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photog arrested in zimbabwe-let's try to get him out

hi all, i’m a bit presssed for time so didn’t have the chance to look into this further but read a report in the iht this mornig about a photographer who was arrested in zimbabwe, at the moment can’t fin it online, think it was an ap report…..sorry to be so incomplete but i’m on the move, regardless wanted to post this little bit from voa,

An American photographer was arrested in the city of Mutare Monday, for taking pictures of the destruction without government permission.

sorry to be so breif i’m really pressed for time, but perhaps someone can look into this, and maybe we can use lightstalkers to start a petition, something to raise awareness and get this guy out of jail…..

by [a former member] at 2005-06-02 06:41:29 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) some bar, nyc , United States | Bookmark | | Report spam→

UN Says Thousands Homeless After Zimbabwe Crackdown
By VOA News
Washington
31 May 2005

Monday, the UN humanitarian affairs office said many of those whose homes were razed or burned are now sleeping outdoors.

Meanwhile, at least 17-thousand people have been arrested for running unlicensed businesses from makeshift kiosks. An American photographer was arrested in the city of Mutare Monday, for taking pictures of the destruction without government permission.

Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe has praised the crackdown begun earlier this month, saying it will lead to a better urban environment.

But the political opposition has filed suit to stop the demolitions. Religious leaders have accused the government of waging “war against the poor.”

Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AP and AFP.

by [former member] | 02 Jun 2005 06:06 | New Delhi, India | | Report spam→
I’m not sure if this is the same incident:

http://cpj.org/news/2005/Zim19may05na.html

by teru kuwayama | 02 Jun 2005 07:06 | brooklyn, United States | | Report spam→
Its not the same incident, but journos are getting a hard time in Zimbabwe all the time…the BBC and Guardian reporters were kicked out of the country, and recently a British journo and photographer were arrested and detained.

The worrying problem is that we don’t have the photographers name, which can make finding their wherabouts, physical condition and what offence they’ve been charged with difficult.

If we can get a name, along with any newspaper or organisation the photographer belonged to, that can get the ball rolling.

Some European organisations like Reporters Sans Frontieres, the International Federation of Journalists and the National Union of Journalists here in the UK can make aproaches on the photographer’s behalf if we can get a name. Perhaps the NPPA might also be able to help.

The UK doesn’t have diplomatic relations with Zimbabwe, not sure if the US has…if relations are poor it sometimes means diplomatic approaches are of limited usefulness, although always worth a try.

If anyone gets any more info, let me know.

It’s important for lots of reasons to kick up an almighty stink when this happens. In London some photographers (including myself) picketed the U.S. Embassy about an Iraqi freelance photographer thrown into Abu Ghreib.

Don’t know if it had any effect but the guy was released…

Regards,

Sion Touhig.

by [former member] | 02 Jun 2005 08:06 (ed. Jun 2 2005) | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Hi Sion, Scott, Jake
I’m talking to Shinji, he can hook up a web-based petition.
obviously we need more information on this case, and we should coordinate with CPJ, RSF, etc.
I’ve fowarded this thread to a LS member who works at Amnesty International, and used to work at CPJ. Hopefully she’ll have some guidance.
If anyone else out there has info, ideas, or contacts, let’s hear them.

I just came home to NYC, after spending a week as a “guest of the state” in Tajikistan, so I am feeling especially sympathetic on this one.
For the detained, external pressure is critical to getting released.

LS currently has 1500 registered members, and another 1500 visitors a day, so maybe we can use those numbers.

let’s keep this thread real active.

by teru kuwayama | 02 Jun 2005 14:06 (ed. Jun 2 2005) | brooklyn, United States | | Report spam→
Hey, just to chime in — yeah, PetitionOnline.com would do the trick. We just need a letter/statement. I’m not best-suited to write one – Teru, you have any direction on that?

by Shinji Kuwayama | 02 Jun 2005 15:06 | Chicago, United States | | Report spam→
I think this is the name you’re looking for
Howard Smith Gillman
He was arrested for not having a journalist’s license.

Here is the website:
http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/paperchase/2005/05/international-brief-ethiopia.php

It’s under the ZimOnline section.

by Brian L. Hartley | 02 Jun 2005 23:06 | Guantanamo, Cuba | | Report spam→
No- don’t think that is him- just got this article posted in Jan. 2005

“Harare – An American man was convicted on Wednesday of violating Zimbabwe’s censorship and immigration laws after he was arrested while filming police demolishing shacks during a crackdown, state radio said.

The man, identified by the radio as Howard Smith Gilman, 68, was the only foreigner among nearly 23 000 people arrested in a continuing crackdown on street vendors and people living in shacks in informal settlements around the country.

The US embassy said diplomats were investigating the radio report, but could not comment because of US privacy laws.

