GREECE SEEMO expresses concerns about a journalist in Greece

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Vienna, 10 April 2017

Vienna, 10 April 2017 - The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), is concerned about news from Greece from this morning.

As SEEMO was informed, a Greek judge ordered this morning on Monday 10 April, that the award-winning Greek journalist and publisher Kostas Vaxevanis (@KostasVaxevanis) should be arrested, after Vaxevanis published an article in his weekly newspaper «Documento».

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SEEMO will monitor the case.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.

SERBIA SEEMO asks for professional reporting

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Vienna, 08 April 2017

Vienna, 08 April 2017 - The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed concern about the media situation in Serbia after several civil society groups and journalist organisations in Serbia criticized the reporting of several media outlets in the country in connection with the presidential election in Serbia and post-election demonstrations.

Protesters on the streets in Belgrade are claiming that the news editors from different media are “siding with the regime” and that their articles and reports keep giving reduced information about the post-election protests and number of participants.

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SEEMO is asking the media in Serbia to respect professional standards in reporting and to present different views as part of the reporting.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.

BELARUS SEEMO calls on authorities in Belarus to end obstruction of free speech

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Vienna, 04 April 2017

Vienna, 04 April 2017 - The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) criticized the repressive tactics of institutions in Belarus, as well as the organized media persecution that has been happening in the country.

Belsat TV journalist Alyaksandr Barazenka was arrested on 29 March while covering the Freedom Day celebrations and subsequent protests, and had gone on a hunger strike while in detention. He had been kept in detention since the incidents but was released on 31 March, with sources claiming that the detention conditions are difficult for journalists, media workers and activists who have been arrested. Belsat TV is a part of Polish public TV which is broadcasted in Belarus by local journalists and for a local audience.

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So far, there have allegedly been over 90 detentions, 6 cases of physical violence and beatings by police members towards journalists, several cases of seized or destroyed equipment, and 40 legal cases. Several journalists have received fines of about 920 BYN (460 EUR), and others have been punished with arrests from 5 to up to 15 days.

SEEMO calls on the authorities in Belarus to respect the right of journalists to report.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe.

TURKEY SEEMO expresses growing concerns for media in Turkey once again

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Vienna, 31 March 2017

Vienna, 31 March 2017 - The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed deep concern after having discovering news of many new media freedom violations in Turkey in the previous two days.

Selman Keles (Selman Keleş), a correspondent of the Dicle News Agency (DIHABER) was taken into custody in the Turkish province of Van on 20 March, where he was accused of belonging to an “illegal organization”. Keles was detained after filming coverage for news items near the Metropolitan Municipality Building. His equipment was confiscated.

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Journalist Arif Aslan was also taken into custody at the time and, after giving his statement, was accused of allegedly being a member of a terrorist organization.

Murat Ide, former editor-in-chief of the private TV channel BenguTurk TV (BengüTürk TV), made a statement on Thursday, 30 March, that he was fired due to political reasons. According to Ide, he was laid off because he was resisting “saying yes” and supporting the current president in the upcoming presidential referendum in Turkey. The editor-in-chief added that he was fired not because he would say no, but because he would not say yes.

“The number of jailed journalists and media workers in Turkey reaches 200 people. This is a devastating fact, but it is also reality. I call once again the state institutions in Turkey to allow journalists and media outlets to work freely.” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic stated today.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.

BELARUS SEEMO concerned for safety of media workers in Belarus

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Vienna, 26 March 2017

Vienna, 26 March 2017 - The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) was dismayed to learn about several incidents in recent days that included violence towards journalists and human rights activists in Belarus.

Citizens have been taking to the street to protest against a new law in the country, which in turn has caused a rise in the number of journalists, activists and media workers being detained and attacked while they report from the scene.

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On 25 March, while covering the Liberty Day events, journalists in Minsk and other cities (Homel, Viciebsk) were detained by police members. Most of them were held for several hours, asked to provide their documents and were then released, but several experienced physical violence, beatings, and longer detentions.

