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Report Finds 1990 Unhappy Year for Journalists

December 14, 1990

LONDON (AP) _ The year 1990 was an unhappy one for journalists, with some of the most serious setbacks coming where hope had been strongest, the International Press Institute reported.

The institute’s World Press Freedom Review paid particular attention to press difficulties in Romania, Yugoslavia, South Africa, Turkey, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Chile, Colombia and Iraq.

″There has been an increase in attacks on the media, and they most galling aspect of all is that they are occurring in countries where we had been given good reason to hope for dramatic changes for the better,″ IPI Director Peter Galliner wrote in the report released Friday.

Galliner said one of 1990′s most gruesome incidents was the execution in Iraq of Farzad Bazoft, an Iranian-born journalist working for The Observer newspaper of London. Bazoft was accused of spying.

Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait silenced about 40 Kuwaiti publications, the report noted.

″Ironically, one consequence of Saddam Hussein’s move has been the opening ... of the Saudi media, which have been obliged to tell the population the truth, at long last, faced with the evidence all around them,″ Galliner wrote.

″But the Arab media, as a whole, remain shackled and subservient to the political line of their respective governments.″

The report said restrictions have hampered newspapers that sprang up in Romania following the overthrow of Nicolae Ceausescu.

″It is remarkable and appallingly sad that, after ridding the country of the horrors and repressions of the Ceausescu regime, Romania’s new leaders have ensured that the nation still has no truly independent newspaper or publisher, because all printing facilities are government-controlled,″ he wrote.

Galliner said journalists also have faced severe problems in Yugoslavia, where Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic has imposed a ″quasi-Stalinist control of the media.″

Authorities closed down the Albanian-language newspaper Rilindja in the Kosovo province, and dozens of journalists on Belgrade television and the daily newspaper Politika were suspended for reporting an anti-communist demonstration in June.

The study reported improvements in South Africa, but noted that unidentified gunmen killed Sam Mabe of The Sowetan daily newspaper in July. Max de Preez, editor of the South African weekly Vrye Weekblad, was imprisoned for violating the Protection of Information Act.

In Turkey, Cetin Emec, former editor in chief of the daily Hurriyet of Istanbul, and Turan Dursun, columnist for a banned publication, were murdered, the report said, adding:

″Twenty-eight Turkish journalists or editors are still in prison, in many cases serving sentences of more than 100 years - an unacceptable state of affairs in a true democracy.″

Kenya expelled one foreign journalist, and authorities arrested half a dozen others. Ugandan authorities suspended the accreditation of all foreign journalists and stringers, the report said.

It said journalists were arrested in Nigeria following a failed coup attempt in April.

The report said the new government of Patricio Aylwin has eased restrictions on expression in Chile. But Juan Pablo Cardenas, editor of Analisis magazine, was detained for 13 days in September and Juan Andres Lago, editor of the Communist Party weekly El Siglo, remained in detention.

In Colombia, drug traffickers murdered several journalists, Galliner wrote.

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