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2008 Unity Conference : » Press Freedom Advocates Protest Senegal President’s Presence

Press Freedom Advocates Protest Senegal President’s Presence

By EUNICE LEE and APRIL YEE
The UNITY News

More than 50 demonstrators are flying into Chicago from as far away as Paris and Dakar to protest a speech by Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade, organizers said Wednesday.

Critics say Wade, who will speak Friday at an event hosted by the National Association of Black Journalists, has suppressed press freedom in a country that enjoys one of the most vibrant media climates in Africa.

Wade will speak four days after Senegalese media outlets staged a press blackout to protest the beating of two reporters by Senegalese police. Web sites went black, and most newspapers did not publish.

NABJ President Barbara Ciara defended Wade’s invitation, saying “We invite people here so they can answer questions. We are journalists.

“The same would go for President Bush. …The same would go for Condoleezza Rice, figures that are not popular…,” Ciara said. “We want figures that are both popular and unpopular.”

To her point, when Wade was introduced at the UNITY opening ceremony, more than 40 Senegalese-Americans, many in “Wade in 2012” T-shirts, cheered him and waved flags.

NABJ also is hosting an invitation-only $500-per-person dinner with Wade for more than 70 people Friday. Ciara said the proceeds will help pay for NABJ to move into its new headquarters.

Though Senegal once had what the European press called one of the best records regarding a free press in Africa, Wade’s eight-year tenure has been marked by controversy over press freedom. Since Wade was re-elected in a landslide in February 2007, journalists’ complaints against Wade’s treatment of them have increased, even as he is embraced by the international community. Wade recently attended the G8 summit in Japan.

“Senegal has long been a model for press freedom prior to the arrival of Mr. Wade in office,” said Mohamed Keita, of the media watchdog group Committee to Protect Journalists.

In March, Senegalese police Tasered a TV journalist trying to interview an opposition leader at an anti-government demonstration. Last month, Senegalese police beat two journalists covering a soccer match. Newspapers called for Wade to condemn the incident, but Wade did not comment.

After the beatings, journalists banded to form another watchdog group called the Committee for the Protection and Defense of Journalists. And on Monday, Senegalese newspapers, radio stations and TV outlets participated in a media blackout. The Web sites for the daily newspapers Sud Quotidien and Le Quotidien featured a black background and red letters with the words: “DAY WITHOUT NEWS.”

“That’s like shutting your eyes and closing your mouth,” Ciara said. “To me, that’s totally not the approach of a free and open press, to shut yourself down.”

John Yearwood, the NABJ member who helped coordinate Wade’s visit, said, “There’s discontent against just about every leader in about every country. But this discontent does not mean that that president should not have been invited to speak.

“You have a country that clearly has work to do,” Yearwood said. “But what we are looking for from President Wade is a commitment to improve the sustainability of the press in his country.”

On Friday, Wade will answer questions from U.S. reporters after his speech about maintaining farmlands and providing more food to Senegalese residents. His critics, who include members of Senegal’s opposition political party and journalists, are not impressed.

Diop said the June beatings were the catalyst for recent outrage among Senegalese about the government’s treatment towards journalists.

“We fought for him to be elected, for him to be president, because we wanted there to be a free press, and that is what he is refusing,” Diop said. “We want to make American opinion leaders press the president to change the way he’s treating journalists.”

Ali Sarr, a Senegalese-American citizen who lives in the U.S. said, “I don’t think it’s appropriate for somebody who’s violating those (press) freedoms … I don’t think that kind of person should really be the person to make a presentation about freedom at all.”

