Friday, December 19, 2008
Gaza: Blockade Continues as World Marks the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
In a week when the world marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Israel’s blockade on Gaza shows no sign of ending. The people of the Gaza strip continue to be deprived of basic human rights such as food and fuel, whilst restrictions on foreign media entering the strip reinforces their isolation
“This is an insidious abuse that seeks to suppress legitimate cries for help and depictions of suffering from reaching the rest of the world. The rights to information and expression are fundamental human rights. They underpin all human rights and are central to human development, peace and security. In the context of a conflict, fulfilling these rights takes on particular importance: information can not only ensure that assistance is effective and locally relevant, but it can also save lives and preserve human dignity,” says Dr Agnès Callamard, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19.On 4 November 2008, the Israeli authorities extended their blockade of Gaza to prevent food, fuel and essential supplies from entering the territory. Furthermore, on 6 November, the authorities imposed a news blackout by preventing international media from accessing Gaza. The blockade was eased briefly on the 27 November to allow limited amount of essential supplies, including UN food aid for only the fourth time since the start of the blockade. On 4 December, the Israeli government also lifted the ban on foreign media entering Gaza for the first time since the start of the month-long blockade. However the ban was reinstated the next day and remains in place. An Israeli Defence Force spokesman stated that the opening of crossings into Gaza would be reviewed daily and would be subject to the cessation of rocket attacks against southern Israel. However a spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs noted that the intermittent opening of these crossings would “have little impact unless they remained open on a regular daily basis”.Speaking from Gaza, Ewa Jasiewicz, a Free Gaza organizer, journalist, and solidarity worker told ARTICLE 19 that “Israel was trying to hide the inhumane effects of the siege on the people in Gaza from the world.” Jasiewicz arrived on the Free Gaza movement ship “Dignity” which successfully broke through the Israeli blockade, arriving in the port of Gaza at 2:45pm on Tuesday 9 December. The ship was carrying essential medical supplies, high-protein baby formula, in addition to a delegation of international academics and humanitarian workers. “I am delighted to be here in Gaza,” Jasiewicz also told the Democracy Now news program. “I was banned from Palestine by the Israeli authorities and, as a journalist, I think it is important that journalists report independently from the ground, being here with people.”A severe shortage in fuel has further entrenched the isolation of Gaza as limited electricity supplies restrict access to communication channels such as the internet and satellite television.ARTICLE 19, together with the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA), calls for the complete lifting on the ban on foreign media entering Gaza and not just an intermittent cessation of the ban. The people of Gaza deserve to be heard and, as nations celebrate the 60th anniversary of the UDHR, the world has a right to hear of their worsening plight. On 8 December, Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories emphasised in a statement that the UN “must implement the agreed norm of a responsibility to protect a civilian population being collectively punished by policies that amount to a crime against humanity”.The UN Human Rights Council also issued a statement on the same day recommending the implementation of 99 measures to improve Israel’s human rights record. These include the “immediate cessation of Israel’s military operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the lifting of the closure imposed on the Gaza strip, the reopening of the passage to and from the Gaza Strip and to fully respect its human rights obligations in the country, including in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”ARTICLE 19 and MADA join the UN Human Rights Council in urging Israel to fully respect its human rights obligations by lifting the blockade and reopening the passage to and from Gaza. We especially call for the ban on foreign journalists entering Gaza to be immediately lifted.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
• For more information, please contact Hoda Rouhana, MENA Programme Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org or tel +44 (0) 207 278 9292.• To speak to the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedom (MADA), contact Mousa Rimawi, MADA Coordinator at email@example.com or tel +970 2 2976519. • MADA is an independent non-governmental organization established by Palestinian journalists and supporters of media freedom. The centre aims to develop Palestinian media and to defend the rights of journalists and media institution. Visit www.madacenter.org
ARTICLE 19: Defending Free Expression and Diverse Voices for Twenty Years
LONDON – ARTICLE 19 has celebrated its twentieth anniversary with the launch of a groundbreaking publication Speaking Out for Free Expression in London.
