Friday, March 27, 2009

Petition For The Release of Two American Journalists

Reporters Without Borders and the International Women's Media Forum have launched a petition asking for the unconditional and immediate release of two American women journalists currenty being held by North Korea.

You can click here to sign the petition.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

2 U.S. Reporters Held by North Korea

Days ahead of a suspected missile test launch by North Korea, the communist nation is being said to have detained two American women reporters who reportedly strayed into it's territory while attempting to gain footage of refugee camps along the North Korea - Chinese border.  Laura Ling and Euna Lee both work for former Vice President Al Gore's San Francisco-based Currant TV. There are conflicting reports of where the arrest took place, with some claiming Ling and Lee were within North Korean territory, while others stated that the arrest took place when they were still in China.   The Committee To Protect Journalists (CPJ) has issued a call for the women's release.  Diplomatic efforts are said to be underway in an attempt to secure the release of Ling and Lee.  

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

China Blocks YouTube

Following accusations that Dalai Lama supporters fabricated a video showing Chinese military beating a Tibetan protester to death, China has now blocked all access to the popular video-sharing website You Tube.  This action is not unusual for China, which has been named an enemy of the internet by press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders.  However, it continues to show a disturbing trend by Beijing to censor and oppress by any means possible.  The international community had hoped that the presence of the Olympic Games in China in 2008 would open a dialogue regarding fundamental liberties, including freedom of the press.   However, the opposite effect was the case with China failing to follow through on promises to allow more access and transparency and, in some cases, ramping up its repressive efforts.  As recently as last week, South Africa refused a visa to the Dalai Lama to attend a Peace Forum in order to stay on good terms with China, a major trading partner for the African nation.

Friday, March 6, 2009

March 12, 2009 - World Day Against Cyber Censorship

March 12, 2009 is World Day Against Cyber Censorship.

Reporters Without Borders and Amnesty International have issued an open letter to the Chief Executive Officers of Yahoo!, Google, and Microsoft, Inc. urging them, for one day, to not censor any of their search engines or blog platforms in observance of World Day Against Cyber Censorship.

The internet has created an ideal space for idea-sharing and freedom of expression. However, many countries have restricted the ability of it's citizens and it's media to express themselves and freely obtain information. Major communications companies such as Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft, and Cisco have been heavily criticized for allowing these governments to restrict access to content on the internet for the sake of higher profits. Nontheless, internet restrictions and censorship continue to undermine the notion of freedom of the press worldwide.

Amnesty International has started the Irrepressible.Info Campaign to raise awareness of the growing restrictions on the internet by countries that do not guaranty or respect a free press. To find more, take the Pledge on Internet Freedom, and to learn how to republish censored material on your blog, click here.

March 8, 2009 - International Women's Day

International Women's Day is March 8, 2009.

The last year has been phenomenal for women in the news. From Hillary Clinton to Courtney Hunt, women have been steadily gaining ground and proving that, no matter their background, they can compete on an equal playing field with men.But while women have rocketed as makers of the news, much still needs to be done to recognize those women who report it.

Women reporters such as Christiane Amanpour, Katie Couric, and Arianna Huffington have established credibility and earned respect in this often man-driven business. Sadly, however, they are the exception, not the rule. While half of all bloggers are women, and while more and more women are availing themeselves of new-media tools, they remain woefully un-represented amongst those who shape and control traditional media outlets.

Women who report the news in countries where freedom of the press is either not guarantied or not recognized face the same dangers and obstacles as their male counterpart, and in addition must frequently deal with discrimination and gender-based violence.

Take, for example, four women reporters who were recently attacked and stripped naked by a secret society in the West African country of Sierra Leone. The women were reporting on the cultural practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) when they encountered their attackers, who wanted to ascertain that the women had been subjected to FGM themeselves. FGM, also called "female circumcision," is a dangerous tradition that is still widely practiced in West Africa, despite criticism from the international community and human rights organizations working within the region. FGM is viewed by most as a practice endagering women's health and attacking their dignity, but societies that continue to practice it believe that un-circumcised women are un-clean and unfaithful.

Last month, Roxana Saberi, an Iranian-American freelance reporter for National Public Radio (NPR) was detained by Iranian authorities after purchasing a bottle of wine. Iran has since confirmed the arrest but has refused to disclose where Ms. Saberi was being held and what charges are being levied against her. Ms. Saberi, who grew up in the United States, had been living in Iran for six years and was finishing her book on Iranian culture. Reporters Without Borders has issued a call for Ms. Saberi's release.

The family and friends of Anna Politkovskaya are still waiting for her murderer to be identified and brought to justice. Ms. Politkovskaya was a distinguished Russian journalist who extensively covered the conflicts in Chechnya as well as a prolific writer who published several books on Russia. Ms. Politkovskaya had endured threats on her life before, and had even been driven into hiding in 2001. She was murdered October 7, 2006. Though her killer did not mask his face or disactivate the security cameras, they have yet to be identified. Reporters Without Borders has asked for the creation of an international commission of enquiry so that the truth may be known about Ms. Politkovskaya's death.

The Peter Mackler Award salutes all women who have worked against even greater odds to report the news in countries with no free press.

Roxana Saberi

On March 4, 2009, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) issued a call for the release of Iranian-American Reporter Roxana Saberi who was detained by Iranian authorities on an unknown date and whose whereabouts are currently unknown.

To find out more about Ms. Saberi and RSF's efforts to secure her release, please visit:

To sign the Facebook petition asking for the release of Ms. Saberi, please visit:

Sunday, March 1, 2009


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--Camille Mackler
Project Manager