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4 Responses to “Press Freedom Advocates Protest Senegal President’s Presence”

  1. radionayleer Says:

    Letter to UNITY : Journalists of Color, Inc.
    from Radio Nay Leer
    tonabj@nabj.org,
    info@unityjournalists.org
    info@cpj.org,
    foreign@nytimes.com,
    letters@nytimes.com,
    foreign@washpost.com,
    letters@washpost.com,
    letters@nypost.com,
    news@nydailynews.com,
    RADIO NAYLEER NEW YORK
    dateSun, Jul 20, 2008 at 6:39 AM
    subject : Letter to UNITY : Journalists of Color, Inc.
    mailed-bygmail.com

    To: Onica Makwakwa
    Executive Director New York, July 19th, 2008
    UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc.
    7950 Jones Branch Drive
    McLean, VA 22107
    Main (703) 854-3585
    Fax: (703) 854-3586
    nabj@nabj.org, info@unityjournalists.org

    Dear Onica,
    My name is Samba Prosper Mbaye and I am writing you on behalf of thousands of my fellow countrymen who are outraged by the fact that your organization is inviting Mister Abdoulaye Wade, President of Senegal, to address Journalists of color in Chicago on July 25th, 2008.
    We Senegalese, living in Senegal or abroad, are deeply concerned by the fact that Mister Wade’s visit to your organization coincide with a time when Senegalese journalists are witnessing the worsening of their working conditions.
    On June 26th 2008, Mister Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, wrote a letter to president Wade after the brutal beating of two Senegalese journalists, Boubacar Kambel Dieng and Karamoko Thioune by police. Those police officers involved in the beating are still on the job as if nothing has ever happened. In his letter Mister Simon expressed the “deep concern of his organization about an ongoing culture of impunity for crimes against journalists.” You can read the letter by visiting CPJ website at http://www.cpj.org. This incident is the last of a long list of abuses to journalists by president Wade and his close collaborators.
    Here are few facts.
    On august 2007,Transport Minister Farba Senghor threatened to “beat up” private daily Walf Grand-Place’s reporter Pape Sambaré Ndour, after calling him a “bastard.” The threats were later linked to a comment made by mister Ndour alleging that mister Senghor has lied about a diploma he said he earned from a management school in italy.
    On april 2007 a critical comment made by an anonymous caller at Radio Disso FM located in Mbacké, 105 miles east of the capital Dakar earned the radio station a 45 minutes standoff and its staff threats by Moustapha Cisse Lo, a candidate of the ruling PDS party and its followers.
    President Wade himself has been caught in an act of abuse to journalists. During the june 3rd, international conference on World Food Security held in Rome, Italy, president Wade threatened Yakham Mbaye, editor of the daily Le Populaire, according to journalists who have witnessed the incident.
    As you can see the abuse of journalists is not an isolated act of police officers out of control. It is, in fact, a culture at the highest level of government. What should be the exemption is in fact the general rule.
    To add insult to injuries, journalists are not only suffering abuses at the hands of those who were elected to protect them but they are also victims of laws enacted by the same people to keep them in check.
    In July 2004 Madiambal Diagne, owner and managing editor of the popular independent newspaper Le Quotidien, was jailed for more than two weeks for articles he wrote in 2004 about alleged executive interference in the judiciary and corruption in the customs service. Diagne was imprisoned under a controversial national security provision known as Article 80 of the penal code.
    Despite president’s Wade promise to reform this controversial article, it is still in the books and extensively used to control the press. It was also used to send Idrissa Seck, the former prime minister, in jail for several months.
    In may of this year the Committee to Protect Journalists has reiterated its call to Senegalese authorities “to end a pattern of criminal defamation prosecutions against the press” after many journalists were brought to court to face criminal proceedings for the expression of their opinions.
    This year, Papa Moussa Guèye, director of the private daily L’Exclusif, based in the city of Rufisque, 24 miles east of Dakar, was the third Senegalese journalist handed a six-month suspended prison term within a week for alleging presidential late-night “escapades.”
    This same year the director Jules Diop and Editor-in-Chief Serigne Saliou Samb of private daily newspaper L’Observateur were handed six-month suspended prison sentences and heavy damages over a critical story.
    As I write these excesses and abuses are still going on.
