International Journalism Student Round-Up: Faked Kidnapping, Sudden Stroke & Teddy Bear Mystery

Journalism students outside the U.S. have caused or endured some sad, odd, and controversial travails in recent days and weeks.  Among the lowlights:

1) A journalism student in Belarus has been arrested for publishing photos of “teddy bears brandishing protest slogans” online.  According to reports emanating from Sweden, last month “a small plane crossed the border from Lithuania into Belarus where it air-dropped hundreds of teddy bears on little parachutes holding signs demanding human rights and political freedoms.”  The student is being held as an accomplice in the incident, which is apparently against Belarusian law.

2) A journalism student in Rwanda was also recently arrested– in this case for allegedly faking his own kidnapping.  According to The Guardian, “Idriss Gasana Byiringiro claimed he was bundled into a vehicle by four security agents for an overnight interrogation, and sent himself threatening text messages to underpin the ruse. . . . [He] admitted fabricating the story for a research project on the freedom of the press.”  In the student’s words: “As a journalism student I wanted to investigate if this profession is feasible in Rwanda or if it’s true that the government harasses journalists as indicated in international reports.”

 

3) In yet another arrest at around the same time, a journalism student in the Kashmir region of India was held on charges of having ties to a Pakistani militant group. Specifically, police say he has been in touch with militants multiple times by phone.  The student and his classmates, family, and friends protested the charges as groundless and the student’s detention as illegal.

4) Earlier this summer, a journalism student in Britain suffered a sudden, inexplicable stroke while at dinner with her parents.  In her words: “I couldn’t believe it when they said I was having a stroke.  I just didn’t think it was something that could happen to someone as young as me.  I’m 20 years old and am pretty healthy.  I don’t smoke, don’t drink and I don’t do drugs.  It just didn’t seem to fit.”  She is now in recovery, regaining feeling in the right side of her body.

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