Since its inception, ARTICLE 19 has been a bold voice in defense of freedom of expression. Upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the organisation’s primary aim is to hold governments and other powerful actors to account when they fall short of their obligations to protect free speech.Set against the backdrop of dramatic world events, Speaking Out for Free Expression charts the course of free expression over the past two decades. It offers a compelling story of 34 countries in five regions, and essays by international experts, comparing today’s reality with the situation for free expression two decades ago. “Our twentieth anniversary compendium celebrates the advances made for free speech in many countries, while also pointing to the newer terrains of struggle,” comments Dr. Agnès Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director. Its foreword has been jointly written by four special rapporteurs on freedom of expression from the United Nations, the Americas, Africa and Europe. Also weighing in with expert opinions are Reporters without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Privacy International, UNESCO, the World Association of Newspapers and the American Civil Liberties Union, among others. Since 1988, the world has been altered immeasurably both by the revolution in information technology and by the ending of the Cold War, which opened up a plethora of newly democratised states. Together, these forces have completely transformed people’s means of and access to expression, information and communication, particularly with the advent of internet and the spread of mobile phones. Yet today, freedom of expression remains under threat. The global war on terror launched in 2001 has rolled back freedom of expression and speech in many well-established and emerging democracies. ARTICLE 19 is at the forefront of efforts to protect these hard-won freedoms and Speaking Out for Free Expression demonstrates unequivocally the need for constant vigilance. “It is extremely poignant to be commemorating our twentieth anniversary at the same time as the world celebrates the sixtieth year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” says Callamard. “It reminds us that free expression underpins all other civil, political and economic rights and is the very oxygen of genuine democracy.”The book was launched at a celebratory event in London, attended by 80 guests representing a broad spectrum of political, media and non-governmental organisations. A message of support from Zwelakhe Sisulu, a former political detainee and previous South African board member of ARTICLE 19 stated, “ARTICLE 19 is an organisation that for many had made the difference between life and death, between pain and the ignominy of a lonely death.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
• To obtain a copy of Speaking Out for Free Expression, contact Nicola Spurr at firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0)207 278 9292 / +44 (0)772 686 7868. Or visit www.speaking-out.org. • To read the full text of Zwelakhe Sisulu’s message, go to http://www.article19.org/pdfs/other/statement-by-zwelakhe-sisulu-on-the-occasion-of-the-20th-anniversary-of-the-.pdf
The four special mandates on freedom of expression – the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, the OAS Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and the ACHPR (African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information – today issued a Joint Declaration on Defamation of Religions, and Anti-Terrorism and Anti-Extremism Legislation, with the assistance of ARTICLE 19.
The Joint Declaration expresses concern about the resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council on the subject of defamation of religions, calling on these and other international organisations to desist from adopting further statements on this issue. The Declaration also expresses concern about the proliferation, since the attacks of 11 September 2001, of anti-terrorism and anti-extremism laws which outlaw a range of legitimate political and critical speech. Among other things, the Declaration calls for:
The rejection of the very notion of defamation of religions, given that religions do not have a reputation of their own.
The repeal of laws which restrict criticism of ideas and beliefs, including religious ones (blasphemy laws).
Hate speech laws to be limited to advocacy of hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.
A limited definition of terrorism as the perpetration of violent crimes with a view to inflicting terror on the general public so as to influence the actions of public authorities.
The rejection of vague notions such as the ‘glorification’ or ‘promotion’ of terrorism or ‘extremism’ in anti-terrorism laws.
Respect for the media’s role in informing the public about terrorism and acting as watchdog of government, as well as their right to protect their confidential sources of information.
ARTICLE 19 first brought the special mandates on freedom of expression together in 1999 and they have issued a Joint Declaration every year since then. Each Declaration serves to elaborate on the meaning of freedom of expression in a different thematic area(s). Collectively, the Declarations provide important guidance to those wishing to understand international human rights standards.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
• The Joint Declaration is available at: http://www.article19.org/pdfs/other/joint-declaration-on-defamation-of-religions-and-anti-terrorism-and-anti-ext.pdf • For more information: please contact Toby Mendel, email@example.com, +44 (0)796 401 5083.
Pattern of Repression
In November, a pattern of repression of journalists and human rights defenders Around Africa raised anxiety among activists. Sudan has been particularly severe in its repression of the press and journalists had earlier in the month organised protests, including hunger strikes, against the pre-publication censorship of newspapers. In response, the Sudanese National Security Services (NSS) unleashed even more aggressive attacks on the media including the interrogation, arrests and torture of journalists aimed intimidating them into silence. Our partners describe a brutal push by the NSS to prevent reporting of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) indictment of President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir for crimes in Darfur and neighbouring Chad. ARTICLE 19 urges all governments, their embassies in Khartoum, regional groups and the international community to intercede and defend the framework for peace in Sudan, which includes right of free expression. Somalia has all but forbidden journalists to do their work. Daily arrests, kidnappings, and even deadly violence are increasingly part of media professionals’ experiences. Radio journalists have been a particular target. Now media repression is spreading to Somaliland which had been seen as relatively progressive on free expression. In November, three journalists were seriously injured in Hargeisa, capital of Somaliland in northern Somalia, when a bomb detonated as they worked. Freelance journalist Hadis Mohammed Hadis was held for two weeks at the Criminal Investigation Department in Hargeisa before being released. ARTICLE 19 calls on Somaliland authorities to maintain its progressive advance toward rule of law including respect for the right of free expression.Repression also resurfaced in Swaziland where officials are exploiting a counter-terrorism act passed in May 2008 to muzzle the press Political activities have been outlawed, marches and demonstrations have been banned, and television camera crews, journalists and political activists have been arrested and interrogated “for making remarks in support of terrorism”. ARTICLE 19 appeals for restraint in Swaziland. Counter-terrorism should not be a pretext for repression and muzzling of free expression.
Official resistance to freedom of expression was palpable Around Africa throughout the month of November. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, journalists (Congolese and foreign) were abducted. Nzonzo Bitwahiki Munyamariza, a 27-year-old journalist and presenter at a community radio station Radio Communautaire Ushikira (Racou), reportedly died from a bullet wound during a stampede that followed the attack on his village of Kiwanja. The journalist's killer is unknown and some of his colleagues were released after a brief detention. Tunisian authorities have charged independent Tunisian independent television station reporter Fahem Boukadous with “belonging to a criminal association” and “spreading reports liable to disrupt public order” last July. Boukadous has since been in hiding. The indictment accuses Boukadous of establishing contacts with demonstrators, as part of his work as a journalist. ARTICLE 19 joins with Reporters Sans Frontières in calling for a withdrawal of the charge against Boukadous. Guinea’s National Communications Council (CNC) took community radio Familia FM, off the air for allegedly broadcasting information that the CNC claimed could “disturb the public peace”. Familia FM is a popular private community radio station that specialises in social issues, but only has the right to broadcast news bulletins. ARTICLE 19 joins the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) in calling on the Guinean authorities to reverse this decision.
