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International Censorship News

2007: July-Sept

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22nd September   Ban Everything ...

Philippines flag Philippines attempt to ban all sex entertainment

From the Manila Standard

A nutter politician, Bienvenido Abante, has proposed legislation, Philippines House Bill 708, prohibiting and penalizing the production, printing, publication, importation, sale, distribution and exhibition of obscene and pornographic movies and materials, and the exhibition of live sexual acts.

This bill is presumably similar to a previous attempt, Bill 480, filed by Sergio Osmeña III, which has the same exact descriptive title as Rep. Abante’s where “obscene and pornographic materials” are defined as:

  1. Explicit pictures or scenes depicting or describing sexual acts; masturbation, oral and anal sex, autoerotism; excretion such as urination and edema materials; sadomasochistic sex, bestiality, necrophilia, pedophilia, bondage and sex, sex with sacrilege; sex acts between and among children
  2.  Lewd or libidinous depiction or description of the nudity of human body and its various parts such as male and female genitals, pubic region, buttocks, female breast below a point immediately above the top of the areola, male genitals in a discernibly turgid state, genitals in a state of sexual stimulation; fondling or erotic touching of genitals, pubic region, buttock or female breast
  3. “Sex stories” such as columns, narrative or illustrated stories and articles contained in newspapers graphically depicting sexual acts
  4. Lewd depiction and description of sexual paraphernalia such as life-sized rubber dolls, dildos, artificial vagina, vibrators or sexual gadgets of any kind
  5. Still photographs of movies whether domestic or foreign, having sexual contents, and previously or subsequently rated “R” or “X” by the MTRCB.

According to a press release issued by the Public Relations and Information Dept. of the Philippine government, violators of the proposed law could be punished with imprisonment and fines ranging from approximately $1100 to $11000.


18th September   UN 'Expert' Opinion ...

UN logoNutters call for worldwide laws against religious defamation

Based on an article from the Guardian see full article

A Senegalese UN 'expert' on racism on Friday branded the defamation of religions - in particular critical portrayals of Islam in the West - a threat to world peace.

Islamophobia today is the most serious form of religious defamation, Doudou Diene told the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Diene cited a caricature of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad in a Swedish newspaper, a protest by far-right groups in Belgium Tuesday against the Islamization of Europe, and campaigns against the construction of mosques in Germany and Switzerland as evidence of an ever increasing trend toward anti-Islamic actions in Europe.

Diene, a Senegalese lawyer who was appointed as an independent U.N. expert on racism in 2002, was presenting a report on defamation of religions to the 47-member council. The report also includes sections on anti-Semitism and other forms of religious or racial persecution around the world.

African and Islamic countries welcomed the assessment and called for moves to draft an international treaty that would compel states to act against any form of defamation of religion.

Diene said that the Danish & Swedish caricatures of Mohammed were evidence that the basic principle of coexistence of different cultures and different religions, which is the lasting basis for peace, is threatened now. Freedom of expression cannot be used as a pretext or excuse for incitement to racial or religious hatred.

European Union members of the council and other countries cautioned against equating criticism of religion with racism.

The EU finds it problematic to reconcile the notion of defamation with the concept of discrimination, said Goncalo Silvestre of Portugal, who was speaking for the 27-nation bloc: In our view these two are of a different nature.

Religions in themselves do not deserve special protection under international human rights law, he said.


25th August   Update: Royal Censors ...

Princess Masako: Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne book coverDeath threats to author of Japanese royal biography

From The Telegraph

The Australian journalist who wrote a controversial biography of Crown Princess Masako has received death threats ahead of the release of its Japanese translation.

Daisan-Shokan, the Tokyo-based publisher of the translation, has also reported being targeted by rightwing nationalist groups.

The translation of Princess Masako, Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne by Ben Hills is due to be published in early September.

Hills said he has received several e-mail death threats via his Web site in the leadup to the Japanese publication: They were saying things like, 'Die white pork!' They were quite racist.

Hills' biography has proved popular in the United States, Australia and parts of Asia but has drawn the ire of the Japanese government, which claims it defames the Crown Princess and contains errors.

The book alleges she conceived her daughter, Princess Aiko, through in vitro fertilization and was driven to a nervous breakdown by the Imperial Household Agency, which looks after the Imperial family's affairs.

As a result of the government criticism, the publisher originally contracted to release the book in Japan, Kodansha Ltd., backed out of the deal in February. Daisan-Shokan came forward and agreed in June to publish the book, saying it was a freedom of speech issue.

In an e-mail to Hills, the publisher's president, Akira Kitagawa, said a Japanese ultranationalist group visited the company's office Aug. 10 and demanded the publication be pulled: Just now, two black cars with ultranationalistic slogans on them are parking (next to) the building where my company address is. They are shouting hysterically, 'Stop the publication of Princess Masako' with huge loudspeakers.

26th September   Update: Advertising Royal Censorship ...

Princess Masako: Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne book coverNo Japanese newspapers will take advertising for royal exposé book

Based on an article from the Guardian see full article

The author of a controversial biography of Crown Princess Masako has accused the Japanese government of censorship after newspapers refused to carry advertisements for the book.

The release of the English version of Princess Masako: Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne this year sparked protests from the Japanese foreign ministry and the imperial household agency, which accused the author of insulting the royal family and demanded an apology.

Ben Hills, an Australian journalist, claims that Masako, who gave up a promising diplomatic career to marry the heir to the throne, Crown Prince Naruhito, in 1993, is suffering from clinical depression.

The book's publisher in Japan, Daisan Shokan, was refused advertising space in all of the major newspapers, including the Asahi Shimbun, which positions itself as the country's leading liberal voice. One paper said it would not take an ad because [Hills] had not responded to the government protests, said Daisan Shokan's president, Akira Kitagawa. "I find that reasoning very strange."

The foreign ministry predictably denied there had been pressure on newspapers from it or the royal household.


13th September   Message of Repression ...

Pakistan flagPakistan dictates that SMS messages should be monitored and censored

From the Daily Times

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has directed all the mobile operators in the country to start monitoring SMS text messages sent by mobile users in order to impose censorship and block mobile connections of users spreading anti-government content.


12th September   Cleaning up the Internet ...

Great [fire] Wall of ChinaChina have banned and blocked 20,000 websites

Based on an article from the Epoch Times

With the Chinese Communist Party's Seventeenth Congress around the corner, another wave of Internet traffic controls are sweeping across the nation.

China Telecom recently declared, To respond to the Ministry of Information Industry's project to purify and improve the Internet environment and to combat Internet pornography,
China Telecom has blocked 8,808 illegal web addresses, cut off 265 virtual hosts without IDC (Internet Data Center) permits, and 9,593 unregistered websites.

