World Why journalists in India are under attack
As Belarus Protests Freeze Over, Lukashenko's 'Terror' Targets Journalists
As protesters pivot to more local action awaiting the spring thaw, activists and journalists are trying to weather the vindictive authoritarian regime.Lukashenko, then 65, had been in power for 26 years, taking control of Belarus soon after it became independent from the collapsing Soviet Union. But last summer marked the most serious challenge yet to his rule, the pro-democratic opposition coalescing around challenger Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, herself a replacement for husband Sergei Tikhanovsky, arrested 10 weeks before polling day.
A month after taking office in the summer of 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India's "democracy will not sustain if we can't guarantee freedom of speech and expression".
Six years on, many believe, India's democracy looks diminished, by what they say are persistent attacks on the freedom of the press.
Last year India dropped two places and was, compiled annually by Reporters Without Borders. It's an unflattering commentary on a country that often prides itself on a vibrant and competitive media.
It is urgent to guarantee citizens 'freedom to inform and to be informed
In a common forum, journalists' companies, including the Société des redacteurs du Monde, provide support to two journalists prevented from working during the evacuation of the camps migrants in the Nord and Pas-de-Calais. Grandstand. Since the end of 2020, several journalists have been, are and will be prevented by the police, by "order of the prefecture", from covering the evacuation operations of the migrant camps in Calais, Coquelles and Grande-Synthe.
The latest crackdown has happened afterby farmers to protest at a raft of agriculture reform laws. One protester was killed and more than 500 policemen injured in the clashes.
Now police have filed criminal charges - including sedition and making statements inimical to national integration - against eight journalists who covered the protests in Delhi.
The cause of the protester's death - at the rally on 26 January - remains disputed. While police say he died when the tractor he was driving overturned, his family alleges that he was shot., which has been published by various newspapers and magazines, appears to have become the basis of these charges.
Some of the journalists were involved in reporting or publishing the story, and others only shared it on social media.
What's next for India farmers' protest?
The future looks uncertain after violence in Delhi, which may cost the movement some credibility.After a rally against farm reforms unexpectedly turned violent on Tuesday, India's farm protests have lost their legitimacy, said one. Accept the government's offer to put the reforms on hold and return home, advised another. Yet another described it as "India's Capitol insurrection" moment.
Six of them - and a prominent opposition Congress party MP who is accused of "misreporting" facts surrounding the death - are facing cases in four BJP-ruled states.
"Is it a crime for media to report statements of relatives of a dead person if they question a post-mortem or police version of the cause of death?" Siddharth Varadarajan, editor-in-chief of The Wire and one of the journalists charged by police, said.
Rights groups and many fellow journalists are outraged. "The Indian authorities' response to protests has focused on discrediting peaceful protesters, harassing critics of the government, and prosecuting those reporting on the events," said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. The police cases, the Editors Guild of India said, were "an attempt to intimidate, harass, browbeat, and stifle the media".
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A case in point, many say, is Caravan, an investigative news magazine which has often been in the crosshairs of Mr Modi's government.
Ten sedition cases have been brought against three of its senior-most editorial staff - the publisher, editor and executive editor - in five states for a story and tweets relating to the death of the protester. One of the, and released on bail after two days. The magazine's for a few hours in response to a legal notice by the government, citing objections based on public order.
Last year, four of Caravan'sin two separate incidents while reporting on the aftermath of religious riots and a protest concerning the alleged rape and murder of a teenager in Delhi. "There is a narrative here which is very dangerous. We live in polarised times where critics of the government are branded as anti-nationals. It is the job of journalists to ask questions to people in power," Vinod Jose, executive editor of Caravan, told me.
Why the Indian government is mad at Rihanna
Twitter trolls are after the pop star, too.On February 2, Rihanna called attention to the issue on Twitter, sharing a link to a CNN story about the Indian government shutting off internet access after protests during India’s Republic Day celebrations unexpectedly turned violent last week.
The governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) denies that journalists are being targeted and believes that much of what is happening is part of "orchestrated propaganda" against the government.
"All journalists with avowed political affiliations and evident slant against the government have continued to write and speak freely in newspapers, television, and online portals," Baijayant Panda, national vice president of the BJP, told me.
Mr Panda says police have filed complaints against journalists in a "couple of recent cases" because there have "been serious criminal allegations of fake news peddling in a riot-like situation, with the intent of fanning violence".