Events and New Directions
ARTICLE 19 attended a November roundtable with Foster Dongozi, Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) during his recent visit to the UK. At a roundtable meeting organised by National Union of Journalists in London, Dongozi provided an update on challenges facing media organizations and professionals in Zimbabwe. He described an anxious work environment where many journalists including bloggers “have compromised ethical conduct”. Dongozi commented,“With the muzzling of most independent and local press, including community radio, online journalism has blossomed, providing an outlet for the younger generation such as new graduates”, but also lamented the fact that they often have “little or no sense of professional standards”. Dongozi called for wider support to strengthen the policy and regulatory environment after the political turmoil ends. He said the power-sharing deal between the Movement for Democratic Change and ZANU-PF includes a recognition that the media landscape is abnormal, “yet violations of free expression and attacks on the media have continued”. Dongozi said the ZUJ would welcome support for training in ethical news gathering and quality reporting. ARTICLE 19 calls on Zimbabwe’s political and community leaders to ensure an enabling environment where journalists can uphold basic standards of ethics in news reporting.
Strengthening Media Policy and Regulation in Africa
In November, ARTICLE 19 with PANOS Institute for West Africa (PIWA) and the Broadcasting Regulatory Authority of Senegal (CNRA) convened a workshop of media regulators from the French speaking zone of West Africa in Dakar, Senegal. This pilot workshop was based on the recently published French version of ARTICLE 19’s Training Manual for Regulators, aimed at strengthening regulatory frameworks for enabling pluralistic and diverse broadcasting in Africa. A similar workshop with the English speaking zone was conducted 2006 when the manual was first published. “Through shared principles of media policy and regulation, we have a unique opportunity to broaden freedom expression and media pluralism across Africa,” says Dr. Agnès Callamard, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19 who attended the Dakar workshop. Plans for a Portuguese version of the manual are ongoing. Both the English and French editions are available at: http://www.article19.org/pdfs/tools/broadcasting-manual.pdf
New Trade Group Aims for Progressive Media Industry Practice
ARTICLE 19 welcomes the launch of a new professional body, the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), which is poised to advocate progressive terms of employment for media practice on the continent. Delegates from journalists' unions and associations from 31 African countries convened in Nairobi on 21-22 November for the launch of FAJ, following its first working congress to discuss issues affecting the media industry in Africa. The congress adopted a constitution, which expresses unwavering support for fundamental principles of trade unionism, press freedom and freedom of expression. Delegates also established rules of the organisation, a two-year working programme and elected a steering committee of seven members for a three-year term.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
• For more information: please contact Africa Programme Officers Cece Fadoupe, firstname.lastname@example.org or Roxanne Abdulali email@example.com +44 20 7278 9292
Last month, veteran crime reporter José Armando Rodríguez was shot to deathat his home in Ciudad Juárez on the Texas border, setting off another roundof condemnation from IFEX members about the relentless violence that isstifling critical journalism in Mexico. According to ARTICLE 19-Mexico and the National Center for SocialCommunication (CENCOS), Rodríguez is the 13th journalist to be killed inMexico this year alone. His murder cements Mexico's position as the mostdangerous country in the Americas for journalists and media professionals,even surpassing Colombia. And like the other 12 murders of journalists inMexico this year, impunity prevails: Rodríguez's killers have not beenbrought to justice. With the government doing little to protect its journalists, ARTICLE19-Mexico and CENCOS launched their own campaign last week against thebrutal and targeted killing of their colleagues. "Te hace daño no saber"("What you don't know can hurt you") is the slogan of their nationwidecampaign to protect journalists in Mexico and, by default, the "right ofsociety as a whole to be informed." "Journalists are under fire because of the work they do ... Their presencehas become uncomfortable for drug cartels, police and authorities up to thefederal level. The campaign seeks to ensure that violence againstjournalists and impunity become a national outcry, and a national priorityagainst which all actors will take action," said ARTICLE 19, which, withCENCOS, presented the campaign on the occasion of the 60th anniversary ofthe Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The campaign already has the backing of more than a dozen national andinternational civil society organisations that have already "carried outvarious actions to make visible the problems in (the) country." Theyinclude IFEX members the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters(AMARC), the Center for Journalism and Public Ethics (CEPET) and ReportersWithout Borders (RSF). It also boasts the support of high-profile press freedom advocates. Guestsat the launch included Lydia Cacho, a Mexican reporter who has been thetarget of death threats, sabotage, defamation suits and police harassmentbecause of her work uncovering prostitution and child pornography networks,and Rosa Isela Caballero, the wife of journalist José Antonio García Apac.García disappeared two years ago in Michoacán. In the early stages of the campaign, CENCOS and ARTICLE 19 have unveiled a"Practical Guide on Freedom of Expression in Mexico" - a backgrounder thatgives a history of free expression in the country, detailed info on whichpolitical and judicial organisations protect free expression, and even anannex of violations this year. They have also released a guide on how todocument and monitor attacks on journalists - and methodologies they andothers in the industry have used. All of this and more are available on the"What you don't know can hurt you" campaign website:http://www.libertad-expresion.org.mx/materiales.php ARTICLE 19 and CENCOS said their next step is to replicate the campaign inother countries in the region, such as in Guatemala, El Salvador, Hondurasand Nicaragua - where violence against media workers and violation of thepublic right to know are endemic. Their overall objective is to strengthenlocal capacities and build a continent-wide protection network. "It is time for journalist organisations, media owners and directors toassume their role in demanding the level of safety needed to truly exercisepress freedom," said ARTICLE 19. "The core demands have to come fromwithin."
