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20th December   

Update: Freedom Defamed...

Defamation of Religion Motion passes again in the UN with the smallest margin yet
Link Here
Full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

The U.N. General Assembly approved a resolution Friday deploring the defamation of religions and expressing concern that Islam is frequently and 'wrongly' associated with terrorism and human rights violations. 

The nonbinding resolution, sponsored by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, was adopted by a vote of 80-61 with 42 abstentions.

The United States and many European and developed nations voted against it. Many see it as an interference in freedom of expression and freedom of religion.

Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat who is a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the resolution fails to solve the very real problems of religious discrimination and hatred and further promotes intolerance and human rights violations by curtailing individuals' rights to express their religious beliefs.

He noted that the General Assembly has adopted defamation of religion resolutions annually since 2005 — and this year it was approved by the smallest margin yet.

Among other things, the resolution expresses deep concern at the negative stereotyping of religions and manifestations of intolerance and discrimination in matters of religion or belief.


25th November   

Update: Freedom of Speech vs Nonsense...

World survey supports the right to criticise religion
Link Here
Full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

A survey of 20 nations has found strong support for the right to criticize religion. According to the survey of more than 18,000 people, 57% agreed that people should be allowed to publicly criticize religion because people should have freedom of speech. Meanwhile, 34% of all respondents said they supported the right of governments to fine or imprison people who publicly criticize a religion because such criticism could defame the religion.

The strongest support for the right to criticize religion came from the United States, where 89% said public criticism should be allowed, followed by Chile (82%) and Mexico (81%). Britain came fourth, with 81% supporting the right to criticize religion.

The seven nations with a majority of support for prohibitions on the right to criticize religion, meanwhile, had overwhelmingly Muslim populations. In Egypt, 71% agreed that criticism of religion should be prohibited, followed by Pakistan (62%), and Iraq (57%).

The poll, conducted by, was released as the U.N. General Assembly prepared to debate a proposal calling for the prohibition of the defamation of religions.

The proposal, put forward by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which represents 56 Muslim nations, calls on all nations of the world to effectively combat defamation of all religions and incitement to religious hatred in general and against Islam and Muslims in particular.


20th November   

Update: Call of Censor Duty...

Activision removed airport scene from Russian PC version of Modern Warfare 2
Link Here
Full story: Call of Duty...Nutters wound up by warfare video game series

Activision is denying a report claiming the console versions of Modern Warfare 2 had been recalled in Russia to remove the controversial Russian airport scene found in the game.

The publisher says a console version was never released in Russia, and that the PC version was only censored due to the country's lack of a formal game ratings system.

Reports that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has been banned in Russia are erroneous, an Activision spokesperson told IGN. Activision only released a PC version of the game in Russia which went on sale on Nov. 10.


18th November   

Update: Pandering to Censors...

UN panders to Chinese and removes advert for book criticising internet censorship
Link Here
Full story: Festivals of Politics...Boycotts and politics at film and book festivals

A reception held by the group Open Net Initiative (ONI) was interrupted when United Nations officials demanded that an advertisement for a book titled Access Controlled be removed from display. The book details suppressed speech on the Web.

The reception was held at the UN-sponsored 2009 Internet Governance Forum in Egypt. According to a UN delegate witness, officials threw the poster on the floor, demanding its removal, which was resisted. Security then removed it over protest.

We condemn this undemocratic act of censoring our event just because someone is trying to impress or be in the good graces of the Chinese government, said a spokesman for the Foundation for Media Alternatives, an affiliate of ONI.


15th November   

Update: UN Supported...

Small decline in support for UN defamation of religion resolution
Link Here
Full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

A UN resolution advanced by Muslim countries that seeks to outlaw criticism of religion has seen a decline in support since last year.

The number of countries continuing to support the resolution proposed by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to promote the concept of defamation of religions dropped to 81. Eighty-five countries in the UN's Third Committee on Human Rights voted for the resolution last year, which itself marked a reduction in support from 95, in 2007.

Likewise, the number of countries voting against the resolution increased to 55 this year from 50 last year, while the number of abstentions rose from 42 to 43.

Muslim states have pushed non-binding resolutions on combating religious defamation through the 192-nation General Assembly and the Geneva-based Human Rights Council since 1999, arguing that Muslims need protection from Islamophobic race-hate.

Although the 56-nation OIC bloc has found support in African and non-aligned countries, campaigners have lobbied hard against the resolution over the past year and won over nations other than the traditional naysayers in Europe and North America.

A coalition of more than 100 human rights organisations, including secular, Muslim, Christian, Baha'i and Jewish groups, opposed the resolution, saying it sought to provide cover for anti-blasphemy laws and the marginalisation of religious minorities in repressive countries.

The General Assembly is set to vote on the resolution again in coming weeks, although attention has already turned to Geneva, where Pakistan, on behalf of the OIC, last month advanced a binding treaty amendment to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The amendment would see the principle of religious defamation enshrined in international law, rather than non-binding resolutions.


14th November   

Update: Opposition to Sacred Nonsense...

100 groups oppose the muslim move to criminalise criticism of islam
Link Here
Full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

More than 100 organizations, including Muslim and secularist ones, have signed a petition against the proposed U.N. resolutions on the defamation of religions, which they contend will do more harm than good for religious freedom.

The Common Statement from Civil Society on the Concept of the 'Defamation of Religions,' signed by organizations in over 20 countries, opposes the Organization of the Islamic Conference's (OIC) proposal for the United Nations to adopt a binding treaty that would protect religions from defamation. The groups pointed out that a similar resolution adopted earlier this year only cites Islam as the religion that should be protected.

Moreover, human rights groups say the resolutions will give credit to anti-blasphemy laws in countries such as Pakistan and Sudan.

Reports indicate that blasphemy laws have been widely abused to justify violence and abuse against religious minorities in predominantly Muslim countries. Blasphemy laws can also be used to silence critics of a religion and restrict freedom of speech.

In seeking to protect 'religion' from defamation it is clear that existing international human rights protections will be undermined, specifically freedom of religion and belief and freedom of expression, said Tina Lambert, Christian Solidarity Worldwide's advocacy director.

For the sake of those who already suffer unjustly under such legislation (blasphemy laws) and for the protection of our existing international human rights framework, it is vital that member states act to prevent such a treaty or optional protocol being established, she said.

Since 1999, when the defamation of religions resolution was first proposed, this is the first time that sponsors have asked for it to become a binding treaty.

Angela C. Wu, international law director of the Becket Fund, one of the groups that signed the petition, argued, Human rights are meant to protect the individuals, not ideas or governments. Yet the concept of 'defamation of religions' further empowers governments to choose which peacefully expressed ideas are permissible and which are not.

It is pivotal for human rights defenders around the globe to unite against this flawed concept before it becomes binding law.

The preliminary vote on the proposed binding treaty is expected before Thanksgiving, and the final plenary vote is expected in early to mid-December.


12th November   

Historical Censorship...

Convicted murderer takes legal action against Wikipedia for publishing his name
Link Here

Wolfgang Werlé served 15 years for the gruesome murder of a famous German actor is taking legal action against Wikipedia for reporting the conviction.

Attorneys took the action on behalf of Wolfgang Werlé, one of two men to receive a life sentence for the 1990 murder of Walter Sedlmayr. In a letter sent late last month to Wikipedia officials, they didn't dispute their client was found guilty, but they nonetheless demanded Wikipedia's English language biography of the Bavarian star suppress the convicted murder's name because he is considered a private individual under German law.

