Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pakistan against Free Speech

Pakistan is with a few other countries in Asia, uncivilised , root of corruption/violence /terrorism. Its policy keeps people illiterate, ignorant and helpless. It gags who protest for a fair deal. and violates International Law. Look back to its History.It survives on compassion of other countries. UN should do something for its People.

Pakistan poised to vote on restricting media

Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani Pakistan's PM said that he would remove restrictions

Pakistan is poised to clamp down on the country's independent media industry.

The government has introduced a bill in parliament which, if passed, would usher in harsher regulations for broadcasters and online organisations.

It seeks to amend a law enforced by Pakistan's former military ruler, Gen Pervez Musharraf, in a bid to regulate parts of the media.

Political analysts fear the government is using the law to rein in broadcasters critical of its policies.

The bill, which targets radio and TV and some online news services, is likely to be voted on within days.

The extent to which new media will be affected by the proposed law is unclear, while print remains unaffected.

The current government, led by the Pakistan Peoples Party, has sought to placate censorship fears by claiming that it is diluting the harsher methods introduced by the former dictator.

"We are introducing the bill after disposing of those parts introduced by Musharraf," Belum Hasnain, chairwoman of the parliament's media committee said in a statement.

'Reining in TV'

The committee has to vet the bill, known as the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Act, before parliament votes on it.

Ms Hasnain said the bill would remove restrictions on the media, as promised by Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani in his inaugural speech.

However, political analysts believe that the government is using the law to rein in local television channels which have grown highly critical of its policies.

According to the bill, broadcasters in Pakistan will be banned from showing images or programming of suicide bombings, terrorists or the bodies of victims of terror attacks.

They will also be prevented from showing related material.

Further, they will not be permitted to broadcast statements by militants or extremists, or activities deemed to be connected with the spread of militancy and extremism.

The broadcaster will also be bound to assure the government that none of its programmes will promote hatred or militancy.

In addition, the law states that programmes opposing the ideology, sanctity, independence and security of the state of Pakistan cannot be broadcast.

Companies that violate the law will have their licences cancelled. They can also be fined up to 10 million rupees ($117,647; £78,740) and jailed for three years.

The bill is likely to raise questions about the government's policy on freedom of speech and dissent, which has hardened considerably over the past three months.

Pakistan has recently blocked several internet sites for allegedly promoting blasphemous content. It has also started monitoring of search engines and email providers including Google, Yahoo and Hotmail.

The electronic media regulatory bill is likely to be presented for vote before the parliament in a few days.


Pakistan to monitor Google and Yahoo for 'blasphemy'

Google website - file Pakistan says the main website will be unaffected

Pakistan will start monitoring seven major websites, including Google and Yahoo, for content it deems offensive to Muslims.

YouTube, Amazon, MSN, Hotmail and Bing will also come under scrutiny, while 17 less well-known sites will be blocked.

Officials will monitor the sites and block links deemed inappropriate.

In May, Pakistan banned access to Facebook after the social network hosted a "blasphemous" competition to draw the prophet Muhammad.

The new action will see Pakistani authorities monitor content published on the seven sites, blocking individual pages if content is judged to be offensive.

Telecoms official Khurram Mehran said links would be blocked without disturbing the main website.

Cartoon controversy

The ban on Facebook was lifted after about two weeks, when the site blocked access to the page, called Everybody Draw Muhammad.

Protesters condemn a page of Facebook - May 2010 The Draw Muhammad page on Facebook sparked protests in Pakistan

Facebook itself is not on the new list of websites to be monitored. A number of links from YouTube will be blocked but not the main site itself.

Many Muslims regard depictions of Muhammad, even favourable ones, as blasphemous.

In 2007, the government banned YouTube, allegedly to block material offensive to the government of Pervez Musharraf.

The action led to widespread disruption of access to the site for several hours. The ban was later lifted.


Pakistan blocks access to YouTube in internet crackdown

Women supporters of Islamic political party Jamaat-e-Islami hold a  placard during a protest against Facebook in Karachi May 19, 2010. Many Pakistanis are angry at the 'Draw Muhammad' competition

Pakistan has blocked the popular video sharing website YouTube because of its "growing sacrilegious content".

