by Thakuria Navajyoti
Geneva/Guwahati, 30 April 2021: The Covid-19 pandemic had a devastating impact on the media, the Switzerland-based media rights and safety body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) lamented last Friday in preparation for World Press Freedom Day on 3 May. The human cost of the pandemic is particularly high where over one thousand journalists have lost their lives due to novel coronavirus aggravated ailments. India recently lost over 50 journalists in 2 weeks (3.5 per day).
Journalists are engaged in a profession that is particularly exposed to the virus, as many have been forced to continue working in contact with the population. Until 29 April 2021, since March 2020, within 14 months, the PEC (www.pressemblem.ch/) has counted more than 1,200 journalists who died from complications related to Covid-19 in 75 countries.
“This is an unprecedented slaughter and a great loss for the profession,” said PEC secretary-general Blaise Lempen adding, “On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, we call for honoring eminent colleagues of all ages who have not survived the pandemic.” He appeals to all concerned governments to take action to help the media most affected and support the families of the victims on this auspicious occasion.
PEC also considers there is a need to distribute vaccines equally all over the world, to stop the spread of the virus and its new strains in developing countries. Vaccine production is limited and it is available for the wealthiest countries, preventing access to journalists in South America and South Asia. As long as this situation continues, deaths will keep on increasing, it added.
The rate of deceased journalists accelerated further in April with the deaths of 126 journalists in one month or four media victims per day. Since the pandemic broke out in March 2020, four countries have been particularly affected with more than one hundred journo-casualties each including Brazil (more than 183 media corona-casualties), Peru (140 dead), India (122) and Mexico (106).
There is nevertheless a positive note that the number of journalists’ deaths slowed sharply in Europe and North America, thanks to effective protection measures and the progress of vaccination. By region, Latin America tops the list with more than half of the victims, 673 in 20 countries. Asia follows with 256 in 18 countries, then Europe with 175 in 19 countries. Africa comes next with 56 dead in 16 countries, ahead of North America with 47 in 2 countries.
India recently lost half a century of journalists within a fortnight to corona-complications, said Nava Thakuria, PEC’s country representative adding that the populous country might have lost more journalists than documented, as many media outlets in India prefer to tone done the corona casualties among their journo-colleagues. India neighbor Bangladesh recorded 52 journo-victims to Covid-19 followed by Pakistan (26 dead), Afghanistan (9) and Nepal (7). Other tiny neighbors Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Myanmar etc have not reported a single corona media casualty.
The robust Indian media fraternity has lately lost Rohit Sardana, Nilakshi Bhattacharyya, Aiyushman Dutta, Bhanu Prakash Rath, Manas Ranjan Jaipuria, Amjad Badshah, Sridhar Dharmasanam, Raju Mishra, Sadanand Shinde, Kakoli Bhattacharya, Kondra Srinivas Goud, Sammi Reddy, Akash Saxena, Khwaja Mujahiduddin, Anil Basnoi, Venga Reddy, Madiraju Harikrishna Giri, Syed Shabaz, etc to the corona-pandemic.
Goodbye friends and rest in absolute peace in the unseen world.