Werlé's rehabilitation and his future life outside the prison system is severely impacted by your unwillingness to anonymize any articles dealing with the murder of Mr. Walter Sedlmayr with regard to our client's involvement, they wrote. As your article deals with a local German public figure, we expect you are aware that you have to comply with applicable German law.

They go on to say they are currently taking legal action against Wikipedia in the trial court of Hamburg. And according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Werlé's attorneys have also gone after an Austrian internet service provider that published the names of the convicted.

EFF Senior Staff Attorney Jennifer Granick said: At stake is the integrity of history itself. If all publications have to abide by the censorship laws of any and every jurisdiction just because they are accessible over the global internet, then we will not be able to believe what we read, whether about Falun Gong (censored by China), the Thai king (censored under lese majesté) or German murders.

Update: Still Published

10th January 2010. See article from

Last month, for instance, lawyers for the convicted murderers of German actor Walter Sedlmayr sent Wikimedia, an Internet content provider located in the United States that runs Wikipedia, a cease and desist letter demanding that Wikimedia remove from its Wikipedia article the names of Seldmayr's killers in compliance with the German law that protects the privacy of individuals.

German courts have reasoned that criminals are no longer public figures nearly 20 years after being convicted, and thus should be afforded privacy by not having their names published.

Thus far, Wikipedia has asserted its right to free expression and not removed the names of Sedlmayr's murderers from its English article.


5th November   

Bloggers Imprisoned...

GlobalVoices to monitor ThreatenedVoices
Link Here

Never before have so many people been threatened or imprisoned for what the words they write on the internet.

As activists and ordinary citizens have increasingly made use of the internet to express their opinions and connect with others, many governments have also increased surveillance, filtering, legal actions and harassment. The harshest consequence for many has been the politically motivated arrest of bloggers and online writers for their online and/or offline activities, in some tragic cases even leading to death. Online journalists and bloggers now represent 45% of all media workers in prison worldwide.

Today, Global Voices Advocacy is launching a new website called Threatened Voices to help track suppression of free speech online. It features a world map and an interactive timeline that help visualize the story of threats and arrests against bloggers worldwide, and it is a central platform to gather information from the most dedicated organisations and activists, including Committee to Protect Bloggers, The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Reporters without Borders, Human Rights Watch, CyberLaw Blog, Amnesty International, Committee to Protect Journalists, Global Voices Advocacy.


28th October   

Update: Tolerating Nonsense...

Annual Report on International Religious Freedom 2009
Link Here
Full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

In what one official describes as a mixed report, the US State Department's Annual Report on International Religious Freedom praises growing interfaith initiatives in some countries but criticizes blasphemy laws supported by some Islamic nations. Such laws, it says, curtail freedom of expression.

Introducing the report at the State Department Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized anti-defamation policies, such as those being proposed at the United Nations, saying that an individual's ability to practice his or her religion has no bearing on others' freedom of speech.

Clinton said the protection of speech about religion is particularly important since persons of different faiths will inevitably hold divergent views on religious questions. These differences should be met with tolerance, not with the suppression of discourse.

The annual report, addressing the state of religious freedom in 198 countries and territories, cites serious problems of religious tolerance in Afghanistan.

It singles out a controversial law signed by President Hamid Karzai limiting the rights of women from the Shia minority. It also cites harassment and occasional violence against religious minorities and Muslims perceived as not respecting Islamic strictures. Non-Muslim minority groups -- including Christians, Hindus, and Sikhs, it says -- continued to face incidents of discrimination and persecution.

The United States has very serious concerns over the status of religious freedom in Saudi Arabia as well, Posner said. The report says freedom of religion is neither recognized nor protected under Saudi law and it is severely restricted in practice.

The State Department will issue a separate report on countries of concern. Officials say they plan to release by January.


24th October   

Update: Making Nonsense Sacred...

OIC try a new angle to get 'defamation of religion' into law
Link Here
Full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

More freedom of expression and human rights groups have voiced concern at a bid by the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the African Group to write new conditions into an international convention that will add a requirement to ban defamation of religion to a convention intended to eliminate racism.

The OIC, represented by Pakistan, and the African Group, represented by Egypt, have approached the UN Ad Hoc Committee mandated to elaborate on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

The OIC proposes new and binding standards on issues such as defamation of religions, religious personalities, holy books, scriptures and symbols .

Twenty four groups, including ten Arab organisations, have put their name to an appeal to the Ad Hoc committee [pdf] not to accept the OIC proposals.

With an eye to the Danish cartoons saga, the OIC calls for protection against provocative portrayals of objects of religious veneration as a malicious violation of the spirit of tolerance, and prohibition of the publication of …gratuitously offensive attacks on matters regarded as sacred by the followers of any religion .

The OIC submission would also provide for action against abuse of the right to freedom of expression in the context of racio-religious profiling .

The letter, originated by free expression campaigners Article 19, The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies and Human Rights Watch Legal Resource Consortium in South Africa, maintains that the concept of defamation of religions is contrary to freedom of expression but also general principles of international human rights law.

The focus, the signatories argue, should be on protecting the rights of individual believers, rather than belief systems.


21st October   

Lands of the Not So Free...

Reporters Without Borders publish their Press Freedom Index 2009
Link Here


The Horn was again the African region with the most press freedom violations. Eritrea (175th), where no independent media is tolerated and 30 journalists are in prison (as many as in China or Iran but with a much smaller population), was ranked last in the world for the third year running. Somalia (164th), which is steadily being emptied of its journalists, was the world's deadliest country for the media, with six journalists killed between 1 January and 4 July.


The process of adopting a Shield Law protecting the confidentiality of journalists' sources at the federal level is far from over in the United States (20th) but the judicial authorities are no longer jailing journalists and violating civil liberties in the name of national security as they were in the Bush era. So the US is back in the press freedom top 20, as is appropriate for a country where the press has traditionally played its role as independent watchdog well.

One of the countries where prosecutions led to exorbitant damages awards, Canada (19th) fell a few places but still holds the hemisphere's highest position.


The authoritarianism of existing governments, for example in Sri Lanka (162nd) and Malaysia (131st), prevented journalists from properly covering sensitive subjects such as corruption or human rights abuses. The Sri Lankan government had a journalist sentenced to 20 years in prison and forced dozens of others to flee the country. In Malaysia, the interior ministry imposed censorship or self-censorship by threatening media with the withdrawal of their licence or threatening journalists with a spell in prison.

War and terrorism wrought havoc and exposed journalists to great danger. Afghanistan (149th) is sapped not only by Taliban violence and death threats, but also by unjustified arrests by the security forces. Despite having dynamic news media, Pakistan (159th) is crippled by murders of journalists and the aggressiveness of both the Taliban and sectors of the military. It shared (with Somalia) the world record for journalists killed during the period under review.

The Asian countries that least respected press freedom were, predictably, North Korea, one of the infernal trio at the bottom of the rankings, Burma, which still suffers from prior censorship and imprisonment, and Laos, an unchanging dictatorship where no privately-owned media are permitted.

Asia's few democracies are well placed in the rankings. New Zealand (13th), Australia (16th) and Japan (17th) are all in the top 20. Respect for press freedom and the lack of targeted violence against journalists enable these three countries to be regional leaders.

Europe & ex-USSR

For the first time since 2002, the press freedom index's top 20 is not quite so European. Only 15 of the 20 leading countries are from the Old Continent, compared with 18 in 2008. Eleven of these 15 countries are European Union members. They include the top three, Denmark, Finland and Ireland. Another EU member, Bulgaria, has been falling steadily since it joined in 2007 and is now 68th (against 59th in 2008). This is the lowest ranking of any member of the union.

