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IFJ-FES-SAMSN Workshop on Building Resistance and Organizing for Change

Organised by International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)

21-23 July 2013, Kathmandu, Nepal


International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) organized its 12th meeting in Nepal in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), Nepal Office. SAMSN has shown its resilience to cope with challenges South Asian media workers emerging from the non-implementation of Journalists’ Acts, criminal charges against journalists, killings, firing from jobs, arresting, forcing them to go exile, regulatory control on press freedom, shut down of media, contract nature of jobs, etc. Securing safety of the environment where journalists are working is sought to address perceived or actual risks to their and citizens’ lives, liberty and profession. One way is democratization of environments which reduces the risks of violence arising out of personal ambition of certain undemocratic leaders and domination of interest groups, non-state armed actors, rebels or criminals while the other is allowing the citizens to speak their minds about the working of power impervious to timely change. This is possible if the dignity of journalists’ profession is maintained and conflict and gender-sensitivity of media nurtured. SAMSN has grasped the spirit of solidarity among media workers in the region and its circle of friends in the civil society to harness opportunity from the spirits of social media, trust and technology and establish the autonomy of profession to establish the citizens’ right to information and face the challenges where it occurs through collective action. An interactive public sphere sustained by media freedom can alone guarantee the rationalization of society toward freedom, equity and peace, support human rights culture and deepen democracy’s outreach. What is still needed is its vitality, expanded solidarity and effective cooperative action to address the new challenges to media freedom which are compounded by the festering sores of the old ones.

One defective aspect of South Asian politics is that law-mediated solidarity among the citizens is weak. Political leaders’ radius of trust lies not with impersonal citizens but with personalized networks of families, relatives, followers, clients and resource-generating bodies. This unresponsive nature of politics to ordinary people has unleashed centrifugal tendencies which are weakening the concept of citizenship in the region. The resurgence of dynastic succession in leadership, monopoly regimes, syndicates and subsidiary identity politics are moving politics in pre-political direction and institutionalizing illegitimate means for acquiring, using and transferring power thereby sharply provoking reactions from the independent media rooted in public political culture. Moreover, journalists increasingly question patriarchal and patrimonial form of polity. The immediate backlash is again attack politics practiced by those who wants to hide their crime from media visibility. Journalists’ resistance to this and the use of arbitrary power and resources by powerful actors mark the beginning of risk to them and their profession. Without the support of journalists the victims of conflict cannot raise their voice and turn the Right to Information Act in South Asia a strong force to expose those who enjoy power without accountability, enlighten the indoctrinated ignorant and elevate the base of public opinion—the lynchpin of participatory democracy. Implementation of Right to Information Act establishes a robust and interactive public sphere for public opinion and will formation, transparency of public institutions and offers choices to citizens about public good. Systemic change is essential to uproot the taproots of structural and communal conflicts and create and sustain a coercion-free society. Media solidarity can contribute to this goal and remove the underlying toxic agents of society through resistance and maneuver to induce desirable social change.


The basic objectives of the workshop are to:

Promote better democratic and legal environment for media freedom in the region; raise strong voice of media workers and protect their rights; foster safety and dignity of work; share tools and experiences; promote national and regional campaigns on the implementation of working Journalists Act, abolition of impunity, gender equality, creation of dignity of work, use of social media and strengthen unions through membership drive and various incentives measures.


The workshop involved various methods--analysis of regional context of democracy, human rights and media freedom, country presentation focusing on safety, wages, job security, role of press council, access to information, impunity, role of media workers’ unions, safety of female journalists and recommendations, brain-storming discussion, group works, presentation of findings and future course of action.

Participation and Resource Persons

Afghanistan (2), Australia (1), Bangladesh (2), Bhutan (1), India (10), Maldives (1), Nepal (6), Pakistan (5), Sri Lanka (5). Four resource persons two male and two female facilitated the program. Inauguration function was addressed by FES head Dev Raj Dahal and IFJ representative Jacqui Park followed by the program highlights by Sukumar Muralidharan.

Action Plan and Declaration

Securing safety of the journalists is essential to address actual risks to their lives, freedom and profession. Based on the success on various campaigns undertaken by SAMSN, the workshop identified four areas to work on the future and formulated strategies to attain them: media campaign against excessive regulation; publication of annual South Asia Press Freedom Report, creation of SAMSN digital hub and address the challenges arising out of culture impunity. This year’s meeting broadened the level of participation covering all eight countries of South Asia and better representation of youth and women journalists. Three-day Kathmandu meeting also adopted Gender Declaration focusing on the problems faced by female journalists. Journalists of the region renewed their commitments to work together in the spirit of solidarity and collective action and work for the democratic condition of the region.

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