    Few weeks ago one of the veteran Senegalese journalist and media professor, Abdou Latif Coulibaly, was prevented from traveling to the US, where he was invited to speak at a conference organized by sengalese living in the New York City. He was handed an order to appear in court on july 19th to answer questions about accusations he made in his latest book on the pillaging of the LONASE, the national lottery entity.
    We can go on and on. Nothing has prevented the authorities to do away with this controversial provision of our penal code but their willingness to keep in check and domesticate the press.
    In Ghana criminal sanctions for libel, publication of false news, and defaming the president were repealed in 2001. We can do the same in Senegal but as I said the authorities, for their own comfort, prefer to set limits journalist can’t cross.
    In a June 13th article posted in your website and talking about the address president Wade will give at your convention in Chicago, you quoted the International League of Human Rights, which recognized him” as an African leader of great conviction and accomplishments whose tireless work to advance democratic values, multi-party elections and transparent governance has promoted human rights and economic development in Senegal and throughout Africa.”
    This appreciation contrasts profoundly with a memo written in the june 18th, 2008 issue of the New York Times, sent from Dakar by Lydia Polgreen and titled Shadows Grow Across One of Africa’s Bright Lights. I am inviting you to read that article to catch a glimpse of what is really going on in Senegal.
    Let me travel through few anecdotes contained in that article. In may of this year Senegal hosted the organization of the Islamic Summit which was much financed by Islamic donors. Little accounting has been given for the money spent during the summit. Do you know who was in charge? Karim Wade, the only son of president Wade. In the same New York Times article you can read that “when the speaker of the National Assembly tried to question the president’s son about spending for the summit meeting, the speaker’s party leadership position was abolished and the assembly introduced a bill to cut his term to a single year.” The article also states that a study commissioned by the United States Agency for International Development last year Concluded that”a lack of transparency in public affairs and financial transactions, as well as chronic corruption, plague Senegal today.”
    Are these two examples good illustrations of “transparent governance” to you?
    Last year, after a badly run presidential election, the opposition called for reform in the electoral code in order to ensure acceptable legislative elections. Mister Wade refused to hear that call and pressed ahead with the organization of the election. The major parties refused to take part, “so the national assembly
    is made up almost exclusively of Mr Wade’s allies.” Is this an “advancement of democratic values, and the promotion of multi-party elections” to you?
    In the same article of the New York’s Time it is stated that “once a darling of international donors, who have spent millions to help Senegal build schools and clinics, pay off its debts and plan infrastructure projects, the country has found itself criticized by representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank over public spending and policies that have worsened the effects of rising food prices.” Is this a “promotion of human rights and economic development in Senegal ?”
    Dear friends at Unity, here are the real deeds of the man who will be speaking at your convention in Chicago. He is denying to his people, specially to journalists, the freedom you are granting him.
    You can argue that this letter is out of context because Mr Wade will be speaking about climate change and not human rights. Don’t you think that there is an intimate link between the physical environment and the social one? Can one achieve progress in the first one by ignoring the second one?
    On the preservation of the environment front president Wade is not a model in the continent. He is known for declassifying forests in Senegal and giving them to his allies for mere political reasons despite the advice of experts in forestry not to do so.
    This year 18 children died of lead poisoning in Ngagne Diaw, a neighborhood in the suburbs of the capital, Dakar. His policies have so impoverished our people that they do whatever they can to survive, including exposing themselves to toxic such as lead.
    Dear friends at UNITY, welcome to Senegal.
    Let me finish by telling you that as minority journalists I don’t have to teach you about the oppression and social injustice journalists in Senegal are going through. But I can tell at least that since you have seen the light don’t keep it to yourself. Because no journalist will be free until all journalists are free. You owe it to your colleagues in Senegal.
    Again welcome to our country.