The broadcast said Gilman, who was arrested on Friday while filming the destruction of 9 000 shacks and kiosks in a Mutare township, would be sentenced on Thursday.

The report made no mention of earlier charges against Gilman of violating the country’ strict media laws that make it an offence to practice journalism without a license.

The Immigration Act violation carries a maximum one year penalty and the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act offence three years."

by [former member] | 03 Jun 2005 00:06 | New Delhi, India | | Report spam→
i’ve looked all over the place and nothings coming up, just the voa story. checked the wires and nothing as well which is strange since i’m pretty sure it was a wire report…..if anyone has a copy of thurdsday’s iht take a look the story will be there….

by [former member] | 03 Jun 2005 04:06 | some bar, nyc, United States | | Report spam→
I’ve just sent a message to some people in the UK National Union of Journalists (which is also affiliated to the International Federation of Journalists) to see if they can dig anything up.

I also couldn’t help but notice (and I really don’t mean anything personal in this) that one of the LS postings concerning the guy’s arrest and detention came from Guantanamo, Cuba…life is full of ironies I guess.

by [former member] | 03 Jun 2005 05:06 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Hi all,
as of yesterday, one of the LS crew at the NYT said that this story was being treated as an as-yet unconfirmed rumor. There also seems to be some confusion because it sounds like there may be two similar cases — one with a video journalist and one with a still photographer? Details are obviously sketchy here. I can ask some people at the US State Dept, but generally, there’s confidentiality protocol that may not allow them to discuss the case. One thing for everyone to consider in future travel, is that when you are on the road in sketchy places, you should think about registering with the US State Department (you can do this easily, on-line at www.travel.state.gov). This can help a lot in cases just like this, and also in the event of evacuations. For other nationalities, I imagine there’s a similar set up.

as for the post from Guantanamo, it’s from a photographer in the US Marine Corps. I was imbedded with his company in Afghanistan, and introduced him to LS. (Brian, like the new gallery, btw)

by teru kuwayama | 03 Jun 2005 05:06 (ed. Jun 3 2005) | brooklyn, United States | | Report spam→
hi—scott the article you posted was the correct one, i think perhaps you read 1/6/05 and thought that 1 meant january when it really meant the first of june.
here’s the article i found and it’s identicval to the one you posted, it shows up on google as being posted on the first:

http://www.news24.com/News24/Africa/Zimbabwe/0,6119,2-11-1662_1714840,00.html

if this report is true then Howard Smith Gilman is in jail and possibly tehre for four years, so let’s try to do a little bit more digging to make sure that this is true. if he is locked up then we should start a campaign to have it known what’s happening and hopefully get him out…..

by [former member] | 03 Jun 2005 06:06 | rome, Italy | | Report spam→
It seems like there is some question as to whether or not Gilman is a journalist or not, and that would effect whether or not CPJ or UK National Union of Journalists will take up his case. Often in cases like this, it gets grey on whether or not the accused/detained are journalists, political activists, or something else. The US State Department is investigating, but as per privacy laws, not commenting.

here’s some wire reports:

Agence France Presse — English

May 30, 2005 Monday 3:56 PM GMT

LENGTH: 529 words

HEADLINE: Zimbabweans lament ‘tsunami’ police clean up drive

BYLINE: Susan Njanji

DATELINE: HARARE May 30

BODY:
The oldest, most populous township in Zimbabwe’s capital was filled with debris Monday as police pressed on with a highly unpopular drive to clean up Harare, while resident complained they were hit by a “tsunami.”

The teeming streets of Mbare were littered with goods and furniture as smoke from burning rubble filled the air and shellshocked residents wandered around trying to resume their lives.

“A tsunami has hit us, a real tsunami,” said a hawker, sitting on top of his pile of cane baskets and chairs, pondering his next move.

“I don’t even have anywhere to sleep as we speak. My furniture is by the roadside. I took it out for fear the police will come and torch my house,” Judah Katurura said, referring to a makeshift room he rents a kilometre from the market.

For a week and a half Zimbabwean police have gone on the rampage in and around Harare, demolishing and flattening tens of thousands of illegally built houses and market stalls and torching some of them.

The move sparked mini riots in two working class Harare shantytowns last week but were quelled by heavily armed security forces.

Vegetable growers were also badly hit by Monday’s police action in Mbare.

“I am returning to Guruve (about 200 kilometres — 125 miles — north of Harare) with my vegetables and they are just going to rot. All my customers are here,” a vendor said driving away with a half-full truck of fruit and vegetables.

Most vendors at the capital’s Siyaso (loosely translated ‘leave it as is’) and Mupedzanhamo (end poverty) markets where one could buy literally anything from used clothes, car parts to coffins were packing their wares.