On the same day, a special police unit burst into the headquarters of the human rights center Viasna, maltreating and detaining over 50 people for more than two hours. One person suffered a brain concussion and bruising. On 18 March, at least 9 journalists were detained while covering protests in towns across the country.

“SEEMO is expressing deep concern for the safety of media workers in Belarus” Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General stated. "We call on authorities in Belarus to cease their oppressive behavior against journalists, and stop persecuting those who are helping spread information” Vujovic added.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe.

TURKEY SEEMO concerned for rights and freedoms of journalists in Turkey

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Vienna, 23 March 2017

Vienna, 23 March 2017 - The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed concern after learning new steps against freedom of the press in Turkey.

German Journalist and photoreporter Hinrich Schultze was arrested on 20 March after arriving in Diyarbakir from Hamburg, in order to report about Newroz celebrations. Newroz is a traditional celebration by Iranians and Kurds, and takes place on 21 March. After the German journalist arrived in the Kurd-populated Diyarbakır region, he was kept in custody for half an hour.

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On 21 March in Van in East Turkey, according to several sources, the police arrested Selman Keles (Selman Keleş), who works for the web-news Dihaber

Website sendika.org was blocked today by the Authority for Telecommunications of Turkey.

In a trial case that has already been postponed twice, journalists Erol Onderoglu (Erol Önderoğlu), writer Ahmet Nesin and Şebnem Korur-Fincancı had their third hearing on 21 March, on charges of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization”. Nesin was not coming, so the court issued a warrant for his arrest. The next hearing will be on 8 June

In a campaign for the daily Ozgur Gundem (Özgür Gündem) from 3 May 2016 to 7 August 2016, 56 media workers, experts and intellectuals participated, of which 50 subsequently faced some sort of legal prosecution; 38 of these were turned into court cases. Between them also reporters Without Borders (RSF) Turkey representative Erol Onderoglu (Erol Önderoğlu), writer Ahmet Nesin and Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV) President Sebnem Korur-Financi.

“Erol Önderoğlu, recipient of the 2016 Dr. Erhard Busek SEEMO Award for Better Understanding in South East Europe and two other free thinking, independent persons face serious legal repercussions” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said today. “

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.

TURKEY SEEMO concerned for rights and freedoms of journalists in Turkey

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Vienna, 23 March 2017

Vienna, 23 March 2017 - The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed concern after learning new steps against freedom of the press in Turkey.

German Journalist and photoreporter Hinrich Schultze was arrested on 20 March after arriving in Diyarbakir from Hamburg, in order to report about Newroz celebrations. Newroz is a traditional celebration by Iranians and Kurds, and takes place on 21 March. After the German journalist arrived in the Kurd-populated Diyarbakır region, he was kept in custody for half an hour.

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On 21 March in Van in East Turkey, according to several sources, the police arrested Selman Keles (Selman Keleş), who works for the web-news Dihaber

Website sendika.org was blocked today by the Authority for Telecommunications of Turkey.

In a trial case that has already been postponed twice, journalists Erol Onderoglu (Erol Önderoğlu), writer Ahmet Nesin and Şebnem Korur-Fincancı had their third hearing on 21 March, on charges of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization”. Nesin was not coming, so the court issued a warrant for his arrest. The next hearing will be on 8 June

In a campaign for the daily Ozgur Gundem (Özgür Gündem) from 3 May 2016 to 7 August 2016, 56 media workers, experts and intellectuals participated, of which 50 subsequently faced some sort of legal prosecution; 38 of these were turned into court cases. Between them also reporters Without Borders (RSF) Turkey representative Erol Onderoglu (Erol Önderoğlu), writer Ahmet Nesin and Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV) President Sebnem Korur-Financi.

“Erol Önderoğlu, recipient of the 2016 Dr. Erhard Busek SEEMO Award for Better Understanding in South East Europe and two other free thinking, independent persons face serious legal repercussions” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said today. “

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.

RUSSIA SEEMO calls for release of detained journalists in Russia

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Vienna, 17 March 2017

Vienna, 17 March 2017 - The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) was disturbed to learn that in the previous days there have been several attacks and violations of media freedoms in Russia.

