April 21, 2018 Board minutes
FCC joins Hong Kong media groups to protest journalist’s arrest
We strongly condemn the violent arrest of a Now TV News cameraman who was reporting on a human rights issue in Beijing, and demand mainland authorities refrain from any further suppression of the work of journalists.
The Beijing-based cameraman from Hong Kong was among a large group of journalists covering a hearing of the Beijing Lawyers Association on the quashing of the professional accreditation of human rights lawyer Xie Yanyi on Wednesday morning.
The cameraman holds a press card issued by mainland authorities and produced this identification when requested by a public security officer. When he asked to have the identification back, at least five men including uniformed public security officers pushed him onto the ground. They handcuffed him and took him into a police vehicle before subsequently releasing him. The authorities have not given him any explanation for the arrest of the cameraman, who sustained bruises to different parts of his body during the incident. We call on Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to present to the Central Government the Hong Kong people’s concerns over such attacks against journalists.
This is the second attack against a Hong Kong journalist within a week. An iCable News journalist was punched by two village officials while reporting on the 10th commemoration of the Sichuan earthquake. We urge the mainland authorities to protect the personal safety of Hong Kong journalists and their legal right to report.
Hong Kong Journalists Association, Ming Pao Staff Association, RTHK Program Staff Union, Next Media Trade Union, Hong Kong Press Photographers Association, Independent Commentators Association and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club.
Typhoon notice and arrangement
Sonny Swe talks of press freedom struggle at 22nd Human Rights Press Awards
Myanmar media pioneer Sonny Swe spoke of his struggle to maintain press freedom in Myanmar, where he was jailed for eight years in a media crackdown.
Speaking at the 22nd Human Rights Press Awards, Sonny said that the state of press freedom in Myanmar currently resembled the dark days of military rule, adding that it was a “critical moment” for the media there.
When Aung San Suu Kyi, a former prisoner herself, won the 2015 Myanmar election, Sonny said, there was hope for press freedom under the new government. in the same year, Sonny launched the Frontier Myanmar magazine. However, he said under the new government more journalists than ever had been arrested, many of them covering the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
Sonny said access to information was also becoming a bigger challenge, and self-censorship was on the rise.
He said the issue of press freedom had always been an “uphill travel” in Myanmar, and vowed to continue fighting for it.
“I am standing behind the truth, and I am standing for the truth, freedom, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of expression. I will always fight for this because I know firsthand how it feels to have this taken away from you,” he said.
The Human Rights Press Awards recognise top rights-related reporting from around Asia, with the goal of increasing respect for people’s basic rights and focusing attention on threats to those freedoms.
Human Rights Press Awards – fundraising appeal
For more than two decades, the FCC has proudly hosted the Human Rights Press Awards, rewarding work by journalists who shine a light on overlooked abuses across Asia. The Awards are a flagship FCC event in line with a core mission of the club: to stand up for press freedom across Asia.
This year, the Awards are particularly important as the environment becomes ever-more repressive for journalists. Critical media outlets in Cambodia and the Philippines were threatened with closure. New “Fake News” laws risk criminalising free speech in Malaysia. Two Reuters journalists face as many as 14 years in prison in Myanmar. And as I write these lines, we are coming to terms with the terrible news of the April 30 attack in Afghanistan that killed ten journalists in two separate incidents, including highly respected AFP chief photographer Shah Marai.
The 2018 Awards that will be announced on May 12 have had a record number of submissions: 414 stories, photos, commentaries, videos, multimedia and radio pieces, in total. One judge called it the “best slate of entries in years”.
The FCC is the biggest sponsor of the Awards, which are run jointly with Amnesty International Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Journalists’ Association. As the Awards have grown, so has the workload and expense. A few private donors already contribute, but we would greatly appreciate even further support from our Club’s members.
We hope to find in particular one-off financial support for the HK$5,000 cost of flying in the event’s keynote speaker – a newspaper publisher from Myanmar who spent years in jail.
As a member of the FCC, you can make a financial donation, as small or as large as you see fit, directly from your account to the HRPA.
If you wish to find out more about the HRPA, please visit the website which also features a video on the making of this year’s awards. If you would like to have a private discussion about donations or other ways to contribute, do not hesitate to contact Sarah Stewart ([email protected]), co-convenor of the Press Freedom Committee and a Governor of the FCC.
I thank you very much in advance for your generous support of these Awards that reward and celebrate the many brave reporters across the region.
