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article imageOp-Ed: Freedom of the press should not be a right for only the few

By KJ Mullins     Jul 3, 2009 in World
This week in North America both Canada and the United States celebrates freedom. As journalists, those that live in these two nations have more freedoms than many other countries around the world.
Freedom of the press is as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers"
Those ideals have been stomped on repeatedly over the past year. There are parts of the world like Iran, Indonesia, Chechnya, Myanmar and Tibet where the only press allowed are those that the government hand picks, foreign journalists are barred.
In 2009 there have been 26 journalists slain, 167 journalists imprisoned, 9 media assistants imprisoned and 70 cyberdissidents imprisoned according to Reporters without Borders. At this moment there are 34 journalists and cyberdissidents in jail for reporting what is going on in Iran.
There's an increasing emphasis on digital journalists and bloggers as regards to freedom of the press. In Tibet a man is being held in prison for a year simply for emailing and texting.
Today, July 3 Honduras has taken control of some of their media outlets since a political coup this week. Channel 36, a station that was run by expelled President Manuel Zelaya has been shut down. A blank signal is all that citizens see on their television screens. The same is true for Channel 8, a state-owned network until a new cast of news anchors appeared who are in favor of the interim president Roberto Micheletti.
When Radio Globo broadcast an interview with the expelled president on Wednesday soldiers turned off the transmitter.
In Gambia seven journalists that were jailed last month will appear in high court Friday. They are facing of sedition and publishing with seditious intent.It is believed that the journalists are being punished because of the Gambia Press Union criticism of President Jammeh.
Since June 15 the government has thrown 10 journalists and media executives in jail. Three were released without charges.
Voice of America reports:
“We had the EU and the US Mission in the Gambia issue a statement on the situation in the Gambia, and I think maybe the government is beginning to react negatively to all this international pressure it is getting because everybody is talking about the Gambia. This has never happened, where we’ve had the AU (African Union) rapporteur issuing a press release. We have international institutions staking the Gambia,” Ndey Tapha Sosseh noted.
Within months of the Doha Center for Media Freedom opening in Qatar it has been closed. The former director Robert Menard is quoted on the Jerusalem Post:
"I want to be optimistic, even if this part of the world is one of the most repressive on the planet," he said. "The fact itself that a center like the one in Doha was able to work, even for a few months, in complete freedom, proves that this region is not destined to immobilization. We have to keep fighting."
Humans Right Watch has alleged that the United Arab Emirates have attacked press freedom after a newspaper was suspended for reports on doping of race horses owned by UAE royalty.
The freedom to report what is happening in the world allows for all of the world's residents to be aware. This freedom must be upheld in every corner of the world. Without the freedom of the press, freedom for all can not be achieved.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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