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    2012: Jan-March

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30th March   

Sun City Goes Dark in Delhi...

Gay art exhibit closed in Delhi after a complaint and police action
Link Here

sunil gupta sun cityIndian police have forced closure of an exhibition of eminent photographer Sunil Gupta at Alliance Francaise in Delhi following an anonymous complaint that its content was supposedly obscene.

Gupta's exhibition, Sun City and Other Stories: Paris-San Francisco-Delhi, had opened to an enthusiastic response, and was scheduled to run till mid-April. An exploration of gay life, the exhibition featured 16 colour pictures taken by Gupta in France two years ago. The project involved a fictional narrative loosely based on the French science fiction film La Jetee , using homosexuality as a medium to connect to the life in Paris.

Gupta said the Alliance Francaise management informed him that the exhibition would be shut down for a day because of a fair at the cultural centre. However, I was informed by a third party in the evening that it would remain shut. No formal letter was sent...the decision was taken by the Alliance, he added.

Members of the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust issued a statement protesting the unexplained shutdown:

If major institutions like them [Alliance Francaise] cannot stand up against complaints made by a single individual and support the work of an artist they have invited to exhibit, they do not deserve the respect or patronage of the art community ... We hope the Alliance will clarify the circumstances which have led to yet another instance of moral policing against the freedom of expression.

 

26th March   

Bangladesh Ignores the 'Day of No Outrage'...

Court orders the blocking of 'outrageous' web pages
Link Here

Bangladesh flagThe High Court in Bangladesh has ruled that five supposedly blasphemous Facebook pages and a website must be blocked.

The court heard the pages were deemed to have offended Muhammad and other religions.

The case was brought by two teachers from Dhaka University and Dhaka Centre for Law and Economics who claimed the pictures hurt the religious sentiment of Muslims. The lawyer making the petition, Muhammad Nawshad Zamir, claimed to the AFP news agency that some of the images were close to pornography. Zamir added that the pages also contained disparaging remarks about the holy book of the Koran, Jesus, Lord Buddha and Hindu gods . He declined to name the Bengali-language website.

This is the first time the country's High Court has intervened, although two years ago Facebook was blocked in Bangladesh for a short period until caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad and obnoxious images of the country's leaders were removed.

 

25th March   

Agent Vinod...

Indian spy film banned in Pakistan
Link Here

agent vinodPakistan's censor board has banned the Bollywood film Agent Vinod .

A statement from IMGC Global, the Pakistani distributor of the film, confirmed that the movie had been banned by the censor board of Pakistan .

There was no official word from the board but sources told PTI that the film, which centres round the exploits of an Indian spy played by Saif Ali Khan, was banned as it contained references to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) that could hurt the sentiments of people in Pakistan .

The statement issued by IMGC Global quoted the firm's chairman, Amjad Rashid, as saying that Agent Vinod had been banned due to the contents of the movie . Rashid suggested that films should not hurt either the religious or national sentiments of Pakistanis or decelerate the Indo-Pakistan peace-building process .

 

22nd March   

Updated: Blocking to Excess...

Pakistan orders up internet censorship system that can block 50 million URLs
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Pakistan...internet website blocking

Pakistan flagLast month, Pakistan's government put out requests for proposals for a massive, centralized, Internet censorship system. Explaining that ISPs and backbone providers have expressed their inability to block millions of undesirable web sites using current manual blocking systems, the state-run National Information Communications Technology Research and Development Fund said it therefore requires a national URL filtering and blocking system.

The new system would need to handle up to 50 million [blacklisted] URLs, and would operate across the entire Pakistani Internet.

The research fund intends the system to be designed and built within the country, by companies, vendors, academia and/or research organizations with proven track record.

Fifty million URLs is quite a tall order, but not, sadly, for the demands of an Internet censorware device. Censorship, managed by routers and software built by a number of companies, scales rather easily to such demands. Companies like McAfee sell blocking systems for corporate intranets with databases in excess of 25 million web addresses. Such databases have been re-purposed for national firewalls in countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for many years.

Update: Order Cancelled?

22nd March 2012. See  article from  publicaffairs.linx.net
See also Netizen Report: Resistance Edition  from  advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org
See also Index on Censorship joins a global coalition of NGO’s to call for the withdrawal of censorship plans in Pakistan from  indexoncensorship.org

The Pakistan Ministry of Information Technology (MoIT) is to withdraw plans to install a national level URL Filtering and Blocking System , according to the Express Tribune.

Secretary IT Farooq Ahmed Awan was reported to have said that the URL project has been withdrawn due to the concern shown by various stakeholders.

The MoIT has yet to confirm the reports.

 

21st March   

A Total Policing State...

Facebook poster of angry rant charged with 'sending a message that was grossly offensive'
Link Here  full story: Twitter Twits...Police overreact to trivial insults via Twitter and Facebook
facebook trial soldiersPolice have dropped charges of racial aggravation against teenager Azhar Ahmed for comments he posted on Facebook last week.

He is now being charged under the Communications Act 2003 with sending a message that was grossly offensive on March 8.

