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Suman Basnet <[log in to unmask]>
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Suman Basnet <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 7 Aug 2018 20:58:41 +0545
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Democratic functioning of society under threat in South Asia

*August 7, 2018, Kathmandu. *AMARC Asia-Pacific notes that the political
situation in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh has deteriorated considerably
in the recent past. The role of the media including lack of coverage is
crucial to this threat to democratic functioning of society.

In Pakistan, notable activists like Salman Haider, Ahmed Raza Naseer and
Samar Abbas have been disappeared for voicing inconvenient truths. More
recently, in Bangladesh, Diya Khanam Mim and Abdul Karim Rajib were killed
by a speeding bus leading to widespread protests by students across the
country. Disturbingly the government has chosen to crack down on
protestors, including use of force on thousands of students, including use
of political party workers to intimidate any protest. The issue has only
now gained global attention after prominent photographer Shahidul Alam was
arrested. In India, there have been more than 50 incidents of gruesome
violence in the last three years against Muslims and Dalits, and sexual
violence against adolescents and women; with either silence or active
encouragement from the ruling parties at state and center. Prominent
journalists who raise their voices have received death threats, trolled
relentlessly, or sacked in the face of political pressure.

This growing sense of impunity by government or majority communities is in
part sanctioned by the failure of mainstream media to create pressure on
governments and shape public opinion in favor of protecting human rights.
We recognize that digital media platforms provide a powerful platform for
alternative opinion. Frequent internet shutdowns across these countries is
an indicator of both the extent of censorship and the power of digital
media platforms. However internet penetration in South Asian countries,
especially Pakistan, India and Bangladesh is relatively low and out of
reach for the oppressed.

Amidst this growing crisis, we believe that independent and progressive
community radio stations can lead the movement for change. We call upon our
members in South Asia to broadcast radio programs discussing the incidents
and their implications to the best of their ability. We believe that such
efforts will not only hold governments accountable to their obligations and
responsibilities but also mediate and promote progressive politics within
increasingly polarized communities.


*Through service to members, networking and project implementation,
the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) gathers more
than 5,000 community radios, federations and community media stakeholders
in approximately 115 countries.*

*For further information, please contact: Suman Basnet, Regional
Coordinator, AMARC Asia-Pacific Regional Office, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Email: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>.*

Suman Basnet
Regional Coordinator, AMARC Asia-Pacific
*E:* suman <[log in to unmask]>[log in to unmask]
*Web:* http://amarc-ap.org <http://asiapacific.amarc.org/>

"We are not just about radio. We are about people having a voice through