“Yes we appreciate the need to clean up, but government allowed us to operate like this for too long. It had become the way of life for many of us,” said Mandy Chitendza carrying a bagful of goods.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, which is urging Zimbabweans to “mobilise” against President Robert Mugabe’s government over the controversial clean-up campaign, says more than half of Zimbabwe’s economy depends on the informal sector comprising some three million entrepreneurs.

Many people have started demolishing backyard shacks and makeshift houses in a bid to salvage some building materials before bulldozers come in to raze the shanties, forcing their former tenants to camp on the roadside.

Police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka however said most people were complying with their orders although some 1,000 people had been arrested in the capital over the weekend.

“But the operation is going on well. There are no hurdles at all and it’s quite calm,” said Mandipaka of the operation that has raised the ire of rights bodies and the opposition.

Meantime state radio reported that police arrested an American found filming the crackdown on illegal structures and businesses.

Howard Smith Gilman was reportedly arrested for flouting the media law by operating as journalist without accreditation.

He is also to face charges under immigration laws as he had overstayed his visa and censorship act after police said they found pornographic material at his house where he allegedly stayed with 13 young girls aged between 11 and 15 years.

LOAD-DATE: May 31, 2005

Agence France Presse — English

June 1, 2005 Wednesday 3:16 PM GMT

LENGTH: 174 words

HEADLINE: American convicted of breaching Zimbabwe’s immigration and censorship laws

DATELINE: HARARE June 1

BODY:
An American found filming the ongoing crackdown on illegal structures and businesses across Zimbabwe has been convicted of breaching the country’s immigration and censorship laws, state radio reported Wednesday.

“Howard Smith Gillman who was facing charges of contravening immigration and censorship acts, has been convicted,” state radio said.

“Mutare magistrate Lucy Mungwaru remanded in custody to tomorrow (Thursday) for his sentence.”

Gillman was reportedly arrested on Monday for flouting the media law by operating as journalist without accreditation.

He was also charged under immigration laws as he had overstayed his visa and censorship act after police said they found pornographic material at his house.

Bands of armed police have gone on the rampage in the last two weeks in major towns across Zimbabwe, demolishing and torching backyard shacks and makeshift shop stalls in a crackdown that has attracted widespread condemnation.

The exercise has left thousands destitute and homeless and led to the arrest of some 22,000 people in Harare.

LOAD-DATE: June 2, 2005

Copyright 2005 Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

June 1, 2005 Wednesday

SECTION: INTERNATIONAL NEWS

DISTRIBUTION: Europe; Britian; Scandinavia; Middle East; Africa; India; Asia; England

LENGTH: 172 words

HEADLINE: American convicted of Zimbabwe censorship, immigration offenses, radio says

DATELINE: HARARE, Zimbabwe

BODY:
An American man was convicted on Wednesday of violating Zimbabwe’s censorship and immigration laws after he was arrested while filming police demolishing shacks during a crackdown, state radio said.

The man, identified by the radio as Howard Smith Gilman, 68, was the only foreigner among nearly 23,000 people arrested in a continuing crackdown on street vendors and people living in shacks in informal settlements around the country.

The U.S. Embassy said diplomats were investigating the radio report but could not comment because of U.S. privacy laws.

The broadcast said Gilman, who was arrested Friday while filming the destruction of 9,000 shacks and kiosks in a Mutare township, will be sentenced Thursday.

The report made no mention of earlier charges against Gilman of violating the country’ strict media laws that make it an offense to practice journalism without a license.

The Immigration Act violation carries a maximum one year penalty and the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act offense three years.

by teru kuwayama | 03 Jun 2005 14:06 (ed. Jun 3 2005) | brooklyn, United States | | Report spam→
Hmm…curioser and curiouser.

Things seem to be taking a strange and somewhat murkier tone in the more recent reports. Before anything effective can be done, we really should find out what the score is.

According to the reports posted, the guy may or may not be a journalist, and may even be facing additional charges

“after police said they found pornographic material at his house where he allegedly stayed with 13 young girls aged between 11 and 15 years.”

Now, the guy might have been running a charity (like a hostel for street kids or something) or he might be a sex tourist – who the hell knows at this point?

Speaking in a personal capacity, if it turns out the bloke is a sex tourist, well…my sympathy level for his plight would be somewhat reduced to say the least.

It’s obviously complicated, but just because the chap was behaving like a journalist in the eyes of the Zimbabwean authorities, doesn’t necessarily make him one.

That doesn’t mean we should therefore let the guy go hang, but until we know what the story is, there’s very little any journalism entity like the NUJ can do.

by [former member] | 04 Jun 2005 03:06 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Here is something I just found on him from:

[http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/6/2/234538/8184]

Well, after a bit of investigation, here are the facts as far as I could find them.

Howard Gilman is not a journalist. He is a 68 year old teacher of geography, a resident of Gaithersburg, MD., and a member of the Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church in Washington, DC. The church is quite involved with the mission in Mutare and with Africa University, an 800-student college there. When an opportunity to teach at the College arose, Mr. Gilman became a member of the faculty of the school in the fall of 2000.

