Tuesday, June 27, 2017

'Voice of the voiceless' - Al Jazeera's response over Saudi-led blog gag pressure

The Doha headquarters of the global news network. Photo: Al Jazeera
An important media freedom statement: An open letter from Al Jazeera
Republished on Café Pacific from the Doha-based global news network

OVER two decades ago, Al Jazeera Arabic was launched with a simple mission: to provide reliable information to viewers across the Arab world. Ten years later, in 2006, Al Jazeera English began broadcasting with the same mission - to provide people around the world with accurate, balanced and impartial information.

When Al Jazeera Arabic went on air in 1996, it was unique in the Arab world. Most media in the region at the time were state-controlled and often unchallenged mouthpieces for the different rulers and governments in the region. Al Jazeera was different, a truly independent voice, with a mission to hear and report the human stories that were otherwise ignored; to cover events with balance and integrity; and to hold power to account.

Al Jazeera Arabic quickly gained a huge and loyal audience across the region. The information we provided became a lifeline to millions of people who wanted to know what was really going on around them.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Rights groups condemn ‘cowardly censorship’ bid over Al Jazeera

Flashback to the US-led coalition invasion of Iraq in 2003 -- how the rolling 24 hour news station Al Jazeera played a key role in the  battle for hearts and minds and has made many political enemies. "We are surrounded by despots," says fiesty presenter Faisal Al-Qaseem. Video: Journeyman Pictures

Pacific Media Watch/Asia Pacific Report

PRESS freedom and human rights advocates, journalists and social media users have condemned a demand by Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries to shut Al Jazeera television network and other media outlets in Qatar.

The Arab states reportedly issued a 13-point list on Friday, demanding the closure of all news outlets that it funds, directly and indirectly, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al Araby Al Jadeed, Mekameleen and Middle East Eye.

“We are really worried about the implication and consequences of such requirements if they will ever be implemented,” said Alexandra El Khazen, head of Middle East and North Africa desk at Reporters Without Borders, a non-profit organisation promoting press freedom.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from Paris, Khazen said: “We are against any kind of censorship and measures that could threaten the diversity in the Arab media landscape and pluralism, for instance.

“The Arabic media landscape should make room and accept the broadest range of viewpoints instead of adopting repressive measures against alternative viewpoints that are found to be critical of some governments.”

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Celebrating 30 years of Nuclear-Free Aotearoa -- the Pacific connection

Auckland mayor Phil Goff admiring a photograph by John Miller taken of the politician when he was a student activist campaigning for a nuclear-free New Zealand. Goff spoke at the "Celebrating 30 Years of Nuclear-Free Aotearoa/New Zealand" at the Depot Artspace in Devonport today. Image" David Robie
Reflections from David Robie

CONGRATULATIONS everybody for that tremendous achievement three decades ago. And thank you to WILPF Aotearoa and Ruth Coombes for inviting me. It was literally a David and Goliath struggle to make New Zealand nuclear-free against United States and global pressure – not just David Lange, prime minister at the time, although he was vital too.

The real “David” was the ordinary people of New Zealand who exerted extraordinary pressure on the government to deliver. The barrages of letters from citizens, constant lobbying by peace campaigners, local councils – such as right here in Devonport -- declaring themselves nuclear-free, the door-knocking petitioners – and, of course, the spectacular protests.

However, in my few minutes I would like to talk about the Pacific context, as this was my background. While the New Zealand campaign and success was tremendously inspirational for the Pacific, it should not be forgotten that some small Pacific countries and communities were actually ahead of the game.

Some examples:

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