South Asia Censorship News

 2016: July-Sept

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 Offsite Article: Maldives government recommends...


Link Here 8th September 2016
stealing paradise video Al-Jazeera documentary, Stealing Paradise

See article from theguardian.com

 

 Updated: Maalik...

Banned by Pakistan's government for portraying a corrupt character a little too closely to an actual minister


Link Here 7th September 2016  full story: Banned Films in Pakistan...Sensitive issues of image and religion
Poster Maalik 2016 Ashir Azeem Maalik is a 2016 Pakistan action thriller by Ashir Azeem.
Starring Ashir Azeem, Farhan Ally Agha and Sajid Hassan. BBFC link IMDb

An Afghan family that escapes from the ravages of the Soviet war in Afghanistan and settles in Karachi. A SSG officer who undergoes a personal tragedy and starts a private security company (Black Ops Pvt. Ltd) in Karachi. His SSG colleagues keep joining the company on their retirements. An idealist school master who suffers greatly under a cruel Feudal lord and settles in Karachi and finally the Feudal Lord who becomes the Chief Minister of Sindh and unleashes a reign of terror on all that cross his path. Maalik is a story of love, loyalty, honor, family value, idealism, courage and dignity against all odds, and across all sections of society from the poor and the struggling to the highest levels of wealth and power.

The film was removed from cinema screens by government authorities a few weeks after its initial premiere on April 8, 2016. This is in spite of it being cleared by all three censor boards.

The film was flagged by the Sindh government after they accused one of the characters portraying a corrupt former Chief Minister as being too similar to the present Chief Minister of Sindh province. A ministry official told local newspapers:

The information ministry reserves the right to ban any film at any time. Maalik has been banned because it shows a former chief minister as a man of corruption and opulence.

Following numerous appeals from Sindh, the film was eventually banned by the Federal Government across the rest of Pakistan.

The Pakistani government later attempted to ban the export of the film on August 9, 2016, barring it from being shown overseas. However, despite these attempts, the film was set for release in the UK and internationally on August 26, 2016.

Director Ashir Azeem commented on the failed attempt to ban the export of the film:

Authorities in Pakistan are very concerned with how they are perceived, especially abroad. Whereas this might be considered an overreaction in some countries, it has become the go-to method for the authorities to ban content they deem offensive or controversial.

Meanwhile in the UK,  the film was passed 15 uncut for strong violence, sexual threat for 2016 cinema release.

Update: Unbanned by High Court

7th September 2016. See  article from dawn.com

high court of sindh logoThe Sindh High Court has declared the federal government's controversial ban on film Maalik illegal and cleared it to be screened again.

The federal government had banned Maalik, overruling film censors who had cleared it for its release on April 8. The government banned the film after it had been on release for 3 weeks and did not provide any explanation for banning the film in its notification.

Ashir Azeem, the film's director, had challenged the ban in court saying the ban on Maalik had been imposed by the government without having the authority to do. The authority to establish censor boards was a prerogative of provincial governments following the 18th amendment, he had argued.

And Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah duly cleared the film for screening across the country while ruling the ban illegal.

 

 Update: Another law claiming worldwide reach...

The Global Ambitions of Pakistan's New Cyber-Crime Act


Link Here 21st August 2016  full story: Internet Censorship in Pakistan...internet website blocking

Pakistan flagDespite near universal condemnation from Pakistan's tech experts; despite the efforts of a determined coalition of activists, and despite numerous attempts by alarmed politicians to patch its many flaws, Pakistan's Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill (PECB) last week passed into law. Its passage ends an eighteen month long battle between Pakistan's government, who saw the bill as a flagship element of their anti-terrorism agenda, and the technologists and civil liberties groups who slammed the bill as an incoherent mix of anti-speech, anti-privacy and anti-Internet provisions.

But the PECB isn't just a tragedy for free expression and privacy within Pakistan. Its broad reach has wider consequences for Pakistan nationals abroad, and international criminal law as it applies to the Net.

The new law creates broad crimes related to cyber-terrorism and its glorification online. It gives the authorities the opportunity to threaten, target and censor unpopular online speech in ways that go far beyond international standards or Pakistan's own free speech protections for offline media. Personal digital data will be collected and made available to the authorities without a warrant: the products of these data retention programs can then be handed to foreign powers without oversight.

