Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Last week, the Zimbabwean dictatorship shut down the country's only independent daily newspaper, The Daily News (see previous entry for more details). The newspaper was in violation of the country's strict media regulation and registration laws.

The Bush administration rightly condemned the attempt to stiffle journalism that embarasses Zimbabwe's government. A truly free and independent press can expose wrongdoing and help hold authorities accountable, which is precisely what autocratic Mugabe and his cronies fear. That is why they've not only shut down The Daily News but effectively barred the BBC and all foreign media from (overtly) reporting inside the country.

"We call on the government of Zimbabwe to permit the Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday to resume publishing at once and to cease intimidation and harassment of the independent media," said Adam Ereli, deputy spokesman for the US State Department. "These actions are unwarranted infringements on press freedom and they are the latest incidents in a pattern of intimidation and violence directed against the local media,"

Today, Iraq's governing council is reportedly planning to expel journalists from the Arab networks al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya, according to the BBC (which is not banned in Iraq... yet). A member of the governing council, handpicked by Washington, claimed "Inciting violence is what these channels proclaim. They show men in masks carrying guns and call them 'resistance'. They're not resistance, they're thugs and criminals," He also "told the BBC that clear guidelines for reporting would be set out." It remains to be seen what form those "guidelines" will take.

The networks have defended their reports by saying they are committed to giving both sides of the story.

Given their (proper) condemnation of Mugabe's closure of The Daily News, it will be interesting to see the Bush administration's reaction to the measures against al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya in the new Iraq governed by "freedom and liberty."


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home