CFWIJ: A Woman Journalist Killed And An Alarming Increase in Cases of Violence And Threats Online and Offline Against Women Journalists in April 2021

2021-05-07 08:26


Throughout the month of April, The Coalition For Women In Journalism reported on an astonishing 51 cases of violence against women journalists around the world. The following report presents a detailed survey of the safety violations against women journalists during April 2021.

One woman journalist was killed:

United States: Journalist Aviva Okeson-Haberman was found dead in her apartment on Friday, April 23, from what appears to be a gunshot wound. Okeson-Haberman was a young radio journalist cherished by her colleagues and friends. The police are investigating the circumstance around her death. Read more about the case here.

While nine were attacked in the field:

Turkey: Police intervened in the Boğaziçi University’s student protests which took place today in İstanbul. More than 30 students were detained and many journalists including women reporters were deliberately prevented and brutally attacked by the police. At least four women journalists, who were at the scene, were affected by tear gas and beaten. Further details here.

United States: At least three women journalists who were covering the protests in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota sparked by the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright, a 20-year old Black man, were assaulted by the police. Continue reading about these cases.

Turkey:  Mesopotamia Agency (MA) reporter Diren Yurtsever was physically assaulted by the police while covering the Kobani Trial which took place in Ankara. Follow the case here.

Lebanon: MTV Lebanon News correspondent Joyce Akiki was attacked by Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) supporters, during her live coverage about the protest between two judge supporters at Palace of Justice in Beirut. Click here for more details.

Four women journalists received violent threats:

Uzbekistan: Agnieszka Pikulicka, journalist and fellow at The Coalition For Women In Journalism, shared images of two cars parked outside her house on April 4. The journalist is facing state-backed intimidation for covering the torture of Miraziz Bazarov, an activist and LGBT rights supporter. Miraziz was brutally tortured on March 29 by radicals, and Agnieszka has followed the details of his treatment. More details here.

The Philippines: Chiara Zambrano from ABS-CBN, and her news team were on an assignment in the west Philippines sea close to Palawan province when they were threatened by Chinese naval authorities. Further details here.

France: Nadiya Lazzouni received an anonymous letter at her private residence. The letter was replete with sexist and Islamophobic slurs and included death threats. Nadiya believes that she was targeted for her religious visibility and expressed great fear about the implications of the perpetrator's access to her residential address. Continue reading for further details.

Northern Ireland: Patricia Devlin was again targeted on social media after her coverage of the actions of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). This has become a regular occurence. Devlin, who is a crime reporter has faced similar threats in the past, any time she reported on the loyalist groups operating within Ireland. Further details on the case available here.

And 15 faced detention:

Myanmar: Journalist Thin Thin Aung was abducted by the state on April 8, and is currently in state custody. Following her detention, the state forces raided her home, seized her belongings, and destroyed all her journalistic work. Continue reading to find out more.

Myanmar: Myo Myat Myat Pan, an ex-employee of Myitkyina News Journal, was abducted by police authorities on April 14. The journalist was reportedly arrested on orders from the military council. Click here to continue reading about the case.

Russia: Russian authorities raided the homes of four student journalists, two of whom are young women, as well as the homes of their parents. The journalists were targeted for demanding their civil right to protest and have since been detained on criminal charges. More details here.

Kyrgyzstan: Four journalists, including two women journalists, were detained by the police on three separate occasions during their coverage of the national elections. At least one of these reporters was also attacked in the field by a civilian. Continue reading for more details.

Turkey: Journalists Serpil Ünal and Kardelen Yoğungan were detained for covering the press statement held by Sinbo workers who were dismissed because of their union membership in Istanbul. The journalists were released after their statements were taken. Further details here.

Russia: Journalist Katya Arenina was detained by security forces in the region while she was investigating reports about torture in the penal facility present there. While the journalist was released shortly after, this was clearly an attempt to intimidate her and discourage her from pursuing the story. Click here to read more about the case.

Russia: Russian law enforcement authorities detained at least three women journalists from different parts of the country while they were covering pro-Navalny protests. Yulia Suguyeva, Bariyat Idrisova, Ksenia Klochkova were detained in Makhachkala and St. Petersburg. Further details provided here.

Turkey: After four-day detention, journalist Beritan Canözer was called to the court without prior notice and the prosecutor requested her arrest. Due to the confidential nature of the investigation, no further information was given to her relatives and lawyers. Continue reading for details.

Turkey: Police attacked the gathering of the Sinbo and SML Label workers to ban May 1, Labour Day organisations. 40 people were detained, including Jin News reporter Sena Dollar and Kızıl Bayrak reporter Kardelen Yoğungan. The reporters were also battered by the police. Both journalists were released after their testimonies were taken. Click here for further details.

11 women journalists were legally harassed:

Colombia: In the latest development of the defamation case against Vicky Dávila, the Labor Cassation Chamber of the Colombian Supreme Court has reversed the journalist’s once-successful appeal. The Supreme Court upheld the previous ruling of the appellate court on October 15, 2020, which ordered the journalist to pay over $43,421 in damages to the family of a police colonel. Read more for details.

