Archive for the ‘censorship’ Category

Vietnam seeks Google, Yahoo! help to control, “regulate” bloggers

December 2, 2008

Communist Vietnam wants Internet giants Google and Yahoo! to help “regulate” the country’s flourishing blogging scene, state media said Tuesday, and stop “incorrect information” being published online.

The government will announce new rules this month, stressing that weblogs should serve as personal online diaries, not as organs to disseminate opinions about politics, religion and society, senior officials were quoted as saying.

The regulations aim “to create a legal base for bloggers and related agencies to tackle violations in the area of blogging,” said Information and Communication Deputy Minister Do Quy Doan, according to the Thanh Nien daily.

The ministry “will contact Google and Yahoo! for cooperation in creating the best and the healthiest environment for bloggers,” he added.

The proposals follow the jailing in September of the high-profile blogger Dieu Cay — real name Nguyen Hoang Hai — for two and a half years on tax fraud charges. His appeal hearing is set for Thursday, court officials said.

Media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders charged that he was punished for criticising China‘s claims over disputed South China Sea islands and called on the court “to acquit this cyber-dissident.”

From AFP

Read the rest:
http://tech.yahoo.com/news/afp/20081202/tc_afp/vietnammediarightsblogs_081202174628

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Free Media? Russia Investigates Financial Crisis Reporting

November 19, 2008

Prosecutors are launching inquiries across Russia against media reporting on the financial crisis in a bid to stem growing concern about its impact, the Kommersant newspaper reported on Wednesday.

“It’s not censorship. We’re just checking how reliable the information is,” a press official from the prosecutor general’s office was quoted as saying.

The official gave the example of unreliable reports about a bankruptcy causing a run on deposits from a bank in the Far Eastern port of Vladivostok.

AFP

File picture shows a vendor arranging newspapers at her stand ... 
File picture shows a vendor arranging newspapers at her stand in Moscow. Prosecutors are launching inquiries across Russia against media reporting on the financial crisis in a bid to stem growing concern about its impact, the Kommersant newspaper reported on Wednesday.(AFP/File)

Regional prosecutors have been ordered to check local media “in connection with measures taken by the Russian government to improve the situation in the financial sector and other sectors of the economy,” Kommersant said.

Investigators in Sverdlovsk, a key industrial region in the Ural mountains, are checking local media for attempts “to destabilise the situation in the region,” a spokeswoman for the local prosecutor’s office was quoted as saying.

“If we establish that the law has been violated, there could be disciplinary measures against the guilty, including criminal punishment,” she said.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081119/bs_afp/finance
economyrussiamediacrime_081119081653

Obama Election Sparks Discussion of Race, Leaders Other Lands

November 12, 2008
A Tehran news weekly was shut down by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last week after featuring President-elect Barack Obama on its front cover and asking the question, “Why doesn’t Iran have an Obama?”
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Fox News
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The news magazine Shahrvand-e Emrouz [Today’s Citizen] went too far for the hardline president, who quickly had Iran’s Press Supervisory Board ban the publication, the Times of London reported.

The closure of the propular reformist weekly suggests that Ahmadinejad is determined to silence his critics as he prepares for elections next June that could hand him a second-four year term.

The Iranian media has blamed numerous problems in recent weeks on Ahmadinejad. His expansionary budget is blamed for rampant inflation, oil prices have plummeted, aides have admitted that he suffers from strain and exhaustion, and an embarrassing forgery scandal claimed the scalp of his interior minister last week, the Times reported.

This week, however, Ahmadinejad collected support from some newspapers for his message of congratulations to Obama, which several newspaper commentaries on Tuesday presented an important opportunity.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attends an official ...

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi
Read the rest:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,449945,00.html
 
 Could Britain Have a Black PM?

From the BBC

Now the US has elected its first black president, how long until the UK has a black or Asian prime minister?

 

When Barack Obama claimed that his story could only have happened in America, he might have been looking across the Atlantic for evidence.

The odds of a black or Asian person taking the keys to 10 Downing Street any time soon are slim.

Tony Blair acknowledged as much in 2001, when he suggested the US was ahead of the UK in having people from ethnic minorities occupying some of the top political posts.

Mr Blair was mindful of Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice at the heart of the White House, but probably hadn’t even heard of Obama.

Read the rest:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7714056.stm

 

 

 

Rights groups push China on press freedom for local media

October 18, 2008

Rights groups and media experts on Saturday gave a cautious welcome to China’s decision to allow foreign reporters greater freedom and urged Beijing to extend the same rights to domestic journalists.