The biggest one-year fall of any EU member was Slovakia's. It sank 37 places to be 44th. This was mainly the result of government meddling in media activities and the adoption in 2008 of a law imposing an automatic right of response in the press. Two candidates for EU membership also experienced suffered dramatic falls. They were Croatia (78th), which fell 33 places, and Turkey (122nd), which fell 20 places.

Turkey's big fall was due to a surge in cases of censorship, especially censorship of media that represent minorities (above all the Kurds), and efforts by members of government bodies, the armed forces and judicial system to maintain their control over coverage of matters of general interest.

Middle East & North Africa

Israel cast down by Operation Cast Lead This is the first time that Israel (internal) is not at the head of the Middle Eastern countries in the press freedom index. By falling 47 places to 93rd position, it is now behind Kuwait (60th), United Arab Emirates (86th) and Lebanon (61st). Arrests of journalists (and not only foreign ones), their conviction and in some cases their deportation are the reasons for Israel's nose-dive. Israel's media are outspoken and investigate sensitive subjects thoroughly, but military censorship is still in force.

Iran at gates of infernal trio Iran (172nd) now stands at the threshold of the infernal trio of countries at the very bottom of the index after a major deterioration in its press freedom situation marked by blogger Omidreza Mirsayafi's death in Evin prison, Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi's arrest and the crackdown in the wake of President Mahmoud Ahmadinedjad's disputed reelection in June. Many journalists were arrested and a Stalinist-style show trial began in Tehran in which the most basic rights of the defendants are still being flouted.

1 Denmark
- Finland
- Irland
- Norway  
- Sweden
6 Estonia
7 Netherlands
- Switzerland  
9 Iceland
10 Lituania
11 Belgium
- Malta
13 Austria
- Latvia
- New Zealand
16 Australia
17 Japan
18 Germany
19 Canada
20 Luxembourg
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
23 Jamaica
24 Czech Republic
25 Cyprus
- Hungary
27 Ghana
28 Trinidad and Tobago
29 Uruguay
30 Costa Rica
- Mali
- Portugal
33 South Africa
34 Macedonia
35 Greece
- Namibia
37 Poland
- Slovenia
39 Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Chile
- Guyana
42 Surinam
43 France
44 Cape Verde
- Slovakia
- Spain
47 Argentina
48 Hong-Kong
49 Italy
50 Romania
51 Cyprus (North)
- Maldives
- Mauritius
54 Paraguay
55 Panama
56 Papua New Guinea
57 Burkina Faso
- Haiti
59 Taiwan
60 Kuwait
61 Lebanon
62 Botswana
- Liberia
- Malawi
- Serbia
- Tanzania
- Togo
68 Bulgaria
69 South Korea
70 Bhutan
71 Brazil
72 Benin
- Seychelles
- Timor-Leste
75 Kosovo
76 Nicaragua
77 Montenegro
78 Croatia
79 El Salvador
80 Central African Republic
81 Georgia
82 Comoros
- Mozambique
84 Ecuador
85 Peru
86 Uganda
- United Arab Emirates
88 Albania
89 Senegal
- Ukraine
91 Mongolia
92 Guinea-Bissau
93 Israel (Israeli territory)
94 Qatar
95 Bolivia
96 Kenya
97 Zambia
98 Dominican Republic
99 Lesotho
100 Guinea
- Indonesia
- Mauritania
103 Burundi
- Côte d'Ivoire
105 India
106 Guatemala
- Oman
108 USA (extra-territorial)
109 Cameroon
110 Djibouti
111 Armenia
112 Jordan
113 Tajikistan
114 Moldova
115 Sierra Leone
116 Congo
117 Cambodia
118 Nepal
119 Angola
- Bahrein
121 Bangladesh
122 Philippines
- Turkey
124 Venezuela
125 Kyrgyzstan
126 Colombia  
127 Morocco
128 Honduras
129 Gabon
130 Thailand
131 Malaysia
132 Chad
133 Singapore
134 Madagascar
135 Nigeria
136 Zimbabwe
137 Gambia  
- Mexico
139 Niger
140 Ethiopia
141 Algeria
142 Kazakhstan
143 Egypt
144 Swaziland
145 Iraq
146 Azerbaijan
- Democratic Republic of Congo
148 Sudan
149 Afghanistan
150 Israel (extra-territorial)
151 Belarus
152 Fiji
153 Russia
154 Tunisia
155 Brunei
156 Libya
157 Rwanda
158 Equatorial Guinea
159 Pakistan
160 Uzbekistan
161 Palestinian Territories
162 Sri Lanka
163 Saudi Arabia
164 Somalia
165 Syria
166 Vietnam
167 Yemen
168 China
169 Laos
170 Cuba
171 Burma
172 Iran
173 Turkmenistan
174 North Korea
175 Eritrea


9th October   

Updated: Defamation of Religion is Out...BUT...

Is the US Supporting Calls to Outlaw Supposed Hate Speech?
Link Here
Full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

Is the US Supporting Calls to Outlaw Supposed Hate Speech?

That's what it looks like, with this Joint U.S./Egypt draft U.N. Human Rights Council resolution (dated Sept. 2005). The resolution generally seems to be an attempt to urge more protection for free speech throughout the world, and some praise it for that; moreover, it lacks the exception for defamation of religion that some Muslim countries have urged. It may therefore be a step forward for Egypt, and an attempt to urge a step forward for some other countries.

But I'm worried that it might be a step backward for our own constitutional rights, because of what seems to be the U.S. endorsement of the suppression of any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence and possibly of negative stereotyping of religions and racial groups. I say seems to be because some of the language in the resolution is pretty slippery, and of course it's always possible that I'm misunderstanding it.

Paragraph 4 of the draft resolution expresses ... concern that incidents of racial and religious intolerance, discrimination and related violence, as well as of negative stereotyping of religions and racial groups continue to rise around the world, and condemns, in this context, any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, and urges States to take effective measures, consistent with their international human rights obligations, to address and combat such incidents.

Paragraph 6 likewise stresses that condemning and addressing, in accordance with international human rights obligations, including those regarding equal protection of the law, any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence is an important safeguard to ensure the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms of all, particularly minorities.

Paragraph 10 also expresses regret at the promotion by certain media of false images and negative stereotypes of vulnerable individuals or groups of individuals, and at the use of information and communication technologies such as the Internet for purposes contrary to respect for human rights, in particular the perpetration of violence against and exploitation and abuse of women and children, and disseminating racist and xenophobic discourse or content.

...Read full article

Update: Stereotypically Weak Defence of Free Expression

9th October 2009.  Based on article from

The UN Human Rights Council has now passed the resolution condemning stereotyping of religion . It's a move that flouts freedom of expression - and it was sponsored by the United States and would surely be considered unconstitutional under its First Amendmen. The UN Human Rights Council on 2 October adopted the resolution, which the US had co-sponsored with Egypt.

While the new resolution focuses on freedom of expression, it also condemns negative stereotyping of religion . Billed as a historic compromise between Western and Muslim nations, in the wake of controversies such the Danish Muhammed cartoons, the resolution caused concern among European members.

The language of stereotyping only applies to stereotyping of individuals, I stress individuals, and must not protect ideologies, religions or abstract values, said France's representative, Jean-Baptiste Mattéi, speaking for the EU. The EU rejects the concept of defamation of religion.

France emphasised that international human rights law protects individual believers, not systems of belief. But European members, eager not be seen as compromise wreckers, reluctantly supported the measure.

On the other side of the fault line stood the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which lobbied for a measure against religious defamation . There is talk that this OIC resolution will be returning to the UN spotlight later this year.

While this new Egypt/US resolution reflects new efforts by the US to broker compromises between Western and Muslim nations, it also represents an ominous crack in the defences of free expression.


