Connect with us

News

Journalism: Drifting Dangerously

Seema Sengupta

Published

on

A picture speaks a thousand words. The image of rescuers retrieving Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh’s motionless body – perhaps lifeless too at that point of time – from the homicide site in occupied West Bank’s Jenin does point to an alarming truth. Journalism has become the most dangerous profession in the world today, with practitioners – labelled as “soft targets” – being widely considered as fair game. From gunmen, both State authorized and proscribed, to propagators of jingoistic politics, everybody seems to have developed a penchant for targeting journalists.

Who can forget Czech President Milos Zeman brandishing a replica of an AK-47, with “for journalists” inscribed in it, in a press conference? Early last year political protestors scratched “murder the media” on the door of the US Capitol – the seat of American democracy, and six months later, in July, members of Afghanistan’s Taliban militia brutally executed on-duty Pulitzer award-winning Indian photojournalist Danish Siddiqui, holed up in a Mosque to evade heavy gunfight during an assignment. Like Shireen, Danish too was in his press vest. Ironically, this was supposed to be the century of the media, and yet we ended up having a dangerous ecosystem where news gatherers are frequently turning into news themselves.

The UN reported fifty-five journalists and media professionals casualty last year, with nearly nine in ten killings since 2006 still remaining unresolved. “Far too many journalists paid the ultimate price to bring truth to light” lamented UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. She underscored the dire need of independent, factual information in a conflict-ridden world more than ever before.

Despite the UNESCO chief’s concern over systematic targeting of journalists, for the UN and western world in general, Shireen is just another number in the list of victims who perished while contributing to freedom of expression, promotion of democracy and ushering of peace in these turbulent times. Her sacrifice will be remembered, the calculated risk she took to disseminate truth will be applauded, but her death will remain a collateral casualty – mortality from occupational hazards to be precise. Israel’s aversion to a criminal investigation into Shireen’s death lay bare the duplicity of the West, paying lip service to the call for closure. As Danish’s family learnt the hard way, while fighting a legal battle in the International Criminal Court, justice for these crusaders will not come easy. After all, we live in a world where destructive rhetoric has taken a toll on people’s ability to emotionally relate to the pains of fellow humans.

I do not know if Shireen and Danish knew each other, but both flew on the wings of honest truth-telling to try and shape the narrative and discourage society from travelling along a dead-end path to nowhere. Their zeal for capturing the underlying messages of life was unparalleled, and they excelled in it too. Shireen covered the harsh realities of occupied life with meticulous dedication. She never deviated from revealing the human cost of occupation. Countless statistics, faceless people, heart wrenching stories of separation found place in Shireen’s reporting. Helpless parents struggling to ensure children’s treatment for want of special permit, individuals prevented from attending relatives’ funeral, mothers giving birth at check point, students missing examination and scholarship, patients losing the fight for life due to travel restrictions – innumerable stories of tragedy and personal losses from the embattled Palestinian territory continues to evoke strong emotion. Shireen documented such anguish without losing objectivity – never allowing her Palestinian identity to overshadow the journalistic instinct and etiquettes, which made her a public icon. A beacon to the rookie scribes back home, her narrative remained inextricably linked to that stuffy experience of growing up in a territory which is prison-like in ambience. Shireen’s brush with death during earlier assignments remains a testimony to the dangerous working conditions of Palestinian journalists and their grit as well.

The intense urge to be the voice of the voiceless, who are deliberately silenced and remain unheard, made journalists like Shireen take risk time and again while reporting on the Gaza wars, Intifada, enforced eviction from homes, indiscriminate killings of Palestinian youths, detention without charge and continuous expansion of Jewish settlements in Palestinian territory. In her death, Shireen eventually succeeded in bringing back the focus of the world to the necessity of a quicker political settlement to the Palestine issue so that no more talents are sacrificed in such a gruesome manner.

Danish, too, used his lens to create instant visual imprints on the human brain, concerning events happening around us that shake societal conscience, and in the process ruffled too many feathers. His pandemic photographs, the controversial Citizenship Act protest images from the heart of the Indian capital or that famous snap of frenzied mob beating a Muslim man ruthlessly during the 2020 Delhi riots, which shed light on the entrenched Islamophobia in society, enraged the Hindu right wing forces in India. Danish was on the hit list of majoritarian fanatics, but escaped fatality, only to fall into Taliban’s hands eventually.

Danish, like Shireen, might have been a victim of targeted killing, but both were consumed by hate, which blurs our vision and detaches us from sanity and rational thinking. Taliban guerrillas not only pumped bullets into Danish’s chest indiscriminately but also ran him over to mutilate the body further. Incidentally, methodical demonization of journalism through name calling has heightened risk factors and led to plummeting of trust in recent times. As journalists are frequently hunted down and murdered in cold blood for disseminating awkward facts, one wonders, what is the remedy to this ailment? To bring a perceptible change in the situation and reverse this dangerous trend, there is a need for greater awareness and stronger public defence of journalism’s true value for society. That can only happen when journalists do not shy away from telling their own stories of harassment to the world aggressively. Besides, judicial activism can help prosecute attacks against journalists.