On 15 March, editor-in-chief of the Analytical Edition Yuri Baranchik was detained by authorities. This was reported by the Moscow-based news agency Regnum, who are the administrator of the publication. Baranchik was placed in detention by the instruction of Belarus authorities, as the editor is a citizen of Belarus. He claims that several journalists and media workers of Regnum were put on a surveillance list in December 2016 for allegedly “inciting inter-ethnic discord”.

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The following day it was reported that correspondent of the independent paper Novaya Gazeta, Ali Feruz, was detained by police members. This time the request came from Uzbek authorities, a country Feruz left several years ago. On the day of his arrest, a pro-Kremlin TV station accused Feruz of having ties with a “radical organization”.

SEEMO members expressed deep concern and disapproval of these detentions, and call on authorities in Russia to release the media workers immediately.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe.

BELARUS SEEMO concern

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Vienna, 15 March 2017

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed deep concern about the latest developments in Belarus.

The Belarus police arrested in the cities Vitebsk, Orsha, Rahachow / Rogachev and Brest on 12 March 18 journalists and bloggers who were covering protest against a law that imposes a tax on those not in full-time employment.

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The police arrested the journalists for different reasons, like incorrect parking, violation of media legislation, for verification of the personal documents and with some other explanations. Journalists Galina Abakunchyk, Siarhei Piatrukhin, Katsiaryna Andreeva (Bahvalova) and Dzmitry Harbunou spent a night in the detention. On 13 March Galina Abakunchyk and Ekaterina Katsiaryna Andreeva (Bahvalova) were fined about 190 EUR each for “participation” in the protest rally which they covered as reporters.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe.

TURKEY JOINT ORAL STATEMENT ON THE DETERIORATION OF FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND MEDIA FREEDOM IN TURKEY

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Vienna, 15 March 2017

UN Human Rights Council 34th Special Session
Item 4: Human rights situations that require the Council's attention


Mr President,

PEN International, ARTICLE 19 and 66 organisations are deeply concerned by the continuous deterioration of freedom of expression and media freedom in Turkey following the violent and contemptible coup attempt on 15 July 2016.

Over 180 news outlets have been shut down under laws passed by presidential decree following the imposition of a state of emergency. There are now at least 148 writers, journalists and media workers in prison, including Ahmet Şık, Kadri Gürsel, Ahmet and Mehmet Altan, Ayşe Nazlı Ilıcak and İnan Kızılkaya, making Turkey the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The Turkish authorities are abusing the state of emergency by severely restricting fundamental rights and freedoms, stifling criticism and limiting the diversity of views and opinions available in the public sphere.

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Restrictions have reached new heights in the lead up to a crucial referendum on constitutional reforms, which would significantly increase executive powers, set for 16 April 2017. The Turkish authorities’ campaign has been marred by threats, arrests and prosecutions of those who have voiced criticism of the proposed amendments. Several members of the opposition have been arrested on terror charges. Thousands of public employees, including hundreds of academics and opponents to the constitutional reforms, were dismissed in February. Outspoken “No” campaigners have been detained, adding to the overall climate of suspicion and fear. The rights to freedom of expression and information, essential to fair and free elections, are in jeopardy.

In the run-up to the referendum, the need for media pluralism is more important than ever. Voters have the right to be duly informed and to be provided with comprehensive information on all views, including dissenting voices, in sufficient time. The prevailing atmosphere should be one of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. There should be no fear of reprisals. We urge this Council, its members and observer states, to call on the Turkish authorities to:

- Guarantee equal broadcasting time for all parties and allow for the dissemination of all information to the maximum extent possible in order to ensure that voters are fully informed;

- Put an end to the climate of suspicion and fear by:

- Immediately releasing all those held in prison for exercising their rights to freedom of opinion and expression;

- Ending the prosecutions and detention of journalists simply on the basis of the content of their journalism or alleged affiliations;

- Halting executive interference with independent news organisations including in relation to editorial decisions, dismissals of journalists and editors, pressure and intimidation against critical news outlets and journalists;

- Revoke the excessively broad provisions under the state of emergency, the application of which, in practice, are incompatible with Turkey’s human rights obligations.

