Freedom of Speech Roundup

by Sampsonia Way    /  May 26, 2012  / No comments

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

Salman Rushdie PEN 2012

At the 2012 PEN World Voices Festival, author Salman Rushdie speaks about censorship.

This week the Shura Council in Bahrain made a step toward freedom of speech and passed an amendment to limit punishments for those who voice their opinions freely. The Ethiopian News Agency also announced plans for a 24–7 TV channel, but is awaiting government approval. Unfortunately, a Tibetan comedian was jailed and an Azerbaijani rapper was forced to flee his homeland after he was arrested and tortured by authorities. In a disturbing move, the US the House of Representatives voted to keep a provision allowing indefinite detentions for anyone suspected of “terrorism” in the language of a military policy bill. Also this week, Salman Rushdie shares his thoughts in a lecture about censorship. Below are the links to these and other relevant stories from May 16 to May 23, 2012.

Salman Rushdie’s PEN World Voices Lecture on Censorship

The New Yorker. “If the creative artist worries if he will still be free tomorrow, then he will not be free today.” Read Here

Venezuelan Journalist Shares Tips on How to Avoid Cyber-Attacks

Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas. After being threatened by pro–Chávez hackers, Luis Carlos Díaz offers advice on how to secure online profiles against attacks. Read Here

Pakistan Restores Twitter After Block

BBC. The social media website was blocked for several hours because of content deemed “offensive to Islam.” Read Here

Tortured Singer Flees Azerbaijan Days before Eurovision

The Guardian. Azerbaijan singer Jamal Ali fled to Germany after being tortured by police for performing a song criticizing President Ilham Aliyev. Read Here


Human Rights Organizations have viewed his arrest as indicative of the situation of freedom of speech in Azerbaijan.

Watch a BBC interview with Jamal Ali.

Tibetan Comedian Sentenced to Three Years in Prison

Radio Free Asia. Tibetan comedian Athar was charged with possession of concealed weapons, despite never “owning even a single bullet.” Read Here

10 Scandalous Authors from History

Huffington Post. Authors like Walt Whitman and D.H. Lawrence were fired or put on trial for publishing controversial content. Read Here

At the Ethiopian News Agency, Hope for Freer Journalism

The New York Times. The Ethiopian News Agency hopes that plans for a 24–7 TV news channel will be approved by the government. Read Here

A New Attack on the US Constitution

The New York Times. The House of Representatives voted to keep a provision allowing indefinite detention for terrorism suspects in the defense bill, despite its violation of the First and Fifth amendments. Read Here

Bahrain Passes New Law on Freedom of Speech

Trade Arabia. The Shura Council has amended Bahrain’s penal code, allowing citizens to voice their opinions without fear of extreme punishment. Read Here

About the Author

Sampsonia Way is an online magazine sponsored by City of Asylum/Pittsburgh that seeks to protect and advocate for writers who may be endangered, to educate the public about threats to writers and literary expression, and to create a community in which endangered writers thrive and literary culture is a valued part of life.

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