One Free Press Coalition is an initiative by a dozen leading media organizations, focusing on the growing concern about the number of journalists who are threatened for voicing the truth. The coalition aims to use the collective audiences of member organizations to stand up for vulnerable journalists. It conceives and shares a list each month, highlighting 10 journalists who are incarcerated, under threat or are facing injustice due to their work.
The list will be updated every month and this month’s list includes Indian journalist Rana Ayyub. On her ordeal as a journalist, One Free Press Coalition says that she “has faced a wave of harassment on social media, including pornographic videos with her face photoshopped in them and the publication of her address and personal phone number”.
The coalition aims to use the collective audiences of member organizations to stand up for vulnerable journalists.
The Rana Ayyub Story
Ayyub is no stranger to trolling, since as an independent journalist she has covered sensitive subjects including violence against lower-caste groups and minorities in India. Her body of work has made her a permanent target for right wing trolls on social media.
The last three days there has been a concerted effort in the form of multiple fake tweets, photoshopped tweets, morphed videos on twitter / fb that even the most sensible have fallen for and have gone viral. Those asking me to clarify, please use your own discretion. pic.twitter.com/alf3qkiQSq
— Rana Ayyub (@RanaAyyub) April 23, 2018
But things took turn for worse, when a fake news handle going by the name of a popular Indian news channel posted an image of Ayyub with a controversial tweet in the wake of Kathua rape tragedy. It read: “Minor child rapists are also human, do they have no human rights. This Hindutva Government is bringing ordinance for death to child rapists just to hang muslims in larger numbers. Muslims aren’t safe in India anymore”.
Ayyub, the author of the book, The Gujarat Files, based on her investigation into the 2002 Gujarat riots, faced incessant trolling due to the said fake tweet that defended child rapists and said that Muslims are not safe in India. The trolling against her escalated in no time. She was viciously morphed in pornographic videos and content that implied her to be gang-raped. All this despite her offering a clarification that the tweet was fake.
“It was an online lynch mob.” – Journalist Rana Ayyub on her social media ordeal.
“First, get her gang-raped, then ask her what punishment is OK for rapist,” one user allegedly said, Ayyub told DailyO, “It was an online lynch mob.”
“I couldn’t sleep for three nights. I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t believe what was happening. I was numb. My parents called me to see if I was OK,” Ayyub says. “The trolls posted my phone number, the address of my house online.” She feared for her safety. “If this is the depth of their hatred, what will stop them from coming into my house as a mob and kill me?”
The ordeal took a toll on her well-being and she had to go to the hospital for an emergency health check-up. But things only got worse and she had to hire a lawyer to file a criminal complaint.
Why is this list important
At least 1337 journalists have been killed in connection to their work since 1992, and 857 of those were murders, according to One Free Press Coalition.
Like Ayyub numerous journalists around the world suffer the consequences for pursuing truth or questioning actions of those in power. The injustices they face aren’t just limited to spiteful vulgar trolling on social media, but death threats, and physical violence. The first name on this month’s list is of Mexican journalist Miroslava Breach Velducea, who was murdered for reporting on corruption and politics. Then there is Azimjon Askarov from Kyrgyzstan who was handed a life sentence for documenting human rights abuses.
The idea is to use the collective muscle of these twelve news organisations to shine a light on the plight of threatened journalists all over the world. This is critical because, as per One Free Press Coalition, at least 1337 journalists have been killed in connection to their work since 1992, and 857 of those were murders. In the year 2018 alone at least 34 journalists were murdered.
Feature Image Credit: YouTube