Day 3 at the ongoing Asian Media Information and Communication Centre (AMIC) annual conference in Delhi on July 15, saw as many as six parallel sessions on themes ranging from Media and empowerment, Media and political communication, to media and the Diaspora, among others.
The afternoon sessions though largely remained popular among a select section of dignitaries, research scholars, and media observers from different parts of world. But, the evening plenary session on ‘Freedom of expression, democracy and development’ brought a vast number of interested listeners from different professions collecting early outside the conference hall to partake of the stimulating discussion. Prof Robin Mansell, LSE, UK chaired the session. The speakers included Javed Jabbar, Vice-President, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Pakistan; Prof John Lent, Temple University, USA; Dr Abdul Waheed Khan, UNESCO, France; Prof Gaetan Tremblay, University of Quebec, Canada; and Dr Khin Zaw Win, Interntational Development Enterprises, Myanmar.
Prof Robin Mansell, who had earlier spoken on ICT and social communication on the first day of the ongoing AMIC 2009, commenced the discussion by mentioning about the different forms of freedom of expressions in different democracies. She then invited Javed Jabbar to speak on the theme of the discussion. Jabbar was a panelist on Day 1 at the FES Distinguished forum that was chaired by Dr Prannoy Roy, Chairman, NDTV Media, India.
Jabbar talked about the veiled freedom of expression in Pakistan by citing several historical incidents. He cited three examples where freedom of expression, according to him, were the most debatable and underwent several stages of evolution, acceptance and rejection. The examples came from Cuba, China and Pakistan. Jabbar remarked, “Freedom of expression, democracy and development need to be sequential. We need to have a planetary weapon to re-think and re-analyse our freedom.”
Prof John Lent spoke about an often ignored facet of print media – cartoons. Pointing out the sorry state of a cartoonist, whose freedom gathered criticism after the Danish cartoon controversy in 2006, he said, “The role of a cartoonist has changed and his footing in the industry has slumped. In the US alone, more than 300 newspapers dropped cartoonists from their publications.” Prof Lent then talked about three aspects of cartooning – resistance, revolution and reconciliation. He gave numerous examples where cartoonists were exiled, beaten up, killed or forced to leave the profession.
Dr Abdul Waheed Khan, too, enlightened the initiatives taken by his organisation to uphold and promote freedom of expression across the world. He said, “UNESCO celebrates World Press Day on May 3 every year to recognise the efforts of journalists across the world and felicitate them.”
Prof Gaetan Tremblay and Dr Khin Zaw Win, too, delivered their papers supported by a few case studies from their countries, when freedom of expression was jeopardised and journalists had to dearly pay for it.
The AMIC Annual Conference 2009 will conclude on July 16, 2009 after a power-packed panel discussion with several media stalwarts and editors of publications taking part.
AMIC is a non-profit NGO with the mission of spearheading the development of media and communication expertise in Asia.
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