Freedom of Speech Roundup

by Sampsonia Way    /  August 18, 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.

Pussy Riot on Trial

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of the band Pussy Riot, in custody at the Moscow Tagansky District Court. Tolokonnikova, along with bandmates Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, was sentenced to two years in prison for a Febuary performance in a Russian Orthodox cathedral. Photo: Denis Bochkarev

This week, three members of the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years in prison. Julian Assange has been granted asylum from Ecuador, though Britain has refused to give him safe passage out of the country. In South Korea two twitter users have been the subject of presidential “retaliation” for their tweets, while in Malaysia a social media blackout was used to protest a recent amendment to the Malaysian Evidence Act 1950.

In other news, Mexican poet Javier Sicilia’s Caravan for Peace has kicked-off its month-long tour, and the Council of Europe foreign ministers has called for libel reform in Europe.

Follow the links below for these stories and more for the week of August 8-15, 2012.

Pussy Riot jailed for two years – live updates

The Guardian. Members of feminist punk band Pussy Riot have been sentenced to two years in jail over an anti-Putin protest at a Moscow cathedral. Follow the latest news and reaction here.

Korea Policing the Net. Twist? It’s South Korea.

The New York Times. A government critic who called the president a curse word on his Twitter account found it blocked. And a judge who wrote that the president was out to “screw” Internet users who challenged his authority was fired in what was widely seen as retaliation. Read more

In Syria, Wave of Deadly Attacks Against Journalists

Committee to Protect Journalists. Series of attacks against journalists in Syria over the past two weeks have included the killing of at least three journalists and the kidnapping of several others. Pro-government media have borne the brunt of the recent attacks. Read more

Malaysia: Blackout Protest Against Internet Censorship Legislation

Malaysia Star. On August 14, Malaysian netizens “blacked out” their activity on social media and other sites in protest against the second of two recent amendments made to the Malaysian Evidence Act 1950. Read here

A Postcard and Interview from Burma

The New Yorker. A reminder that the Burmese government has adopted more of the vocabulary of freedom than the spirit of it. Read here

DVB. An interview with Burma’s Union Solidarity and Development Party’s secretary and Lower House’s Banks and Monetary Development Committee chair Aung Thaung on the country’s reform process. Read the interview

Hear the Voices from Belarus

The Dissident Blog. Natallia Radzina, editor-in-chief at the independent news site charter97.org gives a report from the front lines, now that the digital domain plays an increasingly important role in the fight for freedom of speech. Read here

Mexican Activists Kick Off U.S. Caravan Calling for End of Drug War

Washington Post. The Caravan for Peace, organized by Mexican poet-turned-activist Javier Sicilia, whose son was killed by drug traffickers last year, kicked off a month-long, cross-country journey. Los Angeles was the first of around 20 stops for the peace caravan in its journey across the United States. Read more


At the Caravan for Peace families of victims from Mexico will tell the story of the human toll of the war on drugs. Here are some of the testimonies.

Wikileaks and Assange

Open Democracy. The WikiLeaks storm of 2010 seems to be spent. But as a symptom of what is happening to journalism, the WikiLeaks phenomenon carries profound significance, says Charlie Beckett. Read more

The Guardian. According to Mark Weisbrot, Ecuador is right to stand up to the US in granting Julian Assange asylum. Read more

Democracy Now. Britain is refusing to give Julian Assange safe passage out of the country, even though Ecuador has granted him political asylum. Britain has also threatened to raid the embassy in order to arrest Assange. In response Ecuador has asked the Organization of American States to hold a meeting Aug. 23 to discuss the diplomatic crisis. Read more

Why is Honduras So Violent?

Al Jazeera. Since Manuel Zelaya was ousted as president in 2009, Honduras has become one of the most dangerous countries for members of the media. Twenty two journalists have been killed in the country in the last two years. See the report

Egypt to try Journalists for Defaming, Insulting the President

CNN. Egyptian journalists Tawfiq Okasha and Islam Afifi will be tried for defaming and insulting President Mohamed Morsy. Is Morsy a step forward or back? Read more

Council of Europe foreign ministers call for libel reform

CPJ. After two Italian journalists were sentenced to four months in prison and fined 15,000 euros (US$18,500) for libel, the Committee of Ministers of the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe issued a declaration denouncing the abuse of libel laws and “libel tourism.” Read more

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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