Howard loved the natural beauty of Zimbabwe, but most of all, he loved the people. You can see that clearly in his 2001 essay, entitled “I had no idea what God had in store for me in Zimbabwe”, here.
The people of Africa, especially those outside the city who work the land and live in the villages, are to be admired. Over the past 30 years, they have suffered unbearably yet their attitudes remain positive and they are ready to laugh and smile on just about any pretext. They are genuine. I came to teach them, but they are teaching me.

But Howard was also devastated by the poverty and injustice that he saw around him, which is apparent when you read his reviews at Amazon. He also became the in-country representative of the Fairfield Orphanage Sponsorship Association. Orphanages in Zimbabwe have become swamped as a result of poverty and an AIDS death rate that is perhaps the highest in the world.

In November, 2000, Howard’s younger brother, Dick, visited him in Mutare for the first time. Dick was married and lived in Torrington, Conn., with his wife; they’d never had any children. He had left a lucrative banking career to teach middle school and start a computer business. Dick loved hiking, and set off into the Zimbabwean bush with his backpack once he got there. In the brush, he stumbled upon the primitive conditions of at an isolated local school, Vumbunu Primary. The plight of the malnourished students crowded into poor classrooms without electricity touched Dick’s heart. Howard and Dick set upon a plan to “adopt” the school, and Dick went back to Torrington determined to raise money. Together, they privately supplied the school with books for its library, uniforms, shoes, and other items.

Dick returned to Zimbabwe for the third time in November 2002, to finalize a program that would provide food to the 840 students. On November 10, a few hours after drawing up the contracts, Dick Gilman was shot and left to bleed to death when he returned to a police checkpoint to retrieve some paperwork. The official government line was that Richard Gilman was shot when he argued with border police and attempted to run away at a high rate of speed.

In August of 2003, an African magistrate investigating the death stated that it was the “result of grave errors” on the part of the border police at the roadblock, but no charges were filed against them. The Department of State pursued it no further.

Howard Gilman stayed teaching in Mutare after his brother’s death, teaching at Africa College, continuing the humanitarian work among the people that they’d come to care for.

Then this week, Howard Gilman went out to videotape the destruction of the homes and stalls of the residents of Mutare. Six miles of their homes and small shop stalls were being torched by Mugabe’s blackboots.

Thousands were arrested. Howard Gilman was one of them: arrested for taking videos.

On Wednesday, he was convicted of violating Zimbabwe’s censorship and immigration laws. The Zimbabwean police accuse him of "flouting the media law by operating as journalist without accreditation. Police said they have found pornographic material at his house “where he allegedly stayed with 13 young girls aged between 11 and 15 years”.

There has not been a single mention of this in any American media. There has been no statement or acknowledgement of the incident from the Department of State.

I don’t know Howard Gilman. He is no relation of mine. But he is a fellow citizen attempting to do good work in an age when most Americans would not be bothered. And his country has abandoned him.

When Rachel Corrie was crushed by a bulldozer, she could be portrayed by the Right as a young hothead who was supporting “terrorists”, who was stupid enough to get in the way of earth-moving machinery, and who essentially deserved whatever she got.

But Howard Gilman’s story seems to be one that even Fox could pay attention to. He is a 68-year-old geography teacher working for a Methodist university, who was only documenting the sufferings of the people that he cared for. He has already lost his younger brother, who was murdered by Mugabe’s military gangs. There is no reason why his plight should be ignored.

Mugabe has just agreed today to “accept” international food aid, on the same day that South African President Thabo Mbeki met with Bush at the White House to discuss Zimbabwe and the upcoming G8 meeting. Couldn’t the President use this opportunity to ameliorate the plight of one of his citizens unjustly arrested and tried?

Why isn’t the press all over this?
And why is the White House bowing to the Mugabe regime?

Please email the State Department at http://contact-us.state.gov/ask_form_cat/ask_form_secretary.html and ask the Secretary to pursue this.

In addition, please write or call any news organizations that you believe to be responsive.

If enought people enquire, perhaps this man’s life can be spared. “I had no idea what God had in store for me in Zimbabwe,” wrote Gilman. No, he couldn’t have foreseen all this tragedy.

by [former member] | 04 Jun 2005 03:06 (ed. Jun 4 2005) | New Delhi, India | | Report spam→
Ok, sounds like a case for Amnesty International. I’ve just sent them a mail and will follow it up on Monday.

Here’s a link to the staff of the Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church in Washington.

http://www.metropolitanumc.org/Staff/index.asp

Perhaps the thing to do first is to send a respectful group e-mail to Bishop James K. Mathews and his staff at the Church, asking if they’ve heard of the plight of one of their parishoners, and if thay have any plans to issue a press release or launch some kind of campaign for his release.