7th October   

Advancing the Cause of International Justice...

The Committee to Protect Journalists honoured with the Thomas J. Dodd Prize
Link Here

The Committee to Protect Journalists has been honored with the fourth biennial Thomas J. Dodd Prize in International Justice and Human Rights.

The $75,000 prize is given to an individual or group who has made a significant effort to advance the cause of international justice and global human rights.

CPJ was selected for the prize by a committee representing the University of Connecticut, the advisory board of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, and representatives of the human rights community.

Supporting press freedom is an integral part in the promotion of human rights and democracy, said Betsy Pittman, director of the Dodd Center. We as citizens are entitled to the truth and knowledge that comes with freedom of the press and we are honored to have the opportunity to award this distinguished prize to an organization whose mission is to ensure press freedom is maintained worldwide.

Marianne Pearl, wife of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, presented the award to CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon on the plaza of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut. CPJ is honored to receive this prestigious award, said Simon. We accept it as a testament to the incredible risks that journalists take around the world to report the news. It is their dedication that serves as a model for all of us.


28th September   

Update: Flogging Porn...

Jail and flogging for looking at porn on mobile phone
Link Here

The new administration of southern seaport town of Kismayo  has publicly punished three boys they said that they have committed crimes which are taboo in Somalia.

Each one of the boys has received lashes of whips on his back in front of the hundred of the inhabitants of Kismayo, at the national park venue which situated in the heart of the town and will serve under sentence for some months said the judge who passed out the chastisement of the boys speaking to Somaliweyn radio.

The officer added that the boys have been jointly watching pornography films in their cell phones.

Comment: Reality Porn

29th September 2009. From Alan

Hope somebody's filmed it. It would go down a storm on the gay BDSM porn market!


24th September   

Courageous Journalists...

CPJ announce winners of its International Press Freedom Awards
Link Here

The Committee to Protect Journalists will honor courageous journalists from Somalia, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, and Azerbaijan with its 2009 International Press Freedom Awards at a ceremony in November.

Mustafa Haji Abdinur of Somalia, Naziha Réjiba of Tunisia, Eynulla Fatullayev of Azerbaijan, and J.S. Tissainayagam of Sri Lanka and have faced imprisonment, threats of violence, and censorship to stand up for press freedom in their countries.

These are reporters who risk their personal freedom and often their lives to ensure that independent voices resonate within their nations and across the globe, said CPJ Board Chairman Paul Steiger: Their fearlessness to report the news in the face of great obstacles is an inspiration to us all.

The awards will be presented at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City on Tuesday, November 24.

Here are the recipients of CPJ's 2009 International Press Freedom Awards:

  • Mustafa Haji Abdinur, Somalia: Haji has seen six of his colleagues die this year on the streets of Mogadishu, caught in the crossfire of battling insurgents, or gunned down for their work. He is one of a very small number of courageous journalists still working in Mogadishu despite ongoing violence and a shattered economy. As a correspondent for Agence France-Presse in Mogadishu and editor-in-chief of independent radio station Radio Simba, Haji faces danger and threats on a daily basis to report from Mogadishu's once-bustling Bakara Market, which has become a stronghold of insurgents in the war-torn city.
  • Naziha Réjiba, Tunisia: As editor of the independent online news journal Kalima, which is blocked in Tunisia, Réjiba is one of Tunisia's most critical journalists. In a country where the media is heavily restricted and the government actively harasses the few independent journalists who attempt to write critically of the government, Réjiba, also known as Um Ziad, has been the target of intimidation and harassment since November 1987, when President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali came to power in a coup. Rejiba's home is under constant surveillance, her phones lines are monitored, and she has been summoned for questioning repeatedly. Réjiba co-founded Kalima in 2000 with prominent journalist Sihem Ben Sedrine, herself a frequent target of the government.
  • Eynulla Fatullayev, Azerbaijan: When Fatullayev's friend and colleague Elmar Huseynov was murdered, the journalist set out to find his killer, and ended up facing more than eight years in prison. In 2005, Fatullayev was working as an investigative reporter for the opposition magazine Monitor when his colleague and Editor-in-Chief Elmar Huseynov was assassinated. In 2007, he published an article in Realny Azerbaijan, a newspaper he founded after Huseynov's assassination. The article, Lead and Roses, accused Azerbaijani authorities of obstructing the investigation into the killing and alleged that Huseynov's murder was ordered by high-ranking officials in Baku and carried out by a criminal group, including five Georgian citizens who had arrived in Baku two months prior to the assassination. Four days later, Fatullayev began receiving death threats. In the months following, he was convicted on charges of libeling and insulting Azerbaijanis in an Internet posting that was attributed to him but which he denied making, and his newspaper's offices were raided and shut down.
  • J.S. Tissainayagam, Sri Lanka: On March 7, 2008, Tissainayagam, editor of news web site OutreachSL and a columnist for the English-language Sri Lankan Sunday Times, went to the offices of the Terrorism Investigation Division to ask about a colleague who had been arrested the day before. He never made it back home. Tissainayagam, also known as Tissa, was one of the dozens of ethnic Tamil journalists who were swept up during the 26-year-long conflict between the Sinhalese-dominated government and Tamil separatists, which ended this year. Terrorism Investigation Division officials arrested Tissainayagam and held him without charge for six months. Then in August 2008, he was charged with inciting communal disharmony, an offense under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, in two articles written nearly three years earlier in a defunct magazine called North Eastern Monthly. In September 2009, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

CPJ will honor Anthony Lewis with the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award given for a lifetime of distinguished achievement in the cause of press freedom. Twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize, Lewis is a former columnist for The New York Times. He is widely recognized as one of the United States' foremost thinkers on freedom of speech and First Amendment rights. Lewis has been a tireless scholar of journalism, having taught and lectured at Columbia's School of Journalism as well as at Harvard University. His book Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment was published in 2008.


20th September   

Updated: What's Eating these People?...

Supporting the hype for District 9
Link Here

Nigerian immigrants play a large part in the film District 9 – taking the roles of gangsters, prostitutes or witch-doctors. They are depicted eating alien flesh or having sex with the creatures. Many Nigerians are furious.

An internet backlash is under way with an online petition and a Facebook group, District 9 Hates Nigerians accusing the film of xenophobia.

One blogger, Nicole Stamp, wrote: That's Hollywood's Africa, isn't it. Black Africans shown as degenerate savages who'll have sex with non-humans and are pretty damn eager to eat people. Disgusting.

There was further criticism yesterday from the Nigerian-born British actor Hakeem Kae-Kazim, who appeared in the films Hotel Rwanda and Wolverine . On Facebook, he wrote: If the African continent truly wants to be liberated, we cannot sit back and allow this depiction of a 'few rotten apples' to be spread across the world. He expressed concern that District 9 would reinforce negative stereotypes of all Africans. The manner in which the Nigerians are depicted cannot be justified.

Update: Nigerian government demands ban on District 9

Thanks to Nick & Dan
20th September 2009. Based on article from

Nigeria's government is asking its cinemas to stop showing the science fiction film, District 9 , that it says denigrates the country's image.

Information Minister Dora Akunyili told the BBC's Network Africa programme that she had asked the makers of the film, Sony, for an apology. She says the film portrays Nigerians as cannibals, criminals and prostitutes.

An actor from the film said that it was not just Nigerians who were portrayed as villains. The Malawian actor, Eugene Khumbanyiwa, plays a gang leader with the nickname of Obasanjo, also the surname of former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.

The film is about alien refugees who set up home in a South African shanty town called District Nine. It is a loose allegory about apartheid and recent violence by South Africans against foreigners.

