UNESCO launches book on protecting journalists and combatting impunity
Paris, July, 3rd 2017 (UNESCO). Although attacks on journalists continue unabated, there are examples of successful grassroots and global efforts to stem this tide. This was the key message by Albana Shala, Chairperson of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), when she flagged the IPDC’s latest publication titled An Attack on One is an Attack on All: Successful Initiatives to Protect and Combat Impunity. “I’m very proud that this book serves to bring to life stories of survival and success that would otherwise remain untold,” said Shala. “These stories can help in the implementation of the UN Plan of Action.” One of the journalists featured in the collection of stories, Maria Ressa, head of the social-media-based Rappler in the Philippines, spoke of the fierce online abuse she had suffered, and how she had refused to be cowed into silence. Speaking earlier about the book, the Netherlands ambassador to UNESCO, Lionel Veer, lauded the book’s portrayal of journalistic attacks as attacks on democracy as a whole. He said: “We must all be in solidarity with journalists who are endangered as a result of their profession. That’s why successful projects on protecting journalists need to be celebrated.” The book launch took place amidst a gathering of over 100 participants during the Multistakeholder Consultation on Strengthening the Implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity held on 29 June in Geneva. The gathering included UN special rapporteurs on various aspects of freedom of expression, UNESCO and OHCHR Member States, professional associations, media, academia and other key non-UN actors. The book brings alive 22 stories of courageous efforts at protecting journalists and putting a stop to the prevailing culture of impunity.
Eritrea’s only independent news radio station awarded in London
London, June, 12th, 2017 (RSF). The London-based charity One World Media presented its 2017 special award at a ceremony in London last week, to Radio Erena, Eritrea’s only independent news radio station, launched eight years ago in Paris with the support of Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Received on behalf of Radio Erena by Fathi Osman, the special award has been given annually since 1988 to independent journalists covering politics, social issues or local culture in their own country, usually developing countries like Eritrea. “It is great to have the award,” Osman said. “I feel really great because honouring Radio Erena is an honour for the voiceless and the journalists behind bars in Eritrea. It is a special day for Eritrean media." In Paris, Radio Erena journalist Amanuel Ghirmai said: “On this occasion, I felt Radio Erena's voice won over ‘the fear,’ which is the Eritrean government’s preferred instrument for silencing its citizens. I am so proud of Radio Erena’s team for their fight to expose the realities in Eritrea and at the same time remain independent. I hope, one day Radio Erena will be able to broadcast from Asmara.” There is no independent media outlet within Eritrea that covers what life is like for Eritreans and the political and social conditions in their country. Radio Erena is a unique entity that links Eritrean exiles and Eritrea, covering not only diaspora issues but also Eritrea’s history, what is happening there now and international developments. Both Eritreans in Eritrea and the Eritrean diaspora worldwide can listen to hear Radio Erena’s impartial and professional news coverage. Broadcasting from Paris in Tigrinya and Arabic – the country’s two national languages – it is recognized by its people as the most reliable Eritrean radio station. Its creation realized the dream of Biniam Simon, a well-known journalist with Eritrea’s state-owned national broadcaster Eri TV who fled Eritrea and arrived in France in 2007. He wanted to be able to exercise his profession freely and provide fellow Eritreans with independently reported news. Thanks to his perseverance and RSF’s support, he was finally able to launch Radio Erena (which means “Our Eritrea” in Tigrinya) in Paris in 2009. Radio Erena’s reporting is produced by a team of four professional journalists based in Paris and a dozen correspondents throughout the world. Far from being an opposition mouthpiece, like other Eritrean exile radio stations, Radio Erena is committed to balanced news coverage. But this has not stopped the regime from turning Radio Erena into a target of its propaganda and disinformation campaigns. The attacks on the radio station in 2012 (when its website was hacked and its satellite signal was jammed by a pirate transmission from within Eritrea) and the frequent attempts from within Eritrea to jam its shortwave signal, are all evidence of Radio Erena’s importance.