The United Methodist Church has a news service

http://www.umc.org/interior.asp?ptid=2&mid=156

which ran the story on the killing of Howard Gilman’s brother Richard here:

http://www.umc.org/umns/news_archive2002.asp?ptid=&story={5EA4E414-62CA-48F6-8AC1-698C68AEFCB4}&mid=2399

So no doubt they would want to highlight his case.

On the journalism front, bearing in mind Howard Gilman is not a journalist, but felt the need to record what he saw as obvious human rights violations in Zimbabwe, he should be given the benefit of the doubt on this one, so I’ll be contacting the NUJ again on Monday.

by [former member] | 04 Jun 2005 05:06 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
sion, i agree with you,it is murky but all in all i think this is something that deserves to be pursued, ie give the guy benifit of the doubt and if he was up to other things re the porn and kids let that be sorted out. the fact is that he was arrested for doccumenting the situation and regardless of wheter he is a professinal at it he was, by all acocunts, trying to have to world to know. so if a goup mail is tobe sent to mathews then i’m in, if you could add my name it it i’d appreciet it as i’m off to africa and not sure how much i’ll be online. thanks,
j

by [former member] | 04 Jun 2005 09:06 | rome, Italy | | Report spam→
Sion — sounds like you are on lead with this.

Jake, “off to africa” is no excuse, and you’re not off the hook. Being as you started this thread, and want it pursued, I expect you can find an internet cafe in Nairobi. Consider yourself lucky if you are not dispatched to Zimbabwe to sort this all out in person.

Brian, have a chat with the 160th, see if you can get the keys for a blackhawk. Jake may be fast-roping into Harare.

In seriousness, regardless of the details or outcome of this particular case, we can expect to deal with this sort of situation again, and we should think about setting up a “response protocol”. Members of LS are in a fairly regular habit of getting themselves detained, arrested, and abducted, so given our numbers and connections, let’s set up a system to help each other out. Obviously, there are already a lot of advocacy groups out there — CPJ, RSF, IFJ, UK NUJ have all been mentioned, so we don’t have to re-invent the wheel here.

A first step is to open channels to these groups, and to ask them how we can be of assistance, and to set up direct contacts with their people so we’re good to go in the future — as I said before, I think our most obvious contribution might be our ability to deliver a sort of “bloc vote” of thousands of signatures, etc.

Sion, it sounds like you are already making contact with some of these groups, so do keep us posted.
Scott, any thoughts?

T

by teru kuwayama | 04 Jun 2005 11:06 | brooklyn, United States | | Report spam→
Members of the press should work through the State Department’s Press Office in Washington, D.C. at: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ , or through U.S. embassies overseas, to contact the Secretary.

I have emailed the State Dept urging them to investigate this matter thoroughly, and immediately.

If 1000 of us do the same, then I feel it may really help get something going.

Im working on the innocent until proven guilty theory in relation to the porno/young girls claims.

by [former member] | 04 Jun 2005 12:06 | Chicago, IL, United States | | Report spam→
in other news, the girl who is missing from Aruba is ALL over the news, and I think this is partially because the girls mother has been making a lot of noise in the media. The US sent 3 FBI agents, and then 10 more upon her making even more public requests for more action by the US.

So, those who scream loudest, and most publicly, get results.

On the other hand, she is not accused of sex crimes against children sooo who knows if our screaming will make any visible difference.

Perhaps the State Dept is already on this, just not making it public for PR reasons.

Either way, I think this should not prevent the urging of an investigation. Dirty state controlled media can make any allegations it wants against any of us.

by [former member] | 04 Jun 2005 12:06 | Chicago, IL, United States | | Report spam→
I’ve been trying to contact Judy Ahlschwede, who runs the Fairfield Orphanage Sponsorship Association. This is the charity that runs the orphanage in Zimbabwe in which Howard Gilman is listed as working.

She’s based in Indiana, and is not picking up the phone at present, but I’ll try later and also call her office on Monday.

I’m assuming she’ll be able to shed more light on this affair before we progress further. Unfortunately it’s the weekend so anybody we approach isn’t going to be able to do or say much till Monday.

I had a brief look at the Indianapolis Star and the Baltimore Sun (Gilman comes from MD) and there’s nothing.

I’m still working on the letter to the Bishop.

by [former member] | 04 Jun 2005 12:06 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Hi Michael -
I meant to make this point before -
the US Dept of State has a privacy policy whereby they do not comment publicly on these cases — this does not mean they are not actively at work. When I was held in Tajikistan, the US Embassy was not able to inform my family, as per privacy policy, but they were extremely involved — ultimately, they sent armored landcruisers and officers and special agents from the Army, Embassy, and State Department to get us out.