Akunyili said it clearly took aim at Nigerians: We feel very bad about this because the film clearly denigrated Nigeria's image by portraying us as if we are cannibals, we are criminals, she said: The name our former president was clearly spelt out as the head of the criminal gang and our ladies shown like prostitutes sleeping with extra-terrestrial beings.

The information minister said she had ordered the Nigerian film and video censors' board to ask all cinemas to stop showing the film and to confiscate it. I have also formally written to Sony Pictures Entertainment, the company that produced this film, demanding an unconditional apology for this unwarranted attack on Nigeria's image, she added.


31st August   

Censorship has No Place in Film...

Chinese efforts to censor our festival overshadowed by Ken Loach's equally insidious attempt
Link Here

This year's Melbourne International Film Festival was beset by attempts to censor our programme. The most celebrated effort came from the local Chinese consulate – demanding the withdrawal of the documentary 10 Conditions of Love about Rebiya Kadeer, the exiled voice of the Uighur minority. The festival's refusal to comply with this diktat produced an extraordinary response: the withdrawal of several Chinese films, hackers assaulting our website and ticketing system and waves of abusive emails, faxes and phonecalls.

The Kadeer controversy overshadowed an equally insidious attempt to censor our programme by the English filmmaker Ken Loach. While the Chinese wanted to silence Kadeer, Ken Loach demanded that we refuse any cultural sponsorship from Israel.

...Read full article article


29th August   

Update: UN Board of Censors...

The UN has a whinge at RapeLay and sexually violent Japanese anime
Link Here
Full story: Western censorship of Japanese Games...Japanese games winds up the social justice whingers

The debate over graphic Japanese sex games such as RapeLay continues with word that the United Nations is stepping in.

At a meeting earlier this month, the UN's Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women called for a ban on explicit video games and anime.

As reported by Anime News Network, the committee urged Japan to ban the sale of video games or cartoons involving rape and sexual violence against women which normalize and promote sexual violence against women and girls.

The committee also expressed concern at the normalization of sexual violence in the State party as reflected by the prevalence of pornographic video games and cartoons featuring rape, gang rape, stalking and the sexual molestation of woman and girls.


26th August

 Offsite: Red for Real Gamers, Green for Australians...

Link Here
Designers of Diablo III consider parental blood colour control

See article from


7th August   

Petition: Reject Defamation of Religion...

UK government response to closed petition
Link Here
Full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to ensure that the UK Government uses all of its powers to reject and, if possible, veto any attempt at the United Nations to limit free speech in relation to religion and any associated attempt to criminalise the criticism of religion and encourage other governments to similarly reject/veto any such attempt.

The Organisation of the Islamic Conference, a voting block within the United Nations, is currently attempting to use its power within that organisation to seek to have a binding resolution made attempting to force governments to criminalise freedom of expression. In pursuing this course of action it seeks to promote the idea that religion can be defamed and that criticism of religion should be outlawed.

This is a gross violation of the most basic and fundamental of Human Rights, that of freedom of speech. It must be countered by all governments wherever possible and properly identified for what it is, a blatant attempt to stifle debate and criticism of religion. Religions do not have rights, people do. Whilst this is being introduced by Islamic countries it is not specific to the religion of Islam.

The original non-binding resolution can be found on the UN web site

Result: UK to Continue Opposing Defamation of Religion

Closed with 888 signatures

Government Reply:

The British Government is committed to protecting the human rights of all, including the rights to freedom of expression, and to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. These rights are guaranteed by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The resolution on defamation of religions was first introduced at the Commission of Human Rights in 1999 and again during the 10th session of the Human Rights Council held in March 2009 in Geneva. The United Kingdom, as with all other members of the European Union, has consistently opposed this resolution on the grounds that it limits the right to freedom of expression. The UK does not accept that defamation of religion is a human rights concept. International human rights law protects individuals in the exercise of their freedom of religion or belief: it does not protect beliefs, faiths or philosophies. However, we strongly support the right to freedom of religion or belief, and believe that it is complementary to the right to freedom of expression.

The right to freedom of expression is not absolute and can be subject to certain restrictions that are provided by law and are necessary for respecting the rights or reputations of others, or for the protection of national security or of public order, public health or morals. In line with our domestic legislation, we have argued that that any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence should be prohibited by law, in accordance with the international obligations of States and that these prohibitions are consistent with freedom of opinion and expression.

The United Kingdom will continue to protect and promote freedom of expression internationally, including by opposing attempts to curtail it by deploying the concept of defamation of religions.

Comment: Hostility to Religion

8th August 2009. From pbr on the Melon Farmers Forum

"The right to freedom of expression is not absolute and can be subject to certain restrictions that are provided by law and are necessary for respecting the rights or reputations of others, or for the protection of national security or of public order, public health or morals. In line with our domestic legislation, we have argued that that any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence should be prohibited by law, in accordance with the international obligations of States and that these prohibitions are consistent with freedom of opinion and expression".

Hang on just one moment... does anyone see a new word in that list of no-noes? Coz I see one I've never seen before... a very worrying one indeed...

hostility , not just violence or discrimination, but hostility?

Now... I can't help but feel this is one of those beautiful examples of neo-labour bull shitting, lets take a look at what the word hostile means as defined by

1. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of an enemy: a hostile nation.
2. opposed in feeling, action, or character; antagonistic: hostile criticism.
3. characterized by antagonism.
4. not friendly, warm, or generous; not hospitable.

5. a person or thing that is antagonistic or unfriendly.
6. Military. an enemy soldier, plane, ship, etc.

...I don't think any further explanation of how deep the governments commitment to freedom of expression is necessary...


3rd August

 Offsite: A Censorship Model...

Link Here
In comparison to other countries, the UK's internet censor is starting to look positively trustworthy

See article from


19th June   

Unlearning Intolerance...

UN seminar on internet hate speech
Link Here

The United Nations has appealed to parents, the Internet industry and policy-makers to join hands to eradicate hate speech from cyberspace.

Addressing a day-long seminar titled Unlearning Intolerance on the danger of cyberhate , UN chief Ban Ki-moon lauded the benefits of the Internet but regretted that there are those who use information technology to reinforce stereotypes, to spread misinformation and propagate hate.

Some of the newest technologies are being used to peddle some of the oldest fears, he warned, decrying what he called digital demonization… targeting innocents because of their faith, their raace, their ethnicity, their sexual orientation.

The secretary general said the Internet industry can help ensure that hate speech does not proliferate online and urged policy-makers to take a hard look at this problem and work to safeguard people while balancing basic freedoms and human rights.

He also stressed that parents have a responsibility to teach their children to safely surf the Internet.


9th June   

Update: Denying Free Speech to Free Speech Rapporteur...

OIC whinges at UN Special Rapporteur for not following the defamation of religion line
Link Here
Full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

Islamic states have fired back at a United Nations- appointed special expert on freedom of expression, who said that speech should not be restricted in order to protect religion.

Restrictions should never be used to protect particular institutions or abstract notions, concepts or beliefs, including religious ones, wrote UN Special Rapporteur  Frank La Rue in his report presented to the Human Rights Council.

La Rue, a Guatemalan human rights jurist, said restrictions to prevent intolerance should only be applied to advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.

He also called on the council, and the UN General Assembly in New York, not to adopt resolutions that support the idea of defamation of religion. At its previous session in March the council adopted, in a blow to European nations, a resolution condemning the so-called defamation of religion as a human rights violation.

