“Lethal force behind a veil of legality”: Executions, repressive media laws, and protests across Asia

An activist takes part in a rally to protest against the Myanmar’s junta execution of four prisoners, including a former lawmaker from Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, outside the United Nations University, in Tokyo, Japan, 26 July 2022, PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images

Genocide, executions, protests in Myanmar

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) rejected the objections raised by Myanmar against the Genocide case filed by The Gambia in relation to the systematic persecution of the Rohingya. The welcome ICJ decision would pave the way for the continuation of the trial which seeks accountability for the repression of the Rohingya ethnic minority by Myanmar’s security forces.

“By carrying out these executions, the military junta has once again displayed its murderous intent towards its own citizens, and the open contempt it holds towards its international human rights obligations,” the PEN statement added.

Meanwhile, resistance against the junta continues to gather support as conditions worsen in the country. This month alone saw student protests marking the anniversary of a university massacre, a strike by around 2,000 garment workers demanding better treatment, and a rare protest by food delivery riders against unfair labor practices.

Filipino journalists challenge censorship

Several independent media groups in the Philippines have filed a court petition challenging the government’s order to block their websites because of their alleged support for terrorism. IFEX member the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) issued a statement condemning the order as it “effectively removed from the public sphere alternative news and views so necessary in a democracy.”

“This branding of alternative media and critical journalism as terrorist betrays the government’s lack of understanding of the media’s role, and translates to its fear of being held to account.”

Repressive new laws

Several IFEX members have signed statements opposing the implementation of repressive new media and IT laws in Indonesia, Maldives, and India.

“It will have a dramatic impact on the work of journalists, including the loss of access to important sources who might refuse to talk to journalists out of fear of being exposed in a court of law.”

In India, various groups are seeking the review and repeal of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 (IT Rules 2021), and the suspension of the draft amendments proposed by the government. The rules have “draconian” provisions on mandatory data retention and traceability requirements, which could overturn end-to-end encryption. Meanwhile, Twitter has filed a lawsuit questioning the orders of the government that invoke the IT Rules to censor political speech.

Protesters and media attacked under Sri Lanka’s new government

The massive 9 July protest in Sri Lanka forced the country’s president to flee from his official residence and eventually led to his resignation. For several weeks now, thousands of people have been protesting the shortage of fuel, food, and medical supplies, which many blame on government corruption and mismanagement of the economy.

Pakistan: Journalists arrested after criticizing the military

Reporters Without Borders has documented nine cases of intimidation against journalists since Shehbaz Sharif became Pakistan’s prime minister. The situation has intensified over the past month — several prominent journalists were either attacked or arrested on defamation charges.

  • On 9 July, BOL News anchor Sami Ibrahim was attacked by three people outside the TV channel’s studios in Islamabad.
  • On 5 July, Express News TV anchor Imran Riaz Khan was arrested by a dozen policemen accompanied by members of a Punjab special elite force after he was slapped with a slew of charges which include “hurting the sentiments of the Pakistani people” and “treason.”
  • On 30 June, Dunya News TV journalist Ayaz Amir was dragged from his car and beaten as he was returning home in Lahore.
  • On 24 June, independent reporter Arsalan Khan, who previously worked for Geo News TV, was kidnapped from his home in Karachi.
  • On 13 June, Aaj News TV journalist Naeem Nazim was also kidnapped in Karachi by men in civilian dress aboard a truck.

In brief: Spotlight on Afghanistan

Displaced media workers. The Afghanistan Journalists Center reiterated its call to the international community to support the safe resettlement of at-risk Afghan journalists and media workers after a group of journalists who had fled to Pakistan reported that they have yet to receive assistance from international institutions.



IFEX is a global network of organisations that defend and promote the right to freedom of expression and information. Email: info@ifex.org

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store


IFEX is a global network of organisations that defend and promote the right to freedom of expression and information. Email: info@ifex.org