The Thai Administrative Court has ruled that a LGBTI-themed film, Insects in the Backyard which has been banned since 2010, violates Section 287 of the Criminal Code.
The court says the short pornographic scene in the film violates Thai laws
that prohibit the screening of pornographic films, in their entirety, or in part; and has impacts on morality and social decency.
The film by indie filmmaker Tanwarin Sukkhapisit reportedly contains an offending three-second scene where
characters in the film are seen watching an X-rated gay movie which depicts graphic depiction of sexual organs and sexual intercourse, according to the Bangkok Post.
The court said the film can only be screened if the offending scene is cut to get
a 20+ for audiences above the age of 20.
Following the film's ban by the Culture Ministry's National Film Board in 2010, the film's director filed a case with the Administrative Court to challenge the ban, making her the first filmmaker in
Thailand to do so.
China's World Internet Conference that began today was farcical. The world leaders attending were limited to Russia's prime minister Dmitry Medvedev , the president of Pakistan, the prime ministers of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan among a few
China hopes to use speech to sell its ideal of cyber sovereignty --an Internet walled off from the world through censorship and firewalls. Chinese president Xi Jinping explained:
As in the real
world, freedom and order are both necessary in cyberspace: Freedom is what order is meant for, and order is the guarantee for freedom.
China's chief internet censor has ludicrously claimed that the country's oppressive censorship of th einternet is merely 'management' of the internet.
The comments by Lu Wei, head of the Cyberspace Administration of China, came ahead of next
week's state-sponsored World Internet Conference in the town of Wuzhen. Lu claimed that China does not censor but manages Internet content, the Hong Kong Free Press reports:
Lu said: It is a misuse of
words if you say 'content censorship. But no censorship does not mean there is no management. The Chinese government learnt how to manage the internet from Western developed countries, we have not learnt enough yet.
briefing, Lu defended the blocking of some websites and censoring of online posts, according to Reuters . He said that if the Chinese government were being too restrictive with the Internet, China's online market would not be experiencing such rapid
North Korea is implementing a drive to attract more foreign visitors and has announced a scheme to offer tourists a unique North Korea Experoience.
North Korea has started checking the browser history of every visitor to the secretive
According to US travel warning customs officials will inspect your devices, looking through Internet browsing histories and cookies on travelers' computers and other electronic devices.
Officials are on the lookout for banned content, including pornography or material critical of the DPRK government. Possession of any media, either printed or electronic, criticizing the DPRK government is a criminal act. Bringing pornography into the country is also a criminal act.
A recent report by The Associated Press reveals that pro-South Korea materials and Bibles are also banned. The State Department says that anyone caught committing a crime could face years of detention in hard labor camps or death.
Perhaps adrenalin junkies and thrill seekers will consider the destination to be a worthy challenge, perhaps spiced up by smuggling a copy of Hairstyle Makeover magazine through customs
The International New York Times has blamed its local Thai printer for censoring a front-page article on the country's miserable economy and leaving a blank space on the cover.
The article, headlined Thai economy and spirits are sagging ,
reported that Thai households are among the most indebted in Asia, robberies and property crimes have risen more than 60% this year, and the ruling generals are not eager to hand power back to politicians. It quoted a fruit and vegetable seller who said:
No one feels like smiling anymore .
A white space on the front page and page six carried the message: The article in this space was removed by our printer in Thailand. The International New York Times and its editorial staff had no role
in its removal.
New Zealand's Internal Affairs Minister, Peter Dunne, has issued a statement announcing seven new changes to the Film and Literature Board of Review.
One notable change is to replace current president Don Mathieson as of January 2016.
made headlines in 2015, after Ted Dawe's novel Into The River was banned .The ban was later lifted by the board, however the decision was not welcomed by Mathieson .
In October 2015, Mathieson delivered a dissenting minority report but the
remainder of the board voted to allow the book to be sold without restriction, saying a previous ban on under-14s was no longer justified.
Earlier in the week, Mathieson said he did not expect to be reappointed after two three-year terms, both as
president, and did not put his name forward to continue in the job.