Addressing La Rue at the current session, Pakistan's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Zamir Akram, speaking on behalf of the 57 member- states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), slammed La Rue for not reporting on the abuses of this freedom. Pakistan's ambassador said the OIC would monitor the expert and take an appropriate course of action if he deviated again from the mandate they wanted him to implement.


3rd June   

Update: Blocking Free Expression...

US block Cubans from using Microsoft Messenger
Link Here

Cuba have criticized Microsoft for blocking its Messenger instant messaging service on the island and in other countries under US sanctions, calling it yet another example of Washington's harsh treatment of Havana.

The technology giant recently announced it was disabling the program's availability in Cuba, Syria, Iran, Sudan and North Korea to come into compliance with a US ban on transfer of licensed software to embargoed countries.

Messenger had previously been used on the island for a decade without Microsoft interference.

Dharmesh Mehta, director of Windows Live Product Management said Microsoft made the change late last year in connection with the last product release of Windows Live Messenger. Microsoft is one of several major Internet companies that have taken steps aimed at meeting their obligations to not do business with markets on the US sanctions list.

Mehta seemed to lay the blame of this censorship at the door of the US government. He said that Microsoft supports efforts to ensure that the Internet remains a platform for open, diverse and unimpeded content and commerce, and that governments should exercise restraint in regulating the Internet.


26th May   

Update: Access of Evil...

Microsoft Messenger withdrawn from Cuba, Syria, Iran, Sudan and North Korea
Link Here

Microsoft has stopped offering its Windows Live Messenger service to users in five countries that are subject to US sanctions.

People in Cuba, Syria, Iran, Sudan and North Korea no longer have access to Microsoft's free, web-based instant-messaging service, Microsoft said.

The US considers each of those countries to be hostile or threatening in some way to its national interests.


3rd May

 Offsite: World Press Freedom Day...

Link Here
A report from Index on Censorship

See article from


3rd May   

10 Worst Countries to be a Blogger...

A CPJ report
Link Here

With a military government that severely restricts Internet access and imprisons people for years for posting critical material, Burma is the worst place in the world to be a blogger, the Committee to Protect Journalists says in a new report. CPJ’s 10 Worst Countries to be a Blogger also identifies a number of countries in the Middle East and Asia where Internet penetration has blossomed and government repression has grown in response.

Bloggers are at the vanguard of the information revolution and their numbers are expanding rapidly, said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon: But governments are quickly learning how to turn technology against bloggers by censoring and filtering the Internet, restricting online access and mining personal data. When all else fails, the authorities simply jail a few bloggers to intimidate the rest of the online community into silence or self-censorship.

Worst Countries to blog:

  1. Burma , which heavily censors print and broadcast media, has also applied extensive restrictions on blogging and other Internet activity. Private Internet penetration is very small—only about 1%, according to the Internet research group OpenNet Initiative—so most citizens access the Internet in cybercafés. Authorities heavily regulate those cafés, requiring them, for example, to enforce censorship rules. The government, which shut down the Internet altogether during a popular uprising in 2007, has the capability to monitor e-mail and other communication methods and to block users from viewing Web sites of political opposition groups, according to OpenNet Initiative.
  2. Iran . Authorities regularly detain or harass bloggers who write critically about religious or political figures, the Islamic revolution, and its symbols. The government requires all bloggers to register their Web sites with the Ministry of Art and Culture. Government officials claim to have blocked millions of Web sites, according to news reports. A newly created special prosecutor’s office specializes in Internet issues and works directly with intelligence services. Pending legislation would make the creation of blogs promoting corruption, prostitution, and apostasy punishable by death.
  3. Syria . The government uses filtering methods to block politically sensitive sites. Authorities detain bloggers for posting content, even third-party material, deemed to be false or detrimental to national unity . Self-censorship is pervasive. In 2008, the Ministry of Communications ordered Internet café owners to get identification from all patrons, to record customer names and times of use, and to submit the documentation regularly to authorities. Human rights groups noted that authorities harass and detain bloggers perceived as antigovernment.
  4. Cuba . Only government officials and people with links to the Communist Party have Web access. The general population goes online at hotels or government-controlled Internet cafés by means of expensive voucher cards. A small number of independent bloggers such as Yoani Sánchez detail everyday life and offer criticism of the regime. Their blogs are hosted outside the country and are largely blocked on the island. Two independent bloggers tell CPJ that they are harassed by authorities. Only pro-government bloggers can post their material on domestic sites that can be easily accessed.
  5. Saudi Arabia . An estimated 400,000 sites are blocked inside the kingdom, including those that tackle political, social, or religious issues. Self-censorship is widespread. Aside from indecent material, Saudi Arabia blocks anything contrary to the state or its system, a standard that has been interpreted liberally. In 2008, influential clerics called for harsh punishment, including flogging and death, for online writers guilty of posting material deemed heretical.
  6. Vietnam . Bloggers have daringly tried to fill the gap in independent news that is left by the traditional state-controlled media. The government has responded with more regulation. Authorities have called on international technology companies such as Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft to provide information about bloggers who use their platforms. Last September, prominent blogger Nguyen Van Hai, also known as Dieu Cay, was sentenced to 30 months in prison on tax evasion charges. CPJ research shows the charges were in reprisal for his blogging.
  7. Tunisia . Internet service providers are required to submit IP addresses and other identifying information to the government on a regular basis. All Internet traffic flows through a central network, allowing the government to filter content and monitor e-mails. The government employs an array of techniques to harass bloggers: conducting surveillance, restricting bloggers’ movements, and undertaking electronic sabotage.
  8. China . With nearly 300 million people online—more than any other country in the world—China has a vibrant digital culture. But Chinese authorities also maintain the world’s most comprehensive online censorship program, one emulated by many other countries. The government relies on service providers to filter searches, block critical Web sites, delete objectionable content, and monitor e-mail traffic. Because China’s traditional press is tightly controlled, bloggers often break news and provide provocative commentary. Blogs, for example, played prominent roles in spreading news and information about the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. But bloggers who go too far in promoting unpopular views or reporting sensitive information can find themselves in jail. At least 24 online writers are now in prison, CPJ research shows.
  9. Turkmenistan . President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov promised to open his isolated country to the world by providing public Internet access. But when the country’s first Internet café opened in 2007, it was guarded by soldiers, connections were uneven, the hourly fee was prohibitively high, and authorities monitored or blocked access to certain sites. The Russian telecommunications company MTS, which entered the Turkmen market in 2005, started offering Web access from mobile phones in June 2008, but service agreements require customers to avoid Web sites critical of the Turkmen government.
  10. Egypt . Authorities block only a small number of Web sites, but they monitor Internet activity on a regular basis. Traffic from all Internet service providers passes through the state-run Egypt Telecom. Authorities regularly detain critical bloggers for open-ended periods. Local press freedom groups documented the detention of more than 100 bloggers in 2008 alone. Although most bloggers were released after short periods, some were held for months and many were kept without judicial order. Most detained bloggers report mistreatment, and a number have been tortured.


6th April   

Freedom on the Net...

An international report
Link Here

Freedom on the Net: A Global Assessment of Internet and Digital Media

As internet and mobile phone use explodes worldwide, governments are adopting new and multiple means for controlling these technologies that go far beyond technical filtering. Freedom on the Net provides a comprehensive look at these emerging tactics, raising concern over trends such as the "outsourcing of censorship" to private companies, the use of surveillance and the manipulation of online conversations by undercover agents. The study covers both repressive countries such as China and Iran and democratic ones such as India and the United Kingdom, finding some degree of internet censorship and control in all 15 nations studied.


27th March   

Update: UNHuman Rights...

'Human Rights' Council passed defamation of religion motion
Link Here
Full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

  UN Flag

A United Nations forum has passed a resolution condemning defamation of religion as a human rights violation.