Additionally, Yu Xijian from China Netcom (CNC) said it has blocked 587 websites which were unregistered from the IDC (Internet Data Center) and 112 websites without IDC/ISP permits.

Meanwhile Chinese Bulletin Boards have reported that the most sensitive topics to the Chinese government are those that:

  • involve the Party, state, government, governmental departments and units
  • involve Japan, Darfur in Sudan, issues in Tibet and Xinjiang
  • involve appealing crowds, parades, demonstrations and livelihood issues
  • involve overseas Falun Gong, the rightists, exiles from Tibet and Xinjiang.

The administrators have been asked to report and delete such postings immediately!

Update: Government is Going Bananas

25th September

This campaign seems more indiscriminate than usual. In recent weeks, police nationally have been shutting down Internet data centers (IDCs) hosting websites offering interactive features, say industry insiders. With the approach of the Party Congress, the government wants the Internet sphere silent, to keep people from discussing social problems, says Isaac Mao, one of China's first bloggers, who is now organizing a censorship monitoring project.

To avoid being blocked, ISPs in China and individual websites have been disabling chatrooms, forums, and other interactive features that might provide a platform for viewpoints unacceptable to the authorities.

We don't want to get shut down so we shut down anything that could be offensive, says one foreign ISP employee. Our upstream provider [the company that owns the servers] told us verbally there should be no commentary, no blogs, no bulletin board services, because the government is going bananas.


11th September   National Security Centre ...

Malaysia flagMalaysian system supposedly to monitor not censor internet

Based on an article from the ZDNet Asia

Malaysia's National Security Centre (NSC), supposedly aimed at monitoring and tracking cyber security threats, is expected to be up and running by year-end, according to industry regulator Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

Mohd Ali Hanafiah, senior director for the MCMC's content and network security division, said the center will be housed within its premises and is designed to track malicious Internet traffic on the Web.

The information collated will then be used to create a security threat information database that will be disseminated to all local Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Ali said Tuesday.

Shamsul Jafni Shafie, director of security, trust and governance at MCMC, said the NSC is patterned after Singapore's Cyber-Watch Centre and the Korea Information Security Agency (Kisa).

He added that the NSC will only monitor and analyze Internet traffic for malicious activity, and will not censor material on the Internet.

We are committed to the non-censorship of the Internet as promised by the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) Bill of Guarantee, he said. The Bill comprises various conditions the Malaysian government has pledged to observe in order to ensure the Internet will not be censored.


10th September   Shootout in the Supreme Court ...

Shootout at Lokhandwala DVD coverIndian court rejects case to ban 'obscene' song

Based on an article from the Calcutta Telegraph see full article

Aye Ganpat can blare on, with all its suppsosed obscenities...the Supreme Court has plugged its ears.

The court refused to intervene in a public interest petition seeking a ban on the song being played on television and radio.

We agree it’s in bad taste, said a bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, about the hit song from Shootout at Lokhandwala . But it refused to impose a ban, and instead asked petitioner Jyothika Kalra to launch a public campaign.

Kalra, a nutter working for women’s rights, had argued that the song was derogatory to the dignity of women and violated a fundamental right i.e. right to love with dignity.

The language of the song does not stand the test of decency and morality, Kalra said, adding that such songs objectify women and are detrimental to any society seeking gender equality.

Shootout at Lokhandwala was given an adults-only certificate by the censor board, she said. But the song was being freely aired on TV and radio and was also available on cassette.

Apart from the request for the ban, Kalra also sought a directive to the censor board to withdraw the movie’s certificate of exhibition. But the court dismissed the petition.


31st August   Annoying Police Pop-Ups . ..

Police cartoon cop ChaChinese police on the lookout for those carrying an offensive opinion

From The Telegraph see full article

Cartoon police officers are to appear in "pop-up" warnings on the internet every half hour to warn Chinese users that they must steer clear of unapproved websites.

Officials stress that "Jing" and "Cha", its two "internet cops" named after the two characters that make up the Chinese word for "police", are on the look out for criminal activity. They will be on the watch for websites that incite secession, promote superstition, gambling and fraud, an official told the China Daily newspaper. "Secession" refers to support for an independent Tibet or Taiwan.

A second official said it was important to wipe out information that disrupts social stability , a catch-all phrase often used to refer to emails, bulletin boards and blogs that challenge the political status quo.

The new rules, devised by Beijing city authorities under the devolved system common in China, mean that the two cartoon characters will from Saturday roll up from the bottom of the 13 biggest internet sites every 30 minutes. They will expand their presence to all city internet sites by the end of the year.


21st Aug   Wordpress Banned in Turkey ...

Unblock Wordpress in TurkeyAnd on the 6th day God created creationist nutters

From MediawatchWatch
See aso Turkey is Typing….Wordpress Still Blocked

Turkish creationist nutter Adnan Oktar (aka Harun Yahya) has succeeded in getting all blogs blocked in Turkey.

Most recently famous for flooding schools and universities with a glossy, 800-page anti-evolution book, Oktar was annoyed by several bloggers at who weren’t taking him as seriously as he takes himself. His lawyers applied to the Turkish courts about “slander” and ny the decision of Fatih 2nd Civil Court of First Instance, number 2007/195, access to has been blocked in Turkey.


27th Aug   Update: China Named & Shamed...

China Blogger Network logoChina ends anonymous blogging

From Reporters without Borders

The Chinese government gets blog service providers to sign "self-discipline" pact to end anonymous blogging

Reporters Without Borders condemns the “self-discipline pact” signed by at least 20 leading blog service providers in China including! and Unveiled yesterday by the Internet Society of China (ISC), an offshoot of the information industry ministry, the pact stops short the previous project of making it obligatory for bloggers to register, but it can be used to force service providers to censor content and identify bloggers.

The Chinese government has yet again forced Internet sector companies to cooperate on sensitive issues - in this case, blogger registration and blog content, the press freedom organisation said. As they already did with website hosting services, the authorities have given themselves the means to identify those posting ‘subversive’ content by imposing a self-discipline pact.

Reporters Without Borders added: This decision will have grave consequences for the Chinese blogosphere and marks the end of anonymous blogging. A new wave of censorship and repression seems imminent, above all in the run-up to the Communist Party of China’s next congress.

Under the new pact, blog service providers are “encouraged” to register users under their real names and contact information before letting them post blogs. More seriously, they will be required to keep this information, which will allow the authorities to identify them. These companies have already in the past provided the police with information about their clients, resulting in arrests.

The pact says blog providers should monitor and manage comments ... and delete illegal and bad information in a timely manner. Articles 11 and 12 urge them to equip themselves with a secure management system that allows them to keep bloggers’ details, including their real name, address, contact number and email address.

