for Hong Kong to hold direct elections in 2017, but no specific rules have yet been set on whether open nominations for candidates will be allowed.

#pressfreedom #FreeAJStaff #cookednews #pressfreedom #hongkong

The prisoners of conscience of Sochi2014

Russian activist Yevgeny Vitishko

The re-arrest today of yet another environmental activist in Russia’s Krasnodar region where the Sochi Winter Olympic Games will open on 7 February, as well as his brief detention along with five colleagues last night, are more evidence of growing efforts to clamp down on civil society ahead of the Games, Amnesty International said.

 Igor Kharchenko of the Russian NGO Environmental Watch for North Caucasus (Ecologicheskaya Vakhta po Severnomu Kavkazu) is currently being held by police in Krasnodar, the regional capital, where they had arrived ahead of the Olympic torch relay. He was arrested today under the pretext that his car had been ‘involved in a crime’, shortly after three masked men had smashed in the front and back windows of the vehicle.

‘Just days away from the official opening of the Sochi Winter Olympics, the Russian authorities are using every trick in the book to muzzle freedom of expression and silence dissenting voices,’ said Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International’s Moscow Office.

Kharchenko is one of six activists from Environmental Watch who were also detained last night for several hours in Krasnodar before being released. They felt compelled to scrap plans for a Sochi launch of their report exposing environmental damage caused by the construction ahead of the Games.

Their detention came the same day that their fellow environmentalist Yevgeny Vitishko was arrested in the Krasnodar Region city of Tuapse and sentenced to 15 days of administrative detention, purportedly for swearing in public.

‘This spate of harassment of civil society activists bodes ill for the coming weeks, and raises fears that the Sochi Games will be a human rights-free zone. Even more troubling is what will happen to Russian activists after the Olympic medals are handed out and the international attention fades,’ said Sergei Nikitin.

‘Silencing civil society does nothing to increase security around the Sochi Games and instead broadcasts to the world how the Russian authorities are failing spectacularly to uphold and protect international human rights standards.

As the start of the Sochi Winter Olympics comes closer, harassment against civil society activists has intensified, Amnesty International said today after the arrest of an environmentalist for allegedly swearing in public.

Yevgeny Vitishko was arrested today in Tuapse, part of the Sochi area where the Games will take place. He has been reportedly charged with ‘petty hooliganism‘, allegedly for swearing previously at a bus stop. At a court hearing today he was sentenced to 15 days of administrative detention.

‘Vitishko’s name has now become synonymous with harassment of civil society activists in the run-up to Sochi Games. Vitishko and his friends have been trying to expose environmental violations during the preparation of the Sochi Olympics. For this they are being punished. By trying to lock him up as a ‘petty hooligan’ the authorities are trying to gag him,’ said Denis Krivosheev, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Programme Director.

‘The concern is what will happen to civil society after the closure of the Olympics after the international focus moves away.’

Yevgeny Vitishko and his fellow activists have been actively involved in protests regarding the deforestation and illegal construction and fencing in areas of protected forest around Sochi.

In 2012, he received a suspended sentence in connection with an environmental protest. Last December, a court in Tuapse ruled that he should serve three years in prison for violating a curfew associated with the suspended sentence. His appeal hearing was reportedly scheduled for 22 February 2014, but now all information regarding it has been conspicuously removed from the court’s website.

Amnesty International has already raised concern about his unfair trial which resulted in a court decision to send him to prison colony for three years. His arrest comes as he is awaiting his appeal hearing.

Vitishko’s supporters fear that he will be held in custody until the day of his appeal under administrative charges, and then be sent to a prison colony.

Rights groups have accused Russian officials of harassing activists and journalists in the Sochi area, detaining them on trumped-up charges.

The Olympics are projected to cost $51 billion, or more than every other Winter Olympics combined. The high price tag is being blamed on Sochi being extremely ill-suited to host an Olympics and rampant corruption.

On Wednesday, Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina were set to make their first public appearance in the United States after being released from a Russian prison (23dec.). They were scheduled to speak at a Brooklyn concert organized by the human rights advocacy group and featuring stars such as Madonna.

Alekhina said she wants Americans to look beyond the grandeur of the projects and buildings of the games.

‘They are foreign objects in Russia,’ she said. ‘The only thing that connects Russia to these objects is taxpayers’ money, which has been stolen and has been used to build these Olympic objects.’

Alekhina called on President Barack Obama to increase pressure on Russia over alleged human rights abuses, and said she and Tolokonnikova are handing over a petition to Putin to help ‘end this bullshit.’

‘Aren’t you sick of it all, Putin?’ Tolokonnikova asked.

International response to prior calls to boycott the games has garnered some largely symbolic gestures. Obama included three openly gay athletes in the official U.S. delegation to the Sochi Winter Olympics in a rebuke of Putin’s anti-gay laws. And Norwegian Health Minister Bent Høie said he is taking his male spouse to the opening ceremony. But twelve peaceful protesters remain incarcerated after police arrested them at the anti-Putin demonstrations in Moscow two years ago, the pair from Pussy Riot said.

Now that the band is an icon for the struggle against human rights abuses in Putin’s Russia, the two women said it will also act for the rights of prisoners in the United States.

Tolokonnikova and Alekhina said they plan to visit prisons and meet with nonprofit organizations to learn about the issue of solitary confinement in the U.S. ‘We’re very interested in the fact of how NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) in the U.S. work and collaborate with penitentiary institutions,’ Alekhina said. ‘One of our main goals is to exchange experience.’

‘Pussy Riot inspired a new generation of activists around the world, Samir Goswami, managing director of the Amnesty International USA program Individuals and Communities at Risk said, adding that their supporters followed in the footsteps of those who helped Amnesty International obtain the release of some 44,000 prisoners since its international inception in 1961.

‘Pussy Riot were street performers,’ he said. At the subway, on the streets, they would call on people to take their rights seriously. ‘There are street performers in the U.S. whom we pass every day, but we don’t realize that they can help elevate human rights to the global conversation.’

‘They found a lot of support from folks in the U.S., especially from Russia’s diaspora community in Brooklyn, who called passionately for their release,’ Goswami said. ‘But they’re also learning about the prison conditions in the U.S. and plan on doing some research here.’

Kremlin Suspends Questioned Reform of Wildlife Reserves. Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered to amend recent environmental legislation that critics said could allow for real estate development in Russia’s protected territories. A law passed in December allows for the downgrading of any of the 102 Russian wildlife reserves to natural parks, where construction is permitted under certain conditions.

The law, which passed quickly through parliament, caused outcry from eco-activists, who said it could be exploited to build commercial real estate in wildlife reserves.

Krasnodar is a city located in the Southern Russia based on the Kuban River situated 80 kilometers away to the North East of the Black sea port. The prevailing political stability and the numerous administrative efforts taken by the regional administration has made the Krasnodar region one of the most favorable investment destinations in Russia.

More than 60 countries have investment cooperation in this region and 773 companies having foreign capital are already part of the regions economy. Majority of the FDI coming in this region is mainly concentrated on food industries, woodworking and fuel.

To finance venues and apartments in the Caucasus Mountains and along Sochi’s coast, state-owned Vnesheconombank, known as VEB, lent $7.4 billion to a who’s who of Russia’s elite. Among the biggest loan recipients are companies controlled byVladimir Potanin, chief executive of OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest nickel producer. Joining him are Oleg Deripaska, chief executive of United Co. Rusal, the No. 1 aluminum company; Alexey Miller, chief of state-controlled gas provider OAO Gazprom; and German Gref, chief of state-controlled OAO Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank.


http://www.amnesty.org/

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