The UNHuman Rights Council adopted the non-binding text, proposed by Pakistan on behalf of Islamic states, with a vote of 23 states in favour and 11 against, with 13 abstentions.

Western governments and a broad alliance of activist groups have voiced dismay about the religious defamation text, which adds to recent efforts to broaden the concept of human rights to protect communities of believers rather than individuals.

The resolution claimed Muslim minorities had faced intolerance, discrimination and acts of violence since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, including laws and administrative procedures that stigmatise religious followers.

Defamation of religious is a serious affront to human dignity leading to a restriction on the freedom of their adherents and incitement to religious violence, the adopted text read, adding that Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism.

It called on states to ensure that religious places, sites, shrines and symbols are protected, to reinforce laws to deny impunity for those exhibiting intolerance of ethnic and religious minorities, and to take all possible measures to promote tolerance and respect for all religions and beliefs.

The 47-member Human Rights Council has drawn criticism for reflecting mainly the interests of Islamic and African countries, which when voting together can control its agenda.


19th March   

Update: Defamation Off the Durban II Menu...

Now religions can only whinge about negative stereotyping
Link Here
Full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

United Nations officials have said that Muslim-backed references to defamation of religion and criticism of Israel have been dropped from a draft being prepared for next month's world racism meeting, Durban II.

The latest draft declaration, a compromise 17-page text issued by Russian working group chairman Yuri Boychenko after private consultations, omits any reference to the Middle East conflict as well as defamation of religion.

It now speaks only of concern about the negative stereotyping of religions and does not single out Israel for criticism, according to the officials.

The April 20-25 meeting in Geneva is designed to review progress in fighting racism since the global body's first such conference eight years ago in Durban, South Africa.

Israel and Canada said they would boycott this year's meeting in Geneva. The United States and Italy have also vowed not to attend unless countries commit to a balanced declaration. The European Union and Australia have threatened to follow suit unless Muslim countries backed down.


16th March   

Internet Enemies...

Australian, South Korea and Thailand
Link Here

Reporters Without Borders has issued a report entitled Enemies of the Internet in which it examines Internet censorship and other threats to online free expression in 22 countries.

The 12 ‘Enemies of the Internet' - Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam - have all transformed their Internet into an Intranet in order to prevent their population from accessing ‘undesirable' online information, Reporters Without Borders said.

All these countries distinguish themselves not only by their ability to censor online news and information but also by their virtually systematic persecution of troublesome Internet users, the press freedom organisation said. Reporters Without Borders has placed 10 other governments including Thailand under surveillance for adopting worrying measures that could open the way to abuses. The organisation draws particular attention to Australia and South Korea, where recent measures may endanger online free expression.

Not only is the Internet more and more controlled, but new forms of censorship are emerging based on the manipulation of information,
Reporters Without Borders said: Orchestrating the posting of comments on popular websites or organising hacker attacks is also used by repressive regimes to scramble or jam online content.

A total of 70 cyber-dissidents are currently detained because of what they posted online. China is the world's biggest prison for cyber-dissidents, followed by Vietnam and Iran.


14th March   

Update: UNHuman Rights...

Alarms at the UN resolution to ban free speech to criticise religion
Link Here
Full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

The National Secular Society has warned government officials that a new resolution proposed by Pakistan at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) will define any questioning of Islamic dogmas as a human rights violation . It will intimidate dissenting voices and encourage the enforced imposition of sharia law.

NSS Executive Director Keith Porteous Wood told top officials at the Foreign Office at a meeting yesterday that the new resolution would seriously undermine free speech, other human rights and, indeed, democracy around the world, and that its first victims would be the more moderate voices in the increasingly radicalised Islamic countries.

The Human Rights organisation UN Watch had obtained a copy of the Pakistani-authored proposal after it was distributed this week among Geneva diplomats attending the current session of the UNHRC. The document, entitled Combating defamation of religions, mentions only Islam.

While non-binding, said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer: the resolution constitutes a dangerous threat to free speech everywhere. It would ban any perceived offense to Islamic sensitivities as a 'serious affront to human dignity' and a violation of religious freedom, and would pressure U.N. member states to erode the free speech guarantees in their ‘legal and constitutional systems.'

This is an Orwellian text that distorts the meaning of human rights, free speech, and religious freedom, and marks a giant step backwards for liberty and democracy worldwide. The first to suffer will be moderate Muslims in the countries that are behind this resolution, like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan, where state-sanctioned blasphemy laws stifle religious freedom and outlaw conversions from Islam to other faiths.

Next to suffer from this U.N.-sanctioned McCarthyism will be writers and journalists in the democratic West, with the resolution targeting the media for the ‘deliberate stereotyping of religions, their adherents and sacred persons.'

Ultimately, the very notion of individual human rights is at stake, because the sponsors of this resolution seek not to protect individuals from harm, but rather to shield a specific set of beliefs from any question, debate, or critical inquiry.

Keith Porteous Wood said that the new resolution was dangerous and shocking: We call on all liberal democracies to resist this new attempt to close down legitimate debate about the place of religion in a human rights context. The resolution is a corruption of the concept of universal human rights and would give a free hand to every Islamic despot and tyrant in the world.


8th March   

Update: UNConvinced...

Suggestions that the UN will push to make its blasphemy against islam resolution binding
Link Here
Full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

For the last nine years, the UN's annual ban on defaming Islam has been non-binding. In March, the United Nations may try to impose its view on Islamic blasphemy on all of its member nations thus making criticism of Islam a crime.

In December, the UN General Assembly, as it has every year since 1999, passed a resolution titled Combating Defamation of Religions. The vote was 86-53, with 42 nations abstaining.

Originally titled Defamation of Islam, the name of the resolution has changed over the years but not the intent. The only religion mentioned in the seven-page document is Islam.

The resolution's main sponsor is the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Although the current resolution is non-binding, recent reports suggest the U.N. Human Rights Council will attempt to pass a binding version of the resolution when the council meets in Geneva in March.

In November, when the most recent version of the anti-blasphemy resolution was introduced, Pakistan's Ambassador Masood Khan told the Human Rights Council the OIC wants to see a new instrument or convention that addresses the issue of blasphemy, one that would be binding on member states, according to Canwest News Service.

CNN's Lou Dobbs also reported that the United Nations will seek to impose its religious defamation resolution on all of its members.

German MP calls for Durban II boycott

Based on article from

Pressure is rising on Germany's Social Democrat-controlled Foreign Ministry to walk away from the so-called Durban II meeting - the UN's World Conference Against Racism - which opens in Geneva on April 20.

When asked about Rome's decision to pull out of Durban II because, as Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said, the preparatory document and negotiations are filled with aggressive and anti-Semitic statements, a German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post on Friday that Germany had not changed its position and would participate in the text negotiations.

Germany remained undecided on whether it would take part in Durban II itself, the spokeswoman said.

Germany must boycott this anti-Semitic and anti-Western spectacle. Either together with its EU partners, or if necessary alone. We are not the fig leaf for Iran's Islamist and anti-Semitic activities, Christian Democratic Union MP Kristina Köhler said in a statement.

Responding to the draft Durban II final document, Köhler said, These passages exude the spirit of Teheran, not the spirit of freedom and human rights. Anti-racism is to be misused in the fight against Israel, the fight against the West, and not least the fight against freedom of opinion and the press.

The United Nations is to be misused to give universal validity to the Islamic anti-blasphemy concepts in countries like Iran. That is unacceptable.


2nd March   

Update: Fitna for the US Senate...