ISC secretary-general Huang Chengqing was clear yesterday when he said: Blog service providers who allow the use of pseudonyms may be more attractive to bloggers, but they will be punished by the government if they fail to screen illegal information.


22nd Aug   Zombie Censors ...

Resident Evil 5 posterEarly flak for Resident Evil 5

Thanks to Richard
From Game Politics

Capcom’s Resident Evil 5 game has drawn the ire of a blog devoted to African women.

Black Looks calls into question the game’s setting as depicted in the trailer, first shown at this year’s E3 in Santa Monica:

The new Resident Evil video game depicts a white man in what appears to be Africa killing Black people. The Black people are supposed to be zombies and the white man’s job is to destroy them and save humanity…

This is problematic on so many levels, including the depiction of Black people as inhuman savages, the killing of Black people by a white man in military clothing, and the fact that this video game is marketed to children and young adults. Start them young… fearing, hating, and destroying Black people.


19th Aug   Threats to Close Entire Film Industry ...

Nigeria flagOver a single Nigerian porn clip

The government of Nigeria's predominantly Muslim state of Kano has called for a one-year ban on local film-making to "sanitise" the industry after a sex video of a local actress circulated widely on mobile phones.

The eight-minute clip, recorded for private use by the actress's boyfriend on a mobile phone and showing the two of them naked, caused a public outcry among Muslims in northern Nigeria.

The state's Filmmakers Association expelled 17 of its members for suspected involvement in "immoral acts such as drunkenness and fornication", even though they were not connected to the clip. The actress in question has gone into hiding.

But the state's Directorate of Societal Orientation said the expulsions were not enough to clean up the industry. Shooting of films in the local Hausa language should be suspended for a year, the directorate's Bala Muhammad was quoted as saying.

25th September   Update: Just a Little State Censorship ...

Nigeria flagNigeria's Kano state goes censorship crazy

From All Africa see full article

Kano State Censorship Board has extended the suspension earlier imposed on film production in the state from Three to six months until 21 February, 2008, just as it reeled out a massive number of measures to restrict the media industry.

IThe Board under its former executive secretary, Alhaji A.A. Kurawa, imposed a three-month suspension after a sex video clip of a popular actress, Maryam Hiyana, went public.

Addressing a press briefing, the new executive secretary of the board, Malam Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, explained that the extension of the suspension became necessary in order to enable his administration introduce new measures for the 'improvement' of film production in the state, adding that the policy would be vigorously monitored by the board to ensure stringent penalties for defaulters.

Rabo stated that the board has created additional guidelines for registration of production companies, artistes, internet cafes, publishers and authors. According to the new laws, production companies must have a minimum of N2.5 million as working capita; all members of the production crew shall also have a minimum qualification of a diploma or certificate in a related field from a recognised institution. The board would now censor films on CDs and VHS cassettes and all films marketed in the state,.

Rabo revealed that the board has cancelled singing and dancing of any kind in Hausa films, and no producer would be allowed to go to location for filming without his script being approved by a recognised consultant and vetted by the board.

Members of the Kano State Association of Printers have also been advised to make sure that before they print any book or poster meant for public use they must obtain a clearance from the board.

Meanwhile, according to the executive secretary, stakeholders of literary works such as authors, publishers, bookshops, poster sellers, distributors and vendors are expected to register with the board in compliance with the requirements of the Censorship Board Law 2001: A person who therefore exhibits, publishes, sells or distributes, in any manner whatsoever, a literary work without Censorship Board certificate shall be liable to face the wrath of the relevant provision of the Law .

He then called on the stakeholders and the people in the state to support the task force in its purpose of sanitising the industry.


18th Aug   Russia Silences the BBC ...

BBC World Service logoBBC World Service banned from Moscow FM

Based on an article from The Telegraph see full article

The BBC World Service has been banned from broadcasting on Russian FM radio in what is seen as the latest diplomatic swipe at the UK.

The state licensing authorities ordered Bolshoye radio in Moscow to remove all BBC programming by 5pm tonight or face being taken off air.

The Foreign Office immediately called for the service to be re-instated while a defiant BBC said it would appeal the decision.

Richard Sambrook, director of BBC Global News, said the Corporation was “extremely disappointed” that listeners would not be able to hear its impartial and independent news and information programming.

Sambrook said the BBC would appeal to Russia’s Federal Service for the Supervision of Mass Media, Communication and Protection of Culture Heritage.

Bolshoye Radio’s owners, financial group Finam, said the BBC’s output was “foreign propaganda”. Spokesman Igor Ermachenkov insisted management had taken the decision to remove BBC programming without outside interference: It’s no secret the BBC was established as a broadcaster of foreign propaganda.

The BBC said 730,000 people listened to the Russian Service in Russia, with around 93,000 listening via FM. Approximately 20,000 of those were dedicated FM listeners. The Russian Service is still available on mediumwave frequencies, via satellite and online.


18th Aug   Chinese Structural Flaws ...

China flagChinese suppress news of bridge collapse

From Info Shop

Chinese authorities have banned most state media from reporting on the deadly collapse of a bridge in southern China, with local officials punching and chasing reporters from the scene.

The harassment and the reporting ban, issued by the Central Propaganda Department, came Thursday while reporters swarmed the tourist town of Fenghuang to report on Monday's accident.

Unidentified locals roughed up a group of five newspaper and magazine reporters as they interviewed families of those killed, according to a photographer and a reporter whose colleague was among the journalists involved.

The collapse of the bridge, which was under construction, left at least 47 people dead, making it one of the worst building accidents in China in recent years.

The rough treatment given the media stands at odds with the responsible, concerned image China's Communist Party leadership has tried to convey publicly in the wake of the accident and the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The accident has raised troubling questions about shoddy building and possible corruption between the officials and contractors, and by trying to control reporting on the disaster, Beijing is fueling those suspicions.

Under the ban, state media were ordered not to send reporters to Fenghuang or independently gather the news but to rely solely on reports by the government's Xinhua News Agency.

From The Guardian see full article

China has ordered its media to report only positive news and has imprisoned a pro-democracy dissident amid a clampdown on dissent ahead of the most important meeting of the communist party in five years.

Media controls have been tightened, Aids activists detained and NGOs shut down as president Hu Jintao prepares for the 17th party congress, when the next generation of national leaders will be unveiled in a politburo reshuffle.

Chen Shuqing, who is a founder member of the banned China Democracy party, suffered the toughest punishment meted out so far when he was found guilty on Thursday of "inciting people to overthrow the government".

The intermediate people's court in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, sentenced him to four years in prison. Chen was an outspoken critic of the Communist party, although because of the tightly controlled traditional media his campaigning in recent years was largely restricted to the internet.

