Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Without Borders provides funding for journalists and media in danger

Reporters Without Borders provides funding for journalists and media in danger

Published on Monday 13 July 2009. Updated on Monday 21 September 2009.
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On 11 September, 800 euros were sent to the family of Janullah Hashimzada, an Afghan journalist who was gunned down on 24 August near the town of Jamrud in northwestern Pakistan. Up to now, no serious investigation has been ordered. The money was intended to enable his widow and children to cover their most urgent needs.

Reporters Without Borders sent 700 euros to an exiled Iranian journalist on 3 September to enable him to pay for his basic needs.

On 1 September, Reporters Without Borders sent 850 euros to Haitian journalist Sainlus Augustin, who had to seek refuge in a Port-au-Prince hotel with his wife and two children after gunmen fired on their home. The money was to cover their living needs.

Reporters Without Borders sent 1,000 dollars on 26 August to the families of six imprisoned Gambian journalists – Emil Touray, Pa Modou Fall, Pap Saine, Ebrima Sawaneh, Sam Sarr and Sarata Jabbi-Dibba. The money was to help the families cover their living needs and to help pay for the medical expenses of the detained journalists, all members of the Gambia Press Union. They were released on 3 September 2009.

A Somali journalist who had been threatened by the Al-Shabaab militia was sent 600 euros on 12 August to enable him to seek a safe refuge by leaving Somalia

Reporters Without Borders sent 400 euros to Pakistani journalist Rehman Buneri on 31 July to help him rebuild his house, which was destroyed in an attack by about 60 men. On the same day, an exiled Iranian journalist was sent 600 euros to help him cover his most urgent day-to-day needs.

On 20 July, Reporters Without Borders sent 2,000 dollars and 20 bullet-proof vests to 15 journalists employed by leading Somali news media.

Reporters Without Borders provided funding to Chinese journalist Jiang Weiping on 15 July to help him to resume working as a journalist in Canada, where he has found refuge after serving six years of an eight-year sentence in China on charges of endangering state security and divulging state secrets. A mainland China correspondent for Hong Kong news media, Jiang was arrested in the northeastern city of Dalian in December 2000. Read Jian Weiping’s account, "Life of a Chinese journalist": Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Last Part

A Belarusian journalist was given 400 euros on 10 July because she was unable to continue working after her husband, a press photographer, was the victim of a physical attack.

Reporters Without Borders helped a Sri Lankan journalist to find refuge in Germany on 7 July. He had been seriously threatened as a result of articles criticising violence against the news media in Sri Lanka. He will receive training in Germany and will be able to work with other exiled Sri Lankan journalists.

On 29 May, Reporters Without Borders funded the replacement of equipment stolen during a break-in at Bogotá-based Radio Diversia, thereby enabling Latin America’s first gay community web radio to resume operating.

Reporters Without Borders approved a grant on 15 May to a Pakistani journalist employed by a national daily who received threatening phone calls and was constantly followed by intelligence agents after writing about the security situation in Balochistan. He was also the target of a bomb in his office on 11 October 2008. The aim of the grant is to enable him to move to a safe place.

Reporters Without Borders helped pay for the schooling of the son of a Chinese journalist who is now in exile. The journalist had been the target of reprisals by the Chinese authorities. He was detained for more than a month in very difficult conditions and was threatened with confinement in psychiatric clinic. After being fined and released, and dismissed from his job, he found refuge in a neighbouring country. The grant was a significant amount for his family, which has been left without income or resources.

A grant of 500 euros was approved on 27 April to Mirza Sakit Zahidov, a satirical poet and reporter for the opposition daily Azadlig who was pardoned and released from prison in Azerbaijan on 9 April. The money was to cover his medical bills. Arrested on 23 June 2006 on a drug charge for which no evidence was ever produced, Zahidov was transferred to a run-down prison far from Baku in August 2006, before his trial. Despite suffering from heart and stomach ailments, he went on hunger strike in protest, which had a very alarming impact on his state of health. He was sentenced to three years in prison in October 2006.

Reporters Without Borders gave the young Egyptian blogger Tamer Mabrouk 500 euros to help cover his day-to-day needs. A court in Port Said fined him 45,000 Egyptian pounds (5,760 euros) on 26 May in connection with a libel suit brought by Trust Chemical Industries, a local privately-owned company. Mabrouk has lost his job, is without money and is currently facing eviction.

Emergency aid of 400 euros was granted on 14 May to an Iranian journalist and press freedom activist who fled to Turkey after being arrested by intelligence agents and being mistreated during the 30 months he spent in prison. The aim of the grant is to help him pay for his food and rent and of afford him some protection from harassment and threats by the police in the Turkish city of Agri.

  • Reporters Without Borders provided funding on 10 April for the Chechen independent magazine Dosh, which covers current affairs in Chechnya and the five other republics in the Russian Caucasus. The magazine’s editors were forced to relocate from the Chechen capital of Grozny to Moscow for safety reasons but, despite threats and reprisals, have never stopped covering the region with the help of their correspondents in the field. Copies of the magazine in Russian and English are available at Reporters Without Borders headquarters in Paris.
  • Emergency funding was provided to a journalist and human rights activist in Guatemala on 7 April so that he could remain in the protected residence where he has been living with his wife and young children for the past six months. They were forced to leave their own home after he was threatened by gunmen. The fatal shooting of Telecentro news reporter Rolando Santis in Guatemala City on 1 April has highlighted the extent to which Guatemalan journalists are exposed to the dangers of violent crime.

- Reporters Without Borders hosted a Congolese journalist from Bukavu, the capital of the poverty-stricken, violence-torn eastern province of Sud-Kivu, on his arrival in Paris on 28 March. He had been getting frequent anonymous threats and been forced to constantly adopt very inconvenient safety measures. After Radio Okapi journalist Didace Namujimbo’s murder in Bukavu last November, he had a expressed a desire to spend some time in a relatively calm, safe environment in order to write and to meet European journalists and politicians.

