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Dispatches: The global war against journalists

Thursday, December 26, 2013

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The number of dead rises depressingly, along with those imprisoned, intimidated or injured, writes Asia Sentinel.

At the end of each year, Asia Sentinel totals the annual number of men and women who were murdered, caught in combat crossfire, jailed, beaten or censored because of because of their dedication to the profession of journalism.

Sadly, very few pay for the toll, partly because all too often it is governments or powerful organizations that do the killing. Since 1992, of 1029 journalists killed, 605 have been murdered without anyone ever being charged or convicted. Of those, 100 were killed in Iran, followed by 64 in the Philippines, 57 Algeria, 36 in Somalia. In Asia, 28 have been killed with impunity in Pakistan, 18 in India and 10 in Sri Lanka.

The statistics show that press freedom, and thus freedom of the electorate to know, is threatened in visceral ways across the planet as journalists bear the brunt of totalitarian regimes and violent factions out to destroy those who disagree with them. According to the two press watchdog organizations the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists and the Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontiers, or Reporters Without Borders, 2013 was the second-worst year on record for the imprisonment of journalists, with 211 jailed worldwide. Turkey ranks at the top of the list, with 40 imprisoned.. Vietnam has 35 bloggers in custody. Fourteen media assistants were thrown in jail along with them.

The Committee to Protect Journalists keeps one total, the Reporters Without Borders keeps a second. They often differ, apparently because of the difficulty of determining whether some were murdered because they practiced the profession of telling the wider public the reality of their cities or countries or regions or for other reasons.

Reporters Without Borders lists 71 journalists killed in 2013, the Committee to Protect Journalists lists 59 either murdered, killed in combat or on dangerous assignments. Nor according to both were bloggers and citizen journalists spared. Another 36 bloggers and citizen journalists were murdered during the year, along with three media assistants.

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