With the congress nearing - the exact date is a secret, but it is expected in October - the domestic media have been banned from conducting independent investigations of food and product safety stories. In Beijing the municipal propaganda department has issued detailed instructions to editors on how they should cover the test of traffic-easing measures, which started today. During the four-day trial more than 1m cars have been ordered off the roads. Local newspapers and TV stations can only report on the improvements to the environment and transportation. Interviews with inconvenienced commuters or images of overcrowded buses are forbidden.


9th Aug   Cool It ...

New Zealand flagIce Cube concert will go ahead in New Zealand

From Y! Music

A move to cancel Ice Cube's upcoming concert in New Zealand has been blocked by event organisers.

Auckland mayoral candidate Len Brown launched a scathing attack on the hip-hop veteran - real name O'Shea Jackson - insisting he will incite a rise in "gangster-style" violence in the area.

He also put pressure on the venue owners at the TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre to cancel the concert which is scheduled to take place on 22 August.

But TelstraClear CEO Richard Jeffery insists the star does not have a criminal record and he doubts his music will encourage gang problems.

Jeffery added he objected to censorship and said the concert will go ahead as planned. 


8th Aug   Olympic Press Muzzling ...

China flagNew sport being played in the Beijing Olympics

Also special report from CPJ see full article

Chinese police temporarily detained about a dozen journalists yesterday after they covered a Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF) press conference demanding greater press freedom in China ahead of next year's Olympics.

Four members of RSF flew in from Europe to hold their first-ever press conference in China, outside the headquarters of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games.

According to press reports, uniformed and plainclothes police moved in after the conference and refused to allow journalists to leave. Some cameramen were asked to turn over their tapes, but refused. The group was released after almost two hours.

In 2001, when China successfully bid for the 2008 Olympics, it said reporters would have complete freedom to report. But RSF and other IFEX members the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Human Rights Watch say that hasn't happened.

The official slogan, 'One world, one dream,' sounds more and more hollow, RSF says. Beijing has not kept its promises to improve the human rights situation and yet continues cynically to refer to the Olympic spirit.

Wearing t-shirts showing the Olympic rings made up of handcuffs, RSF staff called for the release of the 100 journalists, cyber-dissidents and free speech activists now in Chinese jails, an end to Internet censorship - at least 12 websites were closed or blocked in July alone - and the ability for foreign correspondents to move about China freely.


5th Aug   Unhealthy Censorship ...

Russia flagRussian targets porn

From interfax

By the mid autumn Russian Ministry for Culture and Mass Communications plans to draft a bill restricting erotic and porn content availability, Deputy Minister Pavel Pozhigaylo said.

According the bill, no erotic and porn content may be manufactured in buildings used by a child-related, educational, healthcare or similar institution; no porn may include images on minors, state symbols, or public places.

All content of this sort may be offered only in specialized shops. It is also planned to restrict availability of porn content in info networks including the Internet. According to the bill, all circulation or erotic and porn content and organizing of erotic shows will have to be licensed.

The Federation Council of Russia’s Speaker Sergey Mironov proposed a moral oversight for TV: There should be public councils at each TV channel in order to block seamy-side and cynic things .

According to him, not a single channel of the Russian TV: works for our country. Just compare what the presidents says and what the TV shows... Every ad urges to ‘ask for more’ and propagates consuming ideology. Really, sometimes it seams that this country needs a censorship to be healthy .


3rd August   Police Censors ...

India flagIndian police ban halt screenings of Kashmir documentary

From DNA see full article

In what is set to snowball into a major national controversy over the freedom of expression, the Mumbai police may soon find itself on the backfoot for twice “arbitrarily” stopping the screening of a documentary on Kashmir by award-winning filmmaker Sanjay Kak.

The police stopped the screening of Kak’s documentary Jashne-e-Azadi (How we celebrate freedom) last week and again on Monday on grounds that the documentary — portraying what Kashmir’s struggle for azadi really implied — as out-and-out inflammatory and radical in drift and content. However, the Campaign Against Censorship has already “taken up” Kak’s case, as one which smacks of “local thana censorship” above anything else.

A large section of writers, painters, film makers and other intellectuals too have come together — mostly in Mumbai and Delhi — to protest against police highhandedness. Murmurs of protest, condemning the police action, were heard across some Mumbai colleges.

Surprisingly, the two Mumbai police stations perceived to be “in the eye of the storm” — since they were instrumental in stopping the screening — refused to explain if their officers had the proper “mandate” from their superiors to interfere, the way, they did on the two occasions.


2nd August   United Nations of Repression ...

UN logoUN wants to exclude bloggers

From Inner City Press see full article

The United Nations says it wants to engage with bloggers, but only if it can control them. Those it cannot control, it wants to exclude, meeting minutes obtained by Inner City Press reveal.

At least three UN agencies have in the interim adopted policies of not answering questions from bloggers, no matter how widely they're read. From the top of the UN's headquarters building, it's a world of paranoia, a desire to turn back the clock of a type that usually proves fruitless.

In late June in Madrid, the spokespeople for 37 UN agencies met and, according to internal minutes leaked to Inner City Press, agreed that it is important for the United Nations family to engage with all forms of new media, but that some, such as blogs, present particular challenges for accreditation.

The UN limits access to its buildings and press conferences to those reporters it accredits. In April of this year, the New York Times reported that Inner City Press is, for now, the only accredited blogger at the UN. There have been several threats to revoke accreditation, based on inconvenient questions about the UN's role in the torching of villages in Uganda and the Congo, its standardless engagement with corporations and its use of funds to promote or spin its work.

According to the later-obtained internal minutes, at the UN Communications Group meeting a strategy emerged: UNCG members stressed the importance in accreditation decisions on the need, among other evaluation tools, to ascertain that there is an established editorial process in the media organization concerned that ensures copy goes through an editing process and which provides recourse to the UN to respond to factual inaccuracies, misrepresentations, etc. Consideration could be given to include alongside published accreditation criteria a statement that the respective organization would hold accredited media accountable to a journalistic code of conduct.

The proposal, then, is to exclude any reporter who is not subject a traditionally hierarchical editing process -- that is, to exclude blogs and most participatory media.


28th July   Update: Darker Days in Venezuela ...

Venezuela flagTV channel banished to cable now to be booted off cable

Based on an article from IFEX

Ten days after the embattled Venezuelan broadcaster RCTV, now called RCTV Internacional, resumed broadcasting via cable and satellite on 16 July 2007, a new threat emerged that could result in its being removed from cable service distribution by 1 August. The government had previously stripped RCTV of its terrestrial broadcast licence on 27 May.

