MAN joins #FreeThePress Campaign, urges Asian heads of state to release jailed journalists


KATHMANDU: Media Action Nepal (MAN)-a media rights advocacy and research organization based in Nepal has joined #FreeThePress campaign- an initiative by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that started on March 30 launching a petition and publishing an open letter to world leaders urging the immediate release of all journalists imprisoned for their work.

Meanwhile on April 27, 2020, MAN, CPJ, 72 other media and rights organizations of different Asian continent have written to Prime Minister of Cambodia Hun Sen, President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, State Counsellor of Myanmar Aung Sun Suu Kyi, Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan, President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte and President of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong to call on their respective governments to release all jailed journalists amid the sweeping COVID-19 pandemic.

Citing the World Health Organization (WHO), the call states that people deprived of their liberty and those living or working in enclosed environments in their close proximity, are likely to be more vulnerable to the COVID-19 disease than the general population. For journalists jailed in countries affected by the virus, freedom is now a matter of life and death, the call reiterates.

As per the CPJ’s annual prison census conducted on December 1, 2019, there were at least 63 journalists in prisons in Asia, including 48 in China, 12 in Vietnam, two in India, and one in Myanmar. Similarly, as of March 31, at least five journalists have been released, four in China and one in Vietnam, according to CPJ research. However, at least five more journalists have been arrested since December 1, including Sovann Rithy in Cambodia, Chen Jiaping in China, Gautam Navlakha in India, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in Pakistan, and Frenchiemae Cumpio in the Philippines.

The organizations have urged to heads of states/governments to release every jailed journalist in their respective countries and to protect the free press and the free flow of information at this crucial time.