He refused to comment on the controversy around Into the River, however he said he was not particularly glad or sorry to be leaving the board, which he joined as a public
Update: Oh dear!... local moralist campaigners are not amused
The moralist campaign group Family First have written an open letter to the book censor given the push by the government:
Dear Dr Mathieson
We note with regret that you have not been reappointed
as President of the Film and Literature Board of Review.
On behalf of many NZ families, we want to thank you for being a voice of reason and sanity in the censorship arena, and for being willing to stand strong despite personal
attacks and rants from the media, including being a conservative Christian , for writing a book about faith at work, and for opposing the redefinition of marriage. How shocking. (Ironically, one of your replacements loves marriage -- including
with other married people -- but apparently his private life does not affect his ability to be a moral authority .)
Dr Mathieson -- during the debate over censorship, community standards, and the book Into the River, you
spoke for many many parents who are concerned with declining standards in our society, especially with material which our young people and children can so easily access, and a parent's desire to protect their children from age-inappropriate material that
is disturbing and harmful.
Unlike the rest of the Board who flip-flopped on their decisions (and who along with the Chief Censor had no examination of their private life by the media), you did not kowtow to pressure from the book
industry and remove any restriction on Into the River despite its highly offensive and gratuitous language, adult themes and graphic sexual content.
You remained consistent and principled.
Dr Mathieson, we salute you. We thank you.
Yours sincerely Bob McCoskrie National Director Family First
Singapore residents can now read 240 books and publications which were formerly blacklisted by the country's censor for content ranging from adult to communism -- but adult magazines such as Hustler , Penthouse and Playboy are
The ban was lifted after a routine review by book censors at the country's Media Development Authority (MDA) which told The Straits Times that it routinely reviewed prior classification decisions to ensure they kept pace with societal
norms. The ban was lifted because the books were already out of print and were within the MDA's latest censorship rules.
Among the 240 blacklisted titles, one famous book was Fanny Hill, an erotic novel based on the life of a girl who moves
to London and falls into prostitution. The novel was written by John Cleland and published in 1748.
The 17 titles still banned include publications of the Jehovah's Witness church, banned in 1972 as its members had declined to undergo military
service which was deemed compulsory for men above the age of 18 in Singapore. The rest of the banned titles carry adult content, such as the magazines Penthouse, Playboy, Playgirl, Hustler, Mayfair, Men Only, Knave and Swank .
The Chinese government is trying a new technique to censor and ban mobile users that evade internet censorship in China, specifically the far west territory of Xinjiang.
Foreign messaging apps' users in China's Xinjiang territory such as WhatsApp have
had their phone service shut down entirely, according to the New York Times. A text message was sent preceding the shutdown. It said that the user's cellphone number will be shut down within the next two hours in accordance with the law.
users of the downloaded foreign messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Telegram but also people employing virtual private networks (VPNs) to cloak their locations to get access to banned websites and those who failed to register their account with the proper
identification were reported in the police station.
Xinjiang is the region experiencing terrorism related to separatists from the Muslim Uyghur ethnic groups in the region. The region has been subject to extreme censorship before, with the
internet totally shut down for 6 months in 2009.
Just over a decade ago, Sheng's best-selling breakthrough novel, Northern Girls , was published uncensored in mainland China to critical acclaim.
But last month, as editors prepared to launch a third edition of the book, the author was
informed that parts of her text were no longer publishable.
The censorship is related to the recent change of policy to allow Chinese couples to have two children instead of one. Now the censors seem keen to hide some of the nasty consequences of
the previous policy.
One excerpt editors want to expunge from the latest edition of her 2004 novel refers to the forced abortions and sterilisations undergone by women as a result of China's one-child policy, which was formally scrapped last month
after 35 years. One of the offending lines reads:
Those who exceeded the bounds of family planning policies and found themselves pregnant again had to have abortions.
President Xi Jinping has been
laying out a more censorial policy for literature. A speech from 2014 was recently published demanded that writers promote propaganda that the party's core socialist values and spread positive energy with their work:
Good works of art and literature should be like the sunshine from a blue sky and the breeze of spring. They should enlighten, warm and cultivate.
Xi criticised writers speaking of the realities of Chinese life. He
Some works ridicule what is noble and distort the classics, they subvert history and smear the masses and heroes. Some works make no distinctions between right and wrong, good and bad, ugly and beautiful,
overplaying the dark side of society.