Access to the social network Facebook has also been barred as part of a crackdown on websites seen to be hosting un-Islamic content.

On Wednesday a Pakistani court ordered Facebook to be blocked because of a page inviting people to draw images of the Prophet Muhammad.

Some Wikipedia pages are also now being restricted, latest reports say.

Correspondents say it remains to be seen how successful the new bans will be in Pakistan and whether citizens find a way round them.

Because YouTube is a platform for free expression of all sorts, we take great care when we enforce our policies.

YouTube statement Pakistanis divided over bans

YouTube says it is "looking into the matter and working to ensure that the service is restored as soon as possible". The site was briefly blocked in Pakistan in 2008 - ostensibly for carrying material deemed offensive to Muslims.

Facebook said on Wednesday that the content did not violate its terms.

There have been protests in several Pakistani cities against the Facebook competition.

'Derogatory material'

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority said it had ordered internet service providers to "completely shut down" YouTube and prevent Facebook from being viewed within Pakistan.

It said the move came only after "all possible avenues" within its jurisdiction had been used.


Zoe Kleinman

Countries, companies and even individuals can easily block various websites if they choose. China has a notorious firewall in place to control internet activity and many Western organisations choose to block access to social networks in the office.

In this case, Pakistan will probably have instructed its internet service providers (ISPs) to prevent any pages containing the phrase "youtube.com" in the address from loading on web browsers.

There are various ways of implementing a block and sometimes it can go awry - Pakistan accidentally pulled YouTube offline around the world in 2008 when it tried to implement an internal ban by "hijacking" the youtube.com address in order to re-direct links to a different page.

There are also ways to duck underneath a ban - most commonly by accessing the internet via a "proxy" server based abroad. This can fool an ISP into thinking a computer is actually based in another country and therefore not subject to the ban.

"Before shutting down (YouTube), we did try just to block particular URLs or links, and access to 450 links on the internet were stopped," said PTA spokesman Khurram Ali Mehran.

"But the blasphemous content kept appearing so we ordered a total shut down."

One of the links blocked is to a BBC News website article about Pakistani soldiers apparently beating Taliban suspects in a video posted on Facebook.

A YouTube spokesperson said: "YouTube offers citizens the world over a vital window on cultures and societies and we believe people should not be denied access to information via video.

"Because YouTube is a platform for free expression of all sorts, we take great care when we enforce our policies. Content that violates our guidelines is removed as soon as we become aware of it."

The controversy began with the Facebook feature called "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day". Depictions of the Prophet are forbidden in Islam.

A message on the item's information page said it was not "trying to slander the average Muslim".

"We simply want to show the extremists that threaten to harm people because of their Muhammad depictions that we're not afraid of them."

The page contains drawings and caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad and characters from other religions, including Hinduism and Christianity.

"Such malicious and insulting attacks hurt the sentiments of Muslims around the world and cannot be accepted under the garb of freedom of expression," Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said about the page.

Facebook said in a statement that it would take action if any content "becomes an attack on anyone, including Muslim people", but that in this case its policies were not violated.

"Facebook values free speech and enables people to express their feelings about a multitude of topics, even some that others may find distasteful or ignorant," the statement said.

A hotline has been set up in Pakistan, asking members of the public to phone in if they see offensive material anywhere.

Islamic parties say they are planning nationwide protests in Pakistan.

Five people were killed in the country in 2006 during violent demonstrations following publication of Muhammad cartoons in a Danish newspaper.

BBC website readers have been telling us what they think of the ban. Here is a selection of their comments.

I am a university student and use Facebook and Youtube as a way of interacting and staying in touch with friends. But all students are willing to give up this source of entertainment for the sake of principles.

Zahara Sohail Khan from Lahore, Pakistan

The strict policies of Facebook regarding racism and harassment are only for individual users. Now a page on Facebook is harassing billions of Muslims world-over and Facebook's management is not bothered. What hypocrisy.

Maroof from Lahore, Pakistan

I am a Muslim girl, just a normal student. When my religion is insulted, it is me who is insulted. I can live without Facebook but I definitely cannot live in humiliation. I am with my country on this and if Facebook does not take action on this, then ban or no ban, I would never go back to it anyway.