Visit these links:- "What you don't know can hurt you": http://tinyurl.com/5lr9vz - ARTICLE 19: http://tinyurl.com/584znl- CENCOS: http://tinyurl.com/5c4wbf- IFEX Mexico page: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/97/
Human Rights Day, which marks the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is celebrated throughout the world every year on 10 December. Perhaps even more so this milestone year, the 60th anniversary of the declaration. And yet the day was marked in China by the arrests of several human rights activists who were organising activities around the anniversary, report PEN American Center and Reporters Without Borders (RSF). IFEX members and other rights groups are commemorating the occasion by standing up for these activists in China, along with other human rights defenders, journalists and others who speak out for their right to free expression - as enshrined in Article 19 of the declaration - in the face of increasing repression. Here is a sampling of the global events and celebrations. AFRICA The independent trust Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ) notes with disappointment that Zimbabwe's restricted media landscape has remained unchanged since Human Rights Day last year. Repressive media laws are still being used to gag alternative sources of information, the country is still without any private daily newspapers, community radio stations or independent television, and journalists are still harassed, unlawfully detained, tortured and murdered, says MMPZ. All these violations are despite the power-sharing agreement signed in September by Zimbabwe's majorpolitical parties acknowledging the need for a free and diverse media environment. Among other recommendations MMPZ is urging whichever government that emerges to repeal the draconian laws. Read them here: http://www.mmpz.org
"What you don't know CAN hurt you," say ARTICLE 19 and the National Center for Social Communication (CENCOS), who have launched a campaign for the protection of journalists in Mexico. Yes, Mexico - a country that many saw as a model of democracy and economic growth - is now the most dangerous country to practise journalism in the Americas. See more on the campaign below, "ARTICLE 19 and CENCOS Unveil Campaign to Protect Journalists". The World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC) secured top First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams to speak at its annual lecture, held at the United Nations in New York on the eve of Human Rights Day. Abrams tackled the heady topic of religious defamation, arguing that if the UN adopts recent recommendations to criminalise defamation of religion, it would be undermining its own free speech provisos as laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The full text of Abrams's talk will be madeavailable on the WPFC website: http://www.wpfc.org Those who stuck around could see Freedom House's senior scholar Leonard R. Sussman be crowned the first champion of the Dana Bullen Press Freedom Advocacy Prize, named in honour of WPFC's first executive director. Sussman, who was Freedom House's ED for 21 years (1967-88) and has written 10 books on press freedom, is the man behind Freedom House's respected annual press freedom survey.
Human Rights Watch was also in New York celebrating a personal achievement on 10 December: they were one of five winners of the 2008 United Nations Prize for Human Rights for their "outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights." Executive director of Human Rights Watch Kenneth Roth said the prize would help Human Rights Watch in its campaigns to stop the killings in Darfur, end the use of cluster bombs worldwide, shut down Guantanamo, free child soldiers and protect civilians during armed conflict. "By raising the cost of abuse, we make governments think twice about violating the rights of their people. In the process, we save lives and promote fundamental freedoms," Roth said. Human Rights Watch is also celebrating its 30th anniversary. Check out some of their achievements: http://tinyurl.com/5u8nar
On 8 December, prominent Chinese dissident Liu Xiabo and fellow activist Zhang Zuhua were arrested at their homes. While Zhang was released the following day, Liu faces subversion charges and faces up to three years in jail. Their crime? They were some of the many signatories of Charter 08, a declaration sent round on the eve of Human Rights Day that outlines bold political reforms and calls for greater human rights and democracy in China. American Pen Center is calling for Liu's release: http://tinyurl.com/5v6p75 .