He has denied the charge, according to The Yorkshire Post.

So that means if you say anything the police deem grossly offensive on social media you can be hauled up in court.

Comment: Total Policing State

16th March 2012 See  article from  guardian.co.uk

Comments about the army on a Yorkshire teenager's Facebook page seem to be too much for the new total policing state. By Richard Seymour.

...Read the full article

Update: Court Adjourned

6th July 2012. See  article from  dailymail.co.uk

Azhar Ahmed appeared in court charged with making offensive comments on Facebook about the deaths of six British soldiers. He has been accused of committing an offence under the Communications Act of sending a grossly offensive message.

The District Judge heard no evidence and adjourned the trial until 14 September due to an unexpected legal problem.

Around 20-30 far right protesters appeared at Huddersfield Magistrates Court for the hearing and packed out the public gallery.

 

18th March   

Update: Decent Films Don't Sell Any More...

Porn cinemas in Pakistan take up the slack from a declining film industry
Link Here

pakistan cinemaKhyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Peshawar icontinue to reel from bomb attacks on girls' schools and even shrines. Shops selling CDs, and Internet cafes have been sporadically attacked. Billboards showing women have been defaced or pulled down. Yet cinemas showing porn continue to flourish.

Every show in those cinemas is house-full, says Lala Fida Mohammad Khan, former producer of films in the local language Pashto, and who now runs a cinema in the garrison city Rawalpindi:

Everyone knows what fare each cinema churns out, everyone is involved. Daily three shows are run and on Sundays there is a morning matinee as well. On the auspicious Eid days, there are usually five shows so people can come right after the congregation.

The hundreds of thousands of rupees in bribes or monthlies that cinema owners pay as protection money ensures their business continues uninterrupted, says Khan.

There are just nine cinemas left in Peshawar. Of these, says Aijaz Gul, a well-known film critic, only one run by the Pakistan Air Force avoids porn.

Khan says he stopped making films because no one wants to watch clean, decent films; these don't sell any more. In fact the Pakistan film industry produced just 20 films last year.

Only the lifting of the ban on exhibiting Indian films in 2006 gave Pakistan cinemas a respite from decline. Just a little over 200 cinema halls are left, down from 700 in 1977.

 

15th March

 Offsite Article: How can insulting soldiers be 'racially aggravated'?...

Link Here
Police arrest man for angry Facebook post about soldiers in Afghanistan

See article from blog.indexoncensorship.org

 

12th March   

Update: More TV Censorship...

Pakistan proposes vague laws against TV programmes that criticise the state
Link Here

pakistan ministry of information and broadcasting logoPakistan's government has proposed measures taking aim at TV coverage that criticises the organs of the state or undermines Pakistan's solidarity as an independent and sovereign country.

Campaigners have condemned the restrictions as impossibly vague, and some see the powerful hand of Pakistan's military behind them.

Government officials claim the proposed restrictions are not meant to intimidate or impose censorship on the media... BUT ...are instead intended to prod the raucous TV news industry to regulate itself. You have to define certain rules for their own betterment.

Firdous Ashiq Awan, the Minister of Information and Broadcasting, said: It's not that government wants it; the whole nation wants it. There must be some rules and regulations.

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, which operates under the information minister, contends that its proposals are benign, but the agency has the power to punish alleged violations by imposing fines and pulling broadcast licences.

The government's goal is not to educate the media or the public, said Hamza Farooq, a Karachi journalist: They are just trying to pressure the media. He and others pointed out that the release of the proposed rules coincides with stepped-up coverage of the long-running Baloch insurgency.

 

8th March   

Update: Forgotten Secrets...

BBC World News restored in Pakistan
Link Here  full story: BBC Censored in Pakistan...BBC news banned after disputed documentary

bbc world news logoBBC World News television has been restored in Pakistan after being taken off air in November 2011.

Welcoming the move, the BBC said it hoped there would be no further disruption to its services.

Pakistani cable operators had blocked the channel after it broadcast a documentary called Secret Pakistan . The documentary questioned the country's commitment to tackling Taliban militancy, arguing that some in Pakistan were playing a double game.

Last month, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told the BBC he wanted to see the channel back on air.

 

4th March

 Offsite Article: You Can't Read this Book...

Link Here
Books banned in India. By Hasan Suroor

See article from thehindu.com

 

29th February   

Update: Extreme Pornography Law...

Bangladesh enacts an anti-porn law with extreme penalties
Link Here  full story: Pornography Law in Bangladesh...First ever porn law passed in 2012

bangladesh booty The Bangladesh Parliament has enacted its first-ever anti-porn law that carries extreme penalties for the production, preservation, transportation and marketing of porn.

Control Bill-2012, introduced earlier this year by home minister Shahara Khatun, received the green light and was supposedly aimed at curbing degradation of moral and social values. According to reports, the law was passed after deputy speaker Shawkat Ali put it to voice vote.

One provision covers anyone attempting to blackmail or trying to damage a person's social or individual reputation through the use of porn. The offender would then be sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison and fined $2,446.