Maham Tanveer from Rawalpindi, Pakistan

As a Muslim growing up in America, I am frustrated that neither side takes the time to understand the other. For Muslims, directly insulting the sacred is beyond petty 'freedom of speech' privileges we mortals have. In the West, people think arrogantly that they are free to say anything without limits whatsoever, no matter how ridiculous or insulting.

Qureshi from Florida, USA

I am now living in Karachi, Pakistan, and I never thought I'd have to endure blocks on websites ever again after I moved from Saudi Arabia. Even though I have found a way to access blocked websites, I can't believe the government would put a ban on them.

Omar from Saudi Arabia

I did use Youtube and Facebook but I have removed my accounts from both sites and have communicated this to all my family and friends who have been using them.

Hassan Mehmood from Pakistan

This is ridiculous. I find these to be ill-advised measures. Blocking websites in countries does not prevent the content from existing in the first place. I think the Pakistani government should move to ban pornography (which is still easily available) before they ban Facebook and YouTube which are obviously on the better side of human development.

Myra from Karachi, Pakistan

This has been outrageous and infuriating. I feel disconnected from the world, from my friends, and from the easiest modes of expression available today.

Uzma from Lahore, Pakistan

It is not only Facebook and YouTube which have been blocked in Pakistan, but parts of the BBC website too, for example the link given below, many stories about Pakistan and the entire South-East Asia section. In fact, I am forced to use a proxy server just to post this comment. As a Pakistani, I feel very frustrated and angry about this crackdown on the internet and can only hope that this is temporary.

Schyan Zafar from Pakistan

Know more about Pakistan : http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/country_profiles/1157960.stm

  • Full name: Islamic Republic of Pakistan
  • Population: 180.8 million (UN, 2009)
  • Capital: Islamabad
  • Largest city: Karachi
  • Area: 796,095 sq km (307,374 sq miles), excluding Pakistani-administered Kashmir (83,716 sq km/32,323 sq miles)
  • Major languages: English, Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto, Balochi
  • Major religion: Islam
  • Life expectancy: 66 years (men), 67 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 Pakistani Rupee = 100 paisa
  • Main exports: Textile products, rice, cotton, leather goods
  • GNI per capita: US $980 (World Bank, 2008)
  • Internet domain: .pk
  • International dialling code: +92
This blog is non-comercial , informative and published materials. for education and information purpose. help finding wrong information will be corrected

Kenya: against Harmful Speech

28 June 2010

Kenya: Timely National Conference on Freedom of Expression and Regulations against Harmful Speech

On 17-18 June, over 25 experts and 150 stakeholders from key national reform agencies, the United Nations, and civil society organisations including ARTICLE 19 debated the values and limits of freedom of expression and regulations against harmful speech in Nairobi, Kenya. Kenya has witnessed repeated ethnic violence during general elections and national referenda from 1992 to the present.

The conference was organised by ARTICLE 19 Kenya & Eastern Africa together with the National Cohesion and Integration Commission. It came on the heels of recent prosecutions against political leaders charged with hate speech and incitement to violence in the conduct of their campaigns against the proposed Constitution of Kenya. The new draft constitution will be the object of a national referendum on 4 August 2010.

The Conference sought to move the acrimonious debates to a sounder international human rights basis, through a focus on Article 19 and Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The conference created a platform for technical readings and debates on freedom of expression and its permissible restrictions under the international human rights law. It also offered an opportunity to assess whether Kenyan hate speech regulations – particularly the National Cohesion and Integration Act, Section 13, Penal Code, Media Act, Kenya Communications Act and the Broadcasting Regulations – meet international standards.

The meeting was opened by Michael Hasenau, Deputy Head of Mission, German Embassy; Dr Mzalendo Kibunjia, Chairperson of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission in Kenya; and Dr Agnes Callamard, Executive Director, ARTICLE 19.

“The rights to freedom of expression, equality and freedom from discrimination are universal and mutually reinforcing. They transcend ethnic, racial and cultural specificities. It does mean that censorship is not only a violation to freedom of expression. It also violates the right to equality and to be free from discrimination. Hate speech and incitement to violence strives on censorship, says Callamard.