But you are totally right — external pressure and attention is key, and being charged and convicted does not necessarily equal guilt, especially in Zimbabwe. It would be good to have some more backround on this particular case though, and hopefully Sion will have an update from NUJ on monday.

by teru kuwayama | 04 Jun 2005 12:06 | brooklyn, United States | | Report spam→
Here’s the e-mail to send to the Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church.

Their Senior Minister of Preaching & Pastoral Leadership is the Rev. Dr. Frank Trotter, so I have addressed the letter to him. His e-mail address is:

ftrotter@mmumc-dc.org

If people want to have their name added to the signees, just drop a line here and I can add your name to the list…but I’ll wait till Monday morning (DC time) before I send it, because I think we should get some clarification about his case before we do anything further.

Please feel free to come up with any suggestions about the mail by the way…my grammar ain’t too hot.


Rev. Dr Frank Trotter,

Senior Minister of Preaching & Pastoral Leadership,
Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church,
Washington D.C.

Dear Rev. Dr. Frank Trotter,

We are writing to bring to your attention the plight of Howard Gilman, a 68 year old resident of Gaithersburg, MD, a member of the Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church who works at the Fairfield Orphanage in Mutare, Zimbabwe.

Mr Gilman was arrested in Mutare on Wednesday after videotaping the destructive aftermath of a brutal state crackdown on shanty-town dwellers across Zimbabwe.

In the last 2 weeks this has led to an estimated 22,000 arrests, of which Mr Gilman’s was one – arrested initially under press restriction laws while recording evidence of serious human rights abuses that have been internationally condemned but seldom reported.

Our organisation Lightstalkers

www.lightstalkers.com

is an informal internet forum for photographers and photojournalists with a Worldwide membership.

Howard Gilman’s story was brought to our attention by initial hazy press reports describing him as a photographer.

Assuming he was a colleague in need, we resolved to see what we could do to help.

Our realisation that he is not a photographer has not changed our resolve – especially in the light of further reports citing Mr Gilman’s selfless work in Zimbabwe, and the murder of his brother Richard by Zimbabwean police in 2003 while the brothers were engaged in a project to revitalise the impoverished Vumbunu Primary School in Mutare.

Our profession requires us to keep a close eye on the international news and we have been stunned and disturbed that Howard Gilman’s story has received virtually no coverage in the US or international media.

We are deeply worried that his arrest and incarceration will be ignored and passed over, and so we respectfully appeal to you to bring his case to the public’s attention.

We also hope that if Mr Gilman receives word of our concerns, it might give him a measure of comfort and support, while possibly providing some modest leverage to encourage his release from jail.

On Behalf of the Undersigned,

Sion Touhig (Photographer – London, United Kingdom)

by [former member] | 04 Jun 2005 13:06 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Teru,
You made a great point that we don’t need to re-invent the wheel… groups are already in place (CPJ, RSF, IFJ, UK NUJ)…
Maybe some select Lightstalkers can be made representatives (and choose one person… maybe someone with contacts already in place) who is always in contact with that organization… They will need to introduce themselves as the representative of photographers who are part of “Lightstalkers”, explain lightstalkers to them and if anyone of us gets into trouble that rep will call their contact at each

by [former member] | 05 Jun 2005 10:06 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
hi- teru and gary, yes i think this is a good way to proceed so i think it’s a good idea for anyone who has affiliations with cpj, rsf, ifj, etc to post it here so represtntive photogs gan get together and start reaching out. perhaps amongst the photographer orgs we should also concider the alcu (and their local offices in varying states) for domectic detentions, so that if any of us are picked up while covering a protest etc. we have a liason person to goto quickly. also, i’ve been thinking that it would be great to pull together some kind of freelancers defence fund, to that extent even if we can’t get at a lot of money together we can use our resources; so if anyone knows of laywers who would be interested on being on call during demos (or in general) that could be helpful since getting in touch with somene to advocate for youin those situatios can be difficult, on that front i have a friend who is a laywer and would most likely be intersted so i’ll drop him a line. shinji, perhaps we could add a legal affairs section to the post categories so that we could easily be able to find contact numbers for these orgs and lightstalker liasons? sion, i think the letter is well put and am wondering if ti might also be effective to send to the secretary of state if indeed he is still being held and depending on any further info we receive of who he is and his situation. checking over the secretary of state website there where a couple of options in reaching them:
http://contact-us.state.gov
on the contact page there’s an option to send a letter to rice, it looks fairly generic and is most likely read over by a bunch of people before it, if it ever does, reach her, but perhaps it’s worth a try? also i found a direct number to her office and numbers of those who work directly with her:

Office of the Secretary (S)
Secretary Condoleezza Rice 7th Floor 202-647-5291
Personal Assistant Laura E. Lineberry 7226 202-647-7098
Chief of Staff Brian Gunderson 7226 202-647-5548
Deputy Chief of Staff Ruth Elliott 7226 202-647-9572
Staff Assistant to Chief of Staff Sheila Dyson 7234A 202-647-5548
Senior Advisor James Wilkinson 7226 202-647-9572
Senior Advisor John Bellinger 7226 202-647-9572
Scheduling Linda Dewan 7226 202-647-5733
Executive Assistant Robert S. Beecroft 7226 202-647-9572
Special Assistant Leslie Hayden 7226 202-647-9573
Special Assistant Michael Singh 7226 202-647-6822

by [former member] | 06 Jun 2005 07:06 | rome, Italy | | Report spam→
One quick note for Sion’s letter, the web address is lightstalkers.org not .com.