Thank you Mr. President

BELARUS SEEMO expresses disapproval of media crackdown in Belarus

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Vienna, 14 March 2017

Vienna, 14 March 2017 - The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed deep disapproval after learning that Belarus police forces detained dozens journalists and bloggers during peaceful protests on 12 March.

Close to 50 media workers, activists and civil society leaders were detained in the span between March 10-12, during mass protests in the towns Orsha, Rahachou, Vitebsk and Brest. The protests were organised after a new tax was adopted and imposed against unemployed citizens. The protests were initially ignored by authorities, but as the number of marchers escalated, so did the inhumane practices of the authorities against them.

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While journalists attempted to report from the scene of the protests, police and other state officials used various justifications for hindering their work. Disobedience of police demands, illegal parking, suspicion of car theft were some of the pretexts used by police, but media workers state the only reason was to stop them from disseminating information about the protests.

SEEMO calls on authorities in Belarus to immediately release any remaining activists, journalists and other civil society members from detention, and ask them to respect basic human rights, as well as freedom of speech.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe.

ALBANIA SEEMO condemned attack on journalist in Albania

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Vienna, 09 March 2017

Vienna, 09 March 2017 - The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) was dismayed to learn that Elvi Fundo, journalist and director of the news portal Citynews.al and Radio Best, was attacked on 8 March in Tirana, Albania.

Fundo was attacked and beat by two unknown assailants around 10:30 in the morning, in the vicinity of his office. The journalist has previously worked on investigative stories regarding corruption and drug-trafficking and has stated that he believes the attacks occured in relation to this, rather than political interests.

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„We harshly condemn yesterday’s attack on journalist Elvi Fundo“ SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said this morning. „We have been informed that an investigation was launched, but we urge police officials to help solve this case as soon and as transparently as possible.“ Vujovic added.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.

SERBIA SEEMO warns politicians in Serbia: attacking journalists is detrimental to democracy

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Vienna, 07 March 2017

Vienna, 07 March 2017 - The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) criticized the behavior of an official in Serbia, who has repeatedly shown antagonism towards media workers.

On 7 March, the Mayor of Belgrade was present for the official opening of a sewage construction site in a suburban county on the city. Despite relatively few media outlets being informed, journalists from investigative web portals Istinomer and Krik managed to find out and be present at the scene. After several questions, the Mayor’s bodyguards first pushed Istinomer’s journalists. After she persisted, the Mayor himself pushed her away and told her that she is “asking for an incident for no reason”.

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SEEMO members express their absolute condemnation of the behavior of this high city official and his staff.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.

Macedonia (Republic of Macedonia) FYROM SEEMO calls on authorities in Macedonia to respect media freedom and human rights

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Vienna, 05 March 2017

Vienna, 05 March 2017 - The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed deep concern once again, after news of violent behavior and attacks on journalists in Macedonia continue to surface.

After condemning the attack on two media workers during protests in Skopje, SEEMO learned that the perpetrators, who left a journalist and a cameraman with injuries severe enough for hospitalization, have not yet been found. On Wednesday March 1, journalist and columnist Branko Trickovski, a known critic of the previous government, reported two young men coming to his home and accusing him of being “a traitor”, yelling at him and later posting the video of the attack on YouTube.

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The office front door of the TV 24 correspondents’ team in Ohrid was vandalized with nationalistic slurs. No perpetrators or suspects have been held in any of the attacks.

On 1 March, journalist Borjan Jovanovski was spat on and accused of being „a traitor“ by a man while he was sitting in a restaurant in Skopje. Jovanovski later stated that he believes the attacker was commissioned by officials of the ruling political party. Independent media outlets and civil society organizations in Macedonia have been facing great pressure and are commonly being verbally attacked by political officials in public, defamed in smear campaigns, and subjected to tax raids and other attempts at intimidation and censorship. The ruling party also vowed to “de-Sorosize” the NGO sector in the country, claiming that their agendas are influenced by foreign funding- specifically funding by George Soros, a Hungarian-American businessman and investor, whose name has become a synonym for “foreign spies” in the country.

