Freedom of Speech Roundup

by Sampsonia Way    /  August 4, 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.

Mexico: Enrique Peña Nieto

Mexico's new president, Enrique Peña Nieto faces the challenge of countering the continued persecution of journalists by organized crime and a corrupt legal system. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, World Economic Forum

In this week’s Roundup Carol Cadwalladr for The Guardian catches up with the anonymous un-jailed members of Russian feminist collective Pussy Riot for their first interview with western media, the Ethiopian government bans newspapers from reporting on the country’s missing prime minister, and newspapers in Burma and Tanzania are indefinitely shut down for undisclosed reasons.

Also included are stories concerning questions about the First Amendment raised by the Chik-fil-A controversy and BBC programming censorship during the Olympics. Additionally, Sampsonia Way commemorates the passing of two literary figures: American writer Gore Vidal (86) and radical journalist Alexander Cockburn (71).

Follow the links below for these and other stories for the week of July 25 – August 1, 2012:

One Month After Mexico’s Presidential Elections, Attacks on Journalists Continue

International Press Institute. At least four incidents involving journalists being assaulted, abducted, threatened, or arrested have occurred since July 1. “The result of these actions is that…the press can no longer play its role as watchdog over public institutions.” Read Here

CPJ. Lydia Cacho, an award-winning investigative reporter, human rights activist and columnist for the daily El Universal, received a death threat last week. CPJ urges the government to investigate. Read Here

CPJ. The offices of Sierra Madre, a supplement owned by El Norte was the target of an arson attack at the end of July. It is the third attack on an El Norte supplement this month. Read Here

Pussy Riot: Will Putin Regret Taking on Russia’s Cool Punks?

The Guardian. An in-depth profile of Russia’s feminist punk band, featuring western media’s first interview with the members of Pussy Riot who are not in prison. Read Here

Belarus Declares War on Teddy Bears

Index On Censorship. Belarus has vowed to “punish” those involved in parachuting teddy bears holding human rights slogans from a plane into the country. Journalist Anton Suryapin was arrested for posting pictures of the bears on his website. Read Here

Gore Vidal, US Writer and Contrarian, Dies at 86

The Guardian. Vidal’s literary output was prodigious: More than 20 novels, including the transsexual satire Myra Breckinridge and a series of historical fiction charting the history of the United States. Read Here

Hong Kong sellers profit from Beijing’s ‘forbidden’ books

CNN. Bookstores such as People’s Commune stock forbidden books on everything from the Tiananmen Square crackdown of 1989 to the ongoing scandal of ousted Communist Party official Bo Xilai. Read Here

Radical Journalist, Media Critic Alexander Cockburn Dies


Alexander Cockburn, longtime journalist, columnist, and publisher of the progressive news website Counterpunch, has died at the age of 71. In memorial Democracy Now! presents an interview with him from 2003.

Where is Meles Zenawi? Ethiopians Don’t Know

CPJ. Ethiopia’s PM Meles Zenawi has been missing for a month. Rumors abound as the government has neither released an official statement, nor allowed local media to report on the subject. Read Here

Chick-fil-A and Free Speech

CNN. After Chick-fil-A announced its opposition to marriage quality, mayors in Boston and Chicago declared the company would find it difficult to open franchises in their cities. Attorney Marc J. Randazza weighs in on the bounds of the company’s and mayors’ First Amendment rights. Read Here

Local Iraqi Journalist Killed by Gunmen (Slideshow)

The Huffington Post. Iraqi officials say the 29-year-old TV presenter, Ghazwan Anas has been shot dead by gunmen who broke into his house at the end of last month. Read Here

Myanmar Censors Suspend Publication of Two Magazines

CPJ. President Thein Sein eased censorship as part of his reforms, but two weekly magazines have been indefinitely suspended for publishing stories that were not pre-approved by government censors. Read Here

China Censors Aftermath of Deadly Beijing Storm

Boston.com. The storm that ravaged Beijing in July and killed at least 77 people remains a sensitive topic in China, with a newspaper ordered to cut its coverage and online discussions curtailed. Read Here

Fear and Self-Censorship on the Uzbek Internet

Net Prophet. Uzbekistan has the most severe restrictions on Internet use in Central Asia, according to a recent report on the state of Internet and politics in the country. Read Here

Tanzanian Authorities Ban Weekly Paper Indefinitely

CPJ. “Once again, Tanzanian authorities have wielded an archaic newspaper act and vague, unsupported accusations of sedition to censor reporting that is merely critical of the government,” said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. Read Here

Censorship, Self-Censorship and the Olympic Spirit

The Huffington Post. “Faced with its lucrative rights deal for UK broadcasting of the Games, the BBC is blocking its own output from being available internationally.” Read Here

Kashmiri Journalist Arrested for Exposing Felling of Historic Trees

Environment News Service. A journalist has been arrested and is being detained after the publication of photos he took of historic trees that were chopped down by government officials. 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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