Number of Imprisoned Journalists Sets Global Record

Number of Imprisoned Journalists Sets Global Record | Prison | Civil Disobedience Civil Rights Free Speech Government Government Corruption News Articles Protestors & Activists Sleuth Journal Whistle Blowers World News

Throughout the world activists and journalists are being targeted by authoritarian regimes who fear that the public will find out the truth about the violence that they put into motion.

Just recently the number of imprisoned journalists worldwide reached its highest point since CPJ began conducting surveys in 1990.

According to the report, governments use charges of terrorism and other anti-state offenses to silence critical voices.

The newest CPJ report claims that Turkey is the world’s worst offender, which makes perfect sense considering that they are one of NATO’s closest allies in the Middle East where there is incredible amounts of social resistance to authoritarian social and economic policies.

The report reveals that:

“Imprisonment of journalists worldwide reached a record high in 2012, driven in part by the widespread use of charges of terrorism and other anti-state offenses against critical reporters and editors, the Committee to Protect Journalists has found.

In its annual census of imprisoned journalists, CPJ identified 232 individuals behind bars on December 1, an increase of 53 over its 2011 tally.

Large-scale imprisonments in Turkey, Iran, and China helped lift the global tally to its highest point since CPJ began conducting worldwide surveys in 1990, surpassing the previous record of 185 in 1996.

The three nations, the world’s worst jailers of the press, each made extensive use of vague anti-state laws to silence dissenting political views, including those expressed by ethnic minorities. Worldwide, anti-state charges such as terrorism, treason, and subversion were the most common allegations brought against journalists in 2012.

At least 132 journalists were being held around the world on such charges, CPJ’s census found.”

In addition to the countries listed as the worst offenders Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan, Eritrea, Syria and Saudi Arabia were also named in the report.

The report gives an in-depth analysis of the activities carried out by the NATO backed regime in Turkey. The report also says that:

“In Turkey, the world’s worst jailer with 49 journalists behind bars, the authorities held dozens of Kurdish reporters and editors on terror-related charges and a number of other journalists on charges of involvement in anti-government plots.

In 2012, CPJ conducted an extensive review of imprisonments in Turkey, confirming journalism-related reasons in numerous cases previously unlisted on the organization’s annual surveys and raising the country’s total significantly.

CPJ found that broadly worded anti-terror and penal code statutes have allowed Turkish authorities to conflate the coverage of banned groups and the investigation of sensitive topics with outright terrorism or other anti-state activity.

These statutes “make no distinction between journalists exercising freedom of expression and [individuals] aiding terrorism,” said Mehmet Ali Birand, a top editor with the Istanbul-based station Kanal D. Calling the use of anti-state laws against journalists a “national disease,” Birand said “the government does not differentiate between these two major things: freedom of expression and terrorism.”

Among the imprisoned is Tayip Temel, editor-in-chief of Azadiya Welat, the nation’s sole Kurdish-language daily, who faced more than 20 years in prison on charges of being a member of a banned Kurdish organization. As evidence, the government has cited Temel’s published work, along with his wiretapped telephone conversations with colleagues and news sources.”

It seems that in many of these countries the authorities take advantage of loosely worded legislation which allows them to imprison anyone under suspicion of “terrorism”.

Unfortunately, this seems like a trend that the west is quickly drifting towards, with pieces of legislation like the Patriot Act and the NDAA.

Here are other trends and details that emerged in CPJ’s analysis:

  • The 29.6 percent worldwide increase over 2011 was the largest percentage jump in a decade and the second consecutive annual increase of more than 20 percent. Imprisonments increased 23.4 percent from 2010 to 2011.
  • For the first time since 1996, Burma is not among the nations jailing journalists. As part of the country’s historic transition to civilian rule, the authorities released at least 12 imprisoned journalists in a series of pardons over the past year.
  • The number of journalists held on anti-state charges, 132, is the highest CPJ has recorded, although its proportion of the overall tally, about 57 percent, is consistent with surveys in recent years.
  • The use of retaliatory charges was the next most common tactic among cases in which charges were publicly disclosed. Nineteen journalists faced such charges worldwide.
  • Seven journalists were being held on charges of engaging in ethnic or religious “insult,” and six others were jailed on criminal defamation allegations. Violations of censorship statutes were cited in three cases, while charges of disseminating “false news” were lodged in two instances.
  • As part of an extensive yearlong review of imprisonments in Turkey, CPJ conducted an August 1 survey of detainees. CPJ found 61 journalists imprisoned in direct relation to their work at the time, with 15 more being held in less clear circumstances. Since CPJ’s August survey, Turkish authorities have freed a number of journalists who had been held pending trial or verdict.
  • Cuba, after a one-year absence from the census, rejoined the nations imprisoning journalists. Security agents arrested Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, a reporter for the independent news agency Centro de Información Hablemos Press, in September on insult charges. When he was arrested, Martínez Arias was investigating reports that an international shipment of medicine and medical equipment had been damaged.
  • The imprisonment in Cuba was the only case documented by CPJ in the Americas, where jailings have become increasingly rare. No cases were recorded in the region in CPJ’s 2011 census.
  • The overwhelming majority of the detainees are local journalists being held by their own governments. Three foreign journalists were imprisoned worldwide, CPJ’s survey found.
  • Online and print media journalists constituted the two largest professional groups on CPJ’s census. Among other media, 24 television journalists, 12 radio reporters, and one documentary filmmaker were being held.
  • Eighty-five freelance journalists were in jail worldwide on December 1, constituting about 37 percent of the census. The proportion of freelance journalists, which had trended upward in recent years, dropped for the first time since 2006.
  • Along with Dhondup Wangchen, being held in China, three other winners of CPJ International Press Freedom Awards were being held worldwide. They are Azimjon Askarov in Kyrgyzstan, Shi Tao in China, and Mohammad Davari in Iran.

If the US and the EU stay on their current track, this kind of government oppression and suppression of information can surely be expected throughout the West.

This kind of policy is already dominant here to some extent, but not nearly to the point that is seen in the third world countries that NATO is meddling in and or propping up authoritarian dictators.


J.G. Vibes is the author of an 87 chapter counter culture textbook called Alchemy of the Modern Renaissance, a staff writer and reporter for The Intel Hub and host of a show called Voluntary Hippie Radio. You can keep up with his work, which includes free podcasts, free e-books & free audiobooks at his website

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