By Marianne Barriaux, AFP, Beijing

China announced late on Friday that greater freedoms introduced for the Olympic Games for foreign reporters would be extended, giving them the right to interview consenting Chinese without first seeking government permission.

The rules were first introduced on January 1 last year as part of China’s Olympic media freedom commitments, but had been due to run out on Friday.

Domestic journalists, however, were not affected by the rules and were still laden with strict reporting restrictions — a fact deplored by rights groups and media experts.

Human Rights in China, a New-York based activist group, urged the Chinese government to also extend these freedoms to domestic reporters.

“The Chinese government should answer the calls of its own people,” said group executive director Sharon Hom.

“It should respect its own constitution which guarantees press freedom, a right that many Chinese journalists and writers have paid — and are paying — a great price to exercise.”

David Bandurski, a researcher for the China Media Project at the University of Hong Kong, said the issue of press freedom in China was determined by domestic media policy rather than rules governing foreign reporters’ work.

“This is not going to have any appreciable impact on domestic journalists,” he said.

“This is really about China’s international image. China has decided that the international benefits they are going to get in terms of their image of openness are sufficient to outweigh any negative coverage they might get.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081018/wl_afp/china
mediarightsoly2008_081018094742

China extends Olympic media freedoms for foreign press

October 17, 2008

China has extended the openness rule for international media put in place for the Olympics…but domestic news people will still be under tight restrictions…

Chinese journalists from Xinhua News Agency work at their office ... 
Above: Chinese journalists from Xinhua News Agency work at their office in the Main Press Centre (MPC) in Beijing in August 2008. China on Friday announced it had extended rules introduced for the Olympics allowing foreign reporters greater freedoms, but there was no easing of restrictions for domestic press.(AFP/File/Jewel Samad)

BEIJING (AFP) – China on Friday announced it had extended rules introduced for the Olympics allowing foreign reporters greater freedoms, but there was no easing of restrictions for domestic press.

The move means that foreign journalists will continue to be able to carry out interviews and travel around China with greater ease, foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told reporters at a late night press conference.

“This is not only a big step forward for China in opening up to the outside world, for the foreign journalists it’s also a big step,” Liu said.

The previous rules, introduced on January 1 last year as part of China’s Olympic commitments to give foreign reporters more freedoms, were set to expire on Friday, two months after the end of the Beijing Games.

As was the case during the Olympic period, foreign reporters will have the freedom to conduct interviews with consenting Chinese, rather than having first to seek government permission, Liu said.

Journalists will also be allowed to report outside the city in which they are officially based, rather than having to get authorisation.

However, reporters will continue to have to seek permission from local authorities to gain access to the sensitive Himalayan region of Tibet, where the military quelled protests against Chinese rule in March.

Liu also confirmed that, as was previously the case, the rules did not apply to domestic media and Chinese nationals would remain barred from working for foreign media organisations as journalists.

“We have to say that the conditions are not mature for Chinese citizens to become journalists alongside foreign journalists,” Liu said.

China’s ruling Communist Party seeks to maintain strict controls on the flow of information within the country, and the domestic press are kept on a tight leash.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081017/wl_afp/china
mediarightsoly2008_081017180029

How free are reporters, the media in China?

October 17, 2008

Rules that gave foreign reporters greater freedom during the Beijing Olympics are due to expire. The BBC asked a range of reporters in China what difference the rules have made to their working lives.

By James Miles
The Economist and the BBC
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“It was mainly a psychological difference, we had been widely flouting the rules before, leaving Beijing to report in the provinces without seeking advance approval as was officially required.

“So when the new regulations were introduced, we were still travelling just as much but without the fear of the knock on the door by the police, without the need to change from hotel to hotel to remain under the radar screen.

“But we were still frequently encountering local officials who either didn’t know or said they didn’t know about the new Olympic regulations or were determined to ignore them.

nervous policeman in Tiananmen Square
Chinese policemen used to be nervous of foreign journalists

“There was one remarkable incident, shortly after the new regulations were introduced early last year, when I went to Henan province.

“As I expected, I was stopped by local officials. But I called the Foreign Ministry in Beijing, and remarkably, the local officials apologised to me and disappeared, leaving me with startled villagers who said this was the first time they’d ever managed to openly speak with foreign journalists.

“But since then, I’ve encountered the same kind of difficulties as before the regulations. A few days ago, I was out in the western region of Xinjiang, and was detained for several hours by local police.