Mario Seijas, president of the Venezuelan Chamber of Subscription Television, said on 26 July that RCTV Internacional had five days to register as a national broadcaster under a provision of the National Commission for Telecommunications (CONATEL) that was introduced by the Radio and TV Social Responsibility Law of 2004.

This provision in theory requires any broadcaster operating in Venezuela to be formally registered as a "national broadcasting producer." The authorities have said that if RCTV Internacional does not comply, its programming will cease to be available by cable on 1 August. National broadcasters are expected to simultaneously retransmit the president's speeches and other government government propaganda when they are broadcast by the state media

RCTV Internacional responded with a statement disputing that it has to register as a national broadcaster. Legally, it said, RCTV Internacional is an international TV station producing programmes to be broadcast worldwide, just like Telesur, Warner, HBO, Sony, History Channel, Sunchannel, E! Entertainment Television and A&E Mundo. The stations cited are all available by cable in Venezuela.

Currently available by cable and satellite in Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago and part of the Netherlands Antilles, RCTV Internacional is going after international Spanish-speaking viewers, not only in Latin America but also in the United States and Europe.

2nd August   Update: Spurious Pretext ..

Venezuela flagVenezuelan TV channel banned again

Based on an article from IFEX

On 1 August 2007, a spurious, last-minute legal pretext was used to force RCTV, now called RCTV Internacional, to suspend broadcasting for the second time in just over two months, RSF said. The grounds cited by the government were that the privately-owned station was not a "national audiovisual producer."

This time, the censorship of RCTV is complete, the press freedom organisation said. The Venezuelan government wanted the station to disappear, in Venezuela, at least. First it excluded RCTV from the terrestrial broadcast frequencies. Now it is preventing it from broadcasting by cable and satellite. This second phase of the RCTV affair raises several questions.

Firstly, if the Radio and TV Social Responsibility Law of 2004 and the regulations of the National Commission for Telecommunications (Conatel) really do require cable and satellite stations - even internationally-structured ones such as RCTV Internacional - to be registered as "national audiovisual producers," as is the case for terrestrial broadcasters, why was this requirement not previously enforced with all the others?

Secondly, why did the Venezuelan Chamber of Subscription Television remember that the 45 other pay-TV channels should also have to register as "national audiovisual producers" only after it had already given RCTV Internacional five days to do so? And why were the others given 10 days?

Thirdly, why did the communication and information minister wait until RCTV Internacional resumed cable broadcasting on 16 July to announce that the cable and satellite stations would now also have to submit to the system of "cadenas," in which national broadcasters are required to simultaneously retransmit the president's speeches and other government messages when they are broadcast by the state media?

Finally, why did the telecommunications minister not respond to the request for a deadline extension for RCTV Internacional that was made on 30 July by Mario Seíjas, the president of the Venezuelan Chamber of Subscription Television?

3rd August   Update: Reprieved ..

Venezuela flagVenezuelan TV channel ban stayed

From CPJ see full article

Venezuela’s Supreme Tribunal of Justice issued a stay Wednesday allowing RCTV International and dozens of regional stations to remain on cable temporarily, a ruling that came just hours before a deadline set by the government that could have removed their signals from paid subscription television.

The constitutional chamber of the Supreme Tribunal agreed to hear an appeal by the Cable Television Chamber, which requested Venezuela’s highest tribunal clarify which stations will fall under the category of national broadcasters.

The chamber established that there are no regulations for defining which are the national audiovisual production services, a statement from the Supreme Tribunal said. The court’s decision suspended a request from the National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL) to remove dozens of regional stations from cable and satellite providers’ programming if the stations did not register as national broadcasters by August 1.


26th July   Iran Proxy ..

Iran flagIran group opposing repressive Iranian internet filtering 

Based on an article from Payvand see full article

More than 10 million websites are currently being "filtered" in Iran, according to the state Information Technology Company. Reporters Without Borders ranks Iran's press situation as "very serious"

At a time when the country suffers from what human rights defenders describe as a severe "information crackdown," a group of young Iranians inside the country is determined to battle the dominant policy of online censorship imposed by the Iranian leadership.

The group Iran Proxy is formed by some Iranian youngsters who believe that this "new dictatorial barrier" must be fought from inside of the country -- and that they must remain underground to be able to do so.

Iran Proxy describes itself as the first anti-filtering group inside Iran. It says it is focused on introducing and promoting simple -- and yet technologically advanced -- ways of helping Iranian users skirt web filters.

Iran Proxy tries to teach to the Iranian users the advanced methods of getting around this new dictatorial barrier, which is the result of false policies of governments and religious extremists, in a simplified and understandable way through publication of a series of articles , one of the underground group's members tells Radio Farda on condition of anonymity.

Iran Proxy has so far created tens of proxy websites with search ability and also featuring fixed links to news websites that are currently being blocked by the Iranian government. The proxies, which get updated constantly and can be e-mailed to users, help surfers to enter the restricted pages.

According to the results of the worldwide research carried out between the years 2004 and 2005 by the OpenNet Initiative, Iran was filtering around 30 percent of the target websites, Iran Proxy tells Radio Farda. The results revealed that Iran was practicing one of the most strict methods of Internet filtering.

In recent months, the Iranian state-run telecommunications center has begun the launch of an entirely new filtering system that includes a software robot able to observe viewed web pages and block them after drawing a comparison with the defined algorithms, Iran Proxy tells Radio Farda.


24th July   Chavez Beyond Reproach ...

Venezuela flagForeigners criticising Venezuelan government to be deported 

From The Guardian see full article

President Hugo Chávez has announced that foreigners who visit Venezuela and criticise his government will be escorted to the airport and expelled.

In a televised address the Venezuelan leader ordered cabinet ministers to monitor statements by visitors and deport them if they "denigrated" his leadership: How long are we going to allow a person - from any country in the world - to come to our own house to say there's a dictatorship here, that the president is a tyrant, and nobody does anything about it? No foreigner, whoever he may be, can come here and attack us. Whoever comes, we must remove him from the country. Here is your bag, sir, go.

He did not name any critics but the immediate target was believed to be Manuel Espino, the head of Mexico's conservative ruling party, who on a recent visit to Caracas questioned the president's democratic credentials.

Foreign journalists and NGOs operate freely in Venezuela and about 80% of the domestic media is in private hands. But the climate is changing. The only critical TV channels, RCTV and Globovision, are confined to cable, leaving most viewers to choose between private channels that soft-pedal journalism or state channels that provide fawning coverage of the president.


24th July   Restricting Free Expression ..