Read Charter 08 here: http://tinyurl.com/66ga72 Meanwhile, police have detained, interrogated and harassed plenty of other activists to prevent them from participating in activities that commemorate the 60th anniversary of UDHR. RSF reports on the arrests: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=29627 , as does PEN American Center: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/99205/
The International Federation of Journalists' affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) observed the anniversary by holding a candle-lighting ceremony in memory of slain journalists. In the Philippines, 98 journalists have been killed since 1986, 62 since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo came to power in 2001, and seven this year alone, says NUJP. See: http://www.nujp.org/
Defamation was the hot topic in Indonesia this year, thanks to some recent legislation that cements it in the criminal code - like the new Internet law that makes spreading defamatory material online punishable with up to six years in jail and a US$15 million fine. So to fight back, an alliance of Indonesian journalists, lawyers and press freedom groups are using Human Rights Day to call on the government to remove defamation from the criminal code, and for parties to use civil defamation law instead. Read more on the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) website: http://www.seapabkk.org/newdesign/newsdetail.php?No=1005
A 1998 media freedom law in Mongolia forbids censorship and state ownership of any media, and now, there are almost 400 media outlets across the country. But Globe International, IFEX's member in Mongolia, registers about 40 free expression violations of free expressions every year: many of them government denials of access to information requests, or pressure on journalists to reveal their sources. Globe held a roundtable on "Article 19 and Independent Journalism" on 8 December to tackle these challenges. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
EUROPE AND CENTRAL ASIA
Freedom House is urging Uzbek President Islam Karimov to release all human rights defenders in Uzbekistan "as a sign that he is committed to upholding the declaration." Read the letter: http://tinyurl.com/68mbam Kudos to Panayot Elias Dimitras, the spokesperson for IFEX member Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM). He has picked up the first Human Rights Champion Award, given by the Macedonia-based Civil Society Research Center. The pure gold medal is conferred to an individual from southeastern Europe who reflects the ethos of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. Through GHM, Dimitras has advocated for human rights of marginalised groups in Greece and Europe, particularly of Roma, and contributed to theirprotection. Email: email@example.com
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
There's not a lot to celebrate in the Middle East and North Africa, says a new report by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS). "From Exporting Terrorism to Exporting Repression" documents the human rights situation in 12 Arab countries, and finds that attacks on the already limited freedoms in the region have actually increased. Read snippets of the report here: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/99187/
And in the year when the concept of religious defamation is being hotly debated at the UN, CIHRS, as well as nearly 100 Arab intellectuals and rights organisations, is appealing to religious institutions and movements in the region on Human Rights Day to set aside "the religious perspective" when considering free expression. "We are convinced that disentangling religion and freedom of expression is one of the main prerequisites for the resurgence of our Arab societies, which will enable us (to) join the march of history instead of being excluded from it," said the signatories. Read the full statement: http://www.cihrs.org/English/NewsSystem/Articles/543
RSF marked the 60th anniversary by releasing a damning report on the effectiveness of the Human Rights Council. "States with repressive governments are elected to the council and thus tasked with ensuring respect in other countries for rights they themselves are abusing on a daily basis. Until this absurd situation is ended, the United Nations cannot be said to be fulfilling its goal of protecting human rights," RSF said. The council has hardly challenged the worse abusers, such as China and Burma, and Iran and Uzbekistan have escaped sanctions, says RSF. Meanwhile, the dangerous concept of defamation of religion continues to be added to council resolutions. Read more criticism of the main UN human rights body in the report, and RSF's recommendations on how the council canredeem itself: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=29587 The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) knows that free expression is a fundamental human right enshrined in international law - and wants to ensure the world knows it too. IAPA has kicked off a public awareness campaign under the slogan "One word can make a thousand changes in your life, and you have the right to say the next one." For materials, see: http://www.sipiapa.com/banner/regi/index.php?idioma=us
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), is asking people not to forget that this December also marks the 10th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. Thanks to the declaration, the Observatory says local and international organisations haven't been afraid to carry out protective actions, resulting in the release of defenders or the end ofthreats and harassment against them. But the situation of human rights defenders remains extremely worrying in a number of countries, says the Observatory - consider the arrest of Uzbek and Chinese activists involved in preparing local events to celebrate Human Rights Day. The Special Rapporteur on the situation for Human Rights Defenders issued a similar warning - as well as "10 messages to know defenders better". Did you know, for example, that there is not a regional human rights mechanism for the protection of defenders in Asia? Read all the messages here: http://tinyurl.com/69lb9n
If you have made it this far, it's time to take action. Amnesty International is asking you to "Fire Up!" Join thousands of people around the world and light a candle, fire or flame as part of a mass demonstration in support of human rights. There are confirmed Fire Up! events happening in 27 countries with more than 100 cities and towns taking part. Candles will also be lit online by people taking part in Fire Up! on their websites and blogs. See your country's local Amnesty International website for more details. While you're there, "Sign Up!" by adopting the Passport for Human Rights - the belief that that everyone has rights, regardless of their race, colour, creed, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, disability or age. See: http://tinyurl.com/6qbpml Finally, check out the UN's "Dignity and Justice for All of Us", a worldwide campaign to stop human rights abuses by governments, businesses and others. "The declaration remains as relevant today as it did on the day it was adopted," said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon when he announced the campaign last December. "But the fundamental freedoms enshrined in it are still not a reality." For the official version of events onInternational Human Rights Day, visit:http://www.un.org/events/humanrights/2008/
source : http://www.ifex.org
The "IFEX Communiqué" is published weekly by the International Freedom ofExpression eXchange (IFEX). IFEX is managed by Canadian Journalists forFree Expression ( http://www.cjfe.org ) on behalf of the network's 80member organisations.
