Freedom of Speech Roundup

by Sampsonia Way    /  June 9, 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.

Zuma Spear

'The Spear,' a controversial painting of Jacob Zuma was defaced in March. Last week Zuma attempted legal action against the gallery and a newspaper that reproduced it online, but dropped the charges. Zuma said the painting was an 'undignified depiction of my personality.' Photo: youtube user Badgerface2012

Last week, good news came from Colombia, where French reporter Romeo Langlois was released by rebel forces after being held captive for 33 days. Unfortunately, comic artist Mysh became a victim of Facebook censorship after his political cartoons were removed from the site, and in Jenin the artistic director of the Freedom Theater was arrested by Israeli troops. Of note are a Harvard study of censorship in China’s social media and an analysis of the Russian government’s crackdown on protestors. Sampsonia Way would also like to congratulate Cave Canem fellow Natasha Trethewey, who was named the 19th US poet laureate this week. Below are the links to these and other relevant stories from May 30 to June 6, 2012.

South Africans Clash on Twitter over #Zumaspear

CPJ Blog. “‘There is no view that will not offend someone somewhere at one time or another.’” Read Here

Facebook Censors Cartoons Against Racism, Capitalism

+972. Comic artist Mysh’s political cartoons were removed from Facebook without explanation. Read Here

Harvard Researchers: Yes, You Really Can Criticize the Government on China’s Social Media

Tea Leaf Nation. “What gets the censors’ attention is anything which looks like it may actually mobilize netizens to take action in the real world…” Read Here

Setting Aside a Public Space to Promote Free Speech

The Prague Post. “…Speakers’ Corner Trust has grown and unveiled a number of Speakers’ Corners across the globe, from Berlin to Abuja, Nigeria.” Read Here

Natasha Trethewey Named 19th US Poet Laureate

NY Daily News. Mississippi native Natasha Trethewey is “the first person to serve as simultaneously as a state and U.S. laureate.” Read Here


Trethewey reads at City of Asylum/Pittsburgh’s second annual Cave Canem event.

Exiled Iranian Rapper Shahin Najafi’s Musical Defiance

CBC News. Exiled hip hop artist Shahin Najafi says that “his intention with ‘Naghi’ was not to insult, but to create discussion.” Read Here

Colombian Rebels Free French Reporter After Month in Captivity

Reuters. “Langlois berated the rebels for holding him for 33 days and urged the media to pay more attention to Latin America’s longest-running insurgency.” Read Here

Jung Chang on Why the Chinese Middle Classes Put Up with a ‘Maoist Culture of Fear’

The Telegraph. Best–selling Chinese author Jung Chang cannot “foresee mass political protest because the middle classes are happy with their material comforts and do not want to rock the boat.” Read Here

Britain Needs More Free Speech. Change This Law Now

The Guardian. “A mature, multicultural country must be capable of free speech laws that consistently require that…the harassment, alarm or distress should be both intended and likely.” Read Here

Rights Groups Want Protection for Asma Jahangir

Pak Tribune. Asma Jahangir, founder of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, was allegedly the target of an assassination plot led by Pakistani military and intelligence agencies. Read Here

Russia’s Summer Frost

Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Based on the rise in prosecutions of opposition protestors, it is clear that “Putin has settled on a get-tough strategy with the increasingly emboldened opposition and its supporters.” Read Here

Israeli Troops Arrest Freedom Theatre Artistic Director

Al Arabiya. Nabil al–Raee, artistic director of Jenin’s Freedom Theatre, was arrested and detained by Israeli troops. 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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