I also wonder if it would be worth it to inform the people at MoveOnPAC just as a means of getting this information to many others that would be sypathetic to Gilman’s cause. They are constantly doing online petitions to deliver to polititians. It may not be what gets Gilman released, but it would be a way of spreading the word far and quickly to politicaly active people. I’ll take care of it if others think it’s a worthy idea.

by Mike Brown | 06 Jun 2005 08:06 | Memphis - USA, United States | | Report spam→
Hi everyone,

I just called Judy Ahlschwede, who runs the Fairfield Orphanage Sponsorship Association and she’s told me that indeed as Teru assumed, thre are various Gov’t and church approaches being made to the authorities in Zimbabwe, but those approaches are being done discreetly.

In order to facilitate those approaches and in respect to Judy I think we should stand down our activity for a while and see what transpires.

I’ve left a message with the Amnesty Int’l International Secretariat here in London about Howard Gilman just in case he ends up detained in Zimbabwe for a while, but Judy’s intial hope is that the current approaches will mean Howard can leave the country.

If that doesn’t happen, then I’m sure a wider campaign will take up his case at some point.

by [former member] | 06 Jun 2005 08:06 (ed. Jun 6 2005) | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
that all sounds good - however this particular case works out, it’s been good to see everyone get involved.
Creating an LS “legal dept” and designating regular members to liason with the advocacy groups sounds like a good idea -

It’s going to need an overall coordinator, otherwise, it’s going to end up being a lot of suggestions, and not a lot of organization.

If everyone is agreeable, I nominate Sion for this.

Gary’s idea of making a list of the press freedom organizations and sorting them to different LS representatives also makes sense, otherwise Sion’s going to end up spending a lot of time and money on international phone calls and time zone crossovers.
Perhaps Gary can liason with the US based groups, Sion with the European based groups, etc? Sion, as this spins out, you can tap other LS members to liason with groups in other regions, and maintain an oversight and communication with all parties.

by teru kuwayama | 07 Jun 2005 07:06 | brooklyn, United States | | Report spam→
I would be glad to be a contact for one of the groups, like CPJ, … but we will need to find some other people to pick up the others (Amnesty International, etc)… I have too much on my plate to do more than this at the moment…
I will contact CPJ this week and introduce myself and make the proper contacts…

by [former member] | 07 Jun 2005 07:06 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
cool, there’s a person in the africa department named Alexis Arieff who I spoke to once. She might be a good person to start with, since she has at least a vague idea what LS is.

Kavita Menon works at the London headquarters of Amnesty Int. She’s a member of LS. She’s not very active on LS, but might be able give some guidance there.

by teru kuwayama | 07 Jun 2005 08:06 (ed. Jun 7 2005) | brooklyn, United States | | Report spam→
Blimey, all I did was make a phonecall and I’ve turned into Perry Mason…

Many thanks for the vote of confidence Teru, but unfortunately the list of journalists and photographers getting into scrapes around the world is a long one, changing on a daily basis and far beyond the ability of a single person or even small group to keep track of – I think we should be leaving that to the existing press freedom organisations.

Amnesty Int’l for example is primarily for prisoners of conscience and not really for arrested journos per se, although there is some overlap in countries where the act of journalism itself is a risk to life and liberty.

There is however RSF, NUJ, IFJ, INSI, CPJ etc who cover these things realy well.

The same LS person won’t always be available to take on this job, or report to the same person in each organisation.

And as Howard Gilman’s story proved, establishing the real story isn’t always easy…doing something unilaterally isn’t always the best idea, if (in Howards case for example) things are happening behind the scenes.

I do however think there’s no reason why LS members shouldn’t look out for each other and kick up a fuss if any member (or any photographer or journo they know) gets thrown into a cell or gets a kicking.

This would simply require an alert message to be sent to LS by the member, or someone they know, with a brief situation-report if possible.

Then whoever is around at the time can go through a list of relevant organisations to make sure the detainee’s case is brought up.

We can get the list together and have it on the LS Resources page.

It doesn’t necessarily require established contact – I just called Amnesty and spoke to their Africa office.

I think the one thing we can learn from Howard’s plight is that a bunch of people willing to contact existing organisations and raise our voices in a collective and consistent way can help to get those organisations to pay attention.