    By Samba Prosper Mbaye, M.P.H., C.H.E.S.
    For Radio Nay Leer a one hour political show broadcasting every Monday FROM 9-10PM on WPAT 930 AM in New York City
    Email : radionayleer@gmail.com

  2. sensocialiste Says:

    Dear Onica,

    We are writing to inform you and to express our deepest concerns about your assessment that Mister Abdoulaye Wade, President of Senegal is « an African leader of great conviction and accomplishments whose tireless work to advance democratic values, multi-party elections and transparent governance has promoted human rights and economic development in Senegal and throughout Africa. ». This declaration is baseless and here are the following facts to prove it :

    In June 21st. 2008 , Boubacar Kambel Dieng and Karamoko Thioune were beaten by police officers after a soccer game during which they were interviewing the players.Those police officers involved in the beating are still on the job as if nothing has ever happened. You can learn about this by visiting CPJ website at http://www.cpj.org.

    In August 2007,Transport Minister Farba Senghor threatened to “beat up” independent daily news Walf Grand-Place’s reporter Pape Sambaré Ndour, after calling him a “bastard.”

    In June 3rd, during the international conference on World Food Security held in Rome , Italy , president Wade threatened Yakham Mbaye, editor of the daily Le Populaire, according to journalists who have witnessed the incident.

    In July 2004 Madiambal Diagne, owner and managing editor of the popular independent newspaper Le Quotidien, was jailed for more than two weeks for articles he wrote in 2004 about alleged executive interference in the judiciary and corruption in the customs service. Diagne was imprisoned under a controversial national security provision known as Article 80 of the penal code.

    In may of this year the Committee to Protect Journalists has reiterated its call to Senegalese authorities “to end a pattern of criminal defamation prosecutions against the press” after many journalists were brought to court to face criminal proceedings for the expression of their opinions.

    In March, Papa Moussa Guèye, director of the private daily L’Exclusif, based in the city of Rufisque, 24 miles east of Dakar, was the third Senegalese journalist handed a six-month suspended prison term within a week for alleging presidential late-night “escapades.”

    In April, the director Jules Diop and Editor-in-Chief Serigne Saliou Samb of private daily newspaper L’Observateur were handed six-month suspended prison sentences and heavy damages over a critical story.

    In July 7, Abdou Latif Coulibaly, was prevented from traveling to the US , where he was invited to speak at a conference. He was handed an order to appear in court in July 12th , 2008 to answer questions about his latest book on the pillaging of the LONASE, the national lottery company.

    The list can go longer ; and moreover nothing has prevented the authorities to do away with this controversial provision of our penal code but their willingness to keep in check and domesticate the press.

    Your statement contrasts profoundly with a memo written in the june 18th, 2008 issue of the New York Times, sent from Dakar by Lydia Polgreen and titled Shadows Grow Across One of Africa ’s Bright Lights.

    In New York Time’s article it is stated that “once a darling of international donors, who have spent millions to help Senegal build schools and clinics, pay off its debts and plan infrastructure projects, the country has found itself criticized by representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank over public spending and policies that have worsened the effects of rising food prices.

    These are the facts and they speak louder than million words. We are troubled when journalists who are supposed to inform people objectively are biais and blinded by their own interests.

    Also, on the preservation of the environment issues, president Wade is far from being an example. He is known for declassifying forests in Senegal and giving them to his allies for mere political reasons despite the advice of experts in forestry not to do so. He doesn’t listen to experts who raised concerns about the deforestation and the destruction of the senegalese coast.

    This year 18 children died of lead poisoning in Ngagne Diaw, a neighborhood in the suburbs of the capital, Dakar . His policies have so impoverished our people that they do whatever they can to survive, including exposing themselves to toxic such as lead.

    We hope you will read more about Senegal and president Wade’s policies that are against people’s will and needs. While people are suffering and striving to

    New York, July 23rd, 2008

    Fron Siggil Senegal / USA

    ALARMING SITUATION IN SENEGAL

    We, the members of “Front Siggil Senegaal”, the U.S. chapter, are writing to inform you and to express our deepest concerns, about President Abdoulaye Wade and his regime whom we are holding accountable for destroying our people’s lives and our democratic and economic gains.