PECB is generous to foreign intelligence agencies. It is far less tolerant of other foreigners, or of Pakistani nationals living abroad. Technologists and online speakers outside Pakistan should pay attention to the first clause of the new law :

  1. This Act may be called the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016.

  2. It extends to the whole of Pakistan.

  3. It shall apply to every citizen of Pakistan wherever he may be and also to every other person for the time being in Pakistan.

  4. It shall also apply to any act committed outside Pakistan by any person if the act constitutes an offence under this Act and affects a person, property, information system or data location in Pakistan.

Poorly-written cyber-crime laws criminalize these everyday and innocent actions by technology users, and the PECB is no exception. It criminalizes the violation of terms of service in some cases, and ramps up the penalties for many actions that would be seen as harmless or positive acts in the non-digital world, including unauthorized copying and access. Security researchers and consumers frequently conduct unauthorized acts of access and copying for legitimate and lawful reasons. They do it to exercise of their right of fair use, to exposing wrongdoing in government, or to protect the safety and privacy of the public. Violating website terms of service may be a violation of your agreement with that site, but no nation should turn those violations into felonies.

The PECB asserts an international jurisdiction for these new crimes. It says that if you are a Pakistan national abroad (over 8.5 million people, or 4% of Pakistan's total population) you too can be prosecuted for violating its vague statutes. And if a Pakistan court determines that you have violated one of the prohibitions listed in the PECB in such a way that it affects any Pakistani national, you can find yourself prosecuted in the Pakistan courts, no matter where you live.

Pakistan isn't alone in making such broad claims of jurisdiction. Some countries claim the power to prosecute a narrow set of serious crimes committed against their citizens abroad under international law's passive personality principle (the U.S. does so in some of its anti-terrorism laws). Other countries claim jurisdiction over the actions of its own nationals abroad under the active personality principle (for instance, in cases of treason.)

But Pakistan's cyber-crime law asserts both principles simultaneously, and explicitly applies them to all cyber-crime, both major and minor, defined in PECB. That includes creating a sense of insecurity in the [Pakistani] government (Ch.2, 10), offering services to change a computer's MAC address (Ch.2, 16), or building tools that let you listen to licensed radio spectrum (Ch.2, 13 and 17).

The universal application of such arbitrary laws could have practical consequences for the thousands of overseas Pakistanis working in the IT and infosecurity industries, as well for those in the Pakistan diaspora who wish to publicly critique Pakistani policies. It also continues the global jurisdictional trainwreck that surrounds digital issues, where every country demands that its laws apply and must be enforced across a borderless Internet.

Applying what has been described as the worst piece of cyber-crime legislation in the world to the world is a bold ambition, and the current Pakistani government's reach may well have exceeded its grasp, both under international law and its own constitutional limits. The broad coalition who fought PECB in the legislature will now seek to challenge it in the courts.

But until they win, Pakistan has overlaid yet another layer of vague and incompatible crimes over the Internet, and its own far-flung citizenry.

 

 Update: Legendary censorship...

Two Indian states ban the movie, The Legend of Michael Mishra


Link Here 7th August 2016  full story: Banned Movies in India...Sex, religion and easy offence
the legend of michael mishraThe Legend of Michael Mishra is a 2016 India comedy drama by Manish Jha.
Starring Aditi Rao Hydari, Boman Irani and Arshad Warsi. IMDb

The CBFC-certified film The Legend of Michael Mishra, released on Friday, has been banned by two state governments. The film cannot now be screened in Punjab and Haryana.

The Punjab government banned the film following protests over a dialogue in the film referring to Maharishi Valmiki. On Saturday, cinema chains and halls in Haryana received first a phone call, and then a letter issued by the state government, banning the film for eight weeks. The letter was dated Friday, but was received only on Saturday afternoon, following phone calls apparently made that morning by entertainment tax officials to cinema halls, asking them to cancel the film's shows in Gurgaon and elsewhere.

The two governments issued the order to ban the film because, as the Haryana government's letter says:

Tthere are strong reasons to apprehend that if the film is screened in the State, there could be protests by different organizations/individuals which may cause damage to private as well as to public property resulting in serious law & order situation in the State. It has the potential to endanger the peace and social harmony in the State.