Tensions have risen since the elections held in December 2016, when the ruling party was unable to form a government, and they have since been constantly attempting to prevent the opposition from doing the same. The growing number of attacks and verbal abuses against media workers coincide with statements given by the previous Prime Minister, in which he calls on the citizens to “protect their country”.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.

Macedonia (Republic of Macedonia) FYROM SEEMO alarmed about developments in Macedonia

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Vienna, 5 March 2017

The Vienna based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is alarmed about the developments in Macedonia (Republic of Macedonia / FYROM).

Reporter Aleksandar Todevski and cameraman Vladimir Zhelcevski, from A1on, a news website, were hospitalized after being attacked on the streets in Skopje by five men on Tuesday 28 February 2017 in the evening. On 2 March editor at NOVA TV Borjan Jovanovski, who received many threats in the past, was verbally attacked as "traitor" during a lunch in a restaurant in Skopje. A young man spat in his face. SEEMO was informed by five cases of verbal threats against journalists in Skopje in the past seven days included threats against journalists Branko Trickovski, who is also a columnist for the critical newspaper Sloboden Pecat, Two young men turned up at his home and accused him of being a "traitor. Two year ago, on 13 May 2015 his car was set on fire.

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Prior to this, it was revealed on 11 January 2017 that Daniela Takeva, journalist of a local TV station in Berovo, will take legal action against the town’s Mayor after he left a status on his Facebook account in which he used derogatory language and hate speech against Takeva

On 23 January unknown perpetrators set fire to the home garage of journalist Zoran Miloshevski in the town of Prilep. Miloshevski is a correspondent for the weekly Fokus, owner of web portal Publikum and associate of the portal Free Macedonia, and is also known for his fierce criticism of the current political establishment in the country. The fire was put out and the incident was reported to police authorities.

Many journalists who are critical about VMRO DPMNE party and former prime Minister Nikola Gruevski are being subjected to an incendiary campaign on social networks and some web-pages. A campaign initiative titled Stop Operation Soros (SOS) was launched mid-January in Macedonia and is dedicated to “countering the influence of American activist and billionaire George Soros”. The founders of this initiative claim to be a group of open-minded citizens, but have in actuality been linked to the government and pro-government media. This speculation was backed up after former PM and current leader of ruling party VMRO DPMNE Nikola Gruevski came out to the media and verbally attacked NGO’s that receive funding from abroad. Independent media outlets and non-government organizations in Macedonia are commonly mentioned as “Sorosoids” by pro-government groups, also if they are not receiving any money from the Soros foundation.

Several VMRO-DPMNE supporters named the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) as a “Soros propaganda”, as also propaganda service of the main opposition Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM). On 12 February in a TV show the host claimed BIRN belonged to a media network financed by the British intelligence service.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.

Macedonia (Republic of Macedonia) FYROM SEEMO concerned after journalists are attacked during protests in Skopje

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Vienna, 01 March 2017

Vienna, 01 March 2017 - The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed deep concern after last night’s violent events and attacks on journalists during protests in Skopje, Macedonia.

Demonstrators and supporters of former ruling party VMRO DPMNE began protesting on Monday after it was revealed that a potential political coalition could be created between the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) and ethnic Albanian parties. Thousands joined the rally on Tuesday in Skopje, as well as towns such as Bitola, Kumanovo, Kicevo, Prilep and several others. Protesters claim that the coalition could endanger ethnic Macedonian interests.

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At the sight of the protests on 28 February, a journalist and cameraman from the outlet A1on were physically attacked by several protesters. After being punched in the head repeatedly, both media workers were sent to the Emergency Center to receive medical care for their injuries. In the meantime, the attackers also broke their camera and then fled the scene.

Protest organizers and other attendees did not help or protect A1on journalists from this attack, despite the media crew simply being there to report the events occurring at the scene.

„We call on authorities in the country to immediately launch an investigation and find the perpetrators of this attack“ Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General stated.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.

