May 04: President of the Bhutan Chapter of Third World Media Network (TWMN), also editor of APFAnews.com and Bhutan News Service T. P. Mishra has strongly called on the international communities including the rights and media groups to mount pressure on concerned authorities for the establishment of media freedom in Bhutan.
Presenting a 20-minute paper on the theme “The status of press freedom, the media and citizens in Bhutan after democratization”, today on last day of the two-day regional conference for South Asia in commemoration of World Press Freedom Day 2009 in Kathmandu, Mishra also highlighted the plight of exiled Bhutanese journalists.
“Not much has been changed in media sector even though Bhutan says it has already stepped into democratization process”, reads the paper, adding that the existing Bhutanese media houses have not been able to give space for the suppressed voices of rural areas, and in particular of Nepali-ethnic group in Southern region of the country.
Mishra also raised the ‘identity issue’ of exiled Bhutanese journalists. Terming the existence of media inside Bhutanese refugee camps in Nepal as one of the best instances, Mishra also said there is a need for the similar existence of media bodies inside refugee camps around the world to highlight their plight.
The conference, organized jointly by the Federation of Nepali Journalists and UNESCO, also made a declaration on media freedom in South Asia, which demanded that state authorities in the countries of the participants of the conference explicitly denounce the acts of lawlessness against the media and institute appropriate sanctions against those responsible.
“We call upon the enforcement authorities in our countries to bring to justice those responsible for acts of violence against journalists and media organizations”, reads the declaration, adding- “We pledge our commitment to working together as a cohesive network to support each other in our common aspiration to improve and assert press freedom and the rights of journalists in the South Asia region.”
Senior journalists and media freedom activists from South Asian countries including Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri-Lanka, Maldives and Afghanistan attended the seminar.