Some of the key points highlighted by the experts included:

• A recognition that incitement and advocacy to hatred on the basis of sex, ethnicity, race, disability, age or religion must be prohibited (it is an obligation placed on states under international human rights law). However such restrictions must be provided in law, meet a legitimate aim, such as to protect the rights and reputations of others, and be necessary to a democratic society

• There is convergence between freedom of expression (as provided for by Article 19 of ICCPR) and the restrictions imposed by Article 20. Hate speech is “valueless speech and therefore not protected in international law”

Restrictions of freedom of expression should be clearly and narrowly defined to ensure that they are not overbroad, and do not restrict legitimate speech or go beyond the scope of harmful speech

Kenya has adopted a number of legislations prohibiting any advocacy of national racial, ethnic or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence. However, there is still need for the state authorities to review and harmonise laws on hate speech to ensure they conform to acceptable international standards

There was general agreement that there was no need for an additional legislation on hate speech in Kenya, but the need for testing the effectiveness of current legislation through litigation and norm-setting, including by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission

There were debates as to the role played by the criminalisation of hate speech; for some it sets a society’s normative standards and may have an educational function. But we need to consider a range of sanctions against hate speech, not only those resulting in a restriction of freedom of expression. We need to take into account possible misuse of criminalisation, including against minorities, marginalised groups and those expressing political dissent

A series of other mechanisms and options should be considered, such as those aiming at strengthening the participation of all minorities to the public and political life of Kenya; strengthening human rights education and knowledge, for example on religion; protecting minority and community media; ethical journalism and particularly reporting in a multi-ethnic, and multi-cultural society; intra-ethnic and intra-religious dialogue; meaningful and enforceable code of conduct for MPs and political leaders

The 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and the 2001 UNESCO Declaration on Cultural Diversity and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights’ Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa should be promoted.

Hate speech regulations are required under international law. But we must be aware that this is a blunt instrument, which must be implemented carefully and wisely. In too many places around the world, hate speech regulations are used to prohibit legitimate speeches and political dissent. We must allow for a range of policies and best practices to guide interventions in Kenya,” says Callamard.

“We admit that the National Cohesion and Integration Commission Act was quickly assembled and some aspects of it may have been left out as has been pointed by the various speakers during the conference, especially that fact that the borderline between freedom of speech and hate speech is very thin and care must be taken to balance the two issues,” Dr Mzalendo Kibunjia, the Chairman of the NCIC notes.

“I appreciate that such discussions are essential because, talking about the hate speech is an important step towards solving the issue of hate speech in this country. The debates during the conference therefore produce an introductory and broad framework to facilitate future interventions on the issue without necessarily infringing on other freedoms” he adds.

All participants to the conference emphasised the need for a continued dialogue and exchange on the issues of freedom of expression, equality and non-discrimination to build on the Conference key findings.


• For more information please contact: Victor Bwire, Programme Officer, ARTICLE 19 Kenya/Eastern Africa, victor@article19.org, +254 20 3862230/2.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bangladesh : Hundreds of police shut down pro-opposition newspaper

9 June 2010

Hundreds of police shut down pro-opposition newspaper

An opposition newspaper was forced to close in Bangladesh last week after the government cancelled its license to publish and sent 200 police to raid its printing press in the middle of the night, report the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), ARTICLE 19, the International Press Institute (IPI) and other IFEX members. The acting editor of the paper was arrested on fraud charges.

The Bengali-language daily "Amar Desh", based in the capital, Dhaka, is known for being close to the opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP) and is often critical of the government. In recent months, editor Mahmudur Rahman wrote editorials and articles documenting extra-judicial killings and maladministration by officials connected to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, says Index on Censorship.

In an interview with Index on Censorship in the hours before his arrest, Rahman said: "We are the third largest national daily and have the second largest Internet readership... I have in my journalism exposed the government's record on corruption and human rights abuses extensively, in recent days we have seen a high number of custodial deaths."

At the time of the raid, anti-government protesters and journalists tried to prevent police from entering the building. Staff members blocked the entrance, saying the editor would be arrested "over their dead bodies," reports IPI. The police broke through "a human barricade of newspaper staff," to seize Rahman. Newspapers for 2 June were confiscated.

Rahman was granted bail on charges of fraud, but was kept in custody on separate charges filed against him and colleagues at the newspaper for obstructing police. According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), several journalists were injured during the raid and five journalists were charged with violence.

