The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released their 2011 Imprisoned List today, and the numbers are startling - 179 journalists in prison on December 1st. This is an increase of almost 20% from last year, and the highest tally since the all time high was set at 185 in 1996. The number one jailer of journalists is Iran, with 42 imprisoned, followed by Ethiopia (28), China (27), and Burma (12).
The report is not all bad news however, for the first time in the Committee’s 21 year history of compiling the report there are no jailed journalists in the Americas. Yet this good news is tainted by the fact that there has been a spate of short term detention of Journalists in the US surrounding the Occupy Wall Street protests, and a sharp increase in the killing of Journalists in Mexico and Latin America. The CPJ will be releasing its Killed Journalists List later this month.
Read the full report, including the details of the individual detained journos at the CPJ’s website.
On Friday emergency support actions were enacted in Times Square after the U.S. flagged ship The Audacity of Hope, a member of the second Gaza flotilla mission, was stopped and forcibly returned to port by Greek security forces.
The group USTOGAZA, self described as “a coalition of organizations and a grassroots campaign of individuals who together are joining to launch a U.S. boat to Gaza,” had pre-planned demonstrations which were to be carried out by members in the event that ill fortune befell the expedition.
After the disastrous events of the previous Gaza flotilla 13 months ago, where Israeli commandos killed 9 people while taking the Mavi Marmara in a night time raid (which NYT correspondent Ethan Bronner distastefully described as mere “tussles” this week,) the planning smacks of due diligence.
The demonstration was spirited yet small, about 50-75 men and women. The venue was 47th St in Times Square which, being a Friday night, was so jammed with tourists that it made to group feel that much smaller.
Despite their limited size the group made their presence felt. Individual participants would take turns leading chants of “long live Palestine, long live the Intifada,” “2, 4, 6, 8 Israel is a terror state” and “let the ships sail!” They waved signs alleging Israeli war crimes and demanding an end to U.S. funding of Israel.
Demonstrators hold up a banner during the protest on Friday in Times Square
It was enough to not only draw the attention and cameras of the infinite passers-by, but also the admonishment of some. Random people would yell their pro-Israel sentiments, and at one point a very angry middle-aged man in business attire marched straight through the demonstration and yelling obscenities at the protestors. All of which served only to bolster the group’s spirit and increase their fervent chanting.
After forty-five minutes in Times Square the group headed to the streets in a march towards the Israeli consulate and the United Nations, chanting and handing out flyers along the way. Under march the group was large enough to block traffic when crossing intersections and loud enough to grab the attention of the people on the sidewalk across the street and even those behind the glass walls of cafés and restaurants.
In all the protest was a great show of solidarity with the beleaguered Gaza flotilla, which still remains in Greek harbor at the time of posting, but the leaderless nature of it meant that at times it fell away from its solidarity message and into a strongly anti-Israel theme. Times Square is so bejeweled with flashy advertisements and corporate kitsch that it was hard to take pictures of the demonstration without featuring the massive, five-story American Eagle animated billboard behind them. To me it seems that calling for intifada in the very heart of western capitalist corporate consumerism is either extremely brilliant, or heavily disingenuous.