Freedom of Speech Roundup

by Sampsonia Way    /  January 26, 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.

Man Made installation by Egyptian artist Moataz Nasr.

Egyptian artist Moataz Nasr's work focuses on political themes, and was featured at the 'Long Live Free Art' exhibition in Cairo. Photo: Roobee on Flickr.

Egypt’s Art World Rallies to Defend Freedom of Expression

The Art Newspaper. A recent exhibit in Cairo, called “Long Live Free Art,” displayed artwork in resistance to President Morsi’s new constitution. Here, artists talk about the future of art in Egypt and the cultural coalitions being formed in response to the Muslim Brotherhood. Also included is a slideshow of work from the exhibition. Read here.

China: Why does Censorship Look Like Harmony in the Office? Why do People get Errors in WeChat?

Poynter. A former announcer for China Radio details his experience with censorship and office “harmony” in a first-hand account of what makes a story controversial. Read here.

PC Magazine. If a user writes “restricted language”—like the name of the Chinese paper Southern Weekly—on the Chinese App WeChat, he or she will receive an error notification and the word will automatically be corrected. The government also controls the app so that messages can’t be sent out of China. Read here.

Burma Dissolves Censorship Board; Professor Resigns over Brunei University ‘Censorship’

Burma News International. On Thursday the Burmese government officially dissolved the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division, the body responsible for censoring the press since 1962. A second draft of a new media law is currently being rewritten. Read here.

The Myanmar Times. Dr. Maung Zarni, the head of the Free Burma Coalition, has resigned from his position at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam due to “extreme and unprofessional academic censorship.” Zarni is an outspoken human rights activist and was allegedly threatened to stay silent about the conflict between the Rakhine Buddhists and the government of Burma. Read here.

Uploading MLK Speech an Act of Civil Disobedience

Digital Trends. In honor of Internet Freedom Day and Martin Luther King Jr., Fight for the Future — an Internet freedom group — posted a video of King’s iconic yet copyrighted “I Have a Dream” speech. The video was immediately taken down since posting it constitutes an act of civil disobedience. Read here.

Google Executive Visits North Korea

WebProNews. “Once the internet starts in any country, citizens in that country can certainly build on top of it, but the government has to do one thing: open up the Internet first,” Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said. Read here.


Google’s Eric Schmidt and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson visit to a computer lab at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang. Video: YouTube, Associated Press.

‘Insulting words’ Crime Ditched

BBC. In the U.K., it is no longer a criminal charge to use “threatening, abusive, or insulting words or behavior” against another person. Though free speech campaigners are enthusiastic about the drop, many policy makers are considered for minorities who may be affected by the change. Read here.

India: Writers Demand Freedom of Speech

The Hindu. At the Jaipur Literature festival in India a panel of writers featuring Ariel Dorfman (Chile), Frank Dikotter (China), Ian Buruma (Holland), Selma Debbagh (Palistine), and Sudeep Chakravarti (India) discussed the writer’s place in a totalitarian state. Read here.

Musicians and Composers Battle Censors in Iran

The World. Five members of an underground Iranian band have been arrested for “collaborating with dissident Iranian singers and satellite channels based in the U.S.” In an anonymous interview, the nature of composing music in Iran is discussed. Fear is a constant component of making music, and the composition process begins with “self-censorship.” Read here.

Vietnam’s Propaganda Agents Battle Bloggers Online

France 24. The government has assigned a team of 900 “internet polemicists” to attack bloggers on Internet forums and spread the party line. Over 18 websites and 400 accounts monitor conversations about domestic issues in Vietnam and encourage viewers to “trust the government.” 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.

View all articles by Sampsonia Way

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