Rahman was the energy advisor to former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia when her Bangladesh National Party (BNP) led a four-party alliance government from 2001 to 2006. He is the major shareholder of "Amar Desh" and has been acting editor since 2008. Newspaper staff have been charged with more than 20 counts of criminal defamation linked to articles about the ruling Awami League party, which came to power in December 2008.

The state is cracking down on press freedom to curb criticism of its policies, says RSF. "The Awami League government is clearly unable to tolerate criticism from this opposition newspaper and, in particular, its coverage of the controversial award of energy contracts to foreign companies."

In April, the Bangladeshi government banned the country's only private television station, the pro-opposition Channel One. On 1 June Facebook was blocked. RSF reports that it was restored on 5 June following the social-networking website's agreement to withdraw cartoons of Mohammed as well as cartoons of certain Bangladeshi politicians that were considered offensive. Mahbub Alam Rodin, a young man who had allegedly posted the satirical images, was arrested for insulting the country's leaders.

More Info : http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100602/wl_sthasia_afp/bangladeshpoliticsmedia_20100602113722

Bangladesh shuts down pro-opposition newspaper AFP/File – A Bangladeshi Army soldier reads a newspaper on top of an armoured vehicle in Dhaka in 2009. Bangladesh …

DHAKA (AFP) – Bangladesh shut down a pro-opposition newspaper and arrested its editor on fraud charges, police said Wednesday, after storming the paper's offices in a late-night raid.

Mahmudur Rahman, acting editor of the Bengali-language Amar Desh and one of the government's most vocal critics, was arrested after police broke through an improvised barricade set up by the paper's journalists.

"He has been arrested on charges of fraud and defamation," local police chief Mahbubur Rahman told AFP.

The arrest came hours after the authorities cancelled the paper's publication rights, allegedly because the publisher, Hashmat Ali, had filed a case with the police.

"The publisher has said he was no longer responsible for Amar Desh and it was being printed illegally. He has filed a fraud case with police," government official Muhibul Haque told AFP.

But local media reports quoted the publisher's family as saying Ali has been picked up by intelligence officials and detained.

Rahman, a stalwart of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), claimed Ali, who also supported the BNP, had been forced to sign the fraud papers prepared by the government's intelligence services.

"Police stormed the office and beat several journalists before picking up Rahman on Wednesday morning," said Zahed Chowdhury, city editor of Amar Desh.

Rahman has been a vocal critic of the current Awami League government since it swept to power in December 2008 elections.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Israeli Defence Forces assault flotilla of activists and journalists, impose media blackout

2 June 2010

Israeli Defence Forces assault flotilla of activists and journalists, impose media blackout

Israeli forces raided a flotilla of activists on its way to deliver  aid to the Gaza Strip; 60 journalists were on board.
Israeli forces raided a flotilla of activists on its way to deliver aid to the Gaza Strip; 60 journalists were on board.
via EPA
At least nine people were killed and dozens wounded when an Israeli warship intercepted and raided a flotilla of activists attempting to deliver 10,000 tons of aid to Gaza on 31 May. Around 60 journalists were reportedly on board. More than 600 people from 42 countries, including journalists, activists and artists, have been arrested since the raid unfolded in international waters. Shortly after the assault, Israeli authorities launched an information blackout, blocking cellphones and barring journalists from covering the attack, report the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA), ARTICLE 19, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and other IFEX members.

The convoy of boats in the Freedom Flotilla, led by the Free Gaza Movement and Turkish organisation Insani Yardim Vakfi, set out from Turkey on Sunday afternoon reported "The New York Times". Israel ordered the convoy to abort its mission; the vessel refused to dock at an Israeli port. Then, naval commandos were dropped aboard the Turkish ship, intending to commandeer the vessel. Now the raid's brutal consequences have thrown a spotlight on Israel's policy of blockading Gaza, say news reports.

ARTICLE 19 is calling for an independent investigation into the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) use of lethal force: "It should focus on the legality of the Israeli assault in international waters and thus the legality of the blockade, and the proportionality of the use of force." In a submission to the United Nations 14th Human Rights Council, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) called upon the United Nations today to conduct an immediate investigation into the attack.