Wilders calls for an International First Amendment on free speech
Link Here
Full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders has called for an International First Amendment that would repeal all hate speech laws.

During a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., Wilders discussed the recent attacks and prosecution he is facing for speaking against Islam and for showing his film.

He also joined the International Free Press Society in announcing a global initiative to protect free speech from laws that criminalize hate speech, whether they are criticisms of Islam or the doctrines of Shariah.

Lars Hedegaard, president of the International Free Press Society, said in a statement that hate speech and blasphemy laws in many European countries lack clarity as to precisely what they aim to criminalize and are usually unequally applied.

The way to deal with controversial, offensive or even hateful statements — unless they are directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action — is to expose them to public debate and criticism, he stated.

The press conference included a screening of Fitna . Wilders toured the United States this past week, with stops in New York, Boston, New York City and Washington, to rally support for the campaign to protect free speech worldwide. He also screened his film to the U.S. Senate.


1st March   

Update: US Opt Out of Durban II...

UN conference hijacked to promote action against the defamation of religion
Link Here
Full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

The United States has decided not to participate in a UN conference on racism in April unless the final document is changed to drop all references to Israel and the defamation of religion, a senior US official said.

The conference is a follow-up to the contentious 2001 conference in Durban which was dominated by clashes over the Middle East and the legacy of slavery. The U.S. and Israel walked out midway through that eight-day meeting over a draft resolution that singled out Israel for criticism and likened Zionism to racism.

Israel and Canada have already announced that they will boycott the upcoming World Conference Against Racism in Geneva from April 20-25, known as Durban II, but President Barack Obama's administration decided to assess the negotiations before making a decision on U.S. participation.

Last week, the State Department sent two US representatives to Geneva, where the final document to be issued by conference participants at the end of the conference is being negotiated. A US official said that in the negotiations, a bad document got worse.

The United States has decided that it will not participate in further negotiations on the outcome document and will not participate in the conference itself on the basis of the latest text, the US official said.

The Obama administration would reconsider its position if the document improves in a number of areas including dropping references to any specific country, references to defamation of religion which the US views as a free speech issue, and language on reparations for slavery.


26th February   

Oscar for the Most Shameful TV Channel...

Asian STAR TV censored gay speeches from the Oscars
Link Here

Viewers across Asia saw a censored version of the Oscars after television chiefs removed gay references from Sean Penn's best actor speech.

The STAR satellite channel, which broadcasts to more than 300 million viewers in 53 countries, also cut the sound when Dustin Lane Black, who wrote the screenplay for Penn's film, Milk , addressed all the gay and lesbian kids. Milk is the story of Californian gay rights activist Harvey Milk.

Both Penn and Black backed gay marriage in their speeches and called for equal rights for homosexuals.

Gay Asians voiced their anger at the broadcaster, which censored its evening telecasts of the awards ceremony.

As a gay man, I am truly offended, Pang Khee Teik, a prominent Malaysian arts commentator, wrote in a letter sent out to several media organisations. Stop censoring the words that describe who I am. Pang said the move sent a message ... that gays and lesbians are still shameful things to be censored from the public's ears.

Jannie Poon, STAR's Hong Kong-based spokeswoman, stressed that the company had no intention of upsetting any viewers ...BUT... said it has a responsibility to take the sensitivities and guidelines of all our markets into consideration.


26th February   

Good, Bad and Ugly Political Correctness...

Supporting the hype for Gran Torino
Link Here

Clint Eastwood believes the rise of political correctness is no laughing matter. He says the world would be a better place if we could still laugh at inoffensive jokes about different races.

The Hollywood actor and director said we live in constant fear of being labelled racist for simply laughing about national stereotypes.

People have lost their sense of humour, he told Germany's Der Spiegel magazine: In former times we constantly made jokes about different races. You can only tell them today with one hand over your mouth otherwise you will be insulted as a racist.

'I don't want to be politically correct. We're all spending too much time and energy trying to be politically correct about everything.


7th February   

Myriad Forms of Censorship...

Less journalists killed but more press censorship
Link Here

Ninety-three killed in 2007, 66 in 2008. If numbers could tell full stories, the plunge in recorded journalist deaths might have encouraged sighs of relief.

But as this year's IPI World Press Freedom Review underscores, these statistics mean little in light of the myriad forms of censorship available to those looking to suppress news and information.

This year IPI focuses on Asia, which proved the region deadliest for journalists in 2008, largely due to a string of killings in India, Pakistan and the Philippines. But journalists in other corners of the globe died in disturbing numbers, such as in Iraq, Mexico, Georgia and Russia, where the apparent execution-style killing of an Ingushetian reporter unnerved a journalistic community long accustomed to harrowing violence.

Judicial harassment dressed up as national security protection, in the past much criticized in the United States, also permitted authorities to intimidate outspoken journalists in places such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Malaysia, China and Iran. The European Union's anti-terrorism efforts subtly encroached on the media, with the implementation of a directive requiring the retention of communications data for potential use in criminal investigations, a headache for those looking to protect their sources.

Censorship in the name of tradition, religion, culture and national reputation was also widespread. In Thailand, laws protecting the reputation of the monarch prompted judicial proceedings and led to the shutdown of more than 2 000 websites. In parts of the Middle East and North Africa, laws forbidding insults to Islam continued to carry the death penalty.

Turkey 's government resisted deeper reform to its prohibitions on insults to Turkishness , half-heartedly rewording the law to forbid insults to the Turkish nation . In Slovenia, a country that held the EU presidency in the first half of 2008, parties angered by media coverage repeatedly pushed for the prosecution of journalists under laws forbidding insults to the state.

But the news was not all grim. Chile and Guatemala approved access-to-information laws. Nepal created a National Information Commission to implement the previously enacted Right to Information Act. Bangladesh too saw a new law on the right to information, though various insufficiencies resulted in relatively muted celebrations. The Cook Islands took the lead in Oceania, becoming the first nation to introduce a right to information law in that region. Disappointingly, Nigeria's government once again stalled consideration of the ever-pending Freedom of Information Bill.

Containing cyberspace was another ambitious effort into which authorities worldwide put much energy. In the Middle East and Central Asia, this largely came in the form of new user registration requirements. Even the democratic government of South Korea said it is considering such measures. In China, cartoon police officers that popped up on computer screens when Internet users there accessed illegal content were no laughing matter for those all too familiar with the real thing.


5th February   

No Space on MySpace...

MySpace ejects 90,000 users listed as 'sex offenders'
Link Here

MySpace says about 90,000 sex offenders have been identified and removed from its huge social networking website.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said that the new figure was 40,000 more than MySpace officials acknowledged last year.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has led efforts to make social networking websites drop such users. He said These convicted, registered sex offenders creating profiles under their own names unmasks MySpace's monstrously inadequate countermeasures. MySpace must purge these dangerous offenders now, and rid them for good.

Facebook Inc, which was sent a similar subpoena, has not yet responded, Blumenthal said.


1st February

 Offsite: F U C K 'em...

Link Here
Does the Britney Spears song If U Seek Amy offend you?

See article from


2nd January   

Dangerous News...

Fall in number of journalists killed doing their jobs
Link Here

The number of journalists who were killed doing their jobs in 2008 came to 60, down from 86 recorded in the previous year, according to a report released by a human rights group Tuesday.

But the finding does not warrant any optimism, said the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders.

The three most deadly countries for journalists in 2008 were Iraq, with 15 deaths, Pakistan with seven and the Philippines with six, the group said.

The report also said 673 journalists were arrested during 2008, with African countries topping the list with 263 arrests. The report said 38 journalists were arrested in China, 31 in Iraq and 17 in Myanmar.

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