China has issued its first press credentials allowing reporters to post state approved 'news' stories on websites.
The state-run Xinhua 'news' agency reports that China granted its first press credentials to online media just last week, adding:
China previously banned most websites from reporting on news, only allowing them to edit and publish news from traditional media.
Online-media reporters are expected to actively expound socialist
core values and amplify the mainstream voice in the Internet, making cyberspace 'clear and bright.
That may have been the law, but it was hardly true in practice. Online-only news portals like Sina and Sohu have been reporting news
for years, let alone the numerous bloggers and citizen journalists throughout the country. In theory anyone writing original news content, doing interviews, or publishing is technically breaking the law.
The first group of officially-credentialed
agencies included the People's Daily, the government portal for Tibet, and Xinhua News Agency itself. So far, the only groups issued state permits to report are... state-run media agencies. No commercial (i.e. not state-run) news portals have yet been
issued online press credentials.
The UN has called on Japan to prosecute manga cartoons of sexualized images of children. Speaking at Japan National Press Club, Dutch lawyer Maud De Boer-Buquicchio, a UN rapporteur on child prostitution and pornography, has praised the
recently-introduced law against real child pornography, but also criticised Japan for permitting cartoon imagery. She said:
When it comes to particular, extreme child pornographic content, manga should be banned.
The call from the UN envoy has been met with anger from manga artists, publishers and free-speech advocates, who claim that the ban would give the government unlimited power to restrict art.
Dan Kanemitsu, a manga translator, urged
not to confuse fiction with reality, saying that manga characters may look childish but are not actually kids.
China has been thinking up a nasty twist to their surveillance society predicted to result in a significant increase in internet censorship. It is called Internet Plus and combines repressive censorship and content monitoring with social media
style aggregation of people's internet life.
At the core of China's Internet agenda lies the so-called social credit system . This system, which is currently in the planning phase, seeks to leverage the explosion in personal data generated
through smartphones, apps and online transactions in order to improve citizens' behaviour.
According to a planning document published by the State Council last year , its objective is to improve sincerity in government affairs, commerce and
Individuals and businesses will be scored on various aspects of their conduct -- where you go, what you buy and who you know -- and these scores will be integrated within a comprehensive database that not only links into
government information, but also to data collected by private businesses. An individual's credit score might then be used in granting or withholding particular social services, or being made available to employers.
The State Council plan, for
instance, mentions rumor-mongering as an example of behavior to be sanctioned and recorded. It is this part of the plan that has led many commentators to describe it as an Orwellian tool of individual control.
More than 170 filmmakers, bloggers, youth advocates and others signed a statement denouncing a series of violent attacks on freedom.
Dozens of Indonesia's most prominent intellectuals and activists have called on their
government to end its repressive stance on freedom of expression.
In an open statement signed by 172 filmmakers, bloggers, youth advocates, artists and journalists, the signatories denounced a series of violent attacks on personal
freedoms that they said harkens back to the 1965 purge of communists that saw hundreds of thousands of people killed and imprisoned by the army.
In particular, the letter cited the recent arbitrary arrest and deportation of
Tom Iljas for visiting his father's grave, who was a victim of the 1965 anti-communist campaign.
The letter also cited the forced withdrawal of an edition of The Lentera student magazine for publishing stories about the 1965
killings in Salatiga, Central Java. The copies were confiscated and burned by police.
The signatories made four demands, including that police respect people's constitutional and basic rights for freedom of expression ;
cancel the deportation of Iljas; protect those who wish to discuss and investigate the 1965 massacres from censorship; and open a dialogue with those who were affected by the violence. The letter said:
We believe that
after 50 years the nation urgently needs an open, transparent and honest investigation and discussions on the 1965 Communist mass murder and its aftermath, events that have claimed millions of lives and brought misery to millions of others
The family of the victims must receive justice they deserve to get, while we believe that it's best for the institutions allegedly involved in the crimes to clean their name once and for all to allow them embrace the better future.
It's the best interest of the nation and its people if the massacre is cleared from surrounding dust and that justice is given to both the perpetrators and victims.
