The launch of SAMDEN and laying the ground for a sturdy support network for media professionals in South Asia
Cognisant of the need to address growing pressure on freedom of speech and expression in South Asia, increasing attacks on media workers and professionals and recognising that such freedoms are indivisible and know no political boundaries, in 2018, journalists from across this geography came together to form the South Asia Media Defender’s Network (SAMDEN). The aim of this group, they decided, would be primarily to extend support and solidarity to media counterparts under attack in the region and to mobilise action through collaboration with other like-minded media groups and associations.
SAMDEN, which was launched during this meeting, would be anchored in the Commonwealth human Rights Initiative (CHRI), and be led by four co-convenors — CHRI’s International Director Sanjoy Hazarika, Kanak Dixit, writer and Founding Editor, Himal Southasian, Mahfuz Anam, editor and publisher of The Daily Star, and Beena Sarwar, journalist and filmmaker.
This network would aim to extend support to all media professionals at risk — specifically those in semi-urban, small metros and rural areas whose vulnerability is rarely recognised. With this mandate, SAMDEN would develop briefing tools on risk analysis, directories as well as other relevant resources for journalists including handbooks on media and IT laws to enable media workers to be better equipped to deal with the challenges and risks entailed in carrying out their professional duties in hostile conditions. With time, it will also develop reports covering the media experience in South Asia.