Freedom of Speech Roundup

by Sampsonia Way    /  December 15, 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.

Mo Yan, 2012

Mo Yan, 2012. Photo: Bengt Nyman, Wikimedia Commons.

China Nobel Winner Mo Yan Likens Censorship to Airport Security

NBC News. Controversial winner of this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature, Mo Yan talked about when he thinks censorship is permissible, and why he refused to sign an appeal for Liu Xiaobo’s release from prison. Read Here.

Read an excerpt from Mo Yan’s part-fiction part-memoir Change about joining the People’s Liberation Army in 1976 .

Art, China, and Censorship According to Ai Weiwei

PBS NewsHour. Jeffery Brown looks at the first North American exhibit of Ai Weiwei’s art, open now at the Hirshorn Museum in Washington, D.C. Unable to attend the opening of the exhibit, Ai answers questions about China, censorship, the internet, and the future of society from his studio. Read Here.

Wife of Chinese Nobel Prize Winner Liu Xiaobo Speaks Out

The Associated Press. In her first interview in 26 months, Liu Xia, wife of imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, speaks about her life under house arrest and the conditions of seeing her husband. Read Here.

In India, a Facebook and Free-Speech Debate

Businessweek. Last month, two teenage girls were taken into custody by Indian police for writing and liking a post on Facebook referencing the death of politican Bal Thackeray. They apologized, and deleted their accounts, but were charged with insulting religious sentiments, and booked under a little-known provision of India’s Information Technology Act, known as 66A. Now Shreya Singhal, a New Delhi native who recently graduated from the University of Bristol, has filed a petition in India’s Supreme Court saying section 66A violates Indians’ constitutional right to freedom of speech. Read Here.

Global Internet Diplomacy

NYTimes.com Representatives of 193 countries are meeting in Dubai to update a treaty that governs the exchange of telephone traffic between countries. A group of countries led by Russia and China are trying to use the deliberations to undermine the open spirit of the Internet. Read Here.

Free Speech in Qatar: “You Can’t Talk Everythings”

OpEdNews. Earlier this year the poet Muhammed ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami was brought to trial for a poem he wrote in 2011, entitled “Tunisian Jasmine” which celebrated the overthrow of repressive elites. He is currently serving life in prison. For a detailed background of the case, and a copy of the offending poem, Read Here.

The Cartoonist’s Plight in South Africa

News24. Earlier this week an interview with the South African cartoonist Zapiro was “canned” at the last minute because they couldn’t “condone those cartoons.” The network claimed pulling the program was about “balance” but Zapiro says this was the third interview with him to be canceled and he is afraid he is becoming blacklisted. Read Here.

News24. Interview with Jerm, a South African cartoonist who recently lost his job at The New Age newspaper for “not being aligned to their editorial vision and mission.” Here he talks about his inspirations, writers’ block, and having cartoons pulled for being too controversial. Read Here.

Kazakhstan: Growing Crackdown on Free Speech

Human Rights Watch. The Kazakh government’s authorities appear to be targeting media and opposition groups that covered violence a year ago in Zhanaozen, in western Kazakhstan. Media outlets have been sued for “extremism” and opposition leaders jailed. 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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