“There are key parts in the country that remain very difficult to get into, and the most obvious one is Tibet. Tibet wasn’t mentioned specifically in the Olympic regulations, in theory they apply to the whole of China, but orally Chinese officials said Tibet remained excluded and we still had to seek permission.”

Read the rest:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7676013.stm

Chinese paramilitary policeman

Commentary: Momentous day for Pakistan, Bhutto’s legacy

March 18, 2008
By Asif Ali Zardari

Asif Ali Zardari is the co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party and widower of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in Pakistan in December.

In this handout photo released by Pakistan Parliament House, ...
In this handout photo released by Pakistan Parliament House, Asif Ali Zardari, left, widower of slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto and co-chairman of Pakistan People’s Party waves as former prime minister Nawaz Sharif looks on during the National assembly’s first session at Parliament House in Islamabad, Pakistan on Monday, March 17, 2008. Pakistan inaugurated a new parliament on Monday dominated by opponents of President Pervez Musharraf who have vowed to crimp his powers and review his U.S.-backed policies against al-Qaida and the Taliban.
(AP Photo/Pakistan Parliament House, HO)

(CNN) — Monday was a momentous day for the people of Pakistan, but a bittersweet day for me.

Sitting in the gallery watching a democratically elected National Assembly headed by the Pakistan Peoples Party and its coalition partners, I thought of the terrible price paid for this moment of liberty. I thought of the many jailed, beaten, tortured, and exiled. I thought of all of those who had their reputations assaulted. I thought of the undermining and dismantling of Pakistani civil society. I thought of the attacks on the independence and autonomy of the judicial system. I thought of the censorship of the press, emergency rule and martial law.

But of course more than anything else, I thought of my beloved wife, Shaheed Mohtrama Benazir Bhutto, who sacrificed her life for her beliefs and her country. This was the day of her triumph, the vindication of her long battle for the restoration of democracy. For my country, this was a day of celebration. But for me and our children, this day was also a day of tears. Democracy had come to Pakistan, but at a terrible, terrible price.

Last week, the two largest political parties in Pakistan agreed to form a coalition government that would restore democracy and bring stability to our country. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which I lead after the assassination of my wife, has joined the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), led by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, to form a broad-based, democratic, liberal government in Pakistan — an umbrella of reconciliation and consensus. The new prime minister, from the PPP, will be announced within the next few days.

In agreeing to form a coalition government Mr. Sharif and I have responded to the mandate given by the people of Pakistan in the February 18 election. Pakistan’s people no longer want to live under the thumb of a dictator. They want an end to terrorism and violence and wish to join the rest of the modern world in the pursuit of peace and prosperity. They want to restore the supremacy of the people’s house, the National Assembly, and free it from the sword of Damocles of a marginal presidency with inflated, unconstitutional authority.

Pakistan’s political leaders and people have suffered from the politics of personal destruction; we have been battered by dictatorship; we have seen civil society taken apart and a free and independent judiciary destroyed. We have seen international assistance, secured in the name of fighting terrorism, diverted towards making Pakistan’s affluent few richer. We have seen progress on education, health and women’s rights stopped and reversed. But now, with renewed confidence in democratic parties like the PPP and PML-N, it is time for the rebirth of a democratic, vital and progressive Pakistan.

Some fear a coalition government would lack the necessary strength to tackle Pakistan’s myriad problems. But cooperation between the country’s biggest political parties, representing an overwhelming majority of the people, would bring greater stability than one-man rule. Together, the PPP and PML-N will be able to build a strong civil society. That would go a long way to erasing the scars of militarism and militancy. We will focus on providing education and employment at the grassroots levels so the country’s youth can play an integral role in building a strong national economy.

Under the rule of Pervez Musharraf, extremists were allowed to thrive along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The key to improving security there is not to make citizens in Pakistan’s tribal areas feel like second-rate citizens kept under lock and key, caught between the threats of violence from militants and the military. Rather, we must let all of our citizens, including those in the Federally Administered Tribal Area, know they are part participants in the growth of Pakistan’s economy and civil society.

Fostering a better level of trust and understanding among the people in the border areas, and delivering on their key needs, is essential to enhancing security in the FATA and throughout Pakistan. While immediate steps must be taken to hunt down identified terrorists, the long-term solution to extremism lies in respecting the will of the people and in providing them with a means of livelihood at every level — food, clothing, shelter, jobs and education. By talking to and respecting our people, we will be able to isolate the extremists and terrorists.

