Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Journalist, family continue journey to safety
My journalist/friend "Robert" and nine family members are continuing their journey from South Sudan to the relative safety of Uganda. See previous posts below for details.

As promised, here is the latest dispatch from "Robert" describing his journey:

(AT THE UGANDA-SOUTH SUDAN BORDER)--"I left South Sudan on Sunday 14/08/2016 at dawn time from my village to Nimule South Sudan- Uganda border. This was to allow me move a little bit when it was dark in order for security men not to see me moving out with the whole of my family all from my home because they would end up arresting me .On my way, there were a lot of obstacles from south Sudan SPLA and South Sudan police forces who could not allow many southern sudanese fleeing for their life to enter Uganda (because they were pretending there was) no war in south Sudan. This is very different from what people see on the grounds i.e., frequent cases of claches between the army and the rebels in other areas in South Sudan.

Meanwhile, a lot of briberies were taking places in order for one to be alowed to enter Uganda. As we were coming, we happened to meet more than seven check points in ln less than twenty miles of journey from my village. They  checking people entering to Uganda. All those checking had to be paid in order for one to get to the Udandan side of the country.

We met differen tarmy forces on the road namely Matiang Anyor forces. These are forces  of the SPLA Chief of General of Staff Paul Malong Awan. These are presidental guards all are deployed on the road to check civilians leaving thier homes for neigbouring countries and police of different catogories on the road who could not allow people entering with heavy luggage.

While traveling we were able to see abundant homes of the South Sudanese ethnic groups called the Madi and the Acholi people who have left their home for refugee camps in Uganda and Congo, leaving their goats and other household utensils now being used by the soldiers. Some isolated case was where I saw some  soldiers  chasing goats from some of the homes that were abandoned (until) they shot the goat using a bullet.

Currently, I have left my family at the border and am traveling back to bring them (after) I have manage to retrieve the money for clearence for the whole family including accommodations in town here.

In conclusion, cases of cholera and measles are high in some of entrance parts to Uganda, and  many family are also dying as a result of that.

This is some thing brief to share and will share more if (when) I settle."

Stay tuned for more updates from "Robert" in the next few days.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Journalist, family to begin journey to safety
Our journalist/friend "Robert" and his nine family members will be making the dangerous trip from South Sudan to Uganda this weekend. The two previous posts also have details about his situation. We were able to locate some good samaritans who are helping "Robert" fund this journey.

"Robert" has agreed to write a journal about his experiences, which I will share on these pages.

Here are the last two emails from "Robert":

Hi Steve,
I will be starting my journey to Uganda on Sunday 14/08/2016 and will keep you informed when i get to Uganda. I planned to begin the journey by Sunday so that it will not be very expensive in hiring lodge when it is a weekend days when the bank will not be functioning. 
Wishing you all the best weekend
yrs (Robert).

On Thu, Aug 11, 2016 at 12:30 AM:
Hi Steve,
Thanks for the work welldone. Iam organising to travel very soon and will let you know if i reached safely. It will take me two days to reach the Uganda and will take for me  some two days looking for a house to rent in Uganda because i will need to get some two rooms for the family and then buy for them food so that they find thing ready. But I will keep you updated on a every bit of step in the process i will talk to you more when i reached
I greatly thank you for the struggle. be blessed 
Regards to all, yrs (Robert).


Friday, August 5, 2016

Update-'Robert' in South Sudan
I've heard back from 'Robert', my journalist friend in South Sudan who is trying to evacuate his family to Uganda (see previous post below). I am working with journalists in the Kansas City area to try to come up with the funds Robert needs to take his family (wife, niece, six children) to safety. Stay tuned for more updates.

Call for Submissions—The Peace Journalist magazine
The Peace Journalist magazine is seeking submissions for our October, 2016 edition. The Peace Journalist is a semi-annual publication (print and .pdf) of the Center for Global Peace Journalism at Park University in Parkville, Missouri. The Peace Journalist is dedicated to disseminating news and information for and about teachers, students, and practitioners of peace and conflict sensitive journalism.

Submissions are welcome from all. For the next edition of The Peace Journalist, we are seeking short submissions (300-550 words) detailing peace journalism projects, classes, proposals, academic works in the field, etc. We also welcome longer submissions (800-1200 words) about peace or conflict sensitive journalism projects or program.

 Please submit your article via email to steve.youngblood@park.edu. Also send a 2-3 sentence biography of the author, as well as a small head and shoulders photo of the author. In addition, please submit photos and graphics that could accompany your article.s, as well as academic works from the field. The Peace Journalist will not run general articles about peace initiatives or projects, but rather seeks only articles with a strong peace media/peace journalism/conflict sensitive journalism angle.

The submission deadline is September 7. However, it’s advisable to submit your article early.

To see a .pdf of the April, 2016 edition, go to:

Thank you in advance for your interest in the Peace Journalist.

Steven L. Youngblood, Editor, The Peace Journalist
Director, Center for Global Peace Journalism
Park University
Parkville, MO USA​

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Violence imperils peace journalist friend in South Sudan
My greatest joy in traveling the world spreading the gospel of peace journalism is in meeting wonderful, diverse people. The downside is that many of my new friends live in less-than-secure locales, which leaves me constantly anxious about their well-being.