The definition of porn under the law covers obscene books, periodicals, sculptures, imaginary structures, cartoons or leaflets that stimulate sex. It also includes any vulgar dialogue, acting, body gesture, nude or half-nude dance which creates sexual urge and that could be contained in film, video, audiovisual film, still picture, graphics or in any other means that has no artistic or educational value.

It is not applicable to books, writings, drawings or pictures reserved or used for religious purposes.

 

27th February   

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie...

Obscure court in Pakistan re-opens the Mohammed cartoon nonsense and calls for the arrest of Mark Zuckerberg
Link Here

Mark Zuckerberg Facebook Innovators Kidhaven A case for the arrest of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Cultural Editor of Danish Newspaper Fleming Rose, for allowing blasphemous cartoons of  Mohammad. has been registered in Jhang, in Pakistan

The case was registered after Advocate Muhammad Zahid Saeed, stirred by websites allegedly supposedly demeaning Mohammad, filed a petition before the District Session Judge seeking a ban on websites including Facebook, YouTube, Google and others.

In his petition, Saeed said that on visiting some websites while on the internet, he and his companion found caricatures of Mohammad published which, he alleged, were trying to create a war between Muslims and non-Muslims . He added that the caricatures were a form of international terrorism and evil profession .

Session Judge Arshad Masood responded to the petition by saying that the deliberate and malicious act of displaying derogatory caricatures is a continuing offence and a case must be registered in Pakistan and anywhere else in the world where the sentiments of Muslims were hurt.

The petitioner had maintained that the proceedings against the accused should be served through the Danish Ambassador and US Ambassador in Pakistan.

 

21st February   

SS Censors...

Indian music channel suspended for a week as punishment for airing sexy videos
Link Here

ss music logo The TV broadcast of sexy music videos has landed Chennai-based music channel SS TV in trouble with the information and broadcasting ministry ordering it to remain off air for a week from February 15-22.

The popular channel had shown supposedly vulgar and obscene scenes from music videos in its programme Sizzling Hits on March 25 and April 10, 2010.

The ministry's order came after the Madras High Court settled the matter in its favour. The ministry has a monitoring facility - Electronic Media Monitoring Cell (EMMC) - which monitors over 300 channels and any violation is recorded and reported to the authorities. The EMMC had spotted supposedly obscene and vulgar content that was degenerating to women in the programme.

Broadcast of anything sexy is banned in India so the ministry decided to suspend the channel for a week in November 2010. But the channel moved the Madras HC and got a stay order. But the ministry appealed to the division bench which decided the matter in its favour on November 28, 2011. The court asked the ministry to announce fresh dates of suspension, as the order had lapsed.

 

20th February   

India's Shameful Film Censor...

We don't believe in censorship...BUT...
Link Here

leela samson India's film censor, Leela Samson of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) addressed graduating students in a keynote speech.

In her lecture, she shared her experience at the CBFC and said that one of the first things that caught her eye was the logo - it was a sliced film and denoted a certain presumptuous and aggressive intent that baffled her.

She said her experience in the last nine months as CBFC chairperson has made her acutely aware of the importance of restraint and tolerance in a democracy such as India. She continued:

Our own morals, our value systems, our particular political orientation, our social class, our religious affiliation - all these we zealously guard, but often forget to do the same for others. The film industry depends on us to let them express freely. As an artist I understand and endorse the sentiment. But society in general expects the board to act as 'moral policemen' and as guardians of societal values.

We don't believe in censorship,... BUT ...it is expected and demanded of us.

 

20th February   

Music Censors...

Sri Lanka to introduce a bill to pre-censor song lyrics and TV dramas
Link Here

Sri Lanka Sri Lanka Ministry of Culture and the Arts says it plans to bring a new bill soon to censor Teledramas and songs on TV deemed unsuitable for all audience.

With the implementation of the proposed act, the Teledrama producers will have to obtain the approval for the production from the Public Performances Control Board before telecasting it through TV channels.

The song writers will have to submit their lyrics to the Public Performances Control Board and the songs will be inspected by the board even after music is composed, the Ministry says.

Currently the Public Performance Control Board pre-censor only movies and stage drama.

 

12th February   

Update: Indian Tirade Mission...

Keith Vaz has another knock at the Top Gear Christmas Special about a trade mission to India
Link Here

shit for your company Keith Vaz has had another knock at the Top Gear Christmas Special that featured a few jokey comments about India.

Vaz has tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament saying:

That this House is deeply concerned by recent events which have served to undermine the excellent relationship between India and the UK;

  • notes that the Top Gear India Christmas Special, featuring the unhelpful comments of Jeremy Clarkson and Dow Chemicals' sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympics in particular have had a very negative reaction in India;
     

  • is concerned that Indian student applications to UK universities are falling;
     

  • is disappointed by Britain's failure to secure the fighter jet contract from India despite the efforts of successive defence ministers;
     

  • and calls on the Government to re-energise this vital, special and enduring relationship which ought to be one of the closest and most beneficial in the world.

 

10th February   

Update: Scratching the Surface...

