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Rajan Datar | 11:38 UK time, Wednesday, 29 June 2011

This week's Over to You brings together two stories about freedom.

First, I speak to DiloramIbrahimova of the BBC's Central Asian Service about the detention of her colleague, Urunboy Usmanov in Tajikistan.

On 14 June Urunboy was detained by security services and accused of being a member of an extremist Islamic group - Hizbut-Tahrir - an accusation his colleagues and friends regard as absurd - indeed, Diloram talks in the programme about Urunboy's unfailing fairness in his reporting.

Despite appeals for his release from the BBC and the British and American embassies in Tajikistan at the time we recorded the programme Urunboy remained in detention, and a vigil to raise awareness of his situation had been held outside BBC Bush House.

Unlike some other Central Asian states, Tajikistan does have independent media, and Urunboy himself is also the editor of a newspaper.

But, as Diloram told me, his capture comes at a time when the Tajik government is clamping down heavily on press freedom. The country is ranked 115th out of 178 countries in the global press freedom index (Reporters Without Borders). Other central Asian countries rate far worse - Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan all fall within the bottom 20, and Diloram also told me of the fate of other journalists in the region accused of bias and bringing their countries into disrepute.

Our thoughts are with Urunboy and his family.

Freedom is also the theme in this week's second item.

With the BBC's annual Reith lectures approaching, I spoke to Sue Ellis, editor of the series about this year's theme - Securing Freedom - and just how they approached Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi to deliver the first two lectures.

Sue tells me about the trials of fixing up the lectures and how to record them in a state where foreign journalists are banned.

Aung Sang Suu Kyi has also spoken this week on how important the World Service has been to her whilst she was under house arrest, saying it was her friend and her contact with the outside world - though she does wish there was more music on the network now.

So as a regular listener she was aware of the weight attached to the Reith lectures, and was very flattered to be asked to deliver two - but does say how she wishes she had more time to prepare.

Also this week - but not on the theme of freedom - a number of your comments on problems listening to the World Service online in Europe (specifically in some areas of France and Italy).

The BBC team responsible identified the source of this problem and it has been resolved. They are working hard to ensure that listeners don't experience disruption again - but should that change, please do let us know.

As always keep your comments coming.

Rajan Datar is the presenter of Over To You.

Over To You is your chance to have your say about the BBC World Service and its programmes. Broadcast times can be found by clicking here.

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Send the team your feedback by email (overtoyou@bbc.co.uk), telephone (44 144 960 9000), SMS (447786 202006) or by leaving comments on this blog


  • Comment number 1.

    I work abroad for a multinational engineering firm and access the BBC world service both radio and TV for news and so on. In the past 5 to 10 years I have seen a marked blocking of the service and a slow but steady erosion of access to online, radio and TV. I cannot put a precise and measured value on this but I am convinced that it is real because of the amount of traveling that I do and the increasing difficulty I find in getting access. There are two sources of this blocking. One is from governments (China,Iran, Burma, Saudi Arabia, Syria are the most obvious culprits) the second source of blocking is from News International in the form of making sure that their stations (Fox News for example) are accessible in Holiday Inns and blocking the BBC. Now with cuts taking place the light is fading...I do not know how the BBC can counter their enemies but be sure ..it is happening.


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