Freedom of Speech Roundup

by Sampsonia Way    /  March 16, 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.

Author Akram Aylisli has recently been persecuted by the authorities in Azerbaijan. Aylisli is one of many activists that have been silenced as a result of their criticism of the government. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

As International Scrutiny Fades, Azerbaijan Scrambles to Silence Critics

Al Jazeera. In an increasingly repressive environment, over the past few months Azerbaijani authorities have been trying to silence all critical voices in the country, including democracy activists, the author Akram Aylisli, and both local and international journalists. Read here.

Mali: Newspaper Editor Arrested For Publishing Army Officer’s Open Letter

Reporters Without Borders. Editor and journalist Boukary Ndaou of Mali was arrested after printing an open letter from a soldier in Le Républicain. After Ndaou’s arrest, the staff of the newspaper voiced their concern in an editorial that called for a new look at media freedom in Mali. Read here.

Burma: It’s Tough to Start a Newspaper After 50 Years of State Censorship

The Atlantic. Burma’s government has announced that on April 1 daily newspapers will be free to publish. Though, according to local reports, of 17 media companies that have applied for daily licenses, eight have been approved for publication, six were denied, and three remain under consideration. Additionally, there are significant technological and managerial challenges to starting a daily paper in a country that was under state censorship for half a century, journalists say. Read here.

Why Free Speech is a Feminist Issue

Index on Censorship. On Women’s History Month writer and activist, Meredith Tax, says censorship is too often overlooked in discussions on gender equality. Read more.

Jillian York on the Problem with Banning Porn

Nieman Lab. An interview with Jillian York. The director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation explains how that pornography has never been something that people can define, so when you put a mechanism in place to block it, it creates a system that is ripe for abuse. Read here.

Egypt Bans ‘Jews of Egypt’ Screening

Huffington Post. The banned documentary, Jews of Egypt, follows the lives of the Egyptian Jewish community in the first half of the 20th century until they left under duress in large numbers in the late 1950s. It was screened in Egypt last year in a private film festival and had been approved by censorship, a regular procedure in Egypt. Read here.


Trailer for Jews of Egypt. Video: YouTube, Jewsofegypt.

Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez gets Warm Welcome in New York City

Miami Herald. True to her style, Sánchez said she was enthused about meeting Americans and exchanging opinions and ideas about the situation on the island. In that context, she said she has not lost hope that Cuba will undertake changes that will lead to a democratic transition. Read here.

Somalia: Journalist who Covered a Rape Case is Still in Prison

The Guardian. Lul Ali Osman Barake has been released after being arrested for making her rape by several soldiers public. However, Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim, the journalist who reported her story, is still being imprisoned. Barake is now working with human rights groups in Somalia to bring her attackers to justice and free Ibrahim. Read here.

China: Parliament Continues To Enforce Strict Press Guidelines

South China Morning Post. Despite last week’s meetings of China’s new parliament, where government restructuring was discussed, the media still faces increasingly strict censorship guidelines. Recently, journalists have reported being forced to stop the production of articles before they are even drafted. Read here.

Third Journalist Victim of Execution in Brazil

Reporters Without Borders. On March 8 crime reporter Rodrigo Neto de Faria became the third journalist to be murdered this year in Brazil. He was shot by two unknown gunmen. According to human rights minister Maria do Rosário the federal authorities regard it as an execution-style killing probably linked to his work. Read here.

The Vietnamese Government Is Crushing the Country’s Social Media Revolution

The Atlantic. Vietnamese Internet use has increased dramatically in the last few years, but the government is working to stifle it. Several anti-state bloggers have caught the attention of the government, and a handful of writers were imprisoned at the beginning of the year for “propaganda against the state.” Vietnamese officials are also currently working to limit social media activity. 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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