We lose dozens of Shireen and Danish regularly. Is there an effective answer to such criminal assault on an essential pillar of democracy? Can the formation of an UN mandated high-powered investigation committee, to resolve those hundreds of cold cases of journalists killed for doing their job honestly, act as a deterrent? Three more reporters were killed around the world along with Shireen in the second week of May. It is an authoritarian world that we live in where even practicing democracies rely on subtle constitutional censorship to muzzle the press. Only legal retribution can send a stern message that the work and life of a journalist is priceless. The big question is, who will bell the cat to protect independent journalism and bring closure to the families of the dead?

News

China: Will advance cooperation with Maldives while respecting its sovereignty

FI

Published

on

By

Bater, Vice Chairman of the 14th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) the political advisory board in the People’s Republic of China, has affirmed that Chinese government will respect and support Maldives’ sovereignty while advancing cooperation between the two nations.

Bater, who is an official visit to the Maldives, paid a courtesy call on President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu Thursday morning at the President’s Office.

During the meeting, Bater conveyed warm greetings from Chinese President and congratulated President Muizzu on ruling PNC’s victorious supermajority in the parliamentary elections.

He also spoke regarding the historic relations between Maldives and China, and in this trajectory, reiterated that the Chinese government respects and supports the Maldives’ sovereignty and promotes mutual respect while advancing cooperation between the two nations.

Bater said President Xi’s state visit to the Maldives in 2014 and President Muizzu’s recent state visit to China have significantly contributed to the advancement of cooperation and friendly relations between the two countries.

Speaking at the meeting, President Muizzu emphasized the cordial relationship between the Maldives and China and expressed looking forward to strengthening the friendly relations between the two countries.

Referring to his state visit to China, the President also extended gratitude for the opportunity.

President Muizzu and Beter concluded the meeting by expressing their eagerness to work closely on future collaborations.

Bater arrived in the Maldives on a three-day official visit on Tuesday evening.

He was appointed vice chairperson of CPPCC in 2018, and also serves as a member of Central Committee of ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

CPPCC, comprising of delegates from CCP and its people’s organizations, political parties and independent members, advises and puts proposals for political and social issues to government bodies. It, however, lacks any real legislative power.

Source(s): sun.mv

Continue Reading

News

Minister Shiyam: MIFCO lacks capacity to purchase yellowfin tuna this year

FI

Published

on

By

Fisheries Minister Ahmed Shiyam, on Wednesday, said the state’s fisheries company, MIFCO, lacks the capacity to purchase yellowfin tuna from yellowfin tuna fishermen this year.

Local fishermen staged a protest at sea on Wednesday over the delays in the disbursement of payment for the fish purchased from them. The protest, organized by the Bodu Kanneli Masveringe Union (BKMU) – a trade Union of yellowfin tuna fishermen – initially began at Hulhumale’ jetty and later moved to Male’ lagoon.

Minister Shiyam visited the protest site and addressed the fishermen during which he said MIFCO currently lacks the capacity to purchase yellowfin tuna from yellowfin tuna fishermen. Nevertheless, he affirmed the administration’s commitment to purchase yellowfin tuna as pledged by President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu.

“We are undertaking efforts to strengthen MIFCO, and we will get it done,” he added.

Speaking further, Minister Shiyam underscored the President’s wishes to fulfill his electoral pledges in the early years of his electoral term.

“Please know that in these seven months, we have been faring through serious financial difficulties. Nevertheless, we are working,” he stressed.

The Minister also noted that the government wishes to proceed with matters following consultations with stakeholders.

He also addressed one of the biggest concerns of fishermen at present; the government’s plans to allow commercial longline fishing.

He assured that commercial longline fishing will not be allowed as it had been practiced previously in the Maldives, adding the plans will be implemented in a manner that the interests of the yellowfin tuna fishermen, who will strongly be impacted by longline fishing, are protected.

At Wednesday’s protest, participants demanded the government drop its plans to allow commercial longline fishing. They also demanded that MIFCO begin purchasing yellowfin tuna as pledged by the government and the disbursement of payment for pending dues to fishermen.

Source(s): sun.mv

Continue Reading

News

Over MVR 10 million raised for Palestine as nationwide telethon concludes

FI

Published

on

By

The nationwide telethon, conducted under the slogan “Falastheenaa Eku Dhivehin,” which translates to “Maldivians in Solidarity with Palestine,” by the Public Service Media (PSM), in partnership with local media has concluded.

Over MVR 10 million was raised for Palestinians with donations from various parties, alongside over USD 31,000.

As part of the telethon, donation boxes have been placed in 13 locations across the Maldivian capital, Male’ City.

The telethon was conducted under the direct instruction of President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu who launched the event on Wednesday morning. President Muizzu and First Lady Sajidha Ahmed made donations during the launching ceremony.

The ceremony was also attended by senior government officials including cabinet ministers.

Notable donations made during the telethon included MVR 2.1 million from Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF), MVR 500,000 from STELCO and MVR 300,000 from STO. Donations were also made by various other government ministries, institutions, companies and private individuals. A local family, ‘Nooran Family’ also donated MVR 50,000.

Israel’s current war on Gaza, which began on October 7, 2023, has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians, many of them women and children. It has also reduced much of the Palestinian territory to rubble, displaced the vast majority of residents, and resulted in widespread malnutrition.

Source(s): sun.mv

Continue Reading

Trending