PAKISTANI EDITOR WINS WAN GOLDEN PEN OF FREEDOM AWARD
In a year when religious extremism tore through Pakistan, the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) has honoured the editor of two Pakistani independent, secular publications with its annual Golden Pen of Freedom Award. Najaam Sethi is the editor of the "Friday Times" and "Daily Times", papers known for their strong editorial line condemning autocracy and religious fundamentalism. Being at the helm of the newspapers has put Sethi at odds with both the Pakistani authorities and religious groups for years. He has been threatened with death by the Taliban and other radical Muslim groups, and has been jailed and beaten for offending the government. His home and office are now under constant guard. Despite the risks, Sethi says he will not be silenced. "Extremists have always used coercion to silence their critics and that is exactly what is happening now," Sethi says. "This is a battle that the media and the country cannot afford to lose." "All journalists are aware of the dangers of inciting extremists who violently oppose reporting that is contrary to their view of the world," said WAN's board when it announced their decision. "Sethi has chosen, in a region fraught with such dangers, to brave them. His commitment to providing truthful and independent coverage in this region, despite great personal danger and sacrifice, is in the best traditions of journalism. We think the award will inspire others to resist such pressure." The award will be presented at WAN's World Newspaper Congress and WorldEditors Forum, which will be held in Hyderabad, India from 22 to 25 Marchnext year: http://www.wanindia2009.com More details of the award and a list of laureates can be found at:http://www.wan-press.org/article4489.html
GLOBAL FREE SPEECH RAPPORTEURS CONDEMN "DEFAMATION OF RELIGION" AND ANTI-EXTREMISM LAWS
Four international bodies that have special mandates on free expression have issued a declaration calling for international organisations to reject the notion of defamation of religion and vague definitions of anti-terrorism, reports ARTICLE 19, the body that brought them together. The four free expression special rapporteurs in the UN, Europe, the Americas and Africa declared that international organisations, such as the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council, should refrain from adopting statements that criminalise "defamation of religion" and blasphemy laws. They said the concepts do "not accord with international standards." They also expressed concern about the proliferation of anti-terrorism laws since the 11 September 2001 attacks, and advised that the definition of terrorism should be restricted to "violent crimes… (that) inflict terror on the public." Their definition rejects the vague ideas of "providing communications support" or "promoting" extremism or terrorism. The declaration also called for respect for the media's role in informing the public about terrorism and acting as watchdog of government, as well as their right to protect their confidential sources of information. "The four global mandates' annual joint declarations for promoting freedom of expression are an excellent example of international cooperation in the field of human rights advocacy," said Miklos Haraszti, the special rapporteur from the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). "Just like the OSCE media freedom commitments, these documents are directed at updating international mechanisms on freedom of opinion, expression and the media." ARTICLE 19 first brought the special mandates on freedom of expression together in 1999 and they have issued a joint declaration every year since then. "The declarations provide important guidance to those wishing to understand international human rights standards," says ARTICLE 19. Read more on the declaration from ARTICLE 19 at: http://tinyurl.com/66dw33 Read the full text of the declaration at: http://www.osce.org/documents/rfm/2008/12/35705_en.pdf
JOURNALISTS PREVENTED FROM ATTENDING WAN ARAB FREE PRESS FORUM; EGYPTIAN EDITOR RECEIVES GEBRAN TUENI AWARD
Authorities in Saudi Arabia, Syria and Tunisia prevented four Arab journalists and human rights activists from attending the Arab Free Press Forum, an annual gathering in Beirut, Lebanon organised by the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) and "An-Nahar" newspaper. The forum, held on 12 and 13 December, examined how independent media can be effective despite widespread repression in the region. WAN, and the IFEX Tunisia Monitoring Group (TMG), which held a special event during the forum, condemned the travel restrictions. "We can at least thank the authorities of Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Syria for this eloquent and timely demonstration of their contempt for, and fear of, free expression, as we open this forum," said Timothy Balding, WAN CEO. Among those prohibited from travelling were Tunisians Lofti Hidouri and Mohamed Abbou, who were scheduled to participate in the TMG event. Airport police in Tunisia on 10 December prevented journalist Hidouri and human rights lawyer and writer Abbou from boarding the plane to Beirut. Hidouri was detained overnight as a result of a small fine he received two years ago, which the authorities claim he had not paid. He was released the next day after Abbou went to court on his behalf with evidence that he had paid the fine, reports the Observatory for Freedom of the Press, Publishing and Creation (OLPEC), IFEX's member in Tunisia. It was the fifth time Abbou was prevented from travelling since his release from prison in July 2007. Speaking at the TMG event, Naziha Rjiba and Sihem Bensedrine of "Kalima" online magazine and OLPEC said the jailing of Hidouri perfectly illustrates the repression of independent journalists and rights activists in Tunisia. Rjiba said of Hidouri, who was travelling with her, "He was right next to me. I looked left, I looked right, and he vanished. It was like the magician David Copperfield. All that was left of him was his suitcase." Bensedrine read a poetic speech by Abbou, in which he said, "I take this opportunity to say to all who contributed to defending and supporting me when I was imprisoned under the tyranny of dictatorship that their effort did not go in vain, and without their support, my imprisonment would have been much harder. Without this solidarity, those who threatened my family would have carried out their threats." Representatives of the Tunisian government in attendance failed in their attempts to disrupt the event, proving again the lengths the authorities will go to in their efforts to silence free voices. TMG chair Rohan Jayasekera noted the strength of the TMG comes from its composition: there is strong regional representation among the 18 members. Half