Pakistan blocks 13,000 porn sites
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Pakistan...internet website blocking

Pakistan flag Pakistan has blocked 13,000 supposedly obscene Web sites and are taking additional steps to prevent the spread of such materials across the Internet.

The Times of India reported on Friday that Parliamentary Secretary for Information Technology Nawab Liaqat Ali Khan had made the remark, calling it a serious issue that the government is trying to address at the moment.

He went on to express concern at the rapid spread of obscene Web sites and admitted the government had no mechanism to block these sites, but pointed out a ministerial committee and a sub-committee had been formed to look into this matter, the report stated.

 

8th February   

Extract: The Saga that Refuses to End...

Authors under threat of legal proceedings for supporting Salman Rushdie at the Jaipur Literary Festival
Link Here

Satanic Verses Salman Rushdie Legal proceedings have been filed against four authors that read aloud from Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses.

The Jaipur story has now taken a new turn, on 6th February two courts in the city began legal proceedings after complaints were filed by among others, members of an organisation that campaigned against Salman Rushdie's participation in the Jaipur Literature Festival. They allege that the festival organisers and four authors who read from Rushdie's novel, The Satanic Verses, hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims.

The four authors --- Amitava Kumar, Hari Kunzru, Ruchir Joshi, and Jeet Thayil --- read from the novel to express solidarity with the absent Rushdie, and as a mark of protest. Rushdie did not go to Jaipur after he received plausible information that security forces had evidence of death threats against him. Now the festival's organisers are also being charged under provisions of India's criminal laws, which date back to the colonial era.

The complainants main contention is that the authors and the festival organisers conspired to promote enmity on grounds of religion. One magistrate has recorded the complaint to decide if the case has any merit before it is sent to the police to register a First Information Report. That case will now be heard on 8 March.

...Read the full article

 

7th February   

Update: India Censors Google and Facebook...

Google and Facebook remove content supposedly objectionable to religious and political leaders
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in India...India considers blanket ban on internet porn

Google logo Google India has removed web pages deemed offensive to Indian political and religious leaders to comply with a court case that has raised censorship fears in the world's largest democracy.

A New Delhi court gave Facebook, Google, YouTube and Blogspot and other sites two weeks to present further plans for policing their networks, according to the Press Trust of India.

Google India did not say which sites were removed but had said it would be willing to go after anything that violated local law or its own standards.

Indian officials have been incensed by material insulting to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, ruling Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi and religious groups, including illustrations showing Singh and Gandhi in compromising positions and pigs running through Mecca, Islam's holiest city.

Communications Minister Sachin Pilot said that anyone hurt by online content should be able to seek legal redress, he said. The government has warned it has evidence to prosecute 21 sites for offenses of promoting enmity between classes and causing prejudice to national integration.

Update: Summons Stands

18th February 2012. See  article from  domain-b.com

The Delhi High Court has refused to stay a summons against Google and Facebook issued by a trial court over a private complaint. At the same time, Justice Suresh Kait denied a strong plea from the counsel for the Delhi Police that Google India managing director Rajan Anandan and Facebook India's director of online operations Kirthiga Reddy appear in person before the trial court on 13 March, when the next hearing is scheduled.

What is this insistence that they should appear in person? Justice Kait asked public prosecutor Naveen Sharma. They have been allowed to appear through a lawyer. The court deferred the hearing of the petition challenging their summonses to 3 May.

Sharma told the court that websites like Facebook and Yahoo had been given sufficient warnings and opportunities by the communications and information technology ministry to remove objectionable content before steps were taken for their prosecution.

Update: Removal Count

2nd March 2012. See  article from  webpronews.com

Presumably, Google has satisfied the request of the Indian courts as no more removal requests have been added to Google's Transparency Report although 122 more items have been added to the Items requested to be removed category. Additionally, only half of the removal requests have been fulfilled.

Update: Yahoo Excused

3rd March 2012. SSee  article from  bbc.co.uk

The Delhi High Court has dismissed a criminal case against Yahoo India which was accused of hosting objectionable content on its web pages.

Yahoo was among 21 web firms, including Facebook and Google, accused of hosting material that could cause communal unrest.

However Yahoo said there is no actual document to show that its website has violated any law.

The judge agreed, however, he said that a private complaint against the website could be revived if credible and actionable evidence was filed against it.

Update: Case Delayed

14th March 2012. See  article from  theregister.co.uk
 

The controversial Indian legal imbroglio over censorship of web content and involving twenty companies including Google, Facebook and Microsoft has been deferred until May 23.

 

6th February   

Update: Exile...

Kolkata book launch event cancelled lest religious people get offended (and get violent)
Link Here  full story: Taslima Nasreen...Writer offends Indian muslims

nirbasan The cancellation of the release party for Taslima Nasreen's autobiography at the Kolkata Book Fair has thrown the spotlight on the destructive clout of religious fanatics in a city once known for savouring cultural pluralism.

Coupled with the Salman Rushdie controversy - when the Booker awardee had to call off his visit and then his much-anticipated video address at the Jaipur Literature Festival following security threats triggered by some Islamic groups' protest - would go down as another instance of Indian authorities and parties kowtowing before religious rabblerousers.