    In fact, on March 19, 2000, when the Senegalese overwhelmingly elected the new president, Abdoulaye Wade, ( sending the party that has been ruling the country since its independence to the opposition) they had hoped for better living conditions and good governance.

    Eight (8) years later, disappointment from the Senegalese is at a desperate level. As an illustration, here are the findings of Transparency International (TI) regarding the ranking of Senegal in the Corruption Perception Index: In the year 1998, Senegal was ranked 55 out of around 150 countries as being the least corrupt country; in 1999, Senegal was still in the 50’s ranking (it was ranked 58); After President Wade took office in 2000, the rank for Senegal jumped to the 60’s and 70’s: 65th in 2001, 76th in 2003, and 78th in 2005. As we can see, over the last years the ranking of Senegal in the annual Corruption Perceptions Index published by TI has been deteriorating.

    Other surveys corroborate TI Senegal’s findings. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund after their last audit of the Senegalese administration “encouraged [the Senegalese administration] to vigorously implement the public expenditure management reform” and pass anti-corruption laws. Since the year 2001, these recommendations to the Senegalese government are coming like “leit motiv” from all the financial and international cooperation institutions. The Senegalese administration keeps promising to pass anti-corruption laws. The reality is that the political will and interest is not there. The U4 – Anti Corruption Resource Center says it better. There is “a wide gap between governments’ anti-corruption rhetoric and the impunity enjoyed by public officials. Part of the problem may lie in the fact that anti-corruption institutions are often established to appease international actors, while governments endeavor not to alienate political allies at home through anti-corruption crackdowns.”

    Afrol News in its 26 September 2007 online publication noted “the Wade government has hitherto been observed to fail to take strong action against corruption, despite the fact that Mr. Wade had made the fight against corruption one of his main election campaign issues in year 2000. Recent reports seem to indicate that corruption indeed has become more widespread under the current administration.”

    On June 30, 2005, Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has approved a grant of up to $6.5 million to assist Senegal in the development of its Millennium Challenge Compact. It notified the Congress of such approval and requested the allocation and obligation of the funds. (See Millennium Challenge Corporation Congressional Notification sent on June 30, 2005 by Mr. Frances C, McNaught, Vice President of Domestic Relations). Yet, on a surprising move, during the summer of 2007, the Senegalese republic decided to seek other funds for the same project from Dubai and the Ben Laden Group. Why such move when the funds were already secured and granted on VERY FAVORABLE terms while the funds from Dubai and the Ben Laden group were loans at the market’s interest rate? The answer without any doubt is that while the MCC funds were a grant, the control exercised by the American congress would make it difficult to embezzle the funds or divert them. At the same time, the money from Dubai and the Ben Laden Group could easily by siphoned to personal bank accounts, as it has been the case with money offered back in 2001 by the Taiwanese government to the Senegalese government.

    The latest scandal with the Senegalese administrative and related to a total opacity in how the government concludes agreements and sign contract is the attribution of a phone license to SUDATEL, a Sudanese phone company. The license was attributed without any public offer. The government was the one who selected, on its own, the company that would be allowed to compete for that phone market. This is because the agreement was sealed before hand and the bid was open to a few companies just so it would not be obvious. A deeper investigation on SUDATEL by the Socialist Party (a Senegalese opposing party) reveals that SUDATEL is listed by the US government as one of the corporations that are currently financing and fueling the crimes committed in the Darfur region. (See http://www.treas.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/actions/20070529.shtml)

    Finally, President Wade has changed the law to create a senate of 100 members of which, 65 members and its president were chosen without elections by President Wade himself. The main opposition parties decided to boycott the only 35 senatorial seats placed on election, arguing that since there already exists a National Assembly, the senate is not only unnecessary but that the money to make it function could be used to improve the daily lives of the population, especially in the rural areas and that creating a senate is simply President Wade’s will to find ways to hand over the political power to his son, Karim Wade, since, he (President Wade), upon taking up office in the year 2000, dissolved the already existing senate on grounds that, that elected senate was costly.
    This new senate was installed on Wednesday 26, 2007.