TURKMENISTAN SEEMO welcomes release of Turkmen journalist; warns of remaining media violations

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Vienna, 22 February 2017

Vienna, 22 February 2017 - The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is informed about the release of journalist Azatlyk Khudayberdy Allashov and his mother from prison on 15 February. Allashov was given a three-year conditional sentences. Allashov, his wife and mother were detained on 3 December 2016 in Turkmenistan’s Dashoguz region on charges of possessing a banned substance: 11 kilograms of chewing tobacco, a product banned since 2008. It was later confirmed by several sources that Allashov was severely beaten and admitted being guilty of the charges under coercion.

The journalist faced up to 7 years of incarceration. Two months prior to this, he had joined the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) service in Turkmenistan, known as Radio Azatlyk, and published investigative stories about forced labor during cotton harvests, delays in public salaries and other pieces detailing injustices in Turkmenistan. He wrote under the pseudonym “Mekan Tashiyev”.

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One other independent journalist, Saparmamed Nepeskuliev, also working for Radio Azatlyk, was tried secretly without a lawyer after he was detained in July 2015, and was given a three-year jail sentence for drug possession.

Turkmen media are all controlled by the state. Independent local correspondents working for international-based media have to work underground because of the risk of prison.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe.

AZERBAIJAN SEEMO concerned regarding recent crackdown on media in Azerbaijan

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Vienna, 23 February 2017

Vienna, 23 February 2017 - The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed its concern as the crackdown against journalists, activists and freedom fighters continues in Azerbaijan.

After recent arrests and detentions of at least 12 media workers, bloggers and journalists, local news website editor ElchinIsmayilli was arrested on 17 February and accused of “extortion of money and aggravated abuse of influential position” (Articles 182.2.2 and Article 308.2 of the Criminal Code), accusations which the journalist denies.

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On 22 February, the Baku Court of Appeal dismissed the arrest appeal made by Ismayilli’s lawyer, after claiming that an investigation conducted previously proves the journalist was caught “red-handed” while taking a bribe from an employee of the Department of Tourism of Ismayilly region where they both live. The journalist claims that the official in question is actually an old friend, and that he asked for a loan. Ismayilli’s arrest was ordered by a regional official who was often the target of criticism by Ismayilli in the past. The journalist claims all charges are false and that he is being persecuted because of his professional activities and opinions.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe.

TURKEY After new wave of media freedom violations, SEEMO criticizes Turkish authorities

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Vienna, 21 February 2017

Vienna, 21 February 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed its criticism of institutions in Turkey after another rise in violations against journalists.

Since 14 February Deniz Yucel (Deniz Yücel), a German-Turkish journalist, correspondent for German newspaper Die Welt, is in police custody: According to the regulations of the state of emergency, he can be held in police custody for up to 14 days without a hearing before a judge. Yucel presented himself at police headquarters to answer investigators’ questions after being sought out in connection to a hacker scandal and publishing of emails from the private email account of Turkish Energy Minister Berat Albayrak.

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The information was reported by a number of outlets and more than six journalists have so far been detained in relation to this case. Yucel was accused of allegedly “being a member of a terrorist organization, disseminating terrorist propaganda and misuse of data”.

On the same evening of 14 February, pro-Kurdish journalist Selahattin Aslan was detained by airport security after his arrival from Diyarbakir to Istanbul. According to sources, Aslan is being held at the Istanbul Department of Police, and his investigation details are unavailable due to a confidentiality order that was issued.

On 17 February, satirical magazine Girgir was closed after the paper published a caricature of the Prophet Moses on its cover page. The caricaturist and all other employees have been laid off. An investigation has been launched on the charges of "insulting religious values adopted by a group of people" which is in the Turkish Criminal Code (Article 216).

According to representatives of the Turkish opposition, the number of jailed journalists has exceeded 150. "More Turkish journalists are currently in jail than were in prison under junta rule in the 1980s", main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu from the CHP ("Republican People's Party") said. According to SEEMO evidence, Turkey also closed down more than 140 media outlets since the attempted coup in July 2016.