While the Rushdie episode saw the political parties and the government, in the words of novelist Vikram Seth, knuckling under an enforced disgrace because of power and politics , the only difference here was that publishers went ahead with the launch of the book at the fair, despite the hostile attitude of organisers.

The seventh volume of Nasreen's book Nirbasan ( Exile ), which deals with her life after exile from Kolkata in 2007 and which almost nobody had read before the release, saw religious fundamentalists protesting against the launch.

This was nothing new for the Bangladesh-born author, a doctor by profession in the early 80s, who was forced to leave her country in 1994 after there was widespread agitation against her novel Lajja ( Shame ), which a section of people saw as an assault on Islam.

Hours before the release function, the organisers telephoned the publishers, People's Book Society, asking them to cancel the programme due to logistical problems . But later it transpired that some Islamic groups had approached the authorities and the city police against the book release.

A top official of the organising body, Publishers' and Book Sellers' Guild, confirmed the development saying:

We cannot allow any such thing to happen inside the Book Fair premises which can hurt the interest of the common people coming to the fair. We cannot allow anything that may hurt the religious sentiments of any community.

Update: Cancer of Censorship

11th February 2012. See  article from  guardian.co.uk

Taslima Nasreen commented to the Times of India:

You may wonder why the authority tries to ban me or ban my book launch. They believe I am anti-Islam, and supporting me or allowing me entry to the country or the state or the city or the book fair would send a wrong message to the Muslim fanatics. They fear they would lose the Muslim vote. They do not want to take the risk of a single Muslim vote.

The author believes the appetite for censorship is growing in India , she said. With Rushdie prevented by fears of violence from attending or even speaking via video link at the Jaipur event in January, Nasrin says we are witnessing the disturbing victory of Islamic gangsters in Jaipur and Kolkata. I am wondering how to stop this growing cancer from spreading, she said. According to Nasrin, intolerance is growing

because the government does not take action against intolerant fanatics and the fanatics are forgiven for whatever violence they commit in the name of religion ... India needs to secularise the states, judiciary and educational systems. People need to learn about the principles of democracy, freedom of expression, human rights and humanism. They need to be enlightened. In the name of 'Indian secularism', irrational blind faith and the barbarity of all religions seem to be accepted and respected equally.

 

5th February   

Update: Tattooed with Shame...

India's film censors are 'disturbed' that they are being portrayed as good for nothing film banners after banning The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Link Here  full story: Girl With the Dragon Tattoo...Banned and cut around the world

CBFC logo Film viewers in India were in for some bad when Sony Pictures announced that the keenly-awaited The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo , had been banned. An official Sony statement read:

The Censor Board (of India) has adjudged the film unsuitable for public viewing in its unaltered form. And while we are committed to maintaining and protecting the vision of the director, we will, as always, respect the guidelines set by the board.

News of the ban has not just disappointed viewers, it has also shocked the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) who rather expected Sony to accept their long and unacceptable list of suggested cuts. CBFC CEO Pankaja Thakur said:

We are disturbed at the bad press it has generated, especially internationally. If they were unhappy with the decision, they should have brought it to the notice of the senior officers. We did not hear from Sony Pictures, nothing was brought to our notice, till we read about it in the papers.

The CBFC's proposed cuts for Dragon Tattoo include two graphic lovemaking scenes between journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Craig) and computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Mara), a lesbian sex scene between Lisbeth and a barfly, a rape sequence and a scene in which she tortures her rapist, with a video of her being assaulted playing in the background. Thakur says the film was issued an A certificate, after extensive cuts, on December 19, 2011.

Sony didn't follow up the option of going to the revising committee to appeal against the cuts either, again to the annoyance of the film censors. Thakur ranted:

CBFC functions like a quasi-judicial organisation. From the lower court you go to the High Court and Supreme Court. So if they had a problem, the producers should have taken it to the next level. Filmmakers have a chance to be heard, cuts are discussed with them. They have lost so much time by not bringing it to our notice.

But Sony's spokesperson took a further dig at the squirming film censor and quickly dismissed the option as useless:

No appeal ever works.

Another issue irking the CBFC is that Dragon Tattoo had faced similar censorship problems in Malaysia and the Gulf countries. Japan rejected the original film too and okayed a revised version with pixellated scenes. Thakur lamented:

If they have accepted that in Japan, then why take such a stand in India?

 

5th February   

A Losing Battle...

Political campaigner charged with treason over anti-corruption cartoons
Link Here  full story: Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi...Cartoonist against corruption on sedition charges

cartoons against corruption Aseem Trivedi, a 25-year-old political cartoonist, has been charged with treason and insulting the Indian national emblems, according to local news reports and CPJ interviews.

Trivedi was inspired by the well-known social activist Anna Hazare's fight against corruption and graft. Trivedi drew cartoons criticizing the Indian government, some of which were exhibited while Hazare was fasting in Mumbai in December.

