The Economist unmasks the silencing of journalists in Asian countries

Image: Globe and Mail

Curbing journalists is a common practice across Asian countries. Many journalists who are critical of the regime that they are living under are simply ostracized or silenced by the sanctions imposed on them.

The Economist reveals that there is a certain pattern of curtailing press freedom across the span of the continent. Withdrawal of government advertising, unwarranted tax investigations, spurious criminal charges, hostile takeovers, suspect fake-news campaigns, online trolling, and old-fashioned thuggery recurrently surface in the crusade against critical journalists. According to Reporters Without Borders, since 2018 press freedom has declined in more than a dozen Asian countries including Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Singapore, as well as the Philippines.

In Myanmar, two journalists from Reuters were jailed for over a year after they exposed a massacre of civilians by soldiers. Governments have a way of intimidating journalists and getting away with it. Of 33 murders of journalists in Pakistan from 2013 to 2019, not a single one has resulted in punishment for the killers.

While in India, it has become more common for reporters to face lawsuits filed by private citizens in response to criticism of the government. The Narendra Modi government covets an unwavering loyalty from journalists.

Moreover, the pandemic has further accelerated the attack on journalists. In India, the supreme leader wants positivity around the handling of coronavirus, and in doing so an order has been passed in Mumbai banning any person inciting mistrust towards government functionaries and their actions taken in order to prevent the spread of the covid-19 virus.

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