(Washington) The Indian authorities have prevented a photographer from flying to the United States to receive her Pulitzer Prize, we learned from the young woman, the latest example of Kashmiri journalists who see themselves prohibited from leaving the country.
Posted October 19
The US State Department said it was aware of the ban on leaving the territory targeting this photojournalist and explained that it was “closely monitoring” the evolution of the situation.
“A joint commitment to democratic values, including respect for the independence of the press, is fundamental to the relationship between the United States and India,” a spokesperson for the department told reporters on Wednesday. of State, Vedant Patel.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday criticized India’s human rights record, which observers say has declined during the tenure of Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi, including some journalists, especially women. , who have been victims of relentless online abuse campaigns.
Sanna Irshad Mattoo is one of four journalists working for Reuters news agency to have won the prestigious news photography award this year.
The 28-year-old has won acclaim for her reporting on life in Indian Kashmir, a disputed and highly militarized Himalayan territory where a decades-old insurgency is raging.
She was arrested by immigration services at New Delhi airport late Tuesday afternoon and prevented from boarding, while two of her colleagues were allowed to leave the country.
Mme Mattoo then tweeted a photo of his post that read “cancelled without prejudice.”
“It was a unique opportunity for me”, regretted Mme Mattoo, also a member of the prestigious Magnum Foundation.
“I was arrested for no reason and the others were allowed to leave. Maybe it has something to do with me being Kashmiri,” she said.
This is the second time this year that the photographer has been prevented from leaving India.
In July, she was similarly arrested at the same airport on her way to Paris for a book launch and to the Rencontres Photographiques d’Arles in southeastern France.
India has sought to entrench its control over Kashmir, which is also claimed in full by neighboring Pakistan and is a constant source of tension between the two major nuclear-armed countries.
Thousands of people have been killed there since the rebellion against Indian rule began in 1989, and more than half a million soldiers are permanently stationed in the area.
The government of Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi stripped the territory of its limited autonomy in 2019, and to prevent any revolt cut internet connections for months and locked up political leaders.
Foreign journalists have been barred from Kashmir and local reporters based in the territory say they have been pressured to tone down their comments.
“Arbitrary and excessive”
Several other Kashmiri journalists have also been prevented by the authorities from traveling abroad over the past three years.
Freelance journalist Aakash Hassan, a regular contributor to the British newspaper The Guardianwas not allowed to board a flight from New Delhi to Sri Lanka in July.
He said that months later the authorities had still not told him why he had not been allowed to travel.
“It seems that this only happens to Kashmiri journalists,” said Aakash Hassan.
The decision to prevent Mme Mattoo to leave is “arbitrary and excessive,” Beh Lih Yi of the Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement.
She called on India to stop “all forms of harassment and intimidation” against journalists working in Kashmir.
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India prevents a Pulitzer Prize winner from receiving her prize in the United States