He pointed to the case of aand his pay docked because of an "incorrect" tweet relating to the death of a protester.
"This was not just blatant peddling of a false narrative, but one that had real and imminent potential to inflame large-scale violence. The said journalist and others of his ilk have also had a pattern of promoting such false narratives on earlier instances, and in fact have had to apologise on the record after being taken to court by affected parties," Mr Panda said.
He said some state governments, run by political parties opposed to Mr Modi's government, and "for whom these journalists have shown unabashed sympathy, have in fact been hounding journalists with the blatant misuse of power".
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Indian workers have been hit the hardest by five-month flight ban they say has upended their lives and cost them jobs.The plight of Indian workers, who make up the kingdom’s biggest expatriate community, underscores the turmoil caused by the tightening coronavirus restrictions, as infections surge amid a stumbling vaccination drive.
Critics say a number of journalists seen as sympathetic to the government have consistently got away with broadcasting and publishing inflammatory material, often targeted at minorities.
Also, they wonder why theis being so widely used to crack down on dissent. An overwhelming majority of sedition cases filed against 405 Indians for criticising politicians and governments over the last decade were registered after 2014, when Mr Modi took power, according to . Opposition politicians, students, journalists, authors and academicians have borne the brunt of the repressive law.
In a polarised environment, journalists are more divided than ever before. Much of the mainstream media, including a clutch of partisan news networks, is seen to be uncritical of Mr Modi's government. "India, the world's most populous democracy, is also sending signals that holding the government accountable is not part of the press's responsibility," aby Freedom House said.
Journalists are not feeling safe. Sixty-seven journalists were arrested and nearly 200 physically attacked in 2020, according to aby Geeta Seshu for the Free Speech Collective. A journalist, who was on his way to cover the gang rape of a girl in Uttar Pradesh state, .
Journalists - especially women critical of the government - face fierce online trolling and threats. Delhi-based freelance journalistsays she has been "stalked, openly threatened with rape and murder, viciously trolled", and an attempt made to break into her apartment. This week, the police arrested a law student for allegedly sending death and rape threats to , another freelance journalist.
The Indian government and its supporters are attacking Western celebrities for supporting the farmers' protests
India's government has slammed Western celebrities for backing the farmers protesting in New Delhi. Farmers say the government's proposed reforms to agricultural laws will leave them poorer. Pro-government crowds burned photos of Rihanna and Greta Thunberg on Thursday. Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories. The Indian government has launched an attack on Western celebrities, with some supporters burning their photos, for publicly supporting mass protests by farmers.
The protection afforded to freedom of expression in India has never been robust, according to Tarunabh Khaitan, vice-dean of law at Oxford University.
Although this is a constitutionally guaranteed freedom, its scope was drastically restricted by theunder Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1951. It was then that India's government "discovered that mouthing platitudes to civil liberties was one thing, and upholding them as principles was quite another," notes Tripurdaman Singh in his book Sixteen Stormy Days.
And the colonial police and criminal justice system inherited from the Raj continues to see "human rights as an obstacle rather than their first duty to defend", says Prof Khaitan. India's Supreme Court, too, has had a poor track record on protecting civil liberties in comparison with courts in many other democracies, he says.
"The biggest sufferers are the two truth-seeking institutions whose autonomy from political as well as corporate power is critical to a democracy: the media and the universities. The role of these knowledge institutions is to challenge power and seek discursive accountability from power. But once captured, they serve as the instruments of power instead. Weak protection of free expression makes it relatively easy to capture or compromise them," Prof Khaitan told me.
India's media was gagged for 21 months when then prime minister Indira Gandhi suspended civil liberties and. "What is unusual about our current political moment is that, unlike a formal emergency that undermines rights openly, all our rights are supposed to still be functional. There is no formal suspension of rights. But their corrosion in practice has become overwhelming. We are living in an extra-legal, informal, emergency. During a formal emergency, a citizen can perhaps hope that things will go back to normal once it is lifted," says Prof Khaitan.
"How do you even 'lift' an informal emergency, one that was never promulgated in the first place?"
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Two Belarusian journalists denied on Tuesday organising protests against strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko on the opening day of their trial in Minsk. Mass protests swept Belarus last year after Lukashenko claimed a sixth term in office in August, following an election that the opposition and the West said was rigged. The government cracked down on the demonstrations, leaving at least four protesters dead and thousands in jail -- hundreds claiming to have been tortured in custody.