Freedom of Speech Roundup

by Sampsonia Way    /  January 19, 2013  / 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.

Bolshoi Theatre, in Moscow, is home to the Bolshoi Ballet Troupe and part of Russia's contemporary arts scene. Photo: Kwong Yee Cheng

Artistic Director For Bolshoi Ballet Recovering From Acid Attack

The Wall Street Journal. Sergei Filin, artistic director of the Bolshoi theatre in Russia, was hospitalized with severe burns after an assailant threw acid on his face. This is the latest of many attacks on Filin, believed to be a result of professional rivalries and scorn from critics. He was an integral part of remaking the theater and the arts scene in Russia. Read here.

Google will Decline Censorship Requests in Africa

IT World. As the number of Internet users in Africa grows, totalitarian governments are trying to find new ways to control online activity. Google refused to cooperate with these governments after they requested access to users’ information. Read here.

Festival Reflects Burma’s Novel Freedoms

The Australian. Burma is set to host its first international literary festival in nearly four decades. Previously banned books, music, and publications are back on the shelves as the arts and cultural scenes are slowly revived. Read here.

Aaron Swartz Case Raises Questions about Freedom of Information


Democracy Now! Before his death last week computer programmer and cyber activist Aaron Swartz faced up to 35 years in prison and a $1 million fine if convicted of using computers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to download millions of academic articles. Democracy Now! talks with Swartz’s partner, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, and computer security consultant Alex Stamos, who would have been the chief expert witness at Swartz’s trial.

Somali Journalist Shot Dead; 1st this Year, Another Detained

Seattle Times. In 2012, 18 journalists were murdered in Somalia, giving the country a dangerous reputation for journalists. No action has ever been taken following a case of violence against a Somali journalist, according to the National Union of Somali Journalists. Read here.

The Guardian. Somalian freelance journalist Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim was detained after he interviewed a woman who claimed to have been raped by members of the Somali army. The arrests appear to be linked to an Al-Jazeera article on rape in Somalia that Ibrahim did not write. Read here.

Venezuela: Halt Censorship and Intimidation of Media

Human Rights Watch. In the latest crackdown by the Venezuelan government, Globovisión was ordered to stop airing four TV spots that question the constitutional requirements for President Hugo Chávez’s inauguration. Read here.

Turkey: Censorship Finds Fertile Ground, Affects PEN Turkey

Al-Monitor. John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men is now banned in Turkish schools for “immorality”; Steinbeck joins other writers banned in Turkey such as Chuck Palahniuk and William Burroughs. Read here.

PEN American Center. Eight members of PEN Turkey’s board of directors, including the PEN Turkey president Tarik Günersel, now face a criminal investigation for criticizing the prosecution of acclaimed composer and pianist Fazil Say. Read here.

Beijing Orders its 2.06 million ‘Propaganda Workers’ to get Microblogging

South China Morning Post. According to the Beijing News Beijing propaganda chief and deputy mayor Lu Wei directed the city’s 2 million propaganda workers to open accounts on microblog sites and spread “positive energy.” Read here.

Masked Faces, Censored Hopes: An Interview with Artist Shurooq Amin

World Policy. Last year a showing of Kuwaiti artist Shurooq Amin’s paintings, entitled “It’s A Man’s World” was shut down on its opening night because of “anti-Islamic” and “pornographic” content. In this interview, Amin discusses the shut-down, her thoughts on censorship, and why her subjects are faceless. 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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