Stiletto by Max Kolbe — October, 2010

The creeps in Mindanao can’t help themselves. But at least there were some forward thinking journalists on hand at Xinhua who followed up on death threats being issued against correspondents almost a year after the worst massacre in Philippine history.

The Chinese news agency reported from Cotabato that several Filipino journalists in the southern Philippines, including a photographer for Agence France Presse (AFP), had simultaneously received death threats earlier this month.

It said Mark Navales, a stringer photographer for AFP, confirmed he was among those who received the threat after an unknown man sent a message to his mobile phone advising him to watch out for the media death squad.

“This is alarming. Whatever circumstances, we don’t want last year’s mass killings to happen again,” Navales said.

Xinhua said Navales had informed his colleague, Ali Macabalang, head of the Bureau of Public Information of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, who also received the same message.

The threats came as a lawyer described Zaldy Ampatuan as a gentler, kinder Ampatuan.

Lawyers made the claim on behalf of the family head and former governor for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao after witnesses blamed the Ampatuans for the massacre of 57 people including 30 journalists, and relatives of their clan’s politicals rival last year.

“Among friends and family members, Zaldy was always known as the gentler and kinder Ampatuan who is loving to his family, a doting father, a good husband and a religious man who made his pilgrim trips to Mecca,” lawyer Redemberto Villanueva told the courts.

Interestingly, the former governor also said that he was with then President Gloria Arroyo when the massacre was committed.

Zaldy said he and then Congressmen Yusop Jikiri and Munir Arbison, and other political leaders of Sulu province, were with Arroyo discussing how the administration could resolve the 2010 electoral contests in the province of Sulu.

In occupied Kashmir, journalist forums have condemned the recent seizure of newspapers and beating of journalists and photographers by Indian policemen and paramilitary troopers in Srinagar.

Kashmir Journalists Corps (KJC) and the Kashmir Press Association said in separate statements that high handedness by intelligence agencies against the media in the Kashmir valley had resulted in a pattern of beatings and harassment.

Still in Central Asia and Western forces occupying Afghanistan are facing similar claims of harassment after three journalists were detained, prompting an angry reaction from advocates around the world.

The Associated Press reported that NATO had released Mohammad Nadir, a television cameraman for al-Jazeera, and Rahmatullah Naikzad, who worked for both al-Jazeera and The Associated Press.

“After reviewing the initial intelligence and information received during questioning, the two men were not considered a significant security threat and were released,” said Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, communications director for the NATO-led military coalition.

Similar tales were dispatched by Paris-based Reporters Without Borders which has condemned an attack that wounded an anchor at state-run TV across the border in Iraq.

A bomb was attached to his car.

The media watchdog group also cited three recent incidents during which it said Iraqi reporters, photographers and cameramen were roughed up by security officials.

In one, the group says journalists were forced to lie face down on the ground while being beaten and insulted by police at a Baghdad checkpoint following a political event.

Continuing the border hop into Iran and a prominent reformist journalist has been sentenced to three years in prison and an Iranian-Canadian blogger was sentenced to 19 years in prison.

Journalist Isa Saharkhiz, 56, was sentenced after receiving the maximum penalty of two years for insulting Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and another year for issuing propaganda against the regime.

During last year’s disputed elections he campaigned for reformist cleric Mehdi Karroubi.

Apparently covering the world’s tougher stories is all a bit much for some. Especially in Australia where doing it a bit rough excuses the odd indulgence, so say friends of Peter Lloyd the former South Asia correspondent for the ABC who was jailed in Singapore for buying ice.

Pete has his job back.

Speaking up on behalf of his mate, colleague Tim Palmer said he could not believe the risks some reporters took with alcohol and drugs while overseas and that at least half a dozen reporters at the ABC could have easily faced the same fate as Lloyd.

“But Pete, I’d always observed, was either working until two in the morning or getting an early night … he would have been the last on my list,” Palmer told a local magazine.

Lloyd agreed with Palmer’s comments about himself that he was a hard working bloke, telling the same local magazine that he was “the boring guy” during his time overseas.

“In Bangkok, it’s a pretty wild city and I was the boring guy who went home in a world of journalists who stick s— up their nose all the time,” he said.

Thanks Pete, I’m sure your colleagues in Thailand will appreciate that one.

Lloyd – guess what? He has a book out called Inside Story — said he only used the drug ice twice in his life to recover after being on difficult assignments, like the Bali bombings (2002) and the tsunami (2004).

Yet the poor thing was caught buying ice four years after the tsunami.

“[The drug] was very zhooshy. Straight away, and for the next few days, I had a period of clarity, no nightmares.”

Whoopi doo!

Lloyd served seven months of his 10-month sentence after being caught buying methamphetamines in July 2008. He avoided a more serious trafficking charge, which carried a sentence of fifteen lashes and 20 years in prison. As we all know drug traffickers can be executed in Singapore.

Of all the difficult assignments to befall the thousands of journalists who went to work over the last decade, Lloyd obviously did it tougher to the point where he could justify self-medicating himself on ice, which he acquired in – of all places — Singapore. Good luck with those book sales!

ENDS

About Webmaster 841 Articles
Luke Hunt is a foreign correspondent, author and occasional photographer who has covered much of Asia fr the last 30 years.

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