Turkey: The first hearing of the trial against the imprisoned journalists Şehriban Abi and Nazan Sala was held in Van. Journalist Zeynep Durgut who covered the case was also indicted. The hearing against Abi and Sala started with restrictions against many journalists and NGOs who wanted to follow the case and ended with journalists’ release. The court ruled the release of all imprisoned journalists conditionally. Find out more about the case here.

Turkey: The first hearing of the trial against journalist Melis Alphan on the charge of "spreading terrorist propaganda" was held in Istanbul. The court postponed the next hearing to 21 May 2021. Details on the case are available here.

Turkey: In the third hearing of the trial against Gazete Yolculuk reporter Buse Söğütlü on terrorism charges, the court ordered the trial prosecutor to prepare its judicial opinion and demanded an additional defence from Buse on the allegation of ‘insulting a public official. The next hearing was postponed to September 14, 2021. Continue reading for details.

Turkey: The 13th hearing of the trial against journalists Semiha Şahin and Pınar Gayıp was held in İstanbul. The court ruled incomplete elements of the case-file to be completed and adjourned the trial to July 14, 2021. Further details here.

Russia: Mariya Nuykina was detained, arrested, and fined by Russian police authorities for covering protest movements. In response, Mariya filed a court appeal against the convictions. If accepted, the appeal will protect her from similar state persecution in the future and clear her of all charges. However, Mariya believes the court is unlikely to overturn the charges. Click here for more details. 

Turkey:  The second hearing of the trial against Yeni Yaşam Newspaper Managing Editor İnci Aydın on the charge of "spreading terrorist propaganda for an organization" was held in Istanbul. The court ruled to acquit the journalist. More details here.

Hong Kong: Award-winning freelance producer Bao Choy was convicted on April 22, by a Hong Kong court for submitting false statements to obtain public records. The journalist had obtained the data to determine the police handling of riots against pro-democracy demonstrations and media in July 2019. Continue reading about the case.

Turkey: First hearing of the trial against journalists Rojda Aydın, Nurcan Yalçın and Halime Parlak over the charges with ‘being participants in a prohibited gathering, defying police orders to disband’ was held in Mardin. The court adjourned the next hearing to October 13. Read more about the case.

Four women journalists were physically assaulted in the field:

Turkey: Three female journalists covering the press release of the May-Day Platform in Istanbul were physically assaulted and verbally harassed by the police. They were also deliberately prevented from filming the gathering. Continue reading for further details.

Mexico: Correspondent for Multimedios Television, Vianca Maleny Trevino Nevejar, was assaulted by police and detained in the early morning on Friday, April 9. The police illegally seized her belongings and tried to access her online accounts. Read more about the case.

One case of sexual harassment came to light:

Kenya: Journalist Judie Kaberia recently came forth about the sexual harassment she faced by a politician and his security personnel while attempting to interview him. More details here.

And one case of verbal attack:

United States: Asian-American journalist Alyssa Hui was targeted while she was filming a news segment by a man who hurled abuses at her from his car. The attack was entirely unprovoked, and while no racial slurs were uttered, Hui mentioned that she was the only one of her team members who was targeted. More details about this case available here.

Three women journalists complained of being trolled online:

China: The Chinese authorities resorted to a slander campaign against the Chinese Australian journalist, Vicky Xu. The journalist, who regularly reports on the human rights crisis in the Chinese province of Xinjiang, opened up on Twitter regarding the state-backed harassment she has had to face through new media outlets and online trolls for her work. Find out more about the case here.

Ecuador: Alondra Santiago, a journalist and political commentator for Café con JJ, faced a barrage of online hate after her comments on President-elect Guillermo Lasso’s first public speech on April 14. Further details here.

United Kingdom: Marianna Spring, an award-winning reporter covering disinformation and social media for BBC News was subjected to incessant online trolling. The journalist faced a barrage of hateful comments for her reporting on the conspiracy theories that were being promoted around the covid19 pandemic. Click here for more information.

One case of state oppression came forward:

Mexico: Investigative journalist and founder of a news website, “Yo Rechazo la Corrupción y la Impunidad”, Dianeth Perez Arreola was intimidated by state authorities for reporting on the alleged corruption of a political figure, Natalia Rivera. Dianeth was communicated to take down important revelations from her website or she could be arrested. The journalist received three letters dated March 23 and April 19 from Special prosecutor's offices in Baja California state and Sonora state. Find out more about this case.

However, even among the dangers, we found slivers of hope:

Egypt: Journalist and human rights activist Solafa Magdy and her husband, photojournalist Hossam al-Sayyad, were finally released on April 14 after spending almost seventeen months in extrajudicial state custody. During her time in prison, Solafa was reportedly subjected to torture and denied medical aid. Continue reading about this.


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