Trivedi faces another legal attack in Mumbai. There, lawyer R.P. Pandey has filed his own complaint, alleging that the cartoons are defamatory and derogatory and requesting strict legal action, according to news reports.

While Mumbai police have yet to file charges, the complaint has had repercussions: Big Rock, a domain name registrar, suspended Trivedi's website, www.cartoonistsagainstcorruption.com, citing the criminal complaint, The Times of India reported.

Speaking to CPJ from Mumbai, Pandey claimed that while parodying politicians was a legitimate pursuit, mocking national institutions like the Indian Parliament and national symbols was completely unacceptable.

Trivedi told CPJ that he sees the ban against his website as arbitrary and a sign of the government's growing intolerance toward dissent.

 

31st January   

A Violent Culture...

Artist beaten up in New Delhi over paintings claimed to be against Indian culture
Link Here

pranava prakash paintingAn Indian artist Pranava Prakash was assaulted by a gang who burst into the gallery in New Delhi, where he is exhibiting nudes of top Bollywood star Vidya Balan and other public figures. He told AFP:

Five guys came in on Sunday and started yelling at me, saying 'Your paintings are against Indian culture, we cannot tolerate them

They slapped me twice, threw me to the floor and then began pulling down the paintings, damaging three of my pictures.

There is a certain section of people who think they alone are the custodians of Indian culture, and anyone who disagrees with them is the enemy.

 

30th January   

Anti-Porn Law...

Censorship has spread like a disease through Bangladesh
Link Here  full story: Pornography Law in Bangladesh...First ever porn law passed in 2012

bangladesh bootyThe Bangladeshi government has approved a repressive new anti-pornography law which would see offenders jailed for up to 10 years.

It is believed to be Bangladesh's first law specifically targeting the spread of pornography. The legislation, which is likely to be passed by parliament, bans making or selling of any kind of pornographic material. Those found guilty could also be fined up to $6,000.

The move seems to have come about after a string of sex tape scandals involving female celebrities.

Abul Kalam Azad, a government spokesman, claimed that the measures aim to protect young people and women from pornography, which he said, had spread like a disease through the internet and mobile phone technology.

Update: Passed by Parliament

30th January 2012.  See  article from  bdnews24.com

A bill was tabled in parliament with provisions of up to seven years of jail sentence for production, storage, marketing, sale, carrying, supply and exhibition of pornography.

Home minister Shahara Khatun presented the Pornography Control Act 2012 after which it was sent to a parliamentary committee for scrutiny.

According to the bill pornography is any dialogue, acting, posture, unclothed or partially unclothed dance in cinema, video, photography, graphics, audio-visual image or imagery otherwise captured and displayable, which causes sexual arousal and has no artistic or educational value. Also, such books, magazines, sculptures, cartoons and leaflets which cause the sexual arousal, and their negatives and soft copies would also be considered pornography.

The home minister claimed that pornography was spreading like a terrible disease across society and in absence of any law the crime and criminals cannot be stopped.

 

28th January   

Update: Tattoo Ban...

India bans The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Link Here  full story: Girl With the Dragon Tattoo...Banned and cut around the world

Girl Dragon Tattoo DVD David Fincher's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo features scenes of violence, rape, torture, nudity. All a bit too much for India's film censors have have banned it.

India's Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) decided that the movie contained too much nudity - five scenes to be exact. Now, according to Variety, distribution has been cancelled entirely because David Fincher refuses to cut the film.

A spokesperson for Columbia Pictures in India said, The Censor Board has adjudged the film unsuitable for public viewing in its unaltered form and, while we are committed to maintaining and protecting the vision of the director, we will, as always, respect the guidelines set by the board.The trade says that normally nude scenes are simply blurred out, but the Censor Board specifically asked that scenes be cut out.

No doubt Indians will now find a way to watch it just as the director intended.

 

28th January   

Privates on Parade...

Indian Army orders its personnel to refrain from using social networking websites
Link Here

indian army logoThe Indian Army has reportedly asked all its personnel to quit social networking websites with immediate effect. It has directed them to refrain from joining social networking websites including Facebook, Orkut, and Google+. The policy is said to safeguard the well-being of army personnel.

According to sources, the Indian Army had been monitoring the social networking activities of its officers to find out if they posted uniformed photos of themselves, weaponry, or other units for the past few months. It has now decided to issue a blanket ban on all such websites throughout the ranks.

The US Army has also suggested care over information sharedvia social networking lest it be used by terrorist organisations to target army units. They suggested:

  • Restricting privacy settings to Only Me or Friends.
  • Remove any personally identifiable data.
  • Avoid sharing details about bases and capabilities
  • Disable GPS/tagging/tracking applications

 

24th January   

Update: Even More Miserable...

Pakistan starts blocking porn websites
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Pakistan...internet website blocking

Pakistan Telecoms AuthorityPakistan has begun to implement a long threatened block on internet porn.

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority has provided a list to the ISP's in Pakistan to block the frequently accessed adult sites. It is believed that more web pages will be added to the initial banned list of 1,000 websites and as many as 170,000 websites may be banned in the near future.

