With more than 50 years of restricted media access, one of the least covered armed conflicts in the world is the long-simmering struggle between Indonesia's military and the secessionist Free Papua Movement. Under Indonesia's seven successive post-independence governments--the early ones led by autocratic strongmen, the recent ones more or less democratically elected--the world has been deprived of details of the persistent low-intensity battle for autonomy playing out in the Papuan provinces.
"Nobody is safe. Not the voter, not the journalist, not anybody!" The fears of Femi Adesina, president of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, is echoed by stakeholders and observers of Nigeria's general election. Amid the tension in the run up to presidential and federal parliamentary elections on March 28, and governor and state parliamentary elections on April 11, journalists can be easy targets.
In November 2013, delays and some outright refusals in issuing visas for foreign correspondents in China were making headlines. A few months later, in its March 2014 survey of members, the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China (FCCC) described the situation as "grim." An emailed report on results of the most recent survey (which can be viewed here) found the visa registration process was smoother than in previous years, but "Chinese authorities are continuing to abuse the press card and visa renewal process in a political manner."
A sense of optimism seems to be filling the streets of Jakarta after the election of President Joko Widodo, who took office a few weeks ago. Against this backdrop of hope, the Committee to Protect Journalists joined other press freedom and freedom of expression groups for a series of meetings in Indonesia's capital and Bali last week to meet journalists, media advocates, and government ministers.
Chinese President Xi Jinping issued tough words on the visa woes of international media outlets today, arguing that journalists facing visa restrictions had brought trouble on themselves and signaling that there will be little respite for the international media in China.
When China hosted the summer Olympics in 2008 it promised greater press freedom, but six years later conditions for international journalists are increasingly more restrictive, as evidenced by a report released today by the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China.
It's not often that CPJ agrees with the Pakistan government, but here is one of the rare occasions when we do. While Pakistan journalists have been pushing for quite a while for the release of one of their colleagues, Faizullah Khan, being held in Nangahar in Afghanistan, the Islamabad government has apparently been working diplomatic back channels. But Thursday, Pervez Rashid, Pakistan's minister for information, went public. He urged Afghanistan's leader to issue a presidential pardon. "I appeal to Afghan President Hamid Karzai to use his powers," to pardon Khan, Rashid said in a press conference in capital Islamabad. He also said the government will pursue his release through legal channels.
Do you believe the free flow of information must be protected? Sign the #RightToReport petition and demand that President Obama immediately:
1. Issue a presidential policy directive prohibiting the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations.
2. Limit aggressive prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers.
3. Prevent the harassment of journalists at the U.S. border.
Or click here to see the full petition, and join leading journalists like Christiane Amanpour, The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the AP Kathleen Carroll, and Arianna Huffington in signing on.