In September, Indonesia marked the 50th anniversary
of an alleged attempted coup that the military used to justify a campaign that killed as many as 3 million people, one of the worst acts of genocide in recorded history.
With U.S. support, the military-backed regime of Suharto
massacred any Indonesians perceived as hostile to his far-right agenda, communist or not. Most of the Indonesian Communist Party was wiped out, accused alongside the government of Sukarno of launching the coup.
In the midst
of the bloodbath, the army, religious organizations and paramilitary groups worked to hound suspected communists, while ethnic Chinese were also targeted. Some were spared death and flung into prisons.
Suharto was only toppled in
1998. However, while his exit has brought back democracy in Indonesia, it has not ended the impunity for those who destroyed it.
Thailand's junta has said it planned to create a new military unit to censor online dissent, as Internet freedom campaigners said they were training hundreds of volunteers for a cyber war against censorship.
The proposed unit follows
controversial plans for a single access point to the Internet, dubbed by online protesters as the Great Firewall of Thailand - in reference to China's draconian web surveillance - because it would make it easier to monitor the web.
Thai premier Prayut Chan-o-cha claimed no conclusions have been reached on the single gateway but defence minister Prawit Wongsuwon has now told reporters the military is continuing with the plan.
In response, the group Citizens Against Single
Gateway: Thailand Internet Firewall, vowed to launch unspecified attacks against the junta if the gateway plans were not cancelled. The group said the group in a Facebook post:
In order to win the cyber war this
time, we must use brains, skills and patience.
Thailand's state film censors at the Ministry of Censorship Culture have banned a horror film centring on the life of a teenage monk after the movie caused a stir among Buddhist hardliners who claimed that the film insults Buddhism.
Producers said in
a tweet that it has to postpone screening the film Abat ('offense' in the Pali language, the language of Theravada Buddhism). The movie company stated:
The movie has been banned by the Film and Media Screening
Committee (the committee of the Department of Cultural Promotion under the Ministry of Culture).
The Ministry informed the movie's producer and distributor that the film needs to be cut before it could go on screen.
September 2015, five Buddhist organisations, namely the Association of Scholars for Buddhism, the Buddhism Protection Centre of Thailand, the Buddhist Women's Association, the Network to Protect the Nation, Religion, and Monarchy, and the Buddhists
Network, issued a joint statement to the Ministry of Culture against the film. The statement which was submitted to Veera Rojpojanarat, the Minister of Culture, urged him to review the content of the film. It was also sent to the film producers asking
them to rethink whether the film is appropriate for screening in the country. In the statement, the five religious organisations wrote that the content of the movie shows disrespect towards Buddhism and Buddhist monks in the country and is valueless
The film is about a delinquent teenager who was forced by his parents to ordain as a Buddhist monk, but continues with his usual layman lifestyle while developing a sexual relationship with a young female protagonist, which later leads him
to uncover the dark secrets in his monastery. One of the controversial scenes in the film which shows the leading protagonist in a Buddhist monk's robe touching a woman, an action which is prohibited in the Buddhist monks' code of conduct
Taweesak, a Buddhist and philosophy scholar, however, shared his thoughts on the matter through Matichon News that there is nothing wrong with the film. He said that the call to ban the film shows a lack of tolerance and disrespect towards freedom
of expression, which ironically goes against the principles of freedom of thought in Buddhism itself.
Arpat , the new name of the banned Thai film Arbat , passed the censorship board
on Friday and was issued with an 18-plus rating after cuts. (Note, the actual name uses a Thai letter with no equivalence in English. It is half way between b and p, hence there's a choice of which to use in transliteration to English)
'sensitive' scenes have been cut from the original version, and a warning text appears at the start.
State censors who judged the film yesterday were different from those who banned the previous version of the film on Monday. The ban was imposed
on the grounds that the movie would tarnish the image of Buddhism through telling a story of misbehaving monks, (a sensitive issue in Thailand as there are plenty of misbehaving monks, many are just regular guys doing their duty of a short term stint as
a monk, often under pressure from families).
The new version has been censored of a scene of a young monk kissing a girl, a monk drinking alcohol and a monk touching the head of a Buddha statue, among others.
A warning stressing the film is
a work of fiction has been inserted at the start of the film.