Reporters without Borders logoInternational criticism for Thai Cyber Crime Act

From Reporters without Borders

Reporters Without Borders voiced concern about the Computer Crime Act that took effect on 18 July. It allows the police to seize the computer files and online files of persons suspected of disseminating insulting or pornographic content.

The Thai military government is using the fight against pornography to conceal an increasingly restrictive policy towards online free expression, the press freedom organisation said. The government must combat online criminality and the sexual exploitation of human beings without committing new violations of free speech or personal privacy.

The new law requires Internet Service Providers to keep the online data of individual Internet users for 90 days. The authorities are empowered to examine this information without any judicial oversight. The police are also allowed to seize computers if they suspect illegal use has been made of them.

Supinya Klangnarong, a member of the local NGO Freedom against Censorship in Thailand (FACT), described the law as a threat and violation of privacy. FACT said the measures do not aim to prevent, as [the authorities] claim, but to control, adding that the range of websites banned by the government went far beyond the requirements of the fight against pornography and “insults” to the monarchy.


22nd July   Tajikistan Offends Dignity ...

Tajikistan flagA ban of false and offensive information

From the BBC see full article

Tajikistan's parliament has approved legislation making it a criminal offence to publish false or offensive information on the internet.

The bill must be signed off by President Emomali Rakhmon before becoming law.

Under the proposal, anyone who publishes statements that "offend dignity" may face imprisonment.

Tajik media are largely state-run and human rights groups say the country lacks freedom of expression.

Human rights groups have criticised Tajik authorities for using legislation against slandering the president to restrict political debate.

In practice, the defamation provisions are often applied not only to factually false attacks on reputation, but when the media criticises politicians, the London-based human rights group Article 19 said in a report published on Friday.


21st July   More Scary Shite ...

DictatorAnti-Materials Provoking Dangerous Behaviours Bill

From the Bangkok Post

Last week, the Thai Cabinet submitted to the National Legislative Assembly an Anti-Materials Provoking Dangerous Behaviours Bill.

Like the Film Act, this bill seems to have been written with such autocratic motives that threaten to violate our basic human rights.

The bill aims at curbing the making and distribution of ''sexually perverse'' and ''suicide-inducing'' materials through books, photographs, moving images, telephone as well as other electronic media.

What's disturbing is that this bill deems it a criminal offence for anyone to possess such materials, and that to facilitate the enforcement of this law, government officials have the right to enter residences, places or vehicles suspected to contain such materials... without having to obtain a search warrant.

The law defines acts of sexual perversion as sex between three or more participants, including group sex , sexual act that employs tools or equipment that could be harmful to the body and life , sex between ancestor and offspring , and sex with animals or corpses .

Since this country is being ruled by the military, we should study every new legislation carefully with the knowledge that the Parliament which holds the power to pass it is not a legitimate body of elected representatives. The military, at every point in the history of mankind, has never been respected as a champion of human rights, and any law that allows state officials to enter our homes without a search warrant sounds alarmingly Stalinist.

Such a law automatically swings open a door for the rulers to exploit it for political manipulation, to retrieve and monitor private information, all this at the expense of the people's basic rights, including, if I may, the right to watch Debbie Does Dallas in the privacy of one's own home.


1st July   Paranoid and Vindictive ...

South Africa flagCanned South African TV documentary shown at film Festival

Based on an article from The Guardian see full article

A documentary critical of South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki was due to be shown to the public more than a year after it was made and after twice being pulled from the state broadcaster amid accusations of political censorship.

The programme, which portrays Mbeki as paranoid and vindictive, will be screened at an international film festival in Durban.

The documentary, commissioned and then canned by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and seen by the Guardian, is critical of Mbeki's style of leadership.

Allister Sparks, a former editor of the Rand Daily Mail said he believes that the SABC management baulked at a sequence near the beginning of the film that shows Nelson Mandela speaking a decade ago as he handed the ANC leadership to Mbeki who is sitting at his side. Mandela warns his successor against abusing power: There is a heavy responsibility for a leader elected unopposed. He may use that powerful position to settle scores with his detractors, to marginalise or get rid of them and surround themselves with yes-men and women .

The documentary then goes on to build a picture of Mr Mbeki conducting himself in the manner Mr Mandela warned against. It describes how he centralised power and isolated himself from others in the party leadership.

The SABC first declined to show the documentary a year ago and insisted on cuts, principally of a section that repeated unfounded rumours that Mbeki was implicated in the murder by white rightwing extremists of the Communist party leader, Chris Hani, in 1993.

The revised programme was rescheduled for last month but then pulled again, because, the SABC said: internal procedures were not followed.

19th July   Update: Unauthorised Authorised ...

South Africa flagScreenings continue of canned South African TV documentary

From the BBC see full article

South Africa's national broadcaster, SABC, has dropped a court action to halt the screenings of a documentary about President Thabo Mbeki.

The latest screening of the documentary then went ahead in Johannesburg followed by a discussion.

SABC originally commissioned the film but had not broadcast it on editorial grounds. It now says it will broadcast the film at a future date.

The controversial documentary is called Unauthorised: Thabo Mbeki.

Despite cancelling the screening twice, SABC rejects accusations that it has been practising self-censorship.

The film has already been screened a few times but was due to be shown more widely later this month.


16th July   Update: Repressive Turkishness ...

Gagged Turkish protestorBand on trial for lyric railing at exams

From Courier Post see full article

A rock song lashing out against Turkey's equivalent of the SAT has landed a band in court.

The troubles besetting the five-man group called Deli (Crazy), as they head to trial Thursday are typical of the extremes endured by a country historically torn between cultures - Islam and secularism, Europe and Asia, democracy and military dictatorship, and a reverence for institutions of state that frequently collides with basic civil liberties.

The musicians, along with their manager and a former band member, will go on trial on July 19 in the Turkish capital, Ankara. If convicted, they face up to 18 months in jail, although they could get off with a fine or a warning.

The punk song is called OSYM , the Turkish acronym for The Student Selection and Placement Center. That's the state institution that decides which students go to university, based on a three-hour multiple-choice exam held every June.

Life should not be a prison because of an exam, go the lyrics of OSYM : I have gotten lost/ You have ruined my future/ I am going to tell you one thing:/ Shove that exam...

The lyric prompted Unal Yarimagan, the professor who chairs the university placement system, to seek legal advice, and the matter was referred to state prosecutors.


15th July   New Zealand Blame Game ...

Grand Theft AutoGrand Theft Auto on trial

From New Zealand Herald

A 20-year-old man accused of a carjacking says he was driven to commit the crime after playing a violent video game for hours on end.

In what is believed to be a legal first in New Zealand, Sheik Tanweerul Haque Sahib is blaming the R18 video game Grand Theft Auto - an escapist shoot-'em-up where gamers are encouraged to steal cars by force - for an alleged incident in which he stole a convertible at knifepoint and then crashed after a motorway joyride.

