(RSF/IFEX) - The following is a 13 August 2002 RSF press release:
Four new predators of press freedom in Asia: Islamic militants, the Prime Minister of Nepal, the Home Affairs Minister of Bangladesh and the security forces in southern Philippines
Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) today published an updated list of predators of press freedom. After drawing up an initial list of 31 predators on 3 May 2001, Reporters Without Borders is adding four new names, all from Asia. In July 2002, the organisation had already added Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to the list.
- Islamic militants. In Pakistan, they killed US journalist Daniel Pearl and stage violent attacks on newspapers deemed to have committed blasphemy. In Algeria, they killed dozens of reporters and continue to issue threats. Influenced by the Taliban of Afghanistan, they are "soldiers of God" who attack "impious" journalists.
- Altaf Hossain Chowdhury, Home Affairs Minister of Bangladesh. More than 150 journalists have been attacked or threatened since he was appointed to this position in October 2001. In most cases, the perpetrators were affiliated to the ruling party, or were protected by it. The minister has proven incapable of putting a stop to this climate of impunity.
-The security forces in southern Philippines. Four journalists have been killed since 1 January 2001 on Mindanao island. Police officers and soldiers have been responsible for these murders, but thanks to the complicity of their superiors, investigations are blocked and witnesses are threatened.
- Sher Bahadur Deuba, Prime Minister of Nepal. When he imposed a state of emergency in November 2001 to combat "Maoist terrorism", the Prime Minister also resolved to cover up the arrests, torture and intimidation of journalists by the security forces. He has turned his country into the world's biggest prison for journalists.
Many people are responsible for these press violations: presidents, ministers, public prosecutors, heads of state, Revolutionary Guides or simply leaders of armed groups, they have the power to jail, kidnap, torture and, in the worst cases, kill journalists. Since these predators have faces, we must know them in order to better denounce them. Reporters without Borders has decided to draw their portraits. They include Eduardo dos Santos (Angola), Alexander Lukashenka (Belarus), François Compaoré (Burkina Faso), Than Shwe (Burma), The Kidnapping Mafia (Chechnya), Jiang Zemin (China), Carlos Castaño (Colombia), Manuel Marulanda and Nicolás Rodríguez Bautista (Colombia), Fidel Castro (Cuba), Joseph Kabila (Democratic Republic of Congo), Teodoro Obiang Nguema (Equatorial Guinea), Issaias Afeworki (Eritrea), Meles Zenawi (Ethiopia), Jean-Bertrand Aristide (Haiti), Ali Khamenei (Iran), Saddam Hussein (Iraq), Ariel Sharon (Israel), Kirsan Iliumjinov (Kalmykia Republic, Russian Federation), Khamtai Siphandon (Laos), Moammar Gadhafi (Libya), Mahathir Mohammad (Malaysia), Kim Jong-il (North Korea), Palestinian Security Forces (Palestinian Authority), Vladimir Putin (Russia), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Abdallah ibn al-Saud (Saudi Arabia), ETA (Spain), Bashar el-Assad (Syria), Mswati III (Swaziland), Gnassingbé Eyadéma (Togo), Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali (Tunisia), Huseyin Kivrikoglu (Turkey), Saparmurat Niyazov (Turkmenistan), Leonid Kuchma (Ukraine), Islam Karimov (Uzbekistan), Nong Duc Manh (Vietnam) and Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe).