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October 09 2019


@tictoc: The NBA isn't the only business in hot water with China

July 24 2019


May 18 2015


“Activist and artist Atena Farghadani is scheduled to stand trial on Tuesday, May 19 for a cartoon that criticized the Iranian government. The 28-year-old faces charges of spreading propaganda against the system; insulting members of parliament through paintings; and insulting the supreme leader.

The image that led to her arrest depicts Iran's members of parliament as animals voting on law that will restrict access to contraception and criminalise voluntary sterilisation, severely curtailing women's rights.

Her initial arrest came in August 2014, when she was held in solitary confinement for prolonged periods of time in Evin prison. She was released in December, but was detained again after publicly discussing her mistreatment by the prison guards.

Three weeks after her second confinement, Atena went on a hunger strike to protest the poor prison conditions, which her lawyer told Amnesty International resulted in her heart attack and brief loss of consciousness in February. Amnesty International has reported Atena has since been moved to another detention centre and stopped her hunger strike, but advocates remain concerned about her health.

Amnesty International is leading a call to action here, while the hashtag #freeAtena is being used to raise support and awareness on social media.”

Atena Farghadani Goes on Trial Tomorrow in Iran for Her Cartoon About Access to Contraception (Global Voices, May 18 2015)

May 13 2015


Canadian Government to Use Hate Crime Laws on Critics of Israel | News | teleSUR English

“Canadian Government Just Killed Free Speech”standwithpalestine

“In January, Canada signed a memorandum of understanding with Israel to cooperate in effort to oppose a boycott campaign against Israel, boldly conflating criticism of Israel with ‘anti-Semitism.’

Israel already makes it illegal to participate in the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign.

Shortly after the signing of that agreement, Canadian Public Security Minister Steven Blaney attempted to tie the work of the peaceful BDS campaign with violent actions, adding that Canada would take a ‘zero tolerance’ approach with respect to largely student activist.

When asked by the CBC for clarification, an aide for Blaney responded by highlighting aspects of the criminal code that criminalize promotion of hatred against an identifiable group. The aide specifically mentioned the recent change that now disallows the targeting of a group of a shared ‘national or ethnic origin.’

The BDS campaign has attracted support from a wide range of groups in Canada, including labor unions and religious groups, who now fear they may be targeted and accused of committing a hate crime.

A spokesperson for the United Church of Canada, one of the groups supporting BDS, told the CBC that this was an effort by the Harper government to clamp down on dissent, while tying this effort to a recent piece of legislation passed by the Canadian House of Commons that greatly expands domestic spying powers.

Groups that defend civil liberties told say the work of the BDS campaign is constitutionally protected and that efforts to charge anyone with hate crimes for promoting a boycott of Israel would likely not survive a constitutional challenge.”

“The Harper government has been one of Israel's most ardent supporters, backing Israel's regular attacks on the Gaza strip, including the 2014 assault that left thousands of Palestinian civilians dead.”

April 06 2015


French cartoonist Zeon arrested for anti-Zionist work

posted to tumblr by israelwc

March 15 2015


February 07 2015


Unpacking France's Chilling Proposal to Hold Companies Accountable for Speech

by Jillian York (eff.org, Feb. 6 2015):

France’s misguided efforts to grapple with hate speech—which is already prohibited by French law—have been making headlines for years. In 2012, after an horrific attack on a Jewish school, then-president Nicolas Sarkozy proposed criminal penalties for anyone visiting websites that contain hate speech. An anti-terror law passed in December imposes greater penalties on those that “glorify terrorism” online (as opposed to offline), and allows websites engaging in the promotion of terrorism to be blocked with little oversight. And following the attack on Charlie Hebdo last month, Prime Minister Manuel Valls stated that “it will be necessary to take further measures” to address the threat of terrorism.

Despite such a history, the latest proposal to emerge from the country is shocking. At the World Economic Forum last week, President Francois Hollande called on corporations to “fight terror,” stating:

The big operators, and we know who they are, can no longer close their eyes if they are considered accomplices of what they host. We must act at the European and international level to define a legal framework so that Internet platforms which manage social media be considered responsible, and that sanctions can be taken.

In effect, Hollande’s proposal seeks to hold social media companies accountable for the speech that they host. This is antithetical to US law, where online service providers are explicitly exempted from being treated as publishers, with few exceptions, thanks to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

In other countries, such as Thailand, a lack of protections for intermediaries led to the 2010 arrest of the editor of a popular publication. Her crime? A failure to quickly moderate comments that were deemed to defame the monarchy, an act that in Thailand comes with harsh penalties.

Developing global norms on intermediary liability point away from the Thai model that the French President lauded, in favor of a model closer to US law. An international study on the topic launched last month by UNESCO concluded that “Limiting the liability of intermediaries for content published or transmitted by third parties is essential to the flourishing of internet services that facilitate expression.”

While it’s likely that many of the companies in question would attempt to voluntarily comply with requests to remove content that glorifies terrorism, Hollande’s proposal would subject them to sanctions if they fail to comply with the proposed regulations. This places an extraordinary burden on these companies, whose users number in the millions, or even billions. It also stifles innovation locally: Entrepreneurs in France are unlikely to create new platforms for speech if there’s a risk of penalty in doing so.

We understand that European attitudes toward hate speech differ from those in the United States, but we strongly believe that any attempt to ban speech leads down a slippery slope. Holding corporations accountable for the speech they host is just one step down that slope.

March 31 2014


November 21 2013


Banned Expression: Campaign to protect free speech in Tibet (Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, Nov. 21 2013)

Over a hundred Tibetan writers, poets, artists, intellectuals and cultural figures have been arrested, tortured and imprisoned since the 2008 uprising in Tibet. By daring to refute China’s official narrative of events surrounding the 2008 Uprising, these courageous Tibetans represent a significant new challenge to the Chinese authorities.

China is implementing mass surveillance and propaganda campaigns under the rubric of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s “mass line” policy in Tibet. New regulations on the internet and phone use have been implemented since 2011 to block information and censor communication. Book and journals are banned; websites shut down and online contents deleted and censored in real time by armies of Chinese government censors. China has vowed again to block all images, information and teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Tibet by setting “nets in the sky” and “traps on the ground” .

To highlight the fast shrinking space for writers and artists to freely and fearlessly express their views and to pressure China to respect Tibetan rights, Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, in partnership with Voice of Tibet and Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, is running the Banned Expression campaign on social media and on official websites of the organisers.

The campaign will culminate in an awareness concert fronted by Parikrama, one of India’s most respected rock bands on 10 December 2013, which is observed internationally as Human Rights Day. The focus of our message on the 64th International Human Rights Day is the Right to Freedom of Opinion, Expression and Information. A new report, ‘Banned Expression: Stifling Dissent and Creativity in Tibet’, will be released at the event.

Our campaign page on Facebook can be accessed at https://www.facebook.com/freespeechtibet
Reposted bypowerToThePoeple powerToThePoeple

July 24 2013


Ecuador: Media lies about Correa's free-speech record | Green Left Weekly

When Ecuador granted asylum to Assange in mid-2012, Sydney Morning Herald’s Peter Hartcher accused Assange of “hypocrisy” for accepting asylum from President Rafael Correa, “one of the world’s leading oppressors of free speech”.

Annabel Crabb joined in, writing in the SMH: “A gazillion Assange Twitter fans [hailed] Ecuador and its president, Rafael Correa, as a hero of international free speech and human rights.

“Correa is the same guy who last year jailed a journalist and three executives from the newspaper El Universal [sic] for saying nasty things about him …[and] is expected to soon extradite the Belorussian anti-corruption campaigner Alexander Barankov to a messy fate in his country of birth … Ecuador: champion of free speech. The mind boggles.”

The only factual errors in Crabb's rant are that Barankov was never extradited (but granted asylum), the journalist and executives mentioned were never jailed and the newspaper is not called El Universal!

It might read like a snide put-down of poorer nations that are somehow less capable of “democracy”, but all SMH did was read from an extensive, Washington-penned playbook on how to denounce the Latin American left. ...

July 19 2013


Chávez is no enemy of free speech - CSMonitor.com

Hugo Chávez let Radio Caracas Televisión continue to air for five years after the station supported a coup attempt.

... Greg Wilpert, a sociologist living in Venezuela, declares, ‘It is the height of absurdity to say that there's a lack of freedom of press in Venezuela.’ Of the top four private TV stations, three air mostly entertainment and one, Globovisión, is a 24-hours news channel. On Globovisión, Wilpert says, ‘the opposition is very present. They pretty much dominate it. And in the others, they certainly are very present in the news segments.’ Regarding the print media, Wilpert told me, ‘There are three main newspapers. Of those three, two are definitely very opposition. The other one is pretty neutral. I would say, [the opposition] certainly dominates the print media by far. There's no doubt about that.’
Is Free Speech Really at Stake? Venezuela and RCTV (by Patrick McElwee, CommonDreams.org, May 23 2007)

July 06 2013

— 金子勝 (via Twitter)

June 29 2013


US Army restricts access to Guardian website over secrets in NSA leak stories — RT USA

Restricted access to the Guardian paper’s website in the US Army is part of the overall clampdown on freedom of speech and access to information, which is currently going on America, Rodney Shakespeare from the Global Justice Movement told RT.

“It has nothing to do with ‘network hygiene’. It’s a straight attempt to suppress and to control what is being read and understood by, in this case, the soldiers,” he said.

Shakespeare called the move “ridiculous” as the servicemen would still be able to read Guardian’s publications on their mobiles phones and computers outside the military facilities, but added that still illustrates the intentions of the Obama administration.

He believes that Snowden’s revelations made the US government panic as it switched from its usual tactics of omission to blaming the press.

“If you want to look at the attacks taking place on Edward Snowden – they’re going at him, but even more on the journalists, who talked to him. The bottom line of this is that they’re out to control the information. So you see it’s an attack that’s going on free speech,” Shakespeare stressed.

June 15 2013


Ecuador: End Assault on Free Speech

The Communications Law that the Ecuadorian National Assembly approved on June 14, 2013, seriously undermines free speech, Human Rights Watch said today [Jun. 14 2013]. The law includes overly broad language that will limit the free expression of journalists and media outlets. ...

HRW, end silence on Julian Assange!

December 25 2012


December 13 2012

Alber Saber Ayad’s mother told Amnesty International: ‘This is pure injustice … I can’t believe during the investigations the boy was asked about his religion and how he practices it, this is none of their business, it’s been three months and I can’t eat or sleep because I can only see him 10 minutes per week. I am calling for Alber to be released, he is just someone who says what he believes, and on the other hand [for the authorities to] try to catch the people who are really inciting violence.’ ... The verdict against Alber Saber Ayad comes just days before Egyptians vote on a new constitution which, if passed, will ban criticism of religion and individuals – opening the door to many more cases like this one.
Egypt: ‘Outrageous’ guilty verdict in blasphemy case an assault on free expression (Amnesty International, Dec. 12 2012)
Of course, we are appalled that merely for expressing disbelief in Islam, a young man should face not only the ludicrous ordeal of court proceedings, but that he may be incarcerated for three years. ...this prosecution and sentencing stands against international human rights treaties. Egyptian law has found Saber guilty, not of hate speech of inciting hatred, not of malicious comment against any individual, but simply because his beliefs do not conform to the majority religion. Article 98 of Egypt's penal code does not target malicious or harmful acts, it criminalises someone like Alber Saber merely for causing supposed offence to abstract concepts.
— Comment by Sonja Eggerickx, president of International Humanist and Ethical Union, on Egyptian Facebook user Alber Saber's three-year sentence (via iheu.org)

October 17 2012


Egypt must release man on trial for criticizing religion (Amnesty International, Oct. 16 2012)

Alber Saber Ayad was arrested at his home in Cairo on 13 September, a day after angry groups of men had surrounded and tried to break into his house and called for his death, accusing him of heresy and atheism and of promoting “Innocence of Muslims” – a short film regarded by many to be offensive.

His mother called the police for protection but when they eventually arrived the next day they arrested Alber Saber Ayad and confiscated his personal computer and CDs.

Alber Saber Ayad's mother, Kariman Masihah Ghali said that the Public Prosecutor in charge of the investigation had put pressure on her about her own faith asking whether she was a Christian and what she thought of Christianity and of Islam. When she replied that she would be judged by god on these questions he ordered it be recorded that she had refused to give an answer.

Alber Saber Ayad has been charged with “defamation of Islam and Christianity”, “insulting the divine” and “satirizing religious rituals and sanctities and prophets” under articles 98 (f), 160 and 161 of the Egyptian Penal Code.

"Many others in Egypt like Alber Saber Ayad are being prosecuted for blasphemy. These cases set a dangerous precedent for the Egyptian authorities' tolerance of freedom of expression in the country," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui [Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme].

"Action must be taken now to stop the detention of more prisoners of conscience. The authorities must abolish the 'blasphemy' provisions in Egyptian law which are increasingly being used to suppress legitimate freedom of expression."

October 02 2012


WorldWide Religious News

  • Bangladesh: Muslims Attack Buddhist Temples, Homes Over Quran Facebook Photo (AP, Sep. 30 2012)

    • ...at least 20 people were injured in the attacks that started late Saturday after a photo of a burned copy of the Muslim holy book was posted on Facebook. The rioters blamed the photo on a local Buddhist boy, though it was not immediately clear if he actually posted the photo.

    • Bangladesh's popular English-language Daily Star newspaper quoted the boy as saying that the photo was mistakenly tagged on his Facebook profile. The newspaper reported that soon after the violence started, the boy's Facebook account was closed and police escorted him and his mother to safety. Joinul Bari, chief government administrator in Cox's Bazar district, said authorities detained the boy's parents and were investigating.

    • The Bangladeshi violence follows protests that erupted in Muslim countries over the past month after a low-budget film, "Innocence of Muslims," produced by a U.S. citizen denigrated the Prophet Muhammad by portraying Islam's holiest figure as a fraud, womanizer and child molester.

  • At United Nations, Organization Of Islamic Cooperation Calls For Ban On Insulting Prophet Muhammad (Huffington Post, Oct. 1 2012)

    "Freedom of speech is one thing, but usage of your freedom should not be to offend others or advocate hate speech or provoke people to violence," Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said an interview with The Huffington Post.

    "The right of demonstration should not be used to kill people or to put fire to buildings or to offend others by burning flags," said Ihsanoglu, who is from Turkey. "So we should not abuse the freedom of demonstration and we should not abuse the freedom of others."

    In a separate interview, the Associated Press reported that Ihsanoglu called for a ban on insults against the Islamic prophet. "If the Western world fails to understand the sensitivity of the Muslim world, then we are in trouble," he told the AP. He said provocative insults are "a threat to international peace and security and the sanctity of life."

    • AAI urges strong response against regressive UN anti-blasphemy resolutions (Atheist Alliance International, Sep. 25 2012)

      “AAI is deeply concerned that the UN member states will overreact to recent protests and violence in Muslim-majority countries – violence which itself is a grotesque overreaction to an amateur video of dubious origin – by endorsing anti-blasphemy resolutions during the General Assembly and within the UN Human Rights Council. Such steps would gravely undermine freedoms of expression and conscience, would give unwarranted privilege to religious viewpoints, and - most dangerously - would provide a veil of legitimacy for governments to oppress citizens in the name of protecting religion,” said President Carlos A. Diaz.

      Indeed, many of the countries that have been the vocal in their support for international regulation have been among the most egregious and regressive oppressors of both freethought and minority religions, often using domestic anti-blasphemy laws to persecute individuals with minority viewpoints. Inevitably, when people think for themselves there are going to be disagreements. The only fair response is to protect people's right to express their views, not to favour one view over another," said Diaz.

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