Conference affirms role of community radio in human development

The World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) Asia-Pacific concluded its 5th Regional Conference and Assembly — held in Bangkok, Thailand from 27-30 September 2023 — by electing a Board of Directors for the next term.

The newly elected Board is led by Dr. Ramnath Bhat (India) as its President. The other members are Supinya Klangnarong (Thailand) Deputy President; Raymund Villanueva (Philippines) Treasurer; Arti Jaiman (India) Representative, Women International Network; Subas Khatiwada (Nepal) Vice President, South Asia; Sinam Mitro Sutarno, (Indonesia) Vice President, Southeast Asia; Asuka Hashizume (Japan) Vice President, East Asia; and Shane Gregory Elson (Australia) Vice President, Pacific. The newly elected Board of Directors will serve for the next four years.

The 5th AMARC Asia-Pacific Regional Conference has reiterated the significant role played by community radios in furthering human development and the expression of and support for human rights.

Endorsing the Bangkok Declaration , community radios of the Asia-Pacific region have resolved to deepen interactions with regional inter-governmental bodies, donor organizations and supporters, national associations, and United Nations organizations, to develop strategies, programs, and training opportunities for community radio stations to be better equipped to serve local communities. Community radios have reaffirmed commitment to participating in disaster planning, mitigation, response, and recovery.

Calling on the governments of the Asia-Pacific region to recognize the vital role community broadcasting plays in developing a vibrant, responsive, and democratic society and to create a regulatory and legislative environment that supports the stable operation, growth and sustainability of community radio, the Regional Conference has highlighted the commitment of community broadcasters towards the promotion of the rights of indigenous peoples to establish their own community radio stations in their own languages and have access to non-indigenous community radio without discrimination.

Members of AMARC have renewed their commitment towards creating spaces on the airwaves for peasants, workers, fisher folk, refugees, displaced people, and asylum seekers, the stateless, the trafficked and diverse and marginalized voices, irrespective of cultural, ethnic, religious, social, class, caste, disability, gender or sexual or political identification or age. While reasserting the role of community broadcasting in countering disinformation for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, the Regional Conference unequivocally denounced all forms of sexual and gender-based violence, particularly during times of conflict from the domestic sphere to war that is waged on the bodies of women and minorities.

Earlier, the 5th AMARC Asia-Pacific Regional released the ‘State of Community Radio in Asia-Pacific Report, 2023 .’ The first of its kind regional report presents an overall picture of the state of community broadcasting in the Asia-Pacific region based on information collected through comprehensive surveys and interviews conducted across several countries of the region.

The Regional Conference was participated by 152 members representing fifteen countries of Asia-Pacific as well as Africa, Europe, and North America. Altogether twenty-five workshops and strategic meetings were held in the Regional Conference. Topics covered ranged from digital transformation of community broadcasting to setting up online stations, tackling fake news to effective content creation on social media for social cause, indigenous broadcasting to gender relationships and intersectionality, broadcasters’ safety to climate change adaptation to Rebuilding Global Movement of Community Broadcasting. AMARC Asia-Pacific has thanked its members, donors, and partner organizations for their support for organizing the 5th AMARC Asia-Pacific Regional Conference of Community Radios.

Asia Pacific community broadcasters demand Frenchie Mae Cumpio’s freedom

Kodao’s Villanueva elected to media group’s regional board

Community broadcasters in the Asia Pacific region called on the Philippine government to drop its prosecution against Filipino colleague Frenchie Mae Cumpio, calling charges against her “trumped-up.”

In its Bangkok Declaration, the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters-Asia Pacific (French: Association Mondiale Des Radiodiffuseurs Communautaires,AMARC-AP) further said the Philippine government must release Cumpio from her “unjust imprisonment” of more than three years.

“We are resolved to call on the Republic of the Philippines to drop all trumped-up charges against our young colleague Frenchie Mae Cumpio and immediately release her from unjust imprisonment,” AMARC-AP said.

READ: AMARC condemns the arrest of broadcaster Frenchie Mae Cumpio of the Philippines

AMARC-AP has previously denounced Cumpio’s arrest on February 7, 2020 on allegations of illegal possession of firearms and explosives and has called on the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression Irene Khan to investigate when she officially visits the Philippines next January.

READ: AMARC Asia-Pacific Demands Immediate Release of Elena “Lina” Tijamo and Frenchie Mae Cumpio of the Philippines

Other international media organizations, such as the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Association of Women in Radio and Television have also reported about Cumpio’s arrest and ongoing trial.

Cumpio was an active broadcaster of Aksyon Radyo-Tacloban DYVL 819 KHz and was training to become station manager of the prospective disaster preparedness station Radyo Tacloban when arrested.

She was also executive director and editor of alternative media outfit Eastern Vista after her stint as a campus journalist with the University of the Philippines (UP)-Tacloban student publication UP Vista.

Cumpio was only 20 years old upon arrest.

Altermidya poster of its Free Frenchie Mae Cumpio campaign.

‘Stop red-tagging independent media’

Attended by 153 delegates from 15 Asia Pacific countries at Thailand’s Thammasat University, the 5th Regional Assembly of the region’s biggest media group likewise urged the Philippine government to resolve violations on press freedom in the Philippines.

“We likewise urge the Philippine government to bring justice to all victims of media killings as well as stop its red-tagging activities and other forms of persecution against independent media to allow them, including community broadcasting, to exist and operate freely,” its declaration said.

The declaration was unanimously adopted last October 30, three days before the first death anniversary of broadcaster Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa, the second media killing victim under the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. administration.

The AMARC-AP assembly also unanimously voted Kodao reporter and People’s Alternative Media Network chairperson Raymund Villanueva as member of the group’s regional board.

Villanueva shall serve as treasurer and AMARC-AP regional executive committee member in the next four years. #