CIP supports concern over attacks on Southeast European journalists
The Center for Islamic Pluralism endorses the following statements by the South East Europe Media Organisation, an affiliate of the International Press Institute. CIP Executive Director Stephen Suleyman Schwartz commented, "Several leading members of our organization are journalists, and I am a former secretary of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, affiliated with The Newspaper Guild as Communications Workers of America Local 39521, AFL-CIO, a trade union representing newspaper employees in Northern California, USA. CIP advocates strongly for full media freedom in all countries, without exception. We note in particular that an investigation of the assassination of Serbian journalist Slavko Ćuruvija is very long overdue."
CIP does not support the presence of the European Union Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) in Kosova.
These statements have been corrected and slightly edited to conform to CIP style.
Vienna, April 26, 2013
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), is concerned about the physical attack on Gëzim Bimbashi, a journalist for public broadcaster Radio Television of Kosova (Radiotelevizioni i Kosovës).
Bimbashi was brutally beaten on Monday, April 22, on 'Šumadija' Square in Kosova's northern town of Mitrovica. He was attacked with wooden flagstaffs while reporting on a protest organised by Serbs of northern Kosova, who oppose a political deal aiming to normalise relations between Prishtina and Belgrade.
Oliver Vujović, SEEMO Secretary General, strongly condemns the attack and urges the local authorities and the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosova (EULEX) supervising force, under whose mandate that part of Kosova falls, to provide security for journalists, cameramen and photographers.
* * *
Vienna, April 17, 2013
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), is concerned at the number of press freedom violations, and the pressure directed at the media, in South East Europe in recent weeks.
In Albania on 7 April 2013, a cameraman for one of the country's leading TV channels, Top Channel, who covered a football match between the Tirana and Skenderbeu clubs, was allegedly assaulted by police, stopped from filming and taken to a Tirana police station where he was allegedly beaten by high-ranking officers. This happened after an incident involving the football fans and police, when the Top Channel cameraman was waiting for fans who had been detained to be freed. According to the police, the cameraman was taken to the police station because he refused to identify himself, no violence was used, and after he was identified he was immediately released. Top Channel rejects these declarations as untrue.
SEEMO notes that this is not the first attack on Top Channel. In March this year the studios of the channel were surrounded by police as a result of a state decision, without prior notice, to terminate a rental contract with Top Channel. Top Channel received a letter from a minister with a one-sided termination of the rent contract - which had in theory been valid until 2025.
Meanwhile, in Trebinje, in the Serb-occupied zone of Bosnia-Hercegovina, on 14 April 2013, a bishop from the Serbian Orthodox Church verbally attacked Nebojša Vukanović, a correspondent for the BN TV channel, apparently because he was displeased by the journalist's reporting. "If I were to judge you, it would be a knockout, so it is better that you be judged by Saint Vasilije," the bishop said, according to media reports. The bishop also suggested that journalists were maligning Trebinje, naming Vukanović as an example.
SEEMO is also concerned at the threats, including death threats, against the journalist Predrag Lučić made on various web portals in Bosnia-Hercegovina. This is not the first time that web portals in Bosnia-Hercegovina have been used for death threats against journalists.
* * *
SEEMO is also surprised to hear that on 11 April 2013, without prior announcement, cable platform IPKO moved Kosova's national licensed broadcaster Kohavision (KTV) in Prishtina from the position of channel three to that of channel 83 in the cable system, while. in addition, preventing viewers from rearranging and listing the channels as they wish. KTV, one of the only three national broadcasters, has thus been reclassified in the category of local broadcasters.
SEEMO calls on the Kosova authorities to investigate an attack with automatic weapons on the building and studio of the radio station Kolašin in Zubin Potok in Kosova, which occurred on 16 April 2013 in the morning hours.
SEEMO welcomes the police investigation into, and criminal charges brought against, the chief of the heating plant of the city of Niš in Serbia, and two other persons, after death threats against Predrag Blagojević, a journalist and web editor of Južne vesti.
SEEMO Secretary-General Oliver Vujović urges Serbian authorities to keep the promise they made to investigate the three unsolved killings of journalists in Serbia: Radislava Dada Vujasinović; Slavko Ćuruvija; and Milan Pantić. The authorities in Belgrade must ensure that both the perpetrators and masterminds are prosecuted after so many years. Vujasinović was killed in 1994, Ćuruvija in 1999 and Pantić in 2001.
Finally, SEEMO is concerned at the circumstances under which Denis Latin, Ružica Renić and Katja Kušec were relieved of their positions within the Croatian public broadcaster Hrvatska Radio Televizija (HRT) in March this year. Vujović calls on the government and the HRT management to refrain from any action that could lead to censorship and threaten editorial independence.
Speaking of the regional surge in press freedom violations as a whole, Vujović said: "I urge the authorities to create a safe environment for journalists, to investigate all forms of attacks and threats against journalists, and to cease activities that could make the work of journalists harder. Different views, and investigative reporting, need to be accepted, promoted and supported by state authorities, including through transparent investigations into all forms of attacks on journalists."