Tag: censorship

Censorship Continues in Myanmar as Government Blocks Screening of Film Critical of the Army

A film critical of the 1962 coup in Myanmar was barred from screening at the annual Human Rights Human Dignity International Film Festival in Yangon, the country’s capital.

The government’s Motion Picture Classification Board said the film “Twilight Over Burma: My Life as a Shan Princess” could undermine efforts to promote national reconciliation because of its negative portrayal of the army.

Myanmar is formerly known as Burma.

Egypt: Free Satirical YouTube Group

Video Performers Who Mocked Government Risk Terrorism Charges

Egyptian authorities should drop their investigation into six young men who posted satirical videos commenting on Egypt’s politics on YouTube and release four of them, who have been detained since May 10, 2016. The investigation appears to be based purely on their satirical videos and violates the right to free speech.

Prosecutors are investigating the men, of a group called Street Children, after the Interior Ministry’s National Security Agency alleged that they are “instigators against the ruling regime” who plotted to use “the internet, social media sites and YouTube” to spread video clips that would undermine the country’s stability by inciting citizens to protest. Prosecutors also investigated the four men in custody about terrorism-related accusations. On June 20, the East Cairo Public Prosecution Office sent the case to the Supreme State Security Prosecution, saying it was out of its jurisdiction.

Founder of Protest Reporting Outlet Goes Missing in China

Lu Yuyu, founder of citizen media outlet Not in the News (非新聞)has been missing since June 15, along with his girlfriend.

The citizen news outlet has been reporting and distributing news of mass demonstrations in China via the Twitter account @wickedonnaa, Blogspot and YouTube since 2013.

The news team also keeps track of the scale and number of incidents, the number of arrested demonstrators and the reason behind the demonstrations through its monthly statistics report. It recorded 28,950 incidents in mainland China in 2015. The site recorded 9,869 incidents in the first quarter of 2016.

India: Stop Treating Critics As Criminals

The Indian authorities routinely use vaguely worded, overly broad laws as political tools to silence and harass critics, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. The government should repeal or amend laws that are used to criminalize peaceful expression.

India’s Constitution protects the right to freedom of speech and expression, but recent and colonial-era laws, such as sedition and criminal defamation, not only remain on the books but are frequently used in an attempt to clampdown on critics.

“India’s abusive laws are the hallmark of a repressive society, not a vibrant democracy,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Putting critics in prison or even forcing them to defend themselves in lengthy and expensive court proceedings undermines the government’s efforts to present India as a modern country in the Internet age committed to free speech and the rule of law.”

Leading Russian Independent Newspaper Suspends Deputy Editor After Blackmail Scandal

Dmitry Muratov, the chief editor of Novaya Gazeta, one of Russia’s oldest independent newspapers, has suspended his deputy chief editor, Sergey Sokolov, following revelations that Sokolov instructed his staff to blackmail suspects in an investigation the newspaper recently carried out about online communities that allegedly pressure youths to take their own lives.

Sokolov has already issued a public apology for his actions, saying he made the error under the stress of continued reports about minors dying by suicide. “I’m sorry for the extreme form of my indiscretion,” he said in a statement published by Novaya Gazeta.

The catalyst for Sokolov’s suspension (which will remain in effect pending an internal investigation) was an interview published on May 20 on Lenta.ru with the administrator of the Vkontakte community “Morye Kitov” (A Sea of Whales). The anonymous young man told Lenta.ru that he spoke to Natalia Sokolova, an editor at Novaya Gazeta TV, who implied the newspaper’s “cooperation” with the police’s apprehension of another Vkontakte community administrator (the arrest turned out to be fictitious).

Dispatches: Malaysian Corruption Scandal Threatens Free Speech

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who will be in London next week to pitch foreign investment, is mired in political controversy at home. The corruption scandal involving the government-owned 1 Malaysia Development Berhad fund refuses to die, despite Najib’s “exoneration” by the attorney general he appointed in July after summarily dismissing the previous one. With ongoing investigations of the troubled investment fund in countries ranging from Switzerland to Singapore, the scandal has generated international interest. Speaking publicly or writing about it in Malaysia, however, is risky business.

In February, the government blocked access to The Malaysian Insider, an online news portal, after it reported on the scandal, and warned other media against publishing “unverified” information. After a month of being blocked, The Malaysian Insider ceased operations. The government also blocked access to other websites, including the UK-based Sarawak Report, after they posted articles on the scandal.

When is a fact a fact in China?

If you are a journalist in China, “the spirit” moves you. And the spirit refers, of course, to the priorities and precepts of the Chinese Communist Party.

Back in February, in a speech to media bosses and propaganda leaders, President Xi Jinping reprised the Party’s dominance over media and information in terms more explicit than those used by any leader in recent memory. Media must, said Xi, “be surnamed Party.”

“To demand peace is not a crime”: Turkish academics on trial

Last Friday, April 21st, four Turkish academics, Meral Camci, Kivanc Ersoy, Muzeffer Kaya and Esra Mungan, after five weeks remanded in prison, were brought to the Heavy Penal Court in Istanbul to face charges of making “propaganda for terrorism” and of association with the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), labelled as a terrorist organisation by the EU and the US. The indictment accused them under Article 7(2) of Turkey’s anti-terror law and if convicted they could face sentences of up to 7 ½ years in detention.

Although at the end of the day, the prisoners were released, and the Judge adjourned the case to September 27th, confusion reigns among the academics and the lawyers.

China: New Law Escalates Repression of Groups

A newly adopted law in China gives police unprecedented power to restrict the work of foreign groups in the country, Human Rights Watch said today. The law will also limit domestic groups’ ability to obtain foreign funding and work with foreign organizations.

The National People’s Congress passed the draconian Law on the Management of Foreign Non-Government Organizations Activities in China (the NGO Law) on April 28, 2016, and will come into force on January 1, 2017.

Russia’s Growing Intolerance for Dissent

Today, at Moscow’s eminent House of Cinematography, aggressive individuals among pro-Kremlin protestors attacked the award ceremony of an annual student competition, “Man in History. Russia – XX Century.” The attackers threw eggs and green antiseptic solution at the teenage winners of the competition, their teachers, and other participants at the gathering. Ludmilla Ulitskaya, a prominent Russian novelist and chair of the competition’s jury, was among those splashed with the bright green liquid.

Malaysia Will Likely Force ‘Political Blogs’ and News Websites to Register With the Government

Malaysia’s Communications and Multimedia Ministry has formally proposed legal amendments to the Attorney General that would require the country’s political blogs and online news portals to register with the government. Minister Salleh Said Keruak denies that the legislation amounts to censorship, arguing that the proposal is designed to preserve the Internet as a tool for promoting Malaysia’s economic growth, and meant to protect the country against internal divisions brought about by misleading information published online, he says.