Media Highlights – September 20, 2012

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Vicious circle of disappearing journalistsReporters Without Borders, September 20, 2012
Two journalists working for US-funded Al-Hurra TV went missing in Aleppo exactly a month ago today, on 20 August. Only one has since given any sign of life. It was Cüneyt Ünal, a Turkish cameraman who was seen in footage broadcast by the pro-government TV station Al-Ikhbariya on 27 August.

INSI appeals for information on month-long disappearance of journalists in SyriaInternational News Safety Institute, September 20, 2012
The International News Safety Institute appeals for any information on two journalists missing in Syria for the past month. Al-Hurra TV correspondent Bashar Fahmi, a Jordanian citizen of Palestinian origin, and his Turkish cameraman Cuneyt Unal, have been missing since they entered Syria on August 20.

Rally in Istanbul for Kidnapped NewsmenTRT, September 19, 2012
A group who gathered before the Syrian consulate in Istanbul demanded that the Turkish journalists be freed. The wives of the kidnapped journalists also took part in the demonstration. Cüneyt Ünal’s wife Nuran Ünal said Cüneyt and Beşar were only journalists and the aim of their presence in Syria was to cover what was happening there. Beşar Fehmi Kadumi’s wife Arzu Kadumi said she wanted their plight to be ended and Cüneyt and Beşar freed to return to Turkey.

Suu Kyi, in U.S. visit, says Myanmar reforms ‘first hurdle’ - Reuters, September 18, 2012
She later visited the office of Radio Free Asia, a U.S.-funded broadcaster, and addressed the conflict between ethnic Rakhines and Muslim Rohingyas that in June erupted in violence that killed 80 people and displaced thousands. “Hate and fear are very closely related,” Suu Kyi told RFA’s Burmese language service in an interview. “You have to remove the roots of hatred — that is to say you have to address these issues that make people insecure and that make people threatened,” RFA quoted her as saying.

The truth about Azerbaijan - Index on Censorship, September 19, 2012
Azerbaijan’s media environment suffered a significant blow in 2009, when the BBC, Voice Of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty were banned from using the country’s airwaves. Online Objectiv.tv has become a reliable resource for news that goes unreported in mainstream media: in recent months, it has regularly reported on property demolitions taking place as part of the process of “beautifying” Baku.

Poles Help Belarus, Recalling Own Repressive Past - AP, September 20, 2012
Many of the Polish projects pushing democracy in Belarus are led by former members of Solidarity or their children. Belsat’s founder and director, Agnieszka Romaszewska, comes from a family that was prominent in Solidarity. She launched Belsat in 2007, hoping to give Belarusians the kind of independent news that Radio Free Europe provided to her parents.

Media Citations of BBG Broadcasters

Iranians Denied U.S. Visas Hit by Political Crossfire - Bloomberg, September 20, 2012
Alan Eyre, the State Department’s Persian language spokesman, sought to reassure Iranian students last month. U.S. foreign policy “has nothing to do with granting or denying visas,” he said on Voice of America’s Persian Service.

Iranian cleric decked after criticizing woman’s veil - USA Today, September 19, 2012
Golnaz Esfandiari, an Iranian woman who grew up in Iran, writes about the incident on the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty blog Persian Letters. A report is also carried in the original Persian by the Mehr news agency.
Also cited by International Business Times.

Egyptian women battle harassment on the streets - The Jerusalem Post, September 20, 2012
This week, pan-Arabic station Radio Sawa published a lengthy report on the growing issue of sexual harassment in Egypt. It included an interview with a young woman named Shirin, who claimed Cairo police had initially refused to take her seriously and had even mocked her when she tried to file a harassment complaint.

Region: Blogosphere mocks Putin’s stunt of helping cranes fly - The Prague Post, September 19, 2012
Meanwhile, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty noted, “Putin has participated in a number of purportedly scientific adventures over the years, many involving wild animals and all enjoying abundant media coverage,” adding that, “Putin’s wildlife conservation efforts have often turned awry and sparked accusations of animal cruelty.” But the reports that some birds have been injured or even died in connection with the president’s stunt remain unconfirmed.

Afghanistan to implement $120m electronic identities project - Khaama Press, September 20, 2012
Mr. Danish quoted by Radio Free Europe (RFE) said, “The electronic identity cards distribution is in process and nearly 400 employees will be needed for the implementation of the project.”

Video shows prison abuseUPI, September 19, 2012
Two independent television channels aired video footage showing guards at Gldani Prison No. 8 beating a prisoner and sodomizing him with a broom handle, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported Wednesday.

Of Interest

Russia Tries to Kill U.S. Democracy Promotion Once and For AllThe New Republic, September 18, 2012
There has long been talk in Moscow of shutting down USAID, but it’s impossible to appreciate today’s news without first considering the backdrop of continuing anti-government protests and the Kremlin’s increasingly harsh way of dealing with them. The foundation for this move was laid back in May when the Russian parliament passed a law that required such groups—which participate in the political life of the country and get foreign financing—to register as “foreign agents.” The new measure goes one step further and threatens to shut the spigot off altogether.
[Related: Yesterday the BBG hosted a panel discussion on the new Russian laws]

Jordan Limits Protests, and Internet, as Tensions Simmer - New York Times, September 19, 2012
Meanwhile, with criticism mounting, the government is threatening journalists and bloggers with widespread censorship of online speech. The House of Representatives, the Senate and the king recently approved legislation that would impose the same sort of tough restrictions faced by domestic print media on online news Web sites and give the government new powers to block domestic and international Web sites.

Media watchdog protests Ukraine’s plan to criminalize defamation - AP, September 19, 2012
An international media watchdog urged Ukrainian lawmakers on Wednesday to reject a bill that would make defamation a crime, saying it could “threaten the very existence of independent journalism.” This week Ukraine’s parliament, dominated by President Viktor Yanukovych’s allies, tentatively approved a bill that would make defamation punishable by up to five years in prison, restoring a Soviet-era practice that Ukraine abolished 11 years ago.

Civilian Radio Losing Jamming War - Daily NK, September 20,2012
Private broadcasters targeting North Korea say that the jamming of their broadcast signals has gotten worse since the Kim Jong Eun regime came to power late last year. This, they say, is making it all the more critical that they be allowed to broadcast on higher output MW frequencies.

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