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Home / World / The arrest of Maria Ressa means more problems for press freedom in Asia

The arrest of Maria Ressa means more problems for press freedom in Asia



Rappler's Reputation

Despite frequent verbal attacks and obstacles by the Duterte government, Rappler is admired for his fearless coverage of the deadly war on drugs in the country and many other problems with the current administration, including the treatment of opposition politicians

The arrest of Ressa was widely regarded as a warning to the press by human rights activists and journalists against the background of their uncompromising record.

"Rappler is a giant here, his work is really something," says Carlos Conde, a Manila-based Human Rights Watch researcher.

"Trying to undermine or marginalize Maria Ressa or Rappler is a big press attack in the Philippines," says Conde.

A Message to Other Journalists

Ressa's arrest "sends an absolutely clear message to anyone working in the Philippines," says Peter Greste, a former Al Jazeera journalist who is imprisoned after his production in Egypt was government critical work. He is now an academic in his native Australia and founding director of the Alliance for Journalists' Freedom.

"You can not look at it in isolation, just think about what it means for the entire media in the Philippines ̵

1; if you question the administration, you can expect harassment, intimidation and arrest."

  Why the arrest of Maria Ressa should upset anyone

Conde agrees and says the message is strong. "The message is," Do not mess with us. We are determined to make our vision for this land a reality.

Complicating matters is the culture of violence that Filipino journalists had faced even before the rise of Duterte "The Philippines are still one of the countries with the highest murder figures of journalists," says Conde. "You can post What you want, you just have to deal with the consequences. You die, you become intimidated or you become Maria Ressa. "

Press freedom in Asia

The incident resonated in a region That is widely regarded as increasingly illiberal, of China and North Korea, two of the least free countries in the world for the media, as far as Thailand and Malaysia, which have worked harder in the press in recent years.

"It seems to happen almost everywhere at the same time, creating new norms and is very worrying," says Florence de Changy, President of the Foreign Correspondent & # 39; Club in Hong Kong and Asian correspondent for French newspaper Le Monde.

  Reuters journalist Wa Lone is being held in front of a court in Yangon in August 2018 before journalists.

She says that the "increasing intolerance for dissenting opinions of the region" is a misunderstanding of the role of the press in society.

The World Press Freedom Index 2018, created by Advocacy Without Borders (RSF) advocacy group, includes Australia, New Zealand and South Korea in the ranking of the top 50 press freedom nations. The index also lists Taiwan in the top 50. The rest of the Asia-Pacific region is among them due to varying degrees of harassment, physical abuse, censorship and surveillance by journalists.

Cédric Alviani, head of the East Asia Bureau of the RSF, blames China for a bad example. The Asian giant ranks 176th out of the index in the index. "Over the last six years, the situation in China has deteriorated significantly, due to the poor example that Chinese authorities are spreading in Asia."

"Countries that used to be democracies in Asia copy this example of Thailand, the Philippines, which is very worrying," he said, citing the detention of two Reuters journalists in Myanmar and a government crackdown on bloggers in Vietnam , The Philippines is currently number 133 – a 127th place decline in 2017.

"In Asia, you have more and more the notion that anti-government media are anti-patriotic, that they are against people." This is contradictory Anything we know about democracies, I would say that this is a very worrying situation. "

Chasing the Media's Call

Rappler's struggles are kicking off, activists say. "If the ability to hold governments accountable (decreases), everyone suffers," says Greste. "This is about the public's right to know what their governments are doing on their behalf, and the free press is the best way to keep track of what governments are doing, otherwise you'll only get propaganda."

  What is Rappler, the website of the Philippine government?

Shawn Crispin, Representative for Southeast Asia in the Journalists Protection Committee (CPJ), worried that governments in other countries might see the pale reaction of the international community to Duttert's attacks on rappers as a license to crack down on critical voices.

"Rappler is widely regarded as the epitome of a free press, a news organization that has sneaked into an abusive government," he says. "If the government strikes back, how will the world react?"

"If the broader world's response turns out to be weak, other regions may think they can (also) act against journalists, and if a government goes after a news organization and gets away with it, it sends a signal across the world board," he adds.

  Ressa speaks on stage in the Committee for the Protection of Journalists & # 39; International Press Freedom Awards in November 2018.

Journalists in the Philippines and throughout the region must continue to play their part to the best of their ability, says de Changy, president of the FCC in Hong Kong.

Following Ressas The famous admonition to protect the line in a speech to the committees of the Journalists' Committee on Protection says last year: "Some say we have no choice but to adapt to the red line, but I do think we should resist. "

[194559004] Trump's Influence

US President Donald Trump's push against the press in Asia is not far removed from advocates of press freedom.

"The fact that Trump calls journalists and unfavorable reports" false news "is a blessing For any dictator on earth, one can see that in many countries where strong men use the same argument," Alviani of RSF ,

. The strongest men of Asia follow Trump's leadership in fake news
In a response to a question on Ranada's ban at a press conference, Philippine Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in December that access to the presidential palace was "a privilege" according to CNN's CNN subsidiary Philippines.

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