The currently blocked websites redirects the users to a new page with the following error message, This page is blocked due to restrictions enforced by the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) .

 

21st January   

Updated: Mission Accomplished...

Indian High Commission complains to the BBC over the TOP Gear Christmas Special
Link Here  full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers

shit for your companyTop Gear's Christmas Special had a bit of fun in India. The usual irreverent jokes ridiculed India's food, toilets, traditional clothing, trains and history.

The jokes notably included Clarkson riding around the country's worst slums in a 4-litre Jaguar fitted with a toilet, joking: This is perfect because everyone here gets the trots.

Not all the jokes targeted India, there was plenty of self effacing fun too. An advertising banner incompetently pasted to the side of train was split as carriages parted  losing the last 3 letters from: Eat English Muffins 

Even David Cameron participated in the Top Gear fun. He had a cameo role waving off the Top Gear trio on a trade mission as ambassadors of Britain to save the UK from bankruptcy.

At the time the programme got up the nose of the nutter mp Keith Vaz.

Now the Indian High Commission in London has formally complained to the BBC, accusing its producers of deceiving them over the nature of the programme, which was jokingly billed as a trade mission .

Update: BBC Response

18th January 2012. See  article from  bbc.co.uk

BBC logoComplaint

We've received complaints from some viewers who felt the Top Gear: India Special was offensive towards the country and its culture.

Top Gear's response

The Top Gear road trip across India was filled with incidents but none of them were an insult to the Indian people or the culture of the country. Our film showed the charm, the beauty, the wealth, the poverty and the idiosyncrasies of India but there's a vast difference between showing a country, warts and all, and insulting it. It's simply not the case that we displayed a hostile or superior attitude to our hosts and that's very clear from the way the presenters can be seen to interact with them along the way. We genuinely loved our time in India and if there were any jokes to be had they were, as ever, reflected back on the presenters rather than the Indian people.

Offsite Comment: Don't give way to the Top Gear-bashers

21st January 2012. See  article from  spiked-online.com

Spiked logoWhat Clarkson's audience understands that his shrill critics do not is that he is not to be taken seriously.

I wonder what proportion of the five million viewers of the Top Gear India Special over Christmas was desperate-to-be-offended members of the chattering classes? Skipping the second instalment of Great Expectations, they no doubt sat through the show solely to tweet about how awful Jeremy Clarkson and Co's monkeying about on the road to the Indian Himalayas was.

...Read the full article

 

20th January   

Updated: India Tries the Wrong Man...

Google India points out to the court that it is not responsible for the content of Google Inc. websites
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in India...India considers blanket ban on internet porn

google india logoGoogle India has filed a petition in the Delhi High Court saying that it does not exercise any control over content on YouTube, Google, Orkut or Blogspot in India, and thus can't be summoned to an Indian court in a criminal case against it related to inflammatory images of Gods and Goddesses posted on some of its websites.

The petition to quash a criminal complaint was submitted by Google India's lawyers in the Delhi High Court.

The original criminal complaint was filed by editor of Akbari , Vinay Rai last month. Google's India MD Rajan Anandan has been summoned to appear in a lower court on Friday in connection with this complaint.

According to the petition, Google India says that it has been appointed just as a distributor of Google Inc.'s Adwords program in India, and thus it's India MD does not control the Blogger, Google or YouTube websites. Google India furthur says that sites such as Orkut.com are owned by Google Inc, and thus it is not even an intermediary' as defined in the Indian IT Act, and thuscan't be summoned to answer in any case regarding content .

Mukul Rohatgi, counsel for Google India, told ET that it's humanly impossible to monitor or remove the content before it is uploaded on the internet. My client Google India is different from Google Inc, and does not have any control over the platform. Google India is just an advertising and revenue collection body.

Appearing for Vinay Rai, his counsel SPM Tripathi said that according to IT Rules, 2011, the websites have to remove the content within 36 hours of receiving a court order, which they have not complied with. The content on the websites is derogatory against Hindu, Muslim and Christian Gods and Goddesses, and can spark a riot if publicised. It incites hatred and enmity between communities and thus should be removed by the parties.

Update: Delays in the case India v The Internet

20th January 2012. See  article from  zdnet.com

The Delhi High Court delayed hearings on petitions by Facebook and Google to dismiss criminal proceedings against them in the country's Web censorship case. The two Internet giants are among 21 companies that have been asked to develop a mechanism to block objectionable material in India, and the Indian government has given the green light for their prosecution.

Earlier this week, Facebook and Google told the Delhi High Court they cannot block offensive content that appears on their services. Although the case was originally filed in a lower court, the companies have appealed to the Delhi High Court, challenging the lower court's ruling asking them to take down some content. The high court has now pushed back the case till February 2, according to NDTV. If their petitions fail, the 21 companies will have to face trial in the lower court, which has its next hearing scheduled for March 13.

 

20th January   

Dam Censors...

Court considers whether one state is allowed to override an India wide film certificate
Link Here

m999 845758eIndia's Supreme Court has slammed the Tamil Nadu state government for banning the screening of film Dam 999 , saying that when the whole country has one constitution, your state can't have a separate constitution .

