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The News Minute | February 26, 2015 | 04.20 pm IST Taking offence to being branded as ‘anti-national and ‘unpatriotic’, seven well-known human rights activists have in an open letter admonished television media citing past instances of vilification of activists. In an open letter addressed to Arnab Goswami, six activists which include Kavitha Krishnan, Aruna Roy, Sudha Ramalingam, Vrinda Grover, Pamela Philipose, Kavita Srivastava and Anjali Bharadwaj have lashed out at the conduct of the news anchor, Goswami in this instance, on the channel’s show on 17th and 18th February. Explaining how the activists were denied a chance to articulate their views on a news show, the letter stated that “ Not only were their mikes at times muted, they were repeatedly heckled and subjected to hate speech,” with Goswami as the anchor, “encouraging, even orchestrating and amplifying these responses.” Saying that human rights activists are already targeted and vilified by the state and other vested interests, it called for the media not to aggravate the vulnerability of the activists. Bringing notice to the National Broadcasting Authority (NBA) guidelines which outline journalistic ethics, it quoted the Code of Ethics as stating that "Broadcasters shall ensure a full and fair presentation of news as the same is the fundamental responsibility of each news channel.” Accusing Goswami of being “blatantly and aggressively opinionated” and not providing space to guests to voice their opinion, it said that government allegations against the activists had been provided as self-evident facts by him. “For moderators of the debate to allow such terms to be hurled at participants, and in fact to endorse and repeat such terms, is a gross abuse of the media’s immense power.” The letter says, "Not surprisingly then, an opportunity to question the accusations raised by the Government was not allowed. Instead, Government allegations were presented as self-evident facts by you as the anchor. You went on to claim that you had the ‘facts’ to prove the ‘anti-national’ character of one organization in particular and activists in general. While the responses of the activists on these panel were deliberately distorted, you as the anchor insinuated baselessly that the said activists were employing ‘hackers’, and that they had ‘deposed against India’. We know that a similar scenario has been played out on many other occasions on the Newshour. The label ‘anti-national’ is attributed to invited guests without any basis in fact or law, as a term of abuse and hate-speech. Similar terms, used as forms of hate-speech, include, ‘Naxal’, ‘terrorist’, ‘terrorist sympathiser’. It is inappropriate and irresponsible for channels to label anyone as ‘nationalist’ or ‘anti-national’ or ‘terrorist’ or the like. If panelists indulge in such terms, it is in fact the duty of the anchor to rein them in, and to ensure that such loaded and provocative words are not used to drown out the substantive points of the discussion or disagreement." Bringing attention to a previous show in which a panelist had allegedly called two feminists on the panel as ‘Naxals who believed in free sex’, it said that the terms had been used as tools of abuse against them. Read the full letter below. Post by Kavita Krishnan. Read Activists to boycott Times Now, say channel doesn't object when they are called "anti-national"
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