    This new Senate and SUDATEL situation combined with the corruption level and lack of transparency by the Senegalese administration is what is leading us to take actions. One of those actions is to draw the attention of the partners of the Senegalese administration on these hidden facts. We, in fact, believe that it is our responsibility in contributing in letting the truth out about the dealings of President Wade and his government; which is the purpose of this letter.

    Should you need more information about the political situation in Senegal, don’t hesitate to contact us.

    Sincerely,
    Amadou Ndiaye, representative of the Socialist Party, Cell. 1917-569-5877
    Samba Prosper Mbaye, representative of Democratic League, Cell. 1646-548-8170
    Fallou Gueye, represntative of the Union of African Workers/ Senegal , Cell. 1212-665-4924,
    Mamadou Lamine Ndiaye, representative of the AFP, Cell. 1917-355-1716

  3. Newstips v2.0 » Blog Archive » Conference attack Says:

    [...] has covered the incidents:  ”President of Senegal: Too Many Journalists,” “Press Freedom Advocates Protest,”  ”Protest Turns [...]

  4. badara Says:

    Response to the president of Senegal: (Abdoulaye Wade’s article posted in the chicago tribune)

    This article, “The New Approach on Africa,” by President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, is merely a diversion from the real issues facing our country and requires urgent action.
    Mr. President, let me remind you that we once admired you as a messiah sent by God to rescue the people of Senegal. The whole nation had vast hope. Even your running mates accepted their defeat before the proclamation of the 2000 election results, trusting that, if anything, you would, at least, be able to soothe the suffering of the people.
    The African continent, from the Cape to Cairo, was jubilating and chanting the dawn of a new beginning; the Senegalese miracle, a revolution without bloodshed.
    The magnitude of our hopeful expectations which you inspired was in proportion to the amount of despair accompanying the alternative. You were blessed with great ideas, great leaders and a whole country rallied behind you.
    So what went wrong, Mr. President? Perhaps we should attribute the shift to your lack of vision, planning, and leadership. Could it be, Mr. President, that “the hunger for power” drove you to forget that the “reason to represent people is not to feed on the fatted calf, but rather to represent and defend the people”? Perhaps, Mr. President, I should remind you of that.
    When you quested and finally reached the goal of your personal Holy Grail, you should not have stopped there. I respectfully suggest that, then, you should have asked yourself, with compassionate deliberation, to whom else you might have offered this cup of abundance, and to whom else you might have humbly offered its thirst-quenching drink. I am confident, Mr. President, that you are already aware: to lead is to serve.
    As Jesus says to John, his beloved disciple:

    “You know that, in this world, kings are tyrants,
    And officials lord it over the people beneath them.
    Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,
    And whoever wants to be first must become your slave.” [Matthew 20:26-27]

    You were probably more concerned about how to remain and conserve your power for the rest of life than to fulfill the urgent needs of the population. For example, while the passenger boat “Le Jola” needed a second engine to function properly, you were more preoccupied by the refurbishing of your plane so that you could finally materialize a childhood fantasia. If you are not on the same page with me, let me quote you by using the exact words you wrote in your recent book, Une Vie pour l’Afrique [a Life for Africa],
    on pages 36-37, where you mused : “I have received two prizes. Books . . . which were related to spatial navigation . . . . I remember these books very well because they correspond to something that preoccupied my mind: the immensity of space, the sky,
    the universe. They’ve stolen those books. But during these millions of kilometers which I have flown by plane, I have kept these images . . . The sky fascinates me.
    I have always dreamed of going around the world by spatial engine . . .
    Maybe one day . . . .”