The same day, an Al Jazeera TV crew was attacked by Israeli citizens in the port of Ashdod after the defence minister gave a news conference about the attack, reports RSF. Many of the journalists on the flotilla have been out of contact since the raid. According to the International Press Institute (IPI), journalists on board reported the jamming of electronic devices as the raid occurred. Israeli forces arrested at least 20 journalists aboard the flotilla; three have since been released, reports the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). RSF says 16 journalists are still being held at Be'er Scheva detention centre, and that journalists are among the 300 people being deported through the airport today.

Israeli forces have also attempted to curb criticism by targeting journalists in other recent incidents. According to RSF, at least three Palestinian journalists were assaulted by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank last month, and more than 30 journalists have been attacked by the IDF this year. Soldiers fired tear gas at a cameraman covering protests against the Israeli separation wall in Beit Jala on 23 May, while another correspondent was targeted with tear gas for covering wall protests on 14 May. MADA reports that a Palestinian cameraman covering clashes between settlers and Palestinian youth on 29 May was beaten by security forces after stones were thrown at him by settlers.

Israeli authorities routinely target prominent rights defenders. A joint action spearheaded by CIHRS, with 23 other organisations, has condemned the arrest of rights defender Ameer Makhoul on 6 May. Makhoul has been active in exposing racist practices and abuses against Arab Israelis. A gag order was placed on his arrest until 27 May, reports I'lam: Media Center for Arab Palestinians in Israel, which was concerned about the "conditions of his detention, including allegations of torture."

Free Speech Campaigners in London Protest Against Continued Persecution of Jailed Editor

logologo logo logo

For immediate release – 2 June 2010

Free Speech Campaigners in London Protest Against Continued Persecution of Jailed Editor

Freedom of expression campaigners will protest on Thursday 3 June outside the Azerbaijani embassy in London, calling for an end to the persecution of jailed journalist Eynulla Fatullayev.

Amnesty International UK, ARTICLE 19, English PEN and Index on Censorship will also hand in a letter to the embassy – signed by key literary figures including Monica Ali, Alan Ayckbourn, William Boyd, and Philip Pullman - calling for Fatullayev’s immediate release and for new politically-motivated charges against him to be dropped.

Newspaper editor Fatullayev, 33, is currently serving an eight-and-a-half year prison sentence based on trumped-up charges of terrorism and defamation. In April this year the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that he had been wrongfully imprisoned for exercising his right to freedom of expression and that he should be immediately released.

Despite being a party to the European Convention on Human Rights, the Azerbaijan authorities responded by questioning the court’s authority. Chingiz Esgerov, Azerbaijan’s representative to the ECtHR, argued that “the ECtHR has no authority to give orders to the courts of other countries” and “the country’s legislation does not envision the release of a prisoner only on a basis of the ECtHR.”

After the ECtHR began reviewing his case, Eynulla Fatullayev was further accused of possessing illegal drugs - a charge widely believed to have been fabricated in order to keep him in prison.

In March Eynulla’s father received a death threat for speaking out about his son. This is the third of such threats he has received.

Eynulla Fatullayev received an honourable mention before an audience of the UK’s leading journalists at last night’s Amnesty International Media Awards. In 2009 he was the recipient of the Amnesty International Special Award for Journalism Under Threat.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“The continuing imprisonment and persecution of Eynulla Fatullayev brings shame on Azerbaijan. It’s amazing that the authorities are so scared of the words of one journalist that they would damage their international standing in this way, even questioning the authority of the European Court of Human Rights.”

ARTICLE 19 Executive Director Agnès Callamard said:

“It is extremely disconcerting that Emin Fatullayev has received death threats for speaking out on behalf of his son. The Azerbaijani Government has the duty to ensure the safety and security of its citizens. They should publicly condemn such threats, investigate them thoroughly, and provide adequate protection to Emin Fatullayev.”

Chair of the Writers in Prison Committee and Deputy President of English PEN Carole Seymour-Jones said:

“Eynulla Fatullayev is just a journalist doing his job. He should be released immediately and these politically-motivated charges against him should be dropped.”

John Kampfner, Chief Executive of Index on Censorship said:

“Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right which journalists, human rights defenders and all of us should be able to exercise openly and without fear of reprisals. Azerbaijan must fulfil its international obligations to guarantee this right.”