“We harshly condemn the behavior and actions of authorities in Turkey towards journalists” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic stated today. “Arrests, detentions, legal charges and other pressures are nothing more but a form of intimidation committed by the very same institutions that ought to protect journalists and their rights. We call on them to drop charges and release all media workers that are currently in detention or awaiting trial on charges of belonging to a terrorist group and similar absurdities. There is no justice if legal processes against journalists are not transparent and truthful. The only weapon journalists use is their word, so these brutal retaliations against them concern us continuously” Vujovic added.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.

SERBIA SEEMO condemns behavior of local authorities in Serbia towards journalist

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Vienna, 14 February 2017

Vienna, 14 February 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) condemned the behavior of local authorities in Serbia after their unacceptable and unprofessional behavior towards a journalist from the daily paper Danas.

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Despite having sent a press release inviting members of the media to an event in Belgrade, Serbia, the City administration decided that a journalist from the daily Danas was not welcome to attend the gathering. Once at the location of the event, the journalist was told by members of the city PR Services that he cannot be present at the opening of a new wheelchair ramp, out of fear that he might ask a City Manager also present there some “tricky questions”. He was also told that the invitation to Danas was revoked earlier that day because of “certain articles they had written in the previous days”.

SEEMO call Belgrade City administration, as well as the City Manager in attendance to publically apologize to the journalist and to the daily Danas as well. Press conferences and events by public authorities must be open for journalists and It is unacceptable to revoke invitations and forbid journalists from attending an event.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.

UKRAINE SEEMO alarmed after attack on journalist’s safety

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Vienna, 13 February 2017

Vienna, 13 February 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed deep concern after the vehicle of journalist Sergey Goos was torched by unknown perpetrators.

In the night between 11 and 12 February, Goos’ car was set on fire in the courtyard of the building where he lives in the city of Kamianske, located in the Dnipropetrovsk region of Ukraine.

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According to the journalist and the journalistic union in the country, this was a warning sign to those who speak truth and are critical of the establishment in Ukraine. Goos is the editor-in-chief of a local newspaper and former President of the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine (IMTUU). He also stated that he had “no doubt” his car was torched because of the paper’s professional and truthful work.

“We harshly condemn this attempt at intimidation” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said this morning. “Not only is this a gruesome threat and sign of intolerance, it also shows us, once again, how dire the media situation in Ukraine currently is. We call on authorities to launch a transparent and prompt investigation, and uncover the perpetrators of this crime” Vujovic added.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe.

KAZAKHSTAN SEEMO criticizes government in Kazakhstan for media freedom and human rights violations

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Vienna, 13 February 2017

Vienna, 13 February 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed condemnation and revolt after learning that independent journalist and open critic of the government Zhanbolat Mamay (Жанболат Мамай) was arrested on 10 February. He should stay according to local sources for two months in jail.

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Mamay is the editor of the newspaper Tribuna (Саяси қалам: Трибуна), which is considered to be the last remaining independent media outlet in the country, known for being outspoken about criticizing the ruling establishment. After his arrest, the editor was charged with abusing his position within the daily to allegedly launder money for a business tycoon, who is wanted by Kazakhstan and Russia for embezzlement. Mamay denies the charges.

This is not his first encounter with governmental pressures: in June 2012, Mamay was arrested and detained for almost a month, on charges of allegedly being involved in “instigating social discord”.

“The Kazakh government has been conducting a continuous tirade against independent media outlets for years now. We call on the government to immediately release Zhanbolat Mamay from detention and drop all charges against him.” Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General said today.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe.

SERBIA SEEMO calls for transparency within Radio Television of Vojvodina (RTV)

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Vienna, 10 February 2017

Vienna, 10 February 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) was concerned to learn about the latest developments within the Serbian public broadcasting service of Vojvodina (RTV).

After several management board changes in 2016, the editorial and journalistic staff of the broadcaster seem to be changing once again.

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According to the Independent Journalists’ Association of Vojvodina (NDNV), members of the ruling political party have taken over most of the positions within the media outlet, and have begun dictating new editorial policies. Allegedly, two news articles that were published on the website of RTV were later removed because they were critical of the Prime Minister.

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.

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17 YEARS SEEMO - A CULTURE OF DIALOGUE FOR PRESS FREEDOM