Free Speech

Saturday, 08 January 2011 00:00 Reporters Without Borders Editorial Dept - Free Speech

China’s Propaganda Department, which is under the direct orders of the country’s Communist Party, has marked the New Year with a series of directives to the media.

Regarded as state secrets, they have been delivered by word of mouth to journalists at meetings where note-taking has been banned.

However, Reporters Without Borders has obtained details of the instructions.

They impose a blackout on social and economic problems with a view to “reassuring” the people and defending the concept of fair growth. Many issues are off-limits, so that the party line is not challenged. They include the property market, rising prices, corruption, the demolition of housing and compulsory relocation, residence permits, the absence of social security, inadequate transport during the Chinese New Year and popular discontent that finds expression in anti-government demonstrations.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010 00:00 Human Rights Watch Editorial Dept - Free Speech

The US government should not prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for releasing classified US State Department cables as this would imperil media freedom everywhere, Human Rights Watch said in a letter today to President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder.

Human Rights Watch urged the US government to reject over-broad interpretations of national security that clash with the freedom of expression guarantees of the US Constitution and international law.

"This is a signature moment for freedom of expression and information in both the US and abroad," said Dinah PoKempner, general counsel at Human Rights Watch. "Prosecuting WikiLeaks for publishing leaked documents would set a terrible precedent that will be eagerly grasped by other governments, particularly those with a record of trying to muzzle legitimate political reporting."

In a related Q&A, Human Rights Watch said that it has expressed concern to WikiLeaks and other media organizations that information be redacted from the cables that could place human rights defenders at risk, but condemned suggestions that Assange be targeted as a "terrorist" for attack. Human Rights Watch criticized private companies that had denied services to WikiLeaks in the absence of any legal judgment against it. Human Rights Watch also criticized the Office of Management and Budget's recent instructions that federal employees not access the documents that already have been made public, unless they have the appropriate authorization to view classified material.

Sunday, 14 November 2010 00:00 Human Rights Watch Editorial Dept - Free Speech

The Singapore government should exonerate a British author who was convicted for contempt of court for his criticism of Singapore's justice system, Human Rights Watch said today.

On November 9, 2010, the Singapore high court will impose a criminal sentence against Alan Shadrake, a 76-year-old writer who was convicted on November 3 for "scandalizing the judiciary" in his book, Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock, which criticizes bias in the application of Singapore's mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking.

Singapore's attorney general brought the contempt charges on the grounds that "public confidence in the Singapore Judiciary cannot be allowed, in any way, to be tarnished or diminished by any contumacious behaviour." The defendant contended that the book amounted to "fair criticism on matters of compelling public interest," as provided under article 14 of the Singapore Constitution. Shadrake faces possible imprisonment as well as fines.

"Singapore is further damaging its poor reputation on free expression by shooting the messenger bearing bad news," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Cases like this only strengthen the allegations that Shadrake made in his book."

Tuesday, 26 October 2010 21:58 M. Taus Editorial Dept - Free Speech

At least not in St. Louis, Missouri. - In a strange twist of constitutional backwardness, a St. Louis, Missouri professional artist and editorial cartoonist, recently had his social network account closed by a local social arts community designed specifically for artists and their related work.

The online community MySLART which is based in St. Louis, and operated by Don Erickson, an advocate for artists; closed Michael Pohrer’s (aka: MJ) account for no particular reason, nor without any notice.

Quoted from the website, ‘ provides free directory listings and websites for all artists, art galleries, art organizations, art professionals, and art supporters within 100 miles of downtown St. Louis.’

In an online interview, Pohrer told the NFP, “I thought this would turn out to be a great experience, and a chance to expand my fanbase and readership! I started interacting as normal through the social network and posted some albums that featured my illustrations and cartoon work.”

Friday, 10 September 2010 00:00 Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan Editorial Dept - Free Speech

According to reliable sources, Aziz Naseri, the well-known Kurdestani poet, writer and translator from the city of Merivan has been arrested.

Aziz Naseri was arrested at the department of Education on Tuesday, September 7, 2010 by the security forces of the Islamic regime and was transferred to an unknown location.

Renasance News reported that the reasons for his arrest are not clear yet, however, social activists are stressing that his imprisonment is just the continuation of the recent arrests of many literary and cultural activists in Kurdestan. It is worth noting that in the last one month, Mokhtar Hooshmand, Behzad Kurdestani, social and literary activists of Kurdestan have been detained by the security forces of the regime.

Aziz Naseri has completed several literary works of which one can refer to his translation of the great Kurdish poet Hemin and Darbande Parvaneh (Sherko bekas) to Farsi.

Image Contributed by Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan - Aziz Naseri (photo: Facebook)

Monday, 19 April 2010 00:00 Reporters Without Borders Editorial Dept - Free Speech

Reporters Without Borders deplores the Bahraini culture and information ministry’s ban on using a chat application available on Blackberry mobile phones to share local news. The ministry threatened to prosecute violators when it announced the ban on 7 April.

As a result of the prohibition, local journalist Muhannad Sulaiman has had to suspend his “Urgent News,” a daily service of briefs from six leading dailies which he distributed free of charge via Blackberry.

“This is an act of censorship and a direct attack on freedom of information,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It is not the first time the Bahraini authorities have violated press freedom and they seem to be coming up with all sorts of inventive ways to censor the media.

We urge them to stop their permanent harassment of Internet users and now mobile phone users. The fact that this ban affects a mobile phone application is very disturbing and shows the lengths to which the authorities will go to control the circulation of news.”



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