Prachya admits that the title change, from Arbat to Arpat, may sound like a silly move , but he said it is a strategy to submit the new film for consideration while
retaining the right to appeal for a new verdict of the original film:
We want to appeal for a permit of the original Arbat, but the process takes a long time, so we presented the re-edited version and called it Arpat
The hullabaloo around the Thai film Arpat is the latest example of problems caused by what some people in the film industry perceive as flaws in the Film and Video Act 2008.
Some of the controversial aspects of the law, which was passed by the
coup-appointed National Legislative Assembly, include the composition of the censor committees, and the measure that allows a film to be banned for national security reasons. Also criticised were a conservative interpretation of the rules, and most
importantly strict state control over film, compared to lighter regulation of other cheaper and more accessible media such as television and print.
Many filmmakers believe the law, which introduced the rating system, poses many problems. Manit
Sriwanichpoom, whose film Shakespeare Must Die was banned in 2012., said:
The law says the rating committee consists of four government officials and three representatives from the private sector, but what happens is
that these three 'private representatives' are often those who are close to the bureaucrats, and they have to be approved by the bureaucrats first. That means the state still controls the thinking and the judgement.
The first film
banned under the new film law was Insect in the Backyard in 2010. It tells the story of a transgender father and his two children, one of them a male prostitute.
According to Kajornsak Putthanupap, who chaired the committee that banned the film
Arpat, there are six rotating committees taking turns to watch films and give a rating. He said Arpat was initially banned because it might create unnecessary conflicts in society if the committee had let it pass .
But for filmmakers, such
thinking is unfair treatment to film, given the fact that content in other media, such as magazines or television, does not require state approval before its release. Pantham Thongsang, a film producer who has campaigned for a fairer film law for the
past 10 years, said:
Some committees rely purely on their imagination that if a film has been released, such and such a bad thing would happen. It's like you forbid someone from leaving the house because you imagine he
might go out and kill someone.
Into the River is a young adult novel that was temporarily banned in New Zealand for subject matter that offended religious moralist campaigner.
An interim banning order was applied to Ted Dawe's novel in September after a campaign by
Family First to get age restrictions applied.
The ban has now been lifted by New Zealand's Film and Literature Board who ludicrously imposed the unnecessary ban that generated worldwide infamy for New Zealand.
In a majority decision
released on Wednesday, the board lifted the ban saying although aspects of the book may offend, it did not believe an age restriction was justified. The ruling noted:
Whilst many parents may choose not to allow their
children to read such material, there are no grounds to restrict the book from teenage readers.
The interim ban was widely criticised by authors and organisations including the New Zealand Book Council and the Publishers Association
of New Zealand, while readers worldwide organised silent readings in protest and solidarity with Dawe.
Family First's national director Bob McCoskrie accused the board of succumbing to book industry pressure despite the book's highly offensive
and gratuitous language, adult themes and graphic sexual content . But news the ban had been lifted was generally welcomed in New Zealand.
Update: Censorship is alive in New Zealand. I should know my book was banned
Lush cosmetics stores in Australia and New Zealand make a selling point of being handmade and with green credentials such as natural products and minimal packaging.
The company decided to emphasise these features in a Go Naked advertising
campaign. Featuring completely natural photos of four women's naked behinds, the images represent the company's use of as little packaging as possible. The ads features women of varying body shapes and sizes, including some of Lush's staff members. The
aim was to showcase real, beautiful, un-Photoshopped, unaltered women .
But the in-store posters have been reported as somehow pornographic . A few people have whinged to the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) in Australia because
they claim the campaign is sexualised. The ASB has reported complaints claiming that the image is:
Pornographic in nature and shows naked woman touching other naked women and it is shown in a public place.
People have also expressed concern about children viewing the sexualised snaps, as they appear in public shopping centres.
Thankfully the ASB has ruled that the images were not pornographic or of a sexual nature. However,
the advert censors added:
The full body images and the fact that there are four women rather than an individual meant that the overall impact was increased and was confronting.
The poster has since
been removed from stores. However, the nude images are still being used on Lush's website and social media sites.
During their show in Beijing on October 6th, Megadeth was abruptly canceled only an hour into their performance by Chinese Censors.
