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Picture: Newsclick / October, 2023 – Journalists in India protest the raids on more than 50 homes and the detention of over 100 journalists on the back of a scandal that erupted after ‘The New York Times’ published an article that alleged ‘Newsclick’ and other publications were part of a Chinese propaganda network. Days after the mass raids on journalists in India, personalities from over 30 countries have rejected the attack on press freedom and call for the immediate release of those detained.

[In an earlier article, Peoples Dispatch reports:], Police records show that the case against Newsclick under UAPA [Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act] was registered on August 17, just over a week after a New York Times report was published, which alleged that Newsclick, amongst other progressive news outlets, is part of a Chinese news propaganda network. The report sparked a political and media scandal within India, which saw right-wing news outlets running dozens of pieces lodging baseless accusations that the members of the outlets are Chinese propagandists. Members of parliament from the far-right ruling Bharatiya Janata Party as well as high-level authorities like Home Minister Amit Shah also made similar statements on the parliament floor and to media. Today’s [October 3, 2023] raids and mass repression have been widely condemned by progressive organizations, press associations, and opposition parties from across India as a grave attack on democracy, civil liberties, and human rights.” – Peoples Dispatch

By Peoples Dispatch

Just days after Indian authorities raided the homes of over 100 journalists affiliated with Indian leftist outlet Newsclick, international outlet Peoples Dispatch, and Tricontinental Research Services, more than 300 journalists, political leaders, artists, academics, and progressive activists signed an open letter repudiating the repression.

The individuals also demanded the immediate release of Newsclick editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha and administrator Amit Chakraborty who were arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and remain in police custody.

The letter was signed by political leaders S’bu Zikode, Mqapheli, and Thapelo Mohapi of Abahlali baseMjondolo, the shack dwellers movement of South Africa, Sinn Fein MP Chris Hazzard, Secretary General of the South African Communist Party Solly Mapaila, Brian Becker, Executive Director of the ANSWER Coalition, German MP Sevim Dagdelen, and Jodie Evans of the anti-war group CODEPINK.

Renowned journalists and authors also signed such as Bhaskar Sunkara, founder of Jacobin Magazine and President of The Nation, Abby Martin and Mike Prysner of The Empire Files, Kwesi Pratt, Jnr, Managing Editor of The Insight Newspaper and founder of Pan African Television of Ghana, Gerald Horne, historian and journalist with Pacifica Radio and KPFK-Los Angeles, The Morning Star editors Ben Chacko and Roger McKenzie, comedian and journalist Lee Camp of Dangerous Minds, and Rania Khalek and Eugene Puryear of BreakThrough News.

Gabriel Shipton, the brother of imprisoned publisher and co-founder of Wikileaks Julian Assange, also signed the letter rejecting attacks on press freedom in India.

Signatories hail from over 30 countries including Argentina, Australia, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Germany, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Kenya, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, Trinidad and Tobago, UK, US, and Venezuela.

The letter comes amid an outpouring of support and solidarity for Newsclick and those harassed and detained on October 3. Dozens of rallies and mobilisations have taken place in cities across India organised by press associations and human rights organisations, and student and youth groups such as the Students Federation of India (SFI) and the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI).

The Letter

We, the undersigned journalists, progressive news publications, academics, artists, and political leaders, from around the world, join together to condemn the horrific repression faced by our colleagues at Newsclick and Peoples Dispatch in India on October 3, 2023. The mass raids and detentions unleashed against journalists, commentators, cartoonists, and comedians associated with the outlet, as well as the arrest of its editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha and administrator Amit Chakraborty under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act constitute a worrying attack on the democratic principles of press freedom and freedom of expression.

Newsclick is exactly the kind of media outlet which strengthens a democracy, shining a light and giving a voice to those marginalised and silenced sectors of society which clamour for dignity and change.

We stand with our colleagues at Newsclick and Peoples Dispatch and demand the immediate release of those arrested.

This article was first published on Peoples Dispatch