87 journalists killed in 2010 for reporting the truth in their countries – support Canadians Journalists for Free Expression

Bill Tieleman surveys damage after his office is broken into and trashed – December 3, 2007 – Rob Kruyt photo


Photo from ceiling where intruders entered Bill Tieleman's office to break in – December 3, 2007 – Rob Kruyt photo

In December of 2007 I discovered what happens when people are very angry with what you report as a journalist.

My office was broken into and trashed on the weekend of December 1-2, 2007 – with an unmistakeable calling card left identifying my lengthy coverage of the Basi-Virk/BC Legislature Raid case as the reason for the violent intrusion. 

A fictional book titled The Raid that was ostensibly about the Basi-Virk case was carefully removed from my desk and placed on top of broken acoustic tiles five feet away – it was impossible that it could have gotten there without someone deliberately setting it there.

The incident was shocking and meant to intimidate my family and I.  It didn't but it was a reminder of how little respect there is for reporting.  The Vancouver Police promptly investigated but no clues or security camera footage was available to lead to an arrest.

In April of 2008 I got an even stronger reminder that what you write can have consequences – death threats.

A 24 hours column I had written suggesting rather that boycotting the Beijing Olympic Games over abuse of human rights perhaps people should simply boycott China itself and its many products brought two death threats from the same source – later tracked down by Vancouver Police to an email address in China.

Outrageously and regrettably, Chinese authorities do not cooperate with other police forces to investigate such crimes originating within their borders.  One of the biggest authoritarian police states simply lets its citizens threaten individuals without consequence.  No further threats were received, however.

I state all this as an introduction to this next item – the very sad news that in 2010 a shocking 87 journalists were killed for reporting the truth in their countries. 

I believe it is the duty of all journalists to publicize these awful crimes wherever possible – and to call on authorities in every country to do far more to protect those whose job it is to inform fellow citizens. 

The relatively minor threats and attacks I have been subject to are nothing compared to those of others – including brave journalists in this country and city – some of whom have given their lives simply for telling the truth.

Below is the full news release from Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.  You can donate to their work and you can also to other organizations that protect human rights, such as Amnesty International.

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CJFE reports that 87 journalists were killed worldwide in 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Toronto – Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) recorded the killings of 87 journalists in 2010 as journalists around the world continue to face great danger while carrying out their work.

Three countries bore the brunt of the killings – Pakistan (14), Mexico (13) and Honduras (10) which accounts for 43% of journalists murdered in 2010. The governments of all three countries have failed utterly to protect the safety of journalists. The countries also share the parallel problem of impunity – killers of journalists are not being brought to justice.

The 87 journalists killed this year is a decrease from the 101 journalists killed in 2009, but that figure included the tragic massacre of 32 journalists on November 23 in the Philippines – the most journalists ever killed in one day.

“On the surface – the fact that 14 fewer journalists were killed this year than last year is good news,” says CJFE President Arnold Amber. “But quite obviously many journalists live with this constant threat just for doing their jobs.”

Although the image of a journalist being caught in the crossfire of conflict is a common one – the reality for most of the 87 journalists killed this year, as in other years, is that they were deliberately targeted. And many of them had reported receiving death threats because of the type of investigative stories they were covering in the weeks or months before their murders.

The ways in which journalists have been killed are various and paint a chilling picture of the dangers journalists face. Turkish journalist Metin Alataş appears to have been forced to commit suicide (April 4); Mexican journalist Marco Aurelio Martínez Tijerina was kidnapped on July 9 and found dead July 10 with at least one bullet to the head and signs of torture; Military officers in the Democratic Republic of Congo killed journalist Patient Chebeya Bankome at his home (April 5); and journalists Pervez Khan and Abdul Wahab were killed by a suicide bomber in Pakistan (December 6).

In one tragic and preventable case, Yemen journalist Mohammed Shu’i Al-Rabu’i, was killed on February 13, by four or five gunmen who had been arrested after attacking him a few months earlier but were released before charges were brought. Security Chief Abdelrazeq Az-Zareq said that he took “full responsibility” for their release at the end of 2009.

Many journalists are targeted either at their place of work or at their home – and there are many reports of police or military involvement. In Mexico, journalists are targeted by drug traffickers, police and members of the army. Mexican president Calderon’s move to intensify drug enforcement has seen increased violence and made reporting significantly more dangerous, causing many journalists to flee the country.

Also, of great concern is the new trend in Pakistan of suicide bombings of journalists. Six journalists died from bombings; the other eight were shot in various attacks. In a Dec. 6 suicide bombing in which journalists were killed, the journalists were covering an anti-terrorism strategy discussion at a council meeting in the northwest Pakistani border town of Ghalanai.

While local journalists continue to face the greatest danger in carrying out their work, 2010 did see several attacks and killings of foreign journalists working abroad. These included British journalist Rupert Hamer in Afghanistan; Tongalese journalist Stanislas Ocloo in Angola; Italian journalist Fabio Polenghi in Thailand; Turkish journalist Cevdet Kılıçlar in international waters near Israel; and American journalist James P. Hunter in Afghanistan.

Kidnappings of journalists, local and foreign continue to be a major problem especially in Mexico, Pakistan, Nigeria, Somalia and other nations. Canadian journalist Khadija Abdul Qahaar, also known as Beverly Giesbrecht, was abducted in Pakistan on Nov. 11, 2008. She remains missing but there were disturbing reports in November that she may have died; these reports have not been confirmed.

“In releasing this report, CJFE hopes to draw attention to the risks that journalists face around the world,” Amber stated. “Our organization is calling on Canadians and the international community to work together to protect the rights of journalists and to end the tragic culture of impunity which allows most murders of journalists to go unpunished.”

CJFE records the number of journalists that are killed or targeted in the line of duty because of their reporting or affiliation with a news organization. CJFE compiles its statistics from the reports of the more than 90 member groups that make up the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX). The IFEX Clearinghouse which gathers and disseminates information from the network is managed by CJFE and based in Toronto.

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is an association of more than 300 journalists, editors, publishers, producers, students and others who work to promote and defend free expression and press freedom in Canada and abroad. www.cjfe.org.


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