Toronto, April 08, 2020 (PPI-OT): The Toronto-based International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), a global network of over a hundred non-governmental organisations striving for freedom of expression, has called for an end to gag on 4G mobile internet in occupied Kashmir amid the prevailing coronavirus pandemic.
The IFEX in a statement posted on its website said the pandemic and the simultaneous lockdown that have forced people the world over locked up indoors have had an even more crippling impact as high speed internet remains blocked for over eight months in occupied Kashmir.
The statement endorsed by 37 national media unions from South Asia as well as global media advocacy and freedom of expression organisations is part of a solidarity campaign started jointly by the South Asian Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) titled ‘Postcards from Kashmir’. The campaign tells inside stories of Kashmiri journalists, who bore the brunt of the communications blackout throughout the months of lockdown.
“The lockdown has had an even more crippling impact due to lack of access to high-speed mobile internet to provide people access to critical information and medical research. The region’s 4G mobile internet is yet to be restored after it was shut down eight months ago,” it said.
The statement said that the Indian authorities were yet to restore 4G internet in the territory after blocking it entirely in the run up to the abrogation of Article 370 in August last year even as all communication channels were shut. The IFEX called it the “world’s biggest information black hole”.
The statement said the clampdown on communication including internet has rendered the local media in Kashmir “virtually dysfunctional” even as the Indian Supreme Court had declared internet as a fundamental right. The IFEX statement said that since 2012, Kashmir had recorded 180 internet shutdowns – the highest in the world. “The media in particular has been hard hit, unable to function without one of the most basic and fundamental tools of communication in the digital age,” it said.
For more information, contact:
Kashmir Media Service
Phone: +92-51-4435548, +92-51-4435549