For example, recent violence in Turkey and Kashmir, where I did peace journalism projects last year, has me sending anxious “are you ok?” emails and Facebook messages.

Perhaps the most perilous situation for my peace journalism friends and colleagues is in South Sudan, where I worked on a peace journalism project in May. (For details on this project, see: http://stevenyoungblood.blogspot.com/2016_05_01_archive.html ) When I arrived in mid-May, a precarious cease fire and power sharing agreement had been in place only three weeks. While there were high hopes among my trainees, there was also a keen understanding that the whole arrangement could crumble with the slightest provocation. Sadly, that’s what happened in early July, when factional infighting in Juba claimed at least 272 lives, sparked over 100 sexual assaults, and displaced thousands of South Sudanese. Another cease fire was put into place after several days of fighting, and seems to be holding, at least for now. (http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/07/100-sexual-assault-cases-south-sudan-juba-160728065151636.html)

This flare-up followed a three year civil war (2013-16) that killed at least 10,000 (no one really knows how many) and has displaced two million.

As the recent violence erupted in Juba, I couldn’t help but think of my friends, and especially a journalist who I’ll call Robert. (Using his real name could put him in jeopardy). He and I have corresponded since May, and I’ve come to respect him, and his work, even more during these last few months. When the violence flared, I immediately wrote Robert to inquire about his well-being. It was several long weeks before he was finally able to respond.

Robert wrote, “Here we are fine except that the security situation in the country is so scary. I am sorry to have delayed writing to you just because the current political situation in the country has made it very difficult…As I talk now almost all NGO’s have evacuated their staff and most offices are closed. As such we are badly lacking Internet. Today I have succeeded through a narrow chance.”
He said that the situation at the radio station where he is a reporter has become almost untenable. “We have got stuck because (an international media NGO) has not given a new contract to our station and we do not know yet the fate of the radio because we entirely depend on the donation from (the media NGO). We have now stayed for three months without salary.”

Robert’s emails echo what the media have been reporting—that the situation remains dangerous in South Sudan. “About on the cease fire in South Sudan, it is now very very difficult to talk about because what we are able to see between our leaders is now tribal hatred. It is difficult to predict the future of the country as far as peace is concerned without the intervention of the regional forces and pressure from the international community…The situation is tough and hunger is looming in the country and many people have now left South Sudan for Uganda. I wanted to evacuate the family but I have got stuck due to financial constraints,” he said.

Robert never asked for money. I wrote him to inquire how much it would take to evacuate his family to Uganda, but have not yet received a reply.

Perhaps if the amount is within reach, and we are able to figure out how to get the funds to him, there will be one less colleague and friend for me to worry about.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Kashmir police strong-arm responsible newspapers

Last week, amid unrest in India-controlled Kashmir that killed 40 people, a newspaper that I visited a year ago was raided by Indian police.

Like 99% of such raids by authorities on media outlets, this one is unjustified.

According to the BBC, “Police seized printing plates and thousands of editions overnight on Friday. Cable television is also reported to have been shut down… "The clamp-down was necessitated as Pakistani channels that are beamed here through cable television network have launched a campaign aimed at fomenting trouble here," an unnamed Jammu and Kashmir government minister told the Reuters news agency.

"Some newspapers were also sensationalising the violence... We will take a decision on [their] restoration after 19 July."

The Greater Kashmir, Rising Kashmir and the Kashmir Observer, are among the titles who said they were affected.” (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-36815815)

A have read Greater Kashmir, and have found it to be anything but inflammatory. The same can be said of Rising Kashmir, a fine newspaper that if anything is the opposite of inflammatory of sensationalizing. I was so impressed with their work that I used Rising Kashmir as an example of peace journalism in action in my upcoming textbook Peace Journalism Principles and Practices.

This is what I wrote about my visit with the Rising Kashmir staff in 2015:

AT Rising Kashmir, 2015
“Editor Shujaat Bukhari and I seemed to agree on the principles of balance and objectivity offered by the peace journalism approach. The reporters asked pointed questions about subjective terms like massacre and martyr. I suggested that if reporters use these words, they lose their objectivity…

Overall, I admire the work done by Rising Kashmir in not sensationalizing or irresponsibly reporting the news here under extremely difficult circumstances. They can certainly teach their colleagues in New Delhi a thing or two about responsible journalism. (Peace Journalism Insights, Aug 6, 2015)”

Authoritarian governments everywhere use raids and arrests to intimidate journalists. A quick perusal of the Committee to Protect Journalists’ website (cpj.org) shows such raids occur regularly in places like Somaliland, Mexico, Turkey, and so on. So while journalists and their supporters should be alarmed by strong arm tactics like those on display in Indian-controlled Kashmir, we certainly shouldn’t be surprised.

The Center for Peace Journalism calls on the Indian government to immediately re-open these vital publications and cease their harassment of reporters who are doing nothing more than their jobs.