Second anniversary of closure of independent radio stations

first_img Organisation Access to information is extremely limited. According to a report published by the newspaper Iwacu, the volume of news and information available on radio stations in Burundi is 73% less than before the authorities closed Radio Publique Africaine (RPA), Radio Bonesha, Radio-Télé Renaissance and Radio Isanganiro in May 2015. Radio Isanganiro resumed broadcasting in February 2016 but only after giving a signed undertaking to the government. The other radio stations remain closed on the official grounds that they are still subject to an investigation that has yet to be concluded and may never have begun. Online social networks have filled some of the gap in the circulation of news and opinion but they are not immune to rumour and tend to be rather one-sided. Scores of journalists are still living in exile while those still operating in Burundi are often threatened because of their profession and are often accused of working for “news media outside the country.” They are subject to constant restrictions and, when travelling anywhere to cover something, they must first notify the local authorities of their presence. The Burundian Union of Journalists (UBJ) was closed in October 2016, at the same time as the main human rights groups. The few media outlets still operating tow the government line or have to be extremely careful in order to avoid incurring the authorities’ wrath. There has been growing talk since 2015 of journalists being the “collaborators” of foreign government or “enemies of the nation.” The regime tolerates and even encourages such rhetoric, which fosters a climate of fear and self-censorship among journalists. It also legitimizes threats and acts of violence against them. So, for the past two years, the media diversity that once characterized Burundi has been no more than a fading memory. Behind the facade of pluralism When Radio Isanganiro was allowed to reopen in February 2016, it had to give a written undertaking to adhere to certain editorial policies and, in the view of both journalists and listeners, it has operated under constraint ever since. The authorities often intervene to get the station to “correct” its reports or to discourage its reporters from covering certain stories. Radio Isanganiro’s reopening is nonetheless held up as evidence of the government’s good intentions towards the media. New media outlets that tow the government line, such as Ikihiro, have been created by government allies. The former spokesman of the National Intelligence Service (SNR), Télésphore Bigirimana, now heads the Burundian New Agency (APB). And the government does not hide its desire to one day reopen other media outlets that are still closed. But if that happens, it will almost certainly be without their former staff. Arrest warrants are still pending for the directors of the leading radio stations and the mere fact of having been out of the country for a long like suffices to render journalists guilty. The journalist Jean Bigirimana went missing in July 2016, two weeks after returning to Burundi from attending a training session abroad. He has never reappeared. This desire to restore apparent media “normality” was clear in communication and media minister Nestor Bankumukunzi’s comments on 3 May (World Press Freedom Day). While recognizing that the media continue to face difficulties, he urged media bosses to “hold on” until (international) partners resume providing them with funding. This was an extraordinary request, given that Burundi refuses to give the European Union the human rights guarantees that would be necessary for state subsidies to resume. Gabriel Bihimugani, the deputy head of the National Communication Council (CNC), went so far as to claim that Burundi has made major advances in media freedom in the past year. He must have forgotten the arrests of two French journalists in January 2016, Bigirimana’s disappearance in July 2016, the arrest of a US journalist in October 2016, the arrests of Burundian journalists by the SNR and the police, and the online campaign of harassments and threats against VOA correspondent and SOS Média Burundi coordinator Willy Eloge Kaneza. “There is now a danger that a facade of pluralism will create the illusion of a return to normality although an entire generation of trained and professional journalists is still in exile and cannot return, said Cléa Kahn-Sriber, the head of RSF’s Africa desk.We call on the Burundian government to stop harassing journalists and to conduct impartial investigations into the cases of journalists who have been attacked or who have disappeared. In particular, light must be shone of Jean Bigirimana’s disappearance. An investigation was launched in order to mollify his fellow journalists and family but seems to have been abandoned. To this end, we urge the authorities to cooperate fully with the UN Commission of Enquiry on Human Rights in Burundi.” Burundi is now ranked 160th out of 180 countries in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index, after falling another four places in the past year. Sign the petition to ask for an investigation into jean Bigirimana’s disappearance. No independent radio stations have been broadcasting in Burundi since the authorities closed them down two years ago this week. The government still harasses and persecutes journalists and media outlets although it is now trying to create a semblance of pluralism in order to defuse international criticism. No one is fooled inside Burundi and, in the World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Burundi is now ranked as a country where the situation is “very bad.” Help by sharing this information News The 2020 pandemic has challenged press freedom in Africa November 27, 2020 Find out more May 17, 2017 – Updated on May 19, 2017 Second anniversary of closure of independent radio stations Burundian appeal court upholds prison sentences for four journalists RSF_en BurundiAfrica Condemning abuses Judicial harassmentImpunityPredatorsViolenceFreedom of expression Follow the news on Burundicenter_img to go further BurundiAfrica Condemning abuses Judicial harassmentImpunityPredatorsViolenceFreedom of expression News Reports News Four Burundian journalists complete 12 months in arbitrary detention October 21, 2020 Find out more Receive email alerts Demonstration in front of damaged RPA offices, February 13th, 2016 – © STRINGER / AFP June 5, 2020 Find out morelast_img read more

No Vardy, no problem for leaders Leicester

first_img By extending their unbeaten run to nine games, Leicester officially knocked Manchester City and Arsenal out of the title race a year after the central England team’s priority was fighting relegation. Fourth-place Arsenal, who have gone 12 years without winning the league, were held 0-0 by Sunderland in yesterday’s other game. It was a valuable point for Sunderland, who climbed out of the relegation zone by going above Norwich on goal difference. “It is frustrating because we play to win the title,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. Arsenal’s season now rests on holding on to fourth place and qualifying for the Champions League, with Manchester United five points behind in fifth place. United also have an FA Cup final to look forward to. Louis van Gaal’s side discovered yesterday that they will face Crystal Palace on May 21 in a repeat of the 1990 final. In a semi-final overshadowed by Leicester’s game, Palace beat Watford 2-1 with all three goals coming from headers. Yannick Bolasie’s opener was cancelled out by Troy Deeney but Connor Wickham restored Palace’s lead. United also beat Everton 2-1 on Saturday. MAN CITY OUT LONDON (AP): No Jamie Vardy, no problem for Leicester. Even with their top-scorer suspended, the Premier League leaders still overpowered Swansea 4-0 yesterday to move another step closer to collecting the trophy. The only team which can now catch Leicester is Tottenham, but the preseason 5,000-1 outsiders have their destiny in their own hands. Tottenham are eight points behind Leicester in second place going into today’s game against West Bromwich Albion. Regardless of what Tottenham do in their last four games, Leicester will be guaranteed the top flight for the first time in its 132-year history by collecting five points from their remaining three fixtures. Leicester dismantled Swansea with their biggest win in three months. Vardy’s replacement, Leonardo Ulloa, scored twice after Riyad Mahrez’s opener and Marc Albrighton completed the rout. “I talked to my players before the match and I said we had a dream so far, now make a dream reality,” Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri said. “Now is the right moment to push. If Tottenham are better than us, OK, but we have to fight because we will never have this fantastic moment (again). “Now there are only three matches, we know they are very important for our history but for this reason we give everything. We play with our hearts and it’s difficult to beat those who play with the heart and soul.” The attacking threat provided without 22-goal Vardy will have reassured the Foxes they can cope without him for longer. The England striker is waiting to discover from the English Football Association if his one-match ban will be extended over the angry reaction to being sent off in last weekend’s draw against West Ham. “Without Jamie, everyone makes something more and it was a fantastic show to see my players fight and play together,” Ranieri said.last_img read more