If a petition helps, we can get one going, a letter to someone? We can do that and get a lot of signatories quickly.

For example, I didn’t know Teru was an honoured guest of the wonderfully hospitable Tajik authorites till he told us all when he came back…if we’d got a message when he was there we could have got together a petition and letter in 24hrs and contacted various press freedom orgs to keep an eye on things.

I could have jumped on the tube and handed the petition to the Tajik Embassy…or if I wasn’t around someone else could.

Another example – My partner covered the RNC protests in NY recently, and if she’d got thrown into the Little Gitmo holding pen with all the other protesters it would have been nice to know some NY based LS members might have been around able to give her a hand.

I think it’s the informal structure and obvious goodwill that exists here which gives LS it’s strength.

I’ll be happy to get some (mostly UK and European) press freedom organisation info and post it here later.

by [former member] | 07 Jun 2005 11:06 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Hi Sion — good points on all. some of this is what we were thinking with the data fields on the profiles for blood types, emergency contacts, etc. Basically having as much relevant info on hand, ready to go. (the reality being, that when and if you get your “one phone call” you may have to talk fast).

For this alert message to LS – is this in the form of a post on the boards?

At anyrate, a comprehensive list of the press freedom groups (and their websites and contact info) would be great to add to the resource listings. Who’s up for compiling this list?

by teru kuwayama | 08 Jun 2005 09:06 | brooklyn, United States | | Report spam→
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/14/opinion/14kristof.html?ex=1119412800&en=ef89f15d86292b2a&ei=5070&emc=eta1

by teru kuwayama | 14 Jun 2005 14:06 | brooklyn, United States | | Report spam→
btw, follow up on this:
Gilman was deported from Zimbabwe after ten days detention. He is back in the US.

http://www.umc.org/interior.asp?ptid=2&mid=8690

as for a list of press freedom organizations, or other useful contacts, we’’ve set up a blank template in the Resources section. Everyone is encouraged to enter any useful links or contact info they can think of.

by teru kuwayama | 27 Jun 2005 15:06 | brooklyn, United States | | Report spam→
Letting people who might mean harm to a photo journalist or reporter that there are groups of us who care and will make a situation messy is essential.

Good time to remember the two journalists from TIME and NY Times who are being tried in court and probably imprisoned for a long time for not giving up the names of their contacts in the US.

When the Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena was kidnapped in Iraq I was told that the captives were very impressed that the Italians had made a t-shirt promoting her release. I didn’t see the t shirt and don’t know exactly what it said. But her kidnappers being made aware that she was important to a lot of people may have helped keep her alive.

I am all for any support of journalists anywhere that may need support and help. It is true that the one phone call or the one message out is all one may get.

by Sherrlyn Borkgren | 27 Jun 2005 19:06 | Oregon, United States | | Report spam→
hey all… I spoke with a couple of really nice people over at CPJ… Introduced myself… told them what Lightstalkers was all about… And I told them I was going to be the liason between LS and CPJ… If any of our peeps gets into trouble contact me immediatley and I will contact the appropriate people at there… G.

by [former member] | 05 Jul 2005 20:07 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
part 2: this posting is old and most may be missing the info that has been posted so maybe we can start a permanent place on the intro page of the website that all can see and go to immediately if there is a problem… maybe call it the “Panic button” or something along that line… explaining what it is, why it’s there and who to contact incase of an emergency…

by [former member] | 05 Jul 2005 20:07 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
hi gary, good to hear you,
yes i agree, i think this is getting quite long and there’s a lot of info here that might be better used in its own place. it seems that from various postings, for example tim’s posting on photographing on public spaces that we’re talking a lot about legal issues so shinji, perhaps we could begin a section on the home page called legal? also, because postings can be of a long and varied nature i thought it would be a good thing to have a listing where the only info is of services, so in the listings section i posted a topic titled Legal Services, so, if anyone has services to add i think this would be a good place to do it.

by [former member] | 05 Jul 2005 23:07 | rome, Italy | | Report spam→
hi, online briefly, but I saw this article (from the alerts board).

http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=15513

Gary, and crew, anyone have more info? I’m just passng through islamabad for a day or so, not going to be much use for the next week or two. best all, T



by teru kuwayama | 12 Nov 2005 02:11 (ed. Nov 12 2005) | Islamabad, Pakistan | | Report spam→

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Participants

teru kuwayama, I/O teru kuwayama
I/O
New York , United States
Shinji Kuwayama, Software Engineer Shinji Kuwayama
Software Engineer
Chicago , United States ( ORD )
Brian L. Hartley, Photographer Brian L. Hartley
Photographer
Okinawa , Japan
Mike Brown, Photographer Mike Brown
Photographer
Memphis , United States
Sherrlyn Borkgren, Photographer Sherrlyn Borkgren
Photographer
Kuwait , Southern Sudan


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