The defence has failed overseas but research suggests that violent video games are linked to increased aggression and that playing for extended periods of time could cause a "dissociative state", in which individuals cannot recall their actions.

Charged with aggravated robbery, assault and threatening to kill, Sahib is alleged to have threatened the driver of a Saab convertible with a knife in a carjacking incident in central Auckland last October.

Sahib's lawyer, Graeme Newell, said Grand Theft Auto would be a plank in the defence case when his client stood trial next month. An expert witness had been called to testify.

Simply blaming a video game for causing criminal activity was no legal defence at all, Auckland University law Professor Scott Optican said, although it could explain a defendant's actions: As long as you do the crime, do the act, with the intent to commit, what causes you to do it, propels you to do it, or motivates you do to do it is not relevant.


15th July   Internet Hustings ...

Japan flagBanned in Japan

From the BBC see full article

Now the campaign for the upper house election in Japan has started, tough rules on how politicians can canvas for votes have come into force.

Surprisingly, in a country with some of the fastest broadband speeds and a wide internet penetration, it is now illegal for candidates to create new websites or update existing web pages between now and election day, 29 July.

So instead, the loudspeaker vans are out on the streets again.

Prof Phil Deans, who works at Temple University in Tokyo, describes it as: almost a throwback to the 1950s. Cars with speakers on the roof, the use of posters, leafleting, and the almost complete absence of electronic media to communicate political messages, is one of the most startling things about the way elections are conducted here.

Usually Japan allows its politicians to use the internet to communicate with voters.

But as soon as an election campaign starts - the time when you might well think you would really want to communicate with them - the use of electronic media for campaigning is banned.

Instead it is on the traditional media where politicians hold court - for instance, on ponderous political TV discussion shows that sometimes look like they have not changed in 20 years.

Prof Yasunori Sone, a political analyst from Keio University in Tokyo, says Japanese election law is very strict: There are many rules and prohibitions. But many parties want a strict law to contain other parties' political activities. Some of us are trying to get the law changed. But the number of supporters for a change in the law is very small.


13th July   Censor Zones ...

Brazil flagBrazilian broadcasters not keen on TV watersheds

From Variety

Censorship was abolished after a bad experience during the 1964-85 military dictatorship. A recent decision of the Ministry of Justice to set up age classifications for shows has local media groups warning that the government again wants to restrict freedom of expression.

Local papers and TV newscasts are heavily criticizing the ministry's decision, which states that shows are restricted as follows:

  • before 8pm, suitable for all
  • 8-9pm, suitable for 12+
  • 9-10pm, suitable for 14+
  • 10-11pm, suitable for 16+
  • after 11pm, suitable for 18+

The ministry postponed the introduction of the rules after the Brazilian Association of Radio and Television (Abert) got a court injunction partially suspending them. The ministry is holding public meetings on the subject.

The TV networks themselves suggest an age classification for their shows, based on whether they contain scenes of sex, violence and drugs.

After the show is aired with the suggested classification, a ministry team may review the age classification. But the ministry does not have the power to stop the show airing or to punish the network. If the net does not abide by the revised age classification, all that the ministry can do is to forward the case to the Prosecutor's Office, says a Ministry of Justice spokeswoman.

Market analysts say the real concern of the powerful local media groups is commercial, not philosophical. For instance in the western Acre state the networks air at 7 p.m. shows cleared for 10 p.m. in the main Central Eastern time zone, where most Brazilians live. Following local time for the age classification would be an extra cost broadcasters want to avoid.


12th July   Fireworks and Defamation ...

Sivaji posterAttempt to censor Sivaji: The Boss in India

For background the film was cut for a 12A for it's UK release. Distributor chose to remove a scene showing the hero of the film throwing a firework into his mouth, lighting it and then spitting it out at somebody else. Cut was made to achieve a 12A classification.

From Deccan Herald

A defamation suit seeking Rs 50 crore damages and a ban on the screening of Tamil Superstar Rajnikanth's latest blockbuster ' Sivaji - The Boss ' has been filed with Madras High Court.

In his petition, M Sathiyamoorthy of the Congress contended the film was defamatory in nature and aimed at tarnishing the image of AICC President and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The film dealt with the exploitation of education system by private institutions which collected capitation fees.

Fifteen minutes into the film, hero Rajnikanth who plays the role of a US-returned software engineer, visits the place of Adikesavan, the villain and head of a private university, who is shown standing between the laminated photographs of Ms Gandhi and Dr Singh.

By portraying the senior Congress leaders with the villain, the image of the senior party leaders was tarnished, Sathiyamoorthy contended and sought Rs 50 crore in damages and a ban on screening the film.


9th July   Update: Adult Internet ...

Israel flagIsrael to filter internet but with adult opt out available

From Haaretz

The Israeli Ministerial Committee on Legislation has approved a proposed bill that would only allow access to adult-content Internet sites for users who agree in advance to identify themselves. They will likely be required to state year of birth and I.D. number, and access would would be denied to any surfers who did not specifically sign up to receive it.

These restrictions are similar to those now imposed on portals for adult content for cellular phones, and would apply also to sites with violent content and with gambling activities. The filtering is to be provided free of charge.

The proposed Internet censorship legislation is a private bill sponsored by MK Amnon Cohen of Shas, which was amended by the Communications Ministry. The amended bill was brought up for committee approval at the insistence of the Justice Ministry.

The original bill required biometric identification using fingerprints, but this stipulation was removed from the approved version. However, Internet Service Providers (ISP) will be required according to the proposed law ) to ask all new customers if they are interested in the free content-filtering service. If they choose to have full Internet access, then they will have to identify themselves as being an adult over 18.

Existing customers will be contacted within 60 days of the bill's approval, and will have to decide whether they are interested in accessing sex and pornographic sites. Customers who do not agree to access such sites will then be connected to a limited service that denies it.

The proposed bill give the communications minister authority to establish procedures for identifying customers, in order to allow them to view pornographic sites. Possibilities include using I.D. cards and numbers, or credit cards.

Violation of the new law would bring a heavy fine for the ISP.


5th July   Infantile Ratings ...

TV Ratings graphicThai Government to ban bad grammar and grown up TV

Based on an article from The Nation

Producers of television soap operas voiced objections yesterday to an extreme plan to restrict what TV viewers can watch during specific times of the day.

If the plan goes ahead, most soap operas on air would struggle to find a place in the new TV schedules.

For the adult "Chor" category, which many soap operas will fall into, the plan requires they be broadcast between 10pm and 4am only.

