Participants at the conference expressed concern about such pressures, and called upon all governments and organisations in the Northeast to respect the essential right of journalists and media persons in the Northeast region to report accurately on issues affecting the region without fear or favour.
The conference, having heard from the personal experiences of senior editors and journalists of the region, extended support to media professionals there who continued to conduct their work under difficult and often stressful conditions, facing intimidation and violence as well as threats to life and their professions.
It noted that in the past years, editors and journalists in the region have come under physical and verbal attack from groups for a variety of reasons. In some cases, editors have been killed, others have been beaten and some have been arrested. In addition, newspaper offices have been attacked and bombed.
It also noted that media have been at the receiving end of such threats and even assaults from government officials, security forces, militants and anti-social organisations. The conference urged all groups at all levels to stop such harassment and intimidation. It called upon governments at the central, state and district levels to strictly implement the law and act firmly, without prejudice, against any individual or group who seek to intimidate the press. The state human right commissions and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) should take cognisance of such incidents on their own. Governments should also not use advertisements as a tool to control the media.
The conference emphasised the need for better briefings by Government and other sides. In addition, journalist groups should rally behind those who face threats. This is where the email and the Internet become tools to inform and muster support. This will ensure that the media are driven by the desire to be first and accurate.
Among those present were:
Senka Ao, Ao Milen
Supriya Bezbaruah, India Today
Jayanta Bhattacharyya, PTI (Agartala)
Urvashi Butalia, Kali for Women
Sudeep Chakravarty, India Today
Manas Chaudhuri, The Shillong Times
Deepak Dewan, The North East Sun
Subir Ghosh, Northeast Vigil
Preeti Gill, Kali for Women
Seema Guha, The Times of India
Sanjoy Hazarika, columnist and author
Wasbir Husain, The North East Daily
Sreenivasan Jain, NDTV
Pradeep Kumar, Amar Ujala (Kanpur)
Yambem Laba, Manipur State Human Rights Commission
Chaman Lal, National Human Rights Commission
Joseph Lepcha, Naba Dhara
Amita Malik, columnist
Habung Payeng, Arunachal News
Pradeep Phanjoubom, The Imphal Free Press
A.J. Philip, The Indian Express
Kishore Senam, The North East Sun
Anil K. Singh, Zee News
Milon Subba, Sikkim Herald
T.Tara, Assam Tribune (Itanagar)
G.D. Wangsu, The Dawn-lit Post
Sebastian Zumvu, The Northeast Herald