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Tibetan, Indian journalists mark World Press Freedom Day

May 5, 2009

Phayul [Sunday, May 03, 2009 20:18]
By Phurbu Thinley

Dharamsala, May 3: Tibetan and Indian journalists gathered together on
Sunday to jointly observe world Press Freedom Day.

Some 50 Indian and Tibetan journalists, including a handful of Tibetan
analysts, participated in an interactive function this morning organized
by the Association of Tibetan Journalists (ATJ).

ATJ, in its press release, said it organized the event to join “the
voice against suppression of freedom of press on the World Press Freedom
Day,” and to call on the Chinese government to create conducive
atmosphere for journalists to report on the situation in Tibet.

In a press release marking the day, ATJ said several Tibetan writers and
journalists were detained by China following last year’s anti-China
protests.

“Reports from Tibet and China of Beijing's crackdown on the media
clearly show the extent to which a government can go in shutting up
journalists who often become the victims of government atrocities,” ATJ
president Tashi Wangchuk said.
“The Association of Tibetan Journalists, therefore, calls on world
leaders of respective countries and China in particular, to release all
those journalists imprisoned and stop committing crimes against the
media,” Wangchuk added.

“ATJ strongly feels the need to examine the situation in Tibet at this
stage,” Wangchuk said, adding “Despite the claims by China that
situation in Tibet is normal reports of undeclared martial law and an
atmosphere of constant fear gripping the region continue to emerge out.”

China ranked among world's worst-rated states against press freedom in a
study released by media rights group Freedom House on Friday. Meanwhile,
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), also placed China among its list
of "10 worst countries to be a blogger," naming Myanmar, Iran, Syria,
Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Tunisia, China, Turkmenistan and Egypt to
its "dishonor roll."

Wangchuk said Tibetan journalists were ready to visit the Tibetan areas
to observe the situation there independently. “We had expressed our
willingness to do so. So far, we have received no response from Chinese
government," Wangchuk said.

Tashi argued that if the claims by Chinese government of Tibetans
enjoying in Tibet were to believed then there should not be any problem
for China to allow independent international media into the region.

Speaking on behalf of the local Indian journalists from Dharamsala Press
Club, Suresh Khatta, correspondent for Indian Express, commended ATJ’s
initiative in bringing the two media closer together. Khatta also
stressed on the need to forge similar collaboration between the two
media groups in the future.

Wangchuk said the expense for the event was sponsored by ATJ’s long time
friend Ms Satsuki Takahashi of Norbu Create, Japan.

The Association of Tibetan Journalists, based in Dharamsala, was formed
in 1997 and has over 40 members to date.

World Press Freedom Day is a day designated by the United Nations to
raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and to remind
governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of
expression enshrined under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights.

Proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993, the day is celebrated
each year on 3 May, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek, a
statement of free press principles put together by African newspaper
journalists in 1991.
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