Some serials may be a "Nor" category, but they would be allowed on air in the unfathomable hours from 9am to 4pm on weekdays (Monday to Friday) and between 8pm and 5am on weekends and holidays.

The Nor category also limits programmes to just one or two scenes in each episode with violence, sex or incorrect grammar.

Well known producer Thakolkiat Viravan said that in his interpretation, TV drama will no longer be able to show scenes in which a villain is killed. And heroines will not be able to meet the hero in front of a pub, as a pub is considered a bad place: Most TV series have a scene when a villain dies because he's a bad guy, but this plan goes deep into the detail. If there's a death scene, the rating is Nor .

Thakolkiat said he supported the rating system, which would help TV watchers know what was appropriate for them. But he was totally against the airtime conditions: TV is not a medium for children only. It's for everyone.

Jamnan Siritan, president of a TV production group, believed those who drafted the plan had no idea of the nature of TV operations: If the plan is implemented, every TV station is going to provide similar content in practice and each TV station is going to lose its character .

Public Relations Department director-general Pramoj Ratavinij convened a meeting with entrepreneurs in the TV business yesterday. He said the meeting was intended to gather opinions, which would then be forwarded to PM's Office Minister Khunying Dhipavadee Meksawan.

Pramoj said he would consult Dhipavadee about a question from Channel 3 on how to rate the Tom and Jerry cartoon. Although the cartoon is clearly created for children, it contains a lot of fight scenes.

10th July   Update: Soaps Reprieved ...

TV Ratings graphicThai Government backs off banning the beloved soapy dramas

Based on an article from Bangkok Post

The government has opted to set up a sub-committee to solve a dispute over television ratings and proposed broadcasting restrictions, rather than push ahead with its restrictive new regulations.

The move came after entertainers and people in the television production business protested against the proposed meticulous restrictions, which would determine what time programmes can or cannot be aired.

They said the restrictions, drawn up by academics, NGOs and state authorities, were impractical.


8th July   Non Anon ...

China flagChinese to legislate against anonymous online comments

From The Times

Anonymous online postings are to be banned by a city in China, after residents mounted a successful internet campaign against proposals for a huge chemicals factory.

Internet users will have to provide their real names, backed up by data from their identity cards, when posting messages on more than 100,000 websites registered in Xiamen. Authorities are taking action after thousands of residents of the prosperous southern port city marched through the streets, mobilised by mobile phone text messages and an internet-based campaign.

Protesters used their mobile phones to send text reports, as well as photos and videos, to bloggers and websites in other cities, which posted live reports of the march. The local government has suspended construction of the £700 million chemicals plant, pending an investigation into the potential environmental risk.

Tian Feng, vice-director of the Xiamen Bureau of Industry and Commerce, said that a new law, the Measures for Management and Disposition of Harmful and Unhealthy Information on the Internet, would be announced soon by the city government: All postings must implement a real-name system. We are the first in the country to do this.


2nd July   A Blitz on Dissent ...

BlitzBangladesh tries editor on trumped up charges

From Israel National News see full article
See also Blitz magazine

Muslim journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is on trial in Bangladesh for the crime of supporting Israel, although the official charges are listed as treason and blasphemy. Choudhury, who has urged the Bangladeshi government to recognize the State of Israel, was back in the courtroom to face allegations of spying for the Mossad, Israel’s international espionage agency.

Although the government privately agreed to drop the charges, which officials quietly admitted were false, the Public Prosecutor said in the brief court session that he intends to proceed with the case.

A new trial date has been set for July 18th. If convicted, Choudhury will be executed by hanging or be sentenced to 30 years in prison – itself a death sentence, according to Bangladeshi sources.

The Muslim writer was arrested several years ago by agents of the previous government as he was leaving the country for a speaking engagement in Israel. The initial charge was violation of the country’s ban on travel to the Jewish State, which officials used as an excuse to torture and hold the journalist in prison for 17 months.

The real issue, according to the Independent Media Review Analysis (IMRA), is his Zionism, which he expresses in articles that also expose the rise of radical Islam in Bangladesh.

He is on trial because he writes plainly about the danger of extremist madrassas teaching children as young as five to hate Jews and Israel.

Intense pressure by U.S. Congressman Mark Kirk (R-IL) and human rights activist Dr. Richard L. Benkin led to Choudhury’s release, but the reprieve was temporary.

According to IMRA, there is enough evidence to prove Choudhury’s innocence. The Bangladeshi government, say numerous advocates for the Muslim journalist, knows the charges are false.


2nd July   Porn Fans See Red ...

Duma logoRussian bill to severely restrict erotic media

From Kommersant

Russian State Duma deputies presented a bill that says any mass medium with “information about sex” of over 15% of the total coverage is erotic. Erotic media are not to be sold in most outlets and their advertising is to be cut dramatically.

Media market participants are outraged at the law, saying that it may cover “any standard medium.”

Legislators Alexander Krutov and Nikolay Leonov have come up with amendments to the media law which currently mentions only air time for erotic TV programs and packaging and sale outlets for erotic printed media.

A draft bill would ban selling erotic magazines on national, military and religious holidays and drastically cut places of sale. Erotic TV programs are suggested to be aired from 1 till 4 am, down from 11 pm till 4 am. The drafters also impose restrictions on erotic media advertising.

The Communications and Culture Agency welcomed the bill, saying there is an breeding ground for unprincipled media which take advantage of interest to sex.


1st July   Torture Porn Viewers ...

Iraq flagIraq murder squads stake out internet cafes

From X Biz see full article

Dozens of Iraqi citizens have been murdered after using the Internet to access adult websites.

We have received information from many sources that militants are operating spies inside Internet cafes just to find out who is browsing sites they have deemed offensive to Islam, Iraqi Aid Association spokesperson Fatah Ahmed said.

According to Ahmed, most of the killings and abductions have happened directly after the victim leaves an Internet café.

One victim of kidnapping and assault, university student Ibraheem Abdel-Qahar, told Al-Jazeera that he was kidnapped after leaving a café, then blindfolded, transported to what he believes was a house on the outskirts of Baghdad, and then beaten and tortured.

They told me to take off all my clothes and handcuffed me. They started to beat me and use cigarettes to burn my legs, Abdel-Qahar said, adding that he was beaten with an iron bar, and forced to drink chicken blood and his own urine.

Abdel-Qahar said that he was desperate, shouting questions at his abusers as to why they were assaulting him: After three hours of continuous torture they told me that it was because I was watching non-Muslim sites on the internet.

Armed marauders have not spared the proprietors who operate Internet cafés, either; in February, Internet café owners Fadhel Ibraheem and Youssef Ala’a were tortured and beheaded, reportedly for allowing access to adult sites in their café.

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