Violence against press

By: Karim Mostafa Threats to safety in the Middle East and Africa
by Karim Mostafa

The Kosovo Crisis is not the only hot spot on the globe where journalists are risking their lives in their attempts to provide breaking news.
A five-nation panel of military experts that monitors a 1996 Lebanese-Israeli cease-fire announced April 20 that the Israelis violated the cease-fire by firing on Lebanese journalists last week. On April 15, the Israelis seized the Lebanese village, Arnoun, and enclosed it with barbed wire. The Associated Press reported that on the morning of April 16, 10 journalists approached the enclosed village as Israeli soldiers lobbed smoke grenades and shouted warnings not to come closer into a loudspeaker. As the journalists continued forward, the soldiers opened fire and shot Kassem Dergham in the back. Dergham, a Lebanese soundman working for Abu Dhabi television in the United Arab Emirates, was taken to a nearby hospital, where a rubber bullet lodged next to his spine was removed. He is currently in stable condition.
In other parts of the globe, Reporters without Borders, a media watchdog group based in Paris, released a statement last week, announcing Sierra Leone as the world's bloodiest hot spot for journalists. As of Jan. 1, 1999, the current death toll for journalists is nine. Eight of them were killed by rebel forces in January in the midst of the rebels' failed bid to capture Freetown, Sierra Leone's capital. Another journalist was killed in February by the Nigerian-dominated ECOMOG, the West African military alliance supporting the Sierra Leone government. Five other journalists are missing, and others have reported mutilation, torture, wounds, and kidnapping.
In Iran, more than 345 journalists signed a letter sent to President Mohamed Khattami in protest of the media crackdown by his hard-line rivals, reported AP.
The Iranian daily, Hamshahri, reported on April 18 that the letter claimed eight daily and weekly newspapers have been closed in the past year. The paper also mentioned the mysterious circumstances under which three writers were killed last year.
The Sudanese government, in the midst of a civil war and recent withdrawal from a cease-fire, is reportedly detaining two journalists who work for foreign media. On the night of April 18, Maha Hassan Ali and Abdel-Qader Hafez were arrested on suspicion of links to foreign intelligence agencies. Ali is an editor for the official Sudan News Agency and also writes for Egypt's Middle East News Agency. Hafez is a correspondent of the Saudi newspaper Al-Jazeera. Mohammed Abdel-Sid, correspondent for the Saudi Asharq Al Awsat, based in London, was arrested early April 16.

?(Editor & Publisher Web [Caption]
?(copyright: Editor & Publisher May 1, 1999) [Caption]


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