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Media in Manipur shut down following death threats by outlawed militant group

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an IFJ media release:

Manipur media shutdown after threats by outlawed militant group

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has expressed its anger after local newspapers and media in Manipur were forced to shut down for over four days in the wake of threats made by an outlawed militant group.

On October 10, a press release was sent out by the banned People's Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak's (PREPAK) Central Committee about its Raising Day celebrations.

Later that night, another faction of the PREPAK imposed a ban on the publication of the release and warned the media that their offices would be attacked and editors and journalists would be shot on sight.

The All Manipur Working Journalists Union (AMWJU) held an emergency general meeting at the Manipur Press Club on October 12, resolving to suspend all media publication for an indefinite time until it was deemed safe.

IFJ Asia-Pacific director Jacqueline Park said the recent threats are indicative of the environment that journalists working in conflict prone areas of India's north-east are facing on a daily basis.

"The recent attack on the media is an attack on journalists' safety and we are gravely concerned at this manipulation of the media," Park said.

The AMWJU held a sit-in protest on October 14 to condemn the threats made and also called for a written assurance from both factions of PREPAK to not interfere with the media.

The PREPAK finally issued an assurance as well as an apology on October 15 and all media organisations hope to resume publication today.

The media in conflict-torn Manipur have often come under fire from various state and non-state forces but the recent crisis is the third attack on press freedom linked to the PREPAK in the last three months. In one instance, the PREPAK were linked to a bomb placed in the office of the Sangai Express Daily in July over their publication of press releases issued by both factions.

The IFJ supports the attempts by the AMWJU to protect journalists in the face of these attacks, and urges local authorities to ensure freedom of the press in Manipur.

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in more than 115 countries.

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