    Consequently, however, this defective boat ["Le Jola"] capsized in the treacherous swells of the Atlantic Ocean, leaving thousands of children orphaned, and men and women widowed, in a disaster which, by far, surpassed that of the “Titanic”.
    It seems that you have not learned the lesson, Mr. President. You are a puer aeternus, a “perpetual boy”, still pursuing your childhood dream – the tour of the world — yet blaming the rise of inflation on the rise of fuel costs. I am confused, Mr. President. Or, maybe you are using the Senegalese water, instead of gas, to fuel your plane! That probably explained the shortage of water in Senegal, not to mention the shortage of rice, electricity, oil, and cooking gas.
    You spent most of your time touring the world, while the Senegalese are deeply suffering.
    You spend tax payers’ money creating irrelevant institutions so that you can satisfy your political clienteles, while the youth who lost hope are risking their life by taking the death boat from the Shore of Senegal to sunny Barcelona. Many of them are starkly aware that the final destination is seeing death in the middle of the ocean, rather than the light of hope in Spain.
    I just read your brilliant article in the Chicago Tribune, “The New Approach on Africa.”
    Mr. President, it’s quite surprising that the name of your country does not appear even once in the whole article. This confirms my suspicion, Mr. President that the article itself is but a diversion. You are the last person to talk about environmental issues.
    There is no adequate sewage system in Senegal. It takes a mere two drops of water for certain areas to be flooded and quickly become a safe-haven for mosquitoes to breed and spread malaria. Pollution of the environment is a real issue in Senegal: an emission test for motorists is just a drive-by visit. You forbid cars more than 5 years old to enter the country, while you allow cars at least 20 years old to operate. What a shock!
    Waste disposal in the city is of enormous concern, especially the plastic bags strewn destructively all over the city and polluting both water and soil. Although there are environmental regulations, they are not enacted — leaving industries to pollute the atmosphere with the emission of gas causing breathing problems to healthy people.
    Mr. President, we cannot be silent anymore, we must speak. Otherwise, another generation will be sacrificed. Have you forgotten that freedom of speech is at the same time a constitutional and a fundamental right in every democracy worthy of its name? Recently, just to speak about the most recent events, two journalists, Kambel Dieng and Karamokho Thioune, respectively the head of RFM Sport and West Africa Democracy Radio were brutalized while doing their job. The perpetrators were not identified, therefore not punished. Translated into real life, persons can get away with crime in Senegal without facing any prosecution. Another journalist, Latif Coulibaly, was dragged to court for revealing the looting of the national lottery by Baila Wane. Thus, in Senegal, there seem to be two systems of justice: one which serves and protects the government, and another which punishes any dissident voices.
    Mr. President, we can no longer be neutral, either – because, as Dante Alighieri voiced it so well in these oft-cited prophetic words, “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises maintain their neutrality”.

    Badara Diakhate (Senegal)
    Chicago, Illinois.
    bdi525@hotmail.com
    Tel. (773) 931 - 7754

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NAJA, NAHJ and AAJA are holding elections this year.
Gay Journalists Aim For UNITY Alliance
After 14 years of participation, The National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association is not yet a UNITY partner.
Chapter Seeks AAJA Convention Bid For Detroit
The Michigan chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association is bidding to host the 2011 AAJA convention in Detroit.
AAJA Annual Auction Caters To High-End Bidders
AAJA will help make dreams of shopping and dinner dates come true.
Student Projects Focus On Convergence
For the first time, UNITY: Journalists of Color features a converged media-training project for college students.
Travel Plans Could Cost Candidates
Barack Obama, D-Ill., will appear before UNITY convention-goers Sunday, the last day of the gathering for minority journalists.
Weak Economy, Job Cuts Test UNITY
As the journalism industry grapples with job cuts, company sell-offs and a crippled U.S. economy, the revenue and registration numbers have dipped below those for the last UNITY convention.