After finishing Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? Dave Mustane politely waved and thanked the
audience for attending the show, Thank you for leaving so that we can come back and play again. Mustaine commented later in the tour about the Beijing gig:
Show before last was a little interesting because of
the lyric content. We had to play some songs instrumentally and some songs we just had to plain avoid. But in the end love of music always conquers love of power.
Thailand's military dictator has been defending his latest policy to censor dissent with plans to launch a single Internet gateway that will help the government to muzzle the web.
According to news reports, the Ministry of Information and
Communications Technology was ordered at a September 1 Cabinet meeting to establish a firewall to filter all Internet traffic entering and leaving Thailand. The written order, signed by Prayuth, said the gateway would serve as a tool to control access
to inappropriate sites and the influx of information from abroad, the reports said. Prayuth's order called on authorities to expedite the gateway's establishment.
Shawn Crispin, the Committee to Protect Journalists' senior Southeast
Asia representative responded:
Thailand needs fewer, not more, controls on the Internet. Prayuth should scrap the one gateway plan and any other designs to block, censor, or surveil the Internet and Internet-based
social media applications. Any new laws or plans to govern Thailand's Internet should be left for a new, elected administration, not his self-appointed military junta.
Thai citizens have been opposing the censorship plan via a
petition signed by nearly 150,000 people. The issue has become one of the biggest public rallying points since the military seized power from an elected government last year.
Activists brought down several government websites last week in protest
at plans dubbed the Great Firewall of Thailand .
Last Wednesday, calls went out on social media in Thailand encouraging people to visit the websites and repeatedly refresh them. Image caption One of the posts that appeared on social media:
Next target, www.thaigov.go.th to show our opposition to the single gateway. Among the targets were the site of the ministry of information, communications and technology (ICT) and the main government website thaigov.go.th .
Permanent Secretary Somsak Khaosuwan tried to spin the website crash, claiming that the site did not crash because of an attack but because it was overloaded by visitors checking to see whether and attack was happening.
China's public security ministry is pressing ahead with repressive moves to force more of the country's 668 million netizens to use their real names and a digital ID card online.
The move is part of a raft of Internet controls enshrined in the draft
Cybersecurity Law being debated in China's parliament.
While officials claim the new system will improve the security of users' personal data and help fight cybercrime, online activists say it is yet another way for the ruling Chinese Communist
Party to keep tabs on who is saying what online.
An online activist nicknameed Xiaofei Riyetan told RFA:
The overall aim of the Chinese Communist Party is to further tighten control on dissidents,
including democracy activists. This will add greater weight to their attempts to accuse these people of crimes, and enable them to lock them up in the name of the rule of law.
He said recent surveys showing that netizens feel less
safe online than they did previously have more to do with a sense that everything they do or say is being watched, than with cybercrime. The activist said:
The crackdown on dissents has got worse and worse since
[President] Xi Jinping came to power. The space for free expression is getting smaller and smaller, and ever more tightly managed; that's why we feel more and more unsafe, he said.
The book recently banned (pending appeal) by New Zealand book censors has secured distribution in the United States and Canada as a result of the censorship fracas.
American publishing house Polis Books plan to publish Into the River , by
Ted Dawe, in hardcover and as an e-book after founder Jason Pinter heard about the New Zealand ban. He told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report :
Any time a book is banned, all it serves to do is get the book
more readers. This is how I heard about the book, to begin with - I was actually on holiday with my family, and it made me want to read the book.
I don't think the book deserves to be banned. It's a fantastic book - I wouldn't be
publishing it if [I didn't think that].
There are no plans to restrict the age of American readers, although Pinter said Polis would recommend that readers be over 13, as parents tended to buy for their children and might want to be
aware of its more sensitive themes.
Into the River won Book of the Year at the 2013 New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards, but was not been picked up for publication outside of New Zealand before its ban.
After a challenge from Christian
morality campaign, Family First, the Film and Literature Board of Review placed an interim restriction order on the book last month, meaning no-one in New Zealand could distribute or exhibit the novel. It was pulled off library and bookshop shelves.
A potential age restriction is being considered and the Film and Literature Board of Review meets this week to discuss the matter.