Florence de Changy
Why ASEAN isn’t ready to replicate the European Union
A highly ambitious ASEAN wants to create a genuine integrated market much like the European Union (EU) – but it has some way to go, according to Southeast Asia expert Hans Vriens.
Despite its aim to build a single market that would see the free flow of goods, investment and skilled labour, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will face challenges for a variety of reasons, many of them governmental, said Vriens, whose club lunch on May 4 sought to answer the question of whether ASEAN was an economic powerhouse in the making, or back to being tribute states of China. The answer, he concluded, was yes and no.
“Not a single government leader in the ASEAN is pushing for this,” he said, adding that member states were not yet serious about giving up their sovereignty.
Vriens, Managing Partner of Vriens & Partners, outlined the major differences between ASEAN’s Economic Community (AEC) and the EU, including that currently there was no parliament, no ASEAN law, a myriad of political systems, and no plan for a monetary union.
“So do not be misled by talk about an ASEAN Economic Community,” Vriens, a past president of the FCC, said.
ASEAN was formed in August 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. It was later joined by Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. Further regional integration saw the creation of ASEAN Plus Three to include China, Japan and South Korea. Much like the EU, it aims to encourage economic growth among its members, as well as social progress. The AEC was established in 2015.
Another reason why regional harmony was not yet in ASEAN’s grasp was China’s growing influence in the region, and in particular the fierce competition between China and Japan over railroads. The Philippines and Vietnam were also involved in disputes with China over sovereignty in the South China Sea, Vriens said.
While ASEAN was diverse with an emerging middle class and relatively low GDP per capita, it faces big challenges, said Vriens. Poor education and infrastructure, coupled with low quality universal healthcare and poverty, were hurdles to overcome, he said.
Vriens examined political developments in Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, the Philippines, Vietnam and the Philippines. The rise in populist presidents like the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte could be positive because “they want to build to show progress”.
FCC Hong Kong remembers fallen journalists on World Press Freedom Day 2018
On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, the FCC honours the memory of the 10 journalists who lost their lives in Afghanistan this week, and calls on Afghan authorities to safeguard and facilitate the vital work of the country’s media.
The targeting of Afghan journalists in a suicide attack in Kabul comes against a backdrop of mounting threats to press freedom across Asia, creating one of the most restrictive environments for media workers in recent memory. Tools including fake news laws in Malaysia, press shutdowns in Cambodia and the Philippines, and outright violence elsewhere have created a dangerous climate that poses a fundamental threat to democracy.
Press freedom is at the core of free societies around the globe. For those who believe in keeping the powerful accountable to the public, it’s more important than ever to speak up.
FCC Hong Kong stands in solidarity with Afghan journalists after April 30 attack
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong was deeply shocked and saddened by the deaths of 10 journalists in Afghanistan on April 30, including AFP’s highly respected chief photographer Shah Marai, much loved by his peers and the father of six children.
The reporters had all rushed to the scene of an earlier suicide attack in Kabul and were killed in a second blast, specifically targeting the media and other first responders.
“The bomber disguised himself as a journalist and detonated himself among the crowd,” AFP quoted a police spokesman as saying.
The FCC stands to defend press freedom throughout the region and is appalled by this brutal and despicable attack. It calls on Afghan authorities to safeguard and facilitate the important work of the country’s journalists.
In a separate incident on the same day, Ahmad Shah, a 29-year-old reporter with the BBC’s Afghan service, was shot dead by unknown gunmen in Khost province, the broadcaster said.
We offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and colleagues of the 10 journalists killed.
Those who lost their lives in Kabul were:
Mahram Durani – Azadi Radio
Ebadullah Hananzai – Azadi Radio
Yar Mohammad Tokhi – TOLO News Cameraman
Ghazi Rasooli – 1TV Journalist
Nowroz Ali Rajabi– 1TV Cameraman
Shah Marai – AFP Photographer
Saleem Talash – Mashal TV
Ali Saleemi – Mashal TV
Sabawoon Kakar – Azadi Radio
“This terrorist attack is a war crime and an organised attack on the Afghan media,” the Afghanistan Federation of Journalists (AFJ) said in a statement.
The FCC would like to express its solidarity with all journalists in Afghanistan who work heroically, risking their lives on a daily basis. April 30 will be remembered as the deadliest day for Afghanistan’s media since the fall of the Taliban.