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Journalists and activists under fire for covering pollution, says RSF report

Investigating the causes of global warming, which include deforestation and industrial pollution, has resulted in abuses against journalists by corporations and governments, says a new report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). It also highlights the significant relationship between journalists and the repression of environmental activists who act as invaluable sources.

Intimidation of environmental activists restricts the flow of information in the media and elsewhere. Chinese ecologists, for example, are often harassed or arrested by the authorities. In April 2010, police detained Gu Chuan for several hours and confiscated files from his home the night before he was supposed to attend a conference on environmental issues. In addition, Chinese journalists are barred from certain regions of the country, making it very difficult to investigate the pollution of Tibetan rivers by Chinese industrial projects, especially mining operations.

In Pakistan, police did not conduct a serious investigation into the November 2009 murder of Nisar Baloch of Shehri Citizens for a Better Environment, who was a major source of information for the media about land seizures in the Karachi region.

Radio show hosts and environmental activists have paid the highest price for opposing the gold mining operations of Pacific Rim Mining Corp, a Canadian company, in El Salvador. Two environmental activists associated with a community radio station were murdered by thugs under the orders of a local businessman attempting to quash local opposition to the mining.

In Gabon, local journalists have covered the campaigns that environmental NGOs have waged about pollution from companies like Total, Shell, Addax and Synopec. One journalist had a brush with military officials after he revealed that Shell Gabon had buried used oil and other waste.

Most recently in Madagascar, RSF reports, radio journalist Alphonse Afakandro faces charges of defamation, insult and dissemination of false information after "a complaint by the local gendarmerie over a report about illegal sea-turtle fishing."

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