Freedom of Speech Roundup

by    /  September 15, 2012  / No comments

In the weekly Freedom of Speech Roundup, Sampsonia Way presents some of the week’s top news on freedom of expression, journalists in danger, artists in exile, and banned literature.

Jenin Protests_ Sawt Al-Mana

Protests in Jenin for the release of Zakaria Zubeidi, co-founder of the Freedom Theatre. September 10, 2012. Photo: Sawt Al-Mana

This week, US ambassador Christopher Stevens died during protests over an anti-Islamist film. Zakaria Zubeidi, co-founder of the Freedom Theater in the occupied West Bank, announced that he will be on a death fast until he is released from captivity in a Palestinian Authority prison. Indian authorities jailed cartoonist Aseem Trivedi for cartoons he made mocking the Indian government, and Chinese authorities removed some installations from an upcoming art show in Shanghai.

In other news, the Ethiopian government pardoned two Swedish journalists who were sentenced to 11 years in prison, and the Lebanese organization MARCH has launched a virtual Museum of Censorship highlighting censorship in Lebanon since the 1940’s.

Follow the links below covering these stories and more for the week of September 9-15.

Urgent Call to Action: Free Zakaria Zubeidi

On September 9, Zakaria Zubeidi, co-founder of the Freedom Theatre in Jenin, announced that he will embark on a complete food and fluid strike in response to the postponement of his release from Palestinian Authority prison. More information here.

“The Satanic Verses,” the Fatwa, and a Life Changed

The New Yorker. Salman Rushdie recounts the day he learned the Ayatollah sentenced him to death over his novel The Satanic Verses. He explores his writing process for the novel and the world’s reaction to the controversial book. Read here.

Indian Cartoonist Jailed for Images Criticizing Government

CPJ. Aseem Trivedi was arrested last Saturday for cartoons he posted on the internet that “insulted national honor” by “mocking national symbols” and “criticizing corruption.” A Mumbai court ordered that Trivedi be held until September 24, but a trial date has not yet been set. Read here.

Swedish Journalists Schibbye and Persson pardoned by Ethiopia

Voice of America. After being sentenced to 11 years in prison for “supporting an illegal terrorist group” and illegally crossing the Ethiopian border, two Swedish journalists have been released as part of a mass amnesty to mark Ethiopia’s New Year. Read here.

Censors Monkey With China Art Show before 18th Party Congress

Reuters. “…the digitally manipulated photo of China’s legendary Monkey King facing Tiananmen Gate, by Beijing-based artist Chi Peng, was one of several works at the Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair deemed unfit for display by Shanghai’s culture police.” Read here.

Lebanon: A Virtual Museum for Censorship

Global Voices. On September 2 Lebanese organization MARCH launched a Virtual Museum of Censorship, an online database of censorship cases in Lebanon since the 1940s. Read here.

Filling in the Gaps: Reading the Ramil Safarov Case in Azerbaijan

Radio Free Europe. Katy Pearce, an assistant professor in the University of Washington’s Department of Communications, looks at how, since Ramil Safarov’s alleged murder of an Armenian serviceman in 2004, the Azerbaijani media has framed the case and constructed a narrative of the killing that is at odds with facts presented at the trial. Read here.

Radio Free Europe presents responses from Azerbaijani citizens about Rami Safarov’s recent pardon.

Rights Charter Attempts to Unify Iranians

Radio Free Europe. Inspired by Czechoslovakia’s renowned Charter 77, a group of Iranian intellectuals have penned a new document that aims to unite the Iranian people around a common human rights and civic agenda—but will Iranian citizens sign it? Read here.

“I play a gay man in Uganda, where homosexuality is illegal.”

France 24. Homosexuality carries a life sentence in Uganda. A proposed law, which is currently in the hands of parliament, would make it punishable by death, and would make those who discuss homosexuality in public run the risk of spending seven years in prison. A new play fights against this. Read here.

Libya: There is good reason to ban the hateful anti-Muhammad YouTube Clips

The Guardian. Andrew Brown expresses his opinion about when banning material from YouTube is appropriate. As his example, he analyzes a YouTube video of clips from a film which, it is claimed, provoked the attack on the American embassy in Libya. Read here.

Persecuted Writers Find Solace in International Cities of Refuge Network

The Epoch Times. As of May 2012 ICORN reported that 10 new applications from writers had been received since January, putting the waiting list at 50 writers. Out of those, ICORN had seven placements lined up and 11 were “temporarily safe.” Read here.

Hong Kong Retreats on ‘National Education’ Plan

The New York Times. Hong Kong’s chief executive put off implementing a “moral education” plan until 2015 amid backlash from large student protests. This is uncharacteristic of the Hong Kong youth who have rarely taken to protest in the past, giving hope for the future of activism in mainland China. Read here.

Syrian Filmmaker Orwa Nyrabia Freed

The New Yorker. Syrian authorities detained Syrian filmmaker Orwa Nyrabia on August 23rd amid the ongoing protests in Syria. He was recently freed due to a coalition of filmmakers throughout the world who called for his release. Read here.

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