of the TMG members were in attendance in Beirut. Video of the TMG event and Abbou's speech will be posted online at the TMG website shortly at: http://campaigns.ifex.org/tmg Another recently released prisoner of conscience, Abdel Karim al-Khaiwani, former editor-in-chief of "Al-Shoura" in Yemen, was allowed to travel despite a previous ban. Speaking at the forum, he said, "The lack of press freedom in the Arab world is like a disease," and he fears it will infect even those countries where the press is relatively free. "There are a lot of Arab states that are talking about reform and democracy, but they remain in bad shape. The reports of the international organisations show that the democracy claims are false," he added. Al-Khaiwani, the father of five children, told the IFEX Clearing House that he and his family are in danger if he picks up his pen again, and he appealed for continued international support. The forum closed with the presentation to Ibrahim Issa, editor-in-chief of Egypt's "Al-Dustour" newspaper, with the 2008 Gebran Tueni Award, the annual WAN prize that honours an editor or publisher in the Arab region. The prize is made in memory of Gebran Tueni, the Lebanese publisher and WAN board member who was killed by a car bomb in Beirut on 12 December 2005. It was presented by WAN in recognition of "Issa's commitment to freedom of the press, his courage, leadership, ambition and high managerial and professional standards." In his acceptance remarks, Issa called on journalists in the Arab world to band together to fight restrictions and to oppose the fight against press freedom, what he called "the only war Arab rulers have ever agreed upon." Read Issa's full speech at: http://tinyurl.com/54nnjl and see more news from the Arab Free Press Forum at: http://tinyurl.com/42xlaq
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
The whole World stands with the people of India
The showering Condolences from nations around the globe
Obama and his wife, Michelle
"deepest condolences to the loved ones of the American citizens who lost their lives in the outrageous terrorist attacks in Mumbai." "Our thoughts and prayers are with them, and with all who have been touched by this terrible tragedy."
"stand with India and all nations and people who are committed to destroying terrorist networks, and defeating their hate-fill ideology." "root out and destroy terrorist networks"."ready to assist and support the Indian Government".
"These co-ordinated attacks on innocent civilians demonstrate the grave and urgent threat of terrorism," "President-elect Obama strongly condemns today's terrorist attacks in Mumbai," "These coordinated attacks on innocent civilians demonstrate the grave and urgent threat of terrorism," "The United States must continue to strengthen our partnerships with India and nations around the world to root out and destroy terrorist networks. "We stand with the people of India."
The State Department
"We are monitoring the situation very closely and stand ready to support the Indian authorities as they deal with this horrific series of attacks,"
White House National Security Council Ben Chang
"We condemn these attacks and the loss of innocent life. We continue to seek more information,"
A State Department official of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
"The secretary will be reaching out to officials at the US embassy in New Delhi and at the consulate in Mumbai. She will be reaching out to Indian government officials as well. The situation on the ground is extremely fluid,"
Jordan's King Abdullah II to Pratibha Patil
The king said terrorism threatens international peace and stability. It is unacceptable in all its forms and manifestations regardless of justifications or motives. He strongly condemns the cowardly act of terrorism, voicing his sincere condolence and deep sorrow over the great loss in the attacks. The king also affirmed that Jordan will side with India and its people to overcome this ordeal.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Merkel phoned Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday to express shock at the terrorist attacks in Mumbai.
In her message of condolence, Merkel said Germany condemned "these criminal acts in strong terms," and "our thoughts are with the victims and their families." "I was appalled to hear the shocking news about the terror attacks on your country. As well as the sad fate of the many dead I'm particularly moved by the terrible situation of those who've been taken hostage. The Federal Republic strongly condemns these criminal acts. I would like to express my deepest sympathy to you and the people of your country."
Steinmeier also offered his condolences to Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
"I would like to extend to you and to the Indian people, also on behalf of my fellow Germans, our sincere condolences and deepest sympathy,"
"The Federal Government condemns these cold-blooded attacks, which were clearly planned far in advance, in the strongest possible terms," "even more closely at international level to combat terrorism,"
Senator John Cornyn of Texas
"stay united""The attacks in Mumbai are a sad and solemn reminder that the threat of terrorism remains very real and present. Now more than ever, our nation and our allies must stay united in the fight against terrorism to protect innocent life and the freedoms we hold so dearly" "My family and I want to offer our heartfelt condolences to our friends in India, fellow Americans and all those who lost loved ones in the senseless terrorist attacks in Mumbai""Sadly, our nation is no stranger to the wrath of terrorists with no regard for human life. While we know firsthand the feelings of shock and grief, we also know how tragedy can bring a nation together to rebuild and grow even stronger."
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
"COWARDS and murderers" "This cowardly attack on India's stability, peace and democracy reminds us all that international terrorism is far from defeated.
"Whichever group has perpetrated this attack, they are cowards, absolute cowards and murders." "This is an assault on all of us who cherish the values of free society. It is a reminder that the terrorist threat to freedom has not retreated and we must remain as vigilant and courageous, as stalwart and forthright in our opposition to terrorism as ever."
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown
‘outrageous’ "the UK stands solidly with his Government, and to offer all necessary help".
"These outrageous attacks in Mumbai will be met with a vigorous response,"
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband
“remind us, yet again, of the threat we face from violent extremists”.
United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
"Such violence is unacceptable."
