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INDIA – Visas denied for journalists to attend a workshop

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For no
explanation, four journalist from Sri Lanka and Banglaesh were denied
of visa to attend a workshop organised in Tuticorin, India, in October
2009. Peoples' Media Initiative, a civil society organisation from
India, issued the statement below on 28 October, calling on the Indian
government to respond to the issue.
For no
explanation, four journalist from Sri Lanka and Banglaesh were denied
of visa to attend a workshop organised in Tuticorin, India, in October
2009. Peoples' Media Initiative, a civil society organisation from India, issued the statement below on 28 October, calling on the Indian government to respond to the issue.

We write this
with deep pain and anguish, to bring to your notice the developments about
refusal of visas to journalists enlisted for an international workshop.Ā 

Four journalists
from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh were chosen and invited to attend a workshop on
environmental journalism at Tuticorin from October 26 to November 6, 2009. The
workshop was organized at Suganthi Devadason Marine Research Institute (SDMRI)
with the cooperation and support of Institute for the Continuing Education of
Journalists, a body promoted by journalists' unions/associations in Sweden.

When visas were refused,
the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) made enquiries with the
Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. However, there isĀ no
clarity on the reasons for the refusal of visas, except for the remote
possibility that there may have been a breachĀ of norms laid down for
foreign participants attending conferences/seminars in India.

We find
itĀ a matter of surprise as well as concern thatĀ visas were denied to
journalists from the neighbouring countries on a subject such as environment,
whichĀ itself has noĀ geographical boundaries. They were to attend a
workshop which would have given them a broader, more pan-Asian perspective on
theĀ important topic. This would have been of significanceĀ as the
world community gets ready to discuss Climate Change in Copenhagen in
December.Ā Ā 

We sincerely
feel that the Government of India can, and should, play a positive role in
encouraging journalists from SAARC countries to regularly meet and discuss
issues affecting not only concerning the media but larger issues
involvingĀ the people of South Asia.

We request you
to kindly take up the issue of refusal of visas with the MEA and Home ministry
at the earliest possible; we would appreciate a response. Also, it would be
worthwhile if your ministry canĀ ensureĀ that such lapses doĀ not
happen in future.