The court asked how the state government could ban the screening of the film after the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has granted a certificate for the exhibition of the film.

The court, however, did not pass any order actually ifting the state government's ban.

Justice Ganguly said: The law is clear and the freedom of speech and expression has to be protected. If you are apprehending the breach of peace and law and order, it is your duty to take steps to prevent the same.

The court said that the state government had no role to suspend the screening of a film once the censor board has allowed the screening of the film in the entire country and issued a certificate to that effect.

The amil Nadu state government must now explain its actions by Jan 25 in time for the next hearing on Feb 9.

 

14th January   

Ghostly Hype...

India's film censor cuts Ghost, hyped as the country's most violent film ever
Link Here

ghost crucifictionThe major Bollywood film, Ghost , has received the full censorial treatment. Supposedly excessive gore-content offended India's film censor who made severe cuts.

Director Puja Jatinder Bedi says that some of the cuts have been unjustified. The censor board cut one of the most important scenes in my film. It's a scene where the ghost gets crucified like Jesus Christ. The scene was very pivotal for the screenplay,said Bedi.

The censor board felt that the crucifixion would hurt religious sentiments of the Christian community. Also, the brutality was being perpetrated on a woman. The blood and gore content is high enough for Ghost to be rated as the most violent film ever. So, the censors have toned down all the murder sequences,she added.

However, when contacted, J.P. Singh, the censor board's regional officer at Mumbai, said that the crucifixion sequence had only been reduced, not removed.

That scene is still there in the film. Only its length has been shortened to reduce the impact of the extreme brutality shown on a girl. The examining committee has given five-six cuts. All of them were extremely brutal. There was a scene showing a dead body's legs being cut. Another excessively violent scene showed a girl being beaten for a very long time by many people,said Singh.

 

13th January   

Update: Dictatorship of the Tiny Minority...

India's new TV censor makes first report after 6 months of viewer whinges
Link Here  full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults
sunny leone

  Sunny Leone
Biggest reasons for complaint

India's Broadcast Content Complaints Council (BCCC) received 3,441 complaints in six months since its inception in June last year, with biggest attractions for complaint being a Rakhi Sawant hosted programme and the appearance of porn star Sunny Leone in reality showBigg Boss 5.

The self-regulatory body dismissed most of the complaints, officials said. Just 479 were specific complaints which were considered in remit and were heard by the Counci.

Among these 36 complaints specifically raised issues related to the appearance of Leone on Colors Channel programme Bigg Boss 5. Some of the complainants had claimed that children are being exposed to porn industry as they are getting curious to know who is a porn star.

BCCC upheld the whinges against Leone considering her appearance on Bigg Boss-5 to be promotional material for her own websites. The censor advised the channel to choose future participants with care.

The most complaints, 58, were received about the telecast of a programme Gazab Desh ki azab Kahania which was hosted by Rakhi Sawant on Imagine TV.

A majority of the other complainants objected to depiction of sexuality in television programmes. BCCC took action ranging for advising channels to not telecast programmes during general viewing hours to prohibiting telecast in some cases.

 

12th January   

Dangerous Musings...

Bangladesh Facebook commentator sentenced to 6 months jail for musing about the death of the PM
Link Here

Bangladesh flagLast August, Muhammad Ruhul Amin Khandaker, a lecturer of the Department of Information and Technology at Jahangirnagar University in Bangladesh, updated his Facebook status to comment on a series of fatal road traffic accidents involving celebritries.

With a heavy dose of irony the lecturer asked on his Facebook profile why the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, couldn't suffer a similar fate.

Maybe it wasn't clever or very funny, but expressing the wish that a political leader could vanish is the kind of thing stated all over the internet on a daily basis. Clearly there is a line to be drawn between people just wishing they did not have to endure politicians in their life and people who are directly making a threat to the life of an elected leader.

That line is called common sense. But in this case the Bangladeshi government doesn't seem to possess a great deal of it as the High Court just sentenced Khandaker to six months in jail.

 

8th January   

Offsite: True Blood Without the Blood...

India serves up edgy American TV but then makes it incomprehensible via extreme censor cuts
Link Here

kzwzeih+l. sl500 aa300 In an effort to attract younger viewers without offending the older ones, Indian TV is now showing some of America's edgiest shows - but cutting out the edge.

One incident turned an episode of Friends into a legend of unwatchable TV. The show hinged on the gag that two pages in a cookbook got stuck together and the character Rachel mistakenly made a fruit pastry with beef. The station bleeped out the word beef, a show of sensitivity for Hindus' reverence for cows, leaving viewers to guess why her diners were so disgusted.

It's just as perplexing for the suddenly chaste vampires of the lusty True Blood and for the serial killer star of Dexter, who is constantly changing blood-splattered clothes for no apparent reason on Indian TV. Or for David Duchovny's Californication lech Hank Moody, who disappears into a bedroom with a beautiful women and then suddenly appears in a disjointed scene from later in the episode.

...Read the full article