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Newspapers shut down in India's Manipur State, as militant threats mount

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is alarmed to learn of a two-day shutdown by newspapers in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur, following explicit threats from an underground armed group that the distribution of newspapers not publishing its statements would be blocked and their personnel attacked.

According to information received from the All Manipur Working Journalists Union (AMWJU), a unit of the IFJ-affiliated Indian Journalists' Union (IJU), newspaper distribution for two days beginning 1 September 2013 was suspended by vendors under the threat of violent retribution by an underground group.

Following this, AMWJU on 2 September decided to observe a two-day closure to ensure that the state government took note of the predicament that journalists and other media workers continue to face in a state that is home to an estimated thirty armed insurgent groups.

According to the AWMJU, this is the fifth complete shutdown of Manipur's newspapers in less than five years.

IJU representatives on the Press Council of India (PCI) have brought the matter to the attention of its chairman, Justice Markandey Katju, who has written to the chief minister of Manipur, asking that all necessary measures be taken to ensure that journalists are able to function in an atmosphere free of fear.

"We applaud partners in the AWMJU for their consistent and tireless fight for journalists working in the highly challenging environment in Manipur", said the IFJ Asia Pacific.

"The code of conduct that AMWJU has evolved to deal with the situation of multiple insurgencies in the state, is an example for journalists in other regions that face similar complexities".

"We call on the state government in Manipur and the security agencies of the Indian government deployed in the state, to respond to the urgent calls from AWMJU that conditions be secured for safeguarding journalists' rights and the public right to know".

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