Freedom of Speech Roundup
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.
This week, controversy arose over conflicting reports about the legitimacy of the recent Venezuelan presidential election. Liu Futang, a former Chinese government official and environmental activist, was put on trial for “printing his books without proper licenses,” and the United Nations condemned the killing of Indian correspondent Chaitali Santra who died on September 26th from a mail bomb.
In other news, Syrian cartoonist Juanzero, spoke about how he uses his work for nonviolent protest in Syria; Yekaterina Samutsevicha, a member of the Russian band Pussy Riot has been released from prison; and Chinese writer Mo Yan won the Nobel Prize for literature.
Follow the links below covering these stories and more for the week of October 7- 13.
Venezuela: Differing Opinions on Chavez’s Victory; Argentine Reporter Harassed
The Guardian. “As opposition leaders concede, Venezuela is by any rational standards a democracy, with exceptionally high levels of participation, its electoral process more fraud-proof than those in Britain or the US, and its media dominated by a vituperatively anti-government private sector.” Read here.
CNN. “Venezuela’s Election Agency showed Chavez winning massively, by nearly 10 percentage points. Is the result legitimate? That’s hard to say. Venezuela has not invited any international election observers since 2006 and anomalies have been observed in past votes.” Read here.
The New York Times. Venezuelan secret service agents detained Argentine TV journalist Jorge Lanata and his crew for two hours in the basement of the Caracas international airport on Monday. Only after the agents had erased Lanata’s video of the Venezuelan elections were the journalists permitted to leave the country. Read here.
Q & A: Nedim Șener, A Turkish Journalist Under Fire
CPJ. This month, CPJ will release an in-depth report on press conditions in Turkey. In advance of the report they present an interview with Nedim Șener, a Turkish investigative reporter who was jailed for more than a year in 2011-12 and charged with involvement in a plot to overthrow the government. Șener denies the charges. Read here.
Pussy Riot: it was clear Yekaterina Samutsevich had a get-out-of-jail card
The Guardian. Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich, who recently switched lawyers, has just been given a suspended sentence on appeal. Two other band members, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, remain behind bars. Read here.
Syrian Cartoonist Pushes the Boundaries
Al Jazeera. Syrian cartoonist, Juanzero, discusses how he uses his work as a form of nonviolent protest against the Syrian government.
Free Speech: Just a Recent Fad?
The Huffington Post. Greg Lukianoff rejects claims that freedom of speech was not valued in the United States until the 1960s—it goes back much further, he says. He also traces changes in legal interpretations of the First Amendment across history. Read here.
China: Interview with Author Mo Yan
Granta. Mo Yan, one of China’s most celebrated and widely translated writers, won the Nobel Prize in literature this week. He spoke to Granta editor John Freeman about writing strong women, retaining idioms and puns even in translation, and avoiding censorship. Read here.
Chinese Environmental Activist on Trial over Books
The Guardian. Liu Futang, a former Chinese official who won an award for his exposé of illegal forest clearing, has gone on trial accused of profiting by printing his books on environmental conflicts without proper licenses. Read here.
Head of UN agency defending press freedom deplores murder of Indian journalist
United Nations. Chaitali Santra was a correspondent in Howrah, West Bengal, for the Hindi- language weekly Julm se Jang. She was killed on September 26 by a mail bomb that she opened in her home. Read here.
Jaw-jaw and law-law: Freedom of Speech Online
The Guardian. Once dealt with through social censure, ill-advised ‘jokes’ are being criminalized today now that they are given online airings. In the UK you might go to jail for what you say online, but the guidelines for decency are hazy at best. Read here.
Pakistani Journalists Must Brace for Election Violence
The Huffington Post. Covering political rallies in Pakistan must be considered a dangerous assignment. One journalist was killed and three others injured on Sunday when gunmen opened fire on a Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) rally in Khairpur in Sindh province. Read here.