The persecution of journalists such as Eynulla Fatullayev is commonplace in Azerbaijan. The authorities have curtailed freedom of expression and have shown persistent hostility towards independent and opposition media. Journalists continue to be harassed, threatened, attacked and imprisoned for conducting their professional activities. Defamation and false charges are increasingly used to silence critical voices.


• Demonstration details:
What: Protesters with placards demonstrating outside embassy and handing in letter to ambassador
When: 12 noon to 1pm, Thursday 3 June
Where: Opposite the Azerbaijan Embassy, 4 Kensington Court, London, W8 5D
• For more media information and interviews please contact:
§Rebecca Vincent, ARTICLE 19 Azerbaijan Advocacy Assistant, 0207 324 2509
Steve Ballinger, Amnesty International UK media unit, 020 7033 1548, Out of hours: 07721 398984, www.amnesty.org.uk
Robert Sharp, English PEN Campaigns Manager, 0207 324 2538, Out of hours: 07790 420011
Padraig Reidy, Index on Censorship News Editor, 020 7324 2526, Out of hours: 07947 242 476

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

ISRAEL: Israel needs to heed international calls for free flow of information‏

ISRAEL: Israel needs to heed international calls for free flow of information

ARTICLE 19 is calling for an open, international, independent and impartial investigation into the use of lethal force by the Israeli Defence Forces which resulted in a number of deaths onboard the Gaza-bound flotilla on 31 May.

The blocking of all communication channels, including mobile phones, shortly after the assault, followed by the arbitrary detention of journalists, human rights monitors and others who were travelling onboard the flotilla, are evidence of censorship and a news blackout by Israeli state authorities. Such actions curtail the free flow of information, as protected by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil on Political Rights to which Israel is party.

The one-sided information originating from official Israeli sources on the circumstances surrounding the assault and the deaths restricts the right to information and minimises the possibilities for international public scrutiny of the actions of the Israeli Defence Forces and thus for accountability.

As early as 1946, at its very first session, in the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 59(I) which states that “Freedom of information is a fundamental human right and ... the touchstone of all the freedoms to which the United Nations is consecrated.”

Freedom of expression, including access to information, is also essential to the realization of what is commonly referred to as the “right to truth.” The UN Commission on Human Rights, at its 61st session, adopted Resolution 2005/66, which ‘‘Recognizes the importance of respecting and ensuring the right to the truth so as to contribute to ending impunity and to promote and protect human rights.’’

The investigation into the assault against the flotilla must be open, international, impartial and independent. It should focus on the legality of the Israeli assault in international waters and thus the legality of the blockade, and the proportionality of the use of force. An international investigation team should be allowed access to government-held information on the matter, as well as direct access to those involved in the assault, witnesses and those subsequently detained.


• For more information: please contact Mona Samari, +44 (0) 7515 828 939, mona@article19.org

----------------------------------Background news:
more info.

The Siasat Daily2010-06-01
Gaza, June 01: Israeli commandos on Monday attacked a high-profile Gaza-bound aid flotilla, killing up to 19 people and triggering in its wake a wave of outrage across the globe. The convoy of six ships was assaulted in the early hours after commandos slithered down from helicopters and confronted passengers on board, mostly pro-Palestinian activists.


Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Hamas, activists statements on Gaza flotilla violence

Israel has met with protests around the world and here in the San Francisco Bay Area following its raid on a flotilla of boats headed for the Gaza Strip. Click here for a slideshow of photos related to the incident

Israel says it was defending itself after those on one of the vessels attacked its soldiers. It displayed weapons confiscated by those on board and showed video of the soldiers being attacked.

The activists onboard say that they were attacked by the soldiers after they raised the white flag of surrender and that they were simply trying to bring humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, which has been under a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt since Hamas took over Gaza in 2007.

The public relations war is being fought by activists around the world through video and protests. Click here for two sets of videos with different points of view on what happened. The Israeli Consulate in San Francisco also posted YouTube videos from IDF on its Web site.

Below is the official statement from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), after that is the official statement from Hamas. Following that is a statement from the San Francisco Bay Area based Free Palestine Movement organization.

Three Depressed terrorists

Three Depressed terrorists
Terrorism is inhuman act, an evil concept