"The secretary-general reiterates his conviction that no cause or grievance can justify indiscriminate attacks against civilians,"
French President Nicolas Sarkozy
"I strongly condemn the indiscriminate violence that hit your country through this series of ugly and odious terrorist acts. In this sad moment, I wish to give my sincerest condolences to the families of the innocent victims of these reprehensible attacks and express my sympathy and my wish to the injured for rapid recovery."
The French presidency of the European Union
"with horror and indignation" and "condemns them in the strongest possible terms".
EU "shares the mourning of the Indian nation and stands by its side during this dramatic test".
"We share the sorrow of the Indian nation and are at its side at this tragic moment,"
European Union Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana
"I condemn in the strongest possible terms the heinous terrorist attacks throughout the city of Mumbai. I convey my most sincere condolences to the families of the victims and my sympathy to the Indian authorities. To those who were injured, I wish a speedy recovery. These acts show once again the need for the international community to stand united against terrorism and fight it with determination."
Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon
"savage terrorist attacks" "Canada strongly condemns the savage terrorist attacks in Mumbai, which have left hundreds of innocent civilians injured or killed. These cowardly attacks are truly appalling. On behalf of all Canadians, I extend my condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives, and I wish a speedy recovery to the injured."
Spain's Crown Prince Felipe
"tremendous sadness and condemnation of the attacks".
"strong condemnation of all forms of terrorism"
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev
"The monstrous crimes of terrorists in Mumbai arouse our wrath, indignation and unconditional condemnation. The inhuman terrorist attacks on hospitals, hotels and other public places aimed at killing peaceful civilians, taking and murdering hostages are crimes directed against the very basis of civilized society. Those guilty of them should be severely punished."
The UN Security Council
"The members of the Security Council underlined the need to bring perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice and urged all States, in accordance with their obligations under international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, to cooperate actively with the Indian authorities in this regard,"
Poland's President Lech Kaczynski
"acts of barbarity and expressed solidarity with the victims". "The Mumbai terrorist attacks show that the fight with terrorism is necessary," "These acts of terrorism shows that the problem exists and it can't be easily solved. The fight with it (Terrorism) is justified, even if some mistakes have been made,"
The Swiss government
"Switzerland condemns these terrorist acts as absolutely unjustifiable. The people and authorities of Switzerland extend their condolences to the Indian authorities and their deep sympathies to the families of the victims,"
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Pakistan denounces terror strike
“We condemn these attacks,”
Bangladesh President Iajuddin Ahmed
"mindless act" "Bangladesh stands firm with her friends in India at this hour of grief,"
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa
"My government and I hasten to condemn most vehemently the brutal acts of terrorism that killed more than 100 persons and injured many more in the attacks carried out in the Indian city of Mumbai last night. Our thoughts to go out to the families of those killed and injured and in these acts of terror; we express our deepest sympathies to the families of the deceased and wish a speedy recovery to those injured and the safe and early release of hostages.
Pope Benedict XVI
"deeply concerned" "kindly to convey his heartfelt condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives in these brutal attacks, and to assure the public authorities, citizens and all those affected of his spiritual closeness. The Holy Father prays for the repose of the souls of the victims and implores God's gift of strength and comfort for those who are injured and in mourning."
NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
"I condemn in the strongest possible terms the mindless and indiscriminate terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Attacking innocent people, tourists and patients in hospitals is despicable and cowardly. On behalf of the Alliance, I am relaying the sincerest words of solidarity and sympathy to the Indian authorities, to Indian people and especially families of the victims."
Afghan President Hamid Karzai
"The government and people of Afghanistan stand by India in the aftermath of this horrific and inhuman act of terror. Nothing is more heinous and deplorable than taking the lives of innocent people in such a cowardly attack on public places. ... Terrorism is a threat to us all, affecting India, Afghanistan and the region. Responding to this threat requires nothing less than a joint strategy to defeat this menace."
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura
"The Japanese government disapproves of any act of terrorism, and we emphasize that there is no justification for any act of terrorism. We wish that the people of India will quickly be able to overcome such suffering. Japan and India will continue to work closely to fight against terrorism."
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao
"strongly condemned" the attacks and that China is "firmly opposed to terrorism of any form."
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni
"I condemn the terror attack that is still ongoing in Mumbai it is another painful testimony that terrorism is the main challenge that Israel and the International community are dealing with."
South African government
"The South African government extends its condolences to the government and people of India following a spate of attacks on a number of hotels, hospital and a restaurant in Mumbai, which left a number of people dead and wounded while others have been taken hostage."
"Singapore strongly condemns the attacks. We would like to convey our deepest condolences to the victims, their families, the government of India and its people. The Mumbai attacks underscore the common terrorist threat that we continue to face today. Singapore stands firmly behind the Indian government in its fight against terrorism."
We, all Indian stand in solidarity with the families of our protectors, brave soldiers, and unsung heroes whose lives have been dedicated for this country.
We appeal to all Indians to stay united and foil the evil designs of the terrorists whose main objective is to spreading violence and hatred. We urge the political leaders not to exploit these terrorist acts for political goal.
We are alarmed over the sophistication and military level planning seen in these coordinated attacks and on the failure of the intelligence agencies in preventing such a huge and widespread attack. We demand that the federal and state governments bring the perpetrators of these actions to justice swiftly.
Rainbow Artists and Writers Foundations