The Haryana letter was issued even after the film's producers had voluntarily removed the dialogue, despite the CBFC having certified it. On Friday, the film's publicist issued a statement quoting Kishor Arora, producer, Eyecandy Films, saying:

We have a valid Censor certification and voluntarily removed the objectionable matter as we do not wish to hurt anyone's sentiments. It's very sad that in spite of all this, we are facing difficulties in exhibiting the film. Where do we go seek redressal (sic).

 

  Kathakali passed 'A' uncut...

Another Indian film where a court overrides the film censors


Link Here 6th August 2016
kathakali august 2016India's Central Board of Film Classification has issued an adults only A certificate for the Malayalam movie Kathakali . The censor previously demanded cuts for a lower category on grounds of alleged nudity and vulgarity, but the decision was changed following the intervention of the Kerala High Court.

The director of the movie, Saijo Kannanaikkal had approached the High Court in June after the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) officer here insisted on removal of some scenes from the film for issuing the certification.

The filmmaker had alleged that the board's move was an infringement on his creative freedom. CBFC regional officer A Prathibha said an A certificate was given to the movie according to an High Court's directive. S he told PTI:

The High Court directed us to give an appropriate certification for the film. So we issued an A certificate to it. As it is an A certificate, the controversial scenes have been retained.

The two hour long feature film revolves around the life of a man, an orphan, who tries to create a space and identity of his own in the society around. In the climax, the protagonist removes his Kathakali attire and crosses a river as a symbolic mark of protest against the society.

 

  As if the violence in Pakistan could somehow be attributed to children's TV...

Pakistani political party calls for a TV ban of the popular Japanese children's cartoon Doraemon


Link Here 3rd August 2016
doraemon film blu blu_ray Italian The political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, has submitted a resolution in the Punjab Assembly calling for a TV ban on famous Japanese anime series Doraemon.

The cartoon revolves around a robotic cat named Doraemon and a young boy Nobita. It is aired on various cartoon channels and has been dubbed in Hindi for viewers in Pakistan and India.

PTI legislator Malik Taimoor Masood urged Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to impose a ban on Doraemon or limit its airtime as he claimed it contains explicit content which has a bad impact on children. He argued that 24-hour cartoon channels are adversely affecting the educational and physical growth of children.

The resolution, which will be discussed in the next assembly session, claims the language used in cartoons run on channels is damaging societal norms.

An Indian educationalist. Ashish Chaturvedi, is also seeking a ban of Doraemon citing media reports highlighting supposed mental abuse and other serious adverse impact of cartoons on kids. He said that dubbed violent cartoons are grappling a whole generation of kids across India and the world.

 

  It's just not cricket...

Pakistan, still banned from hosting international cricket, bans film about rescue of Indian cricketer kidnapped before a match with Pakistan


Link Here 31st July 2016
dishoomDishoom is a 2016 India action crime comedy by Rohit Dhawan.
Starring Nargis Fakhri, Akshay Kumar and Jacqueline Fernandez. IMDb

When India's top batsman Viraj goes missing in Middle East, two cops Kabir Shergill and Junaid Ansari from either side of Arabian Sea team for a 36-hours man hunt before the final match between India and Pakistan.

Rohit Dhawan's film Dishoom has been banned in Pakistan. According to reports, Pakistan's censor board contended that the film projected the country in a poor light. Pakistan has a bit of history of banning films where Pakistanis/muslims are the villains of the piece.

Actor Varun Dhawan said that the film does not intend to malign any country's reputation, or address any religious issues for that matter:

What we are trying to show is that for certain people money is their religion. It's not being an Indian, Pakistani, Hindu, Muslim or Christian. In the capitalistic world that we live in, money is the biggest driving force for most crimes.

Some reports state that the films have also faced censor troubles in some of the Gulf states due to inappropriate representation.

Update: Referred to government

2nd August 2016. See  article from tribune.com.pk

CBFC Chairman Mobashir Hasan said that after the refusal to award a certificate the decision has now been forwarded to the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and Heritage for further guidance in the matter:

The ministry will decide the fate of the film. Technically the film is not banned but is not being exhibited in the cinemas.

 

 Update: Vulgar and offensive censorship...

Indian film censors ban gay film, Ka Bodyscapes


Link Here 27th July 2016  full story: Banned Movies in India...Sex, religion and easy offence
Poster Ka Bodyscapes 2016 Jayan Cherian Ka Bodyscapes is a 2016 India / USA gay drama by Jayan Cherian.
Starring Adhithi, Tinto Arayani and Arundhathi. IMDb

Three young people, Haris, a gay painter; Vishnu, a rural kabaddi player and their friend Sia, an activist who refuse to conform to dominant norms of femininity, struggle to find space and happiness in a conservative Indian City.