UNITY News Radio

Photo Gallery

Fashion In Motion
 
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Video Gallery

UNITY on the Cheap
 
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Interview with Senegalese President
 
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Journalists Gone Wild-UNITY Style
Music, Dance, UNITY

Online Exclusives

Obama Addresses UNITY as Convention Draws to a Close
Sen. Barack Obama addressed thousands of journalists at a live forum on the final day of the UNITY convention in his first appearance since returning to the U.S. after a spending a week overseas.
Indian Image Offensive?
 
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UNITY Co-Founders Propose Conventions Every Other Year
Co-founders Juan Gonzalez and Will Sutton have proposed UNITY hold joint conventions every two years instead of every four.
Senegal President’s Speech Marred by Fight
A man protesting Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade was assaulted and physically removed from the McCormick Center West on Friday.
UNITY Revenue, Attendance Hold Steady
This year’s UNITY convention revenue and registration are not expected to significantly change compared with 2004 figures, according to UNITY officials.
NAHJ Event Delivered Royal Networking Experience
The air was filled with bustling conversation, bumping music and the aromas of exotic North African cuisine — a feast for the senses.
Persistence Pays Off In Finding Mentors, TV Journalists Say
Finding a mentor could mean the difference between small-market confinement and network glory, NBC panelists said.
ESPN Panel Says Journalists Should Be Versatile
Journalists making the transition from print to multimedia need to keep basic reporting skills central to the story, panelists said.
Opening Ceremony Showcases Variety Within UNITY
Among the vibrant costumes and sacred dancing, Wednesday’s opening ceremony was deeply rooted in important reminders about the craft of journalism.
Looking For Free Shuttle? Check Out The Schedule
Complimentary shuttle service is provided between McCormick Place West and the hotels listed below. Shuttle departs convention center on the hour and half-hour.
Massive Conference, Massive Effort
Planning a convention this big was no easy task.

Blog

Mentors Make Convergence Project Worthwhile
Does the ideal newsroom exist? It does once every four years in a selected city in the United States. It includes hungry reporters and photographers, video editors, producers and camera people for print, web, radio and TV from all over the nation. You name it, we’ve got it. The UNITY News, that is our name, convergence and diversity is our game.
Top Five Things to Do
If you’re like me, you’re a little sad that the UNITY convention is coming to a close. On the bright side, you still have Saturday to make the most of your trip.
AP, The New York Times And Wal-Mart?
There are a few names you might not expect to see when you turn the corner at the career expo, such as Amtrak, World Wrestling Entertainment and Wal-Mart.
Calling All Freelancers! (And Those Who Want to Start)
Freelancing can be a lucrative and stable source of income – if you know the tricks of the trade. The workshop called, “Stepchild No more: Becoming a Successful Freelancer," reveals those tricks and much more.
The Ups, Downs of Reaching Out To Bloggers
It’s not often reporters see their stories printed on the back of a T-shirt. But for Howard Witt, the southwest bureau chief of the Chicago Tribune, this was his reality when protesters during a civil rights protest wore "Free the Jena Six" T-shirts featuring his story printed on the back.
Top Five Tips For UNITY Newcomers
Being the new kid on the block can be hard. Here are some tips that will get UNITY newcomers through the action-packed convention.
Looking For Free Shuttle? Check Out The Schedule
Complimentary shuttle service is provided between McCormick Place West and the hotels listed below. Shuttle departs convention center on the hour and half-hour.
On the Beat
Student media project reporters are out getting the latest updates on UNITY 2008.
Getting From “Good” to “Great”
The room looks familiar. I've been here before. Skilled technicians and hard-working journalists have turned a McCormick Convention Center into a newsroom with white-clothed tables weighed with dozens of computers and the hopes of students who want to do what I do, what my colleagues do, for a living: report the news.
‘This Conference Isn’t a Big Deal’
As far as the number of participants who are concerned with security, UNITY "isn’t a big deal," says assistant director of McCormick Place, Fred Simon. Past events, which included such famous names as Sen. Barack Obama and former presidents, have had much more attendees at McCormick than what’s expected at UNITY.