  • On 24 March, Reporters Without Borders helped a Mexican journalist who fled into exile after drug traffickers repeatedly threatened and harassed him and his family. He was given money and assistance with official paperwork. He had been covering the bloody war being waged by Mexico’s main drug cartels in Ciudad Juárez, a city on the US border, and organised crime infiltration into the local government.
  • Emergency funding of 1,000 US dollars was given on 19 March to a Burmese journalist who is under threat from the military government as a result of participating in demonstrations and conferences abroad. She has been relocated to a safe place and Reporters Without Borders is now trying to help her to resume working without jeopardising her safety.

- An Afghan journalist who has been getting help from Reporters Without Borders for the past two years during a long odyssey from Kabul to Ankara finally arrived in Paris on a humanitarian visa on 9 March and was installed in the Residence for Journalists. He expressed relief to be in France and said he hoped to resume working as a journalist. He used to write for the monthly Haqoq-e-Zan (Women’s Rights) in Afghanistan, where he was constantly threatened by the religious authorities.

- Reporters Without Borders agreed on 4 March to pay for a new lawyer to handle the appeal of Niger journalist Boussada Ben Ali, the editor of the Niamey-based independent weekly L’Action, who was sentenced on 6 February to three months in prison and a fine of 50,000 CFA francs (76 euros). His original lawyer is himself now being prosecuted on a charge of “discrediting a court decision” for publicly criticising his conviction. The local bar association has rallied to Ben Ali’s cause.

- On 25 February, Reporters Without Borders bought computer equipment for the Jaffna-based newspaper Uthayan, one of the Tamil media that have been most hit by violence. Its employees are often intimidated and arrested and its headquarters have been the target of repeated attacks in an attempt to prevent it from continuing to operate. Of late, the Sri Lankan authorities have been criticising it for its reports about the civilian victims in the fighting in the northern Vanni area and for reprinting interviews that Tamil Tiger rebels have given to foreign news media.

- Reporters Without Borders provided financial assistance on 10 February to the families of journalists who have been jailed on trumped-up charges in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku for writing about abuse of authority and government corruption. The imprisonment of their bread-winners has left these families struggling to survive.

  • Reporters Without Borders provided financial help on 5 February to an Ethiopian journalist who was threatened and arrested for being outspoken and critical of the government in his articles. Openly accused of opposition links, he fears his chances of being able to return home and live with his family are getting slimmer. The Reporters Without Borders funding enabled him to find accommodation.
  • Reporters Without Borders is helping to fund the Myanmar Blog Academy Awards, which will be given annually to Burmese bloggers and cyber-journalists providing the best reporting on political, social, cultural or technological issues. The prize for winners is either a free domain name and webhosting for two years or 500 hours of free online time in Burmese Internet cafés. The aim of the awards is to help Burmese bloggers overcome a lack of visibility due to the military government’s censorship and to technical difficulties arising from the Burmese alphabet, which is poorly handled by current software.
  • During a visit to Afghanistan, from 10 to 16 january 2009, a Reporters Without Borders delegation met an Afghan journalist who has been pursued by the Taliban for several months. He had been working for several foreign media and had refused to put out information about Taliban leaders. As a result, he was branded as a “heathen” and was openly threatened with death. Reporters Without Borders helped him financially and has stayed in contact with him while he tries to find a safe refuge. The Reporters Without Borders delegation visiting Afghanistan also gave bullet-proof vests to the Afghanistan Independent Journalists Association and the National Union of Afghan Journalists.
  • On 22 January, Reporters Without Borders awarded an emergency grant to an Eritrean journalist who fled to Sudan. In Eritrea, he had been summoned several times and threatened with being sent to join his many fellow journalists in prison after he wrote about the country’s disastrous water management policies. The movements of Eritrean refugees in Sudan, including journalists supported by Reporters Without Borders, are routinely monitored by Eritrean government agents with Sudanese complicity and sometimes they are forcibly repatriated and immediately jailed.
  • Reporters Without Borders provided funding on 21 January to the Chechen magazine Dosh, which covers current affairs and human rights in Chechnya and the five other republics of the Russian Caucasus. The magazine’s editors have been the target of threats and reprisals and, for safety reasons, have been forced to relocate from the Chechen capital of Grozny to Moscow but, thanks to their correspondents in the field, they have never stopped covering the region. Copies of recent issues of the magazine in Russian and English are available at Reporters Without Borders headquarters in Paris.
  • On 18 January, Reporters Without Borders helped a Congolese journalist who had been unfairly harassed and threatened by the National Intelligence Agency (ANR).
  • Reporters Without Borders has been looking after a Burmese journalist who arrived in Paris on 15 January with the aim of seeking political asylum. For more than 20 years, he had been based near the Burmese border in Thailand where he was under a constant threat of being deported back to Burma. Reporters Without Borders helped to persuade the French authorities to give him a visa to travel to France. It is expected that he will soon be able to resume his work as a journalist.
  • Emergency assistance was provided on 14 January to a Turkmen journalist who has been the target of constant harassment by the authorities for his persistence in providing the international community with coverage of what is happening in his country. The harassment has increased in recent weeks. Phone lines have been cut. He has been under constant surveillance. And he has had problems getting Internet access. Furthermore, some if his relatives have lost their jobs because of his activities and the family’s financial situation is extremely precarious.

- Emergency assistance was provided on 8 January to a Zimbabwean journalist who is under threat from the authorities because of a TV report about prison conditions in Harare. Reporters Without Borders helped him and his family relocate to a safe place in a neighbouring country and obtain the documents they needed.

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