India's Central Board of Film Classification (CBFC), taking umbrage at what it decided are vulgar and offensive scenes in it, has banned the Malayalam film Ka Bodyscapes produced and directed by New York-based film-maker Jayan Cherian.

In a rejection letter sent to the maker of the film, A. Prathibha, regional officer of the CBFC in Thiruvananthapuram, wrote:

The revising committee felt that the entire content of the Malayalam feature film Ka Bodyscapes is ridiculing, insulting and humiliating Hindu religion, in particular portraying Hindu Gods in poor light. Derogatory words are used against women. The Hindu God 'Hanuman' is shown as coming in the books titled 'I am Gay' and other homosexual books. The film has also references to lady masturbating, highlighting 'gay' by many 'gay' posters. The film offends human sensibilities by vulgarity, obscenity and depravity.

The CBFC regional office had earlier referred the film, which is woven around a gay love story, to the review committee. It transferred the review screening to Chennai and postponed it on the eve of the screening scheduled for July 5. Finally, as the maker accused the board of dragging its feet on certifying the film, the review committee watched it on July 15.

Cherian accused the board of suffering from homophobia:

Their basic attitude towards and idea of same sex love is that it's vulgar and obscene.

He said he will move the High Court of Kerala for relief.

 

 Update: Internet Censors Blocked...

Pakistan's internet censors wonder why their website blocking doesn't seem to apply to mobile phones


Link Here 18th July 2016
pakistan telecommunication authority logoAfter blocking more than 400,000 websites for supposedly objectionable material, now Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is considering to restrict porn sites on mobile handsets also.

Censors said that the authority has received complaints that porn sites are accessible on internet. Whether you access internet through personal computer or mobile phone the law is same; objectionable sites are banned in country, a censor said. He said authority has received complaints that adult content is accessible on almost all the major telecom networks:

We are investigating why it is available on mobile phones, but I think mobile service providers are using VPN.

According to sources in industry, telecom service providers are not blocking porn content due to business considerations. Browsing websites may only consume some megabytes but if you download or watch some movie the data consumption is in gigabytes, a source said.

According to experts, PTA will direct all the telecom operators to establish Internet Exchange Point (IXP) to facilitate the local internet traffic to remain local and block the supposedly objectionable sites.

 

  Ban it or else the horse will get it!...

Delhi High Court petitioners call for the banning of Godfather beer


Link Here 3rd July 2016
godfather beerA legal case has been registered at the Delhi High Court seeking to restrain manufacture, supply and sale of Godfather beer in the city, claiming it hurts religious sentiments.

The plea by a civic organisation claims that sentiments and emotions of the public at large of every religion would be affected as the word God is used by everyone to refer to the almighty power . Devinder Singh, president of Jan Chetna Manch, whinged:.

The Godfather (beer) manufacturers are against humanity and the principle of natural justice as they are intentionally harassing and damaging religious emotions.

The petition is likely to come up for hearing next week.

 

 Update: Causing a stir...

Indian film censors ban another film, Salagto Sawal Anamat


Link Here 2nd July 2016  full story: Banned Movies in India...Sex, religion and easy offence
salagto sawal anamatThe Gujarati film Salagto Sawal Anamat (Burning Question Reservation), has formally been banned by the Centre Board of Film Certification (CBFC). For now, it will not be released in theatres anymore.

The producers of the movie were informed that the CBFC claimed that the movie may pose a threat to the integrity and sovereignty of India .

Giving reasons for denial of certification, a CBFC letter states that the film on Patidar quota stir consists of visuals or words which promote communal, obscurantist, anti-scientific and anti-national attitude. It further states that the movie shows visuals or words contemptuous of racial, religious or other groups and that the security of the State is jeopardized."

Now the filmmakers may be forced to court to contest the CBFC's denial of certification.

The director of the film Rajesh Gohil said:

CBFC officials had agreed on an A' certification only if we removed certain scenes that it considered objectionable including two songs glorifying the Patidar community for their struggle.

Gohil said that if they had edited the film the way the CBFC wanted then the length of film would have been reduced to 80 minutes from the current 150 minutes.

 

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