Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP) has issued the following statement:
As we observe the World Press Freedom Day today, we have reasons to both rejoice and feel concerned about the developments in Orissa.
2009 offered us compelling reasons to unite under one umbrella and fight all attempts at muzzling and terrorizing the media and media persons and that saw the birth of a unique and broad platform called the Media Unity For Freedom of Press. The MUFP has been able to bring together all sections of the media across the state on several issues that threatened media’s basic rights and mandate to investigate and report the truth. The sense of unity among media persons on such occasions has been truly encouraging and friends belonging to several journalist unions have joined our efforts in very large numbers.
At the same time we have great many reasons to feel concerned about the growing challenges – be it from the administration, corporate sector, mafias or people who enjoy political clout as well as money and muscle power.
The cases that we have taken up in our brief existence – from attacks on Laxman Choudhury, Jagannath Bastia and Amulya Pati among several others down to the latest bloody attack on media persons at the Silicon Institute of Technology – clearly demonstrate a trend of growing intolerance against the media. Friends working in Maoist zones as well as in areas where people’s movements are taking place are among the most vulnerable to repression, physical attacks and even death threats from powers that be. The state government and the district administration are slowly but definitely turning against the idea of a fiercely independent press and we have reasons to apprehend they would fall back on draconian measures whenever they are exposed to public scrutiny.
Our only shield against organized or institutional attacks on the freedom of press is our newly achieved unity which we must preserve and protect against all odds and at any cost. We need to reiterate our commitment to the idea of press freedom through press unity on the World Press Freedom Day and resolve to strengthen the MUFP as a body that is above all divisive and petty considerations and one that is wedded to the idea of defending the self-respect as well as basic and inalienable right of the media to report the truth, come what may.