Those of us who are now in a position of leadership seek, in my wife’s words, “a tomorrow better than any of the yesterdays we have ever known.” We see a Pakistan where all children, regardless of their socio-economic standing or their gender, are guaranteed compulsory and quality primary and secondary education. We see a Pakistani educational system of quality teachers, who receive decent salaries, and teach in modern classrooms with state-of-the-art computers and technology. We see a Pakistan where political madrassas that teach hatred are closed, and educational institutions that focus on science and technology flourish.

The PPP has a vision to build a nation that is one of the great capital markets of the world; a revitalized nation that will generate international investment. We look forward to the complete electrification of all of our villages, the purification of our nation’s drinking water, the privatization of the public sector, the expansion of the energy sector, the development of our export industries, the modernization of our ports and the rebuilding our national infrastructure. All of these elements are essential to a Pakistan where a democratically elected government, with the mandate of the people, confronts and marginalizes the forces of extremism and terrorism wherever they may exist in our nation. In other words, I see the Pakistan for which my wife lived and died.

Pakistan’s democracy has not evolved over the past 60 years because the generals believed they should intervene in politics and run the country. The army’s misperception of itself as the country’s only viable institution, and its deep-rooted suspicion of the civilian political process, has prevented democracy from flourishing. The PPP and its allies will reverse the current regime’s suppression of civil society and free speech. We will establish a Press Complaints Commission similar to that of the United Kingdom and stand up for the democratic rights of citizens to freely establish television and radio stations, subject to the basic legal framework.

While the tasks ahead are not easy, the Pakistan Peoples Party plans to work in good faith with its fellow democratic parties and our coalition allies to achieve our goal of building a new, progressive Pakistan. Everything will not come at once. The reformation of Pakistan — politically, economically and socially — will be a long and complex process. But we are determined to begin and we are determined to succeed.

We did not come this far, we did not sacrifice this much, to fail.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.

Chinese Get Past Communist Internet Blocks

February 7, 2008

By Edward Lanfranco
The Washington Times
February 7, 2008

BEIJING — Chinese Internet censorship is little more than a joke to Li Shenwen, an unemployed computer game enthusiast who remained glued to his keyboard well past midnight in a dingy “Wangba” or “NetBar” on a recent Saturday night.
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Official blocks on controversial or political Web sites pose no obstacle to any experienced user who wants to get past them, said Mr. Li, who picks up spending money by amassing points in computer games and selling them to a broker who in turn sells them online to avid but inept Western gamers.
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Reluctant to be distracted from his profitable pursuit, Mr. Li, in his mid-20s, offered a $14 wager that he could get to any three blocked sites in less than five minutes. The bet was made.
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Opening a new browser, he promptly brought up outlawed content in Chinese and English from YouTube, Voice of America, Falun Gong and, for added measure, Reporters Without Borders — all within less than three minutes.
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“You could have asked anyone here to do this,” Mr. Li said with a wave around the room. But he added, they are more interested in using skills to access restricted pornography sites than to read about politics.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080207/FOREIGN/292517276/1001

Thailand shuts down political Web site

January 6, 2008
By SUTIN WANNABOVORN, Associated Press 

BANGKOK, Thailand – Thai authorities have shut down a political Web site that spoke out against the monarchy, the site’s operator said Sunday, in another move to punish critics of Thailand‘s most revered institution.

Visitors posted comments on the sameskybooks.com bulletin board, questioning claims in the Thai media that the entire country was in mourning over the death Wednesday of Princess Galyani Vadhana — King Bhumibol Adulyadej‘s older sister — and criticizing official calls for the public to wear black as a sign of mourning, said Thanapol Eiwsakul, who operated the site.

The Information and Communication Technology Ministry threatened local Internet provider Netservice with closure unless it took the action against sameskybooks.com, which was closed Friday, Thanapol said.

Read the rest:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080106/ap_on_hi_
te/thailand_web_site_ban_1

China bans film censored for sex scenes

January 4, 2008
By MIN LEE, AP Entertainment Writer

HONG KONG – China has pulled a movie already censored for its sexually explicit scenes from theaters and banned its producer for two years, a move the filmmaker said Friday was motivated by the spread of uncut, pirated copies of the film.

The ruling against “Lost in Beijing,” accuses filmmakers of publishing unapproved pornographic scenes from the movie on the Internet and on DVDs, according to a copy of the order and published on the Web site of the official China News Service. The agency said the order was dated Thursday.

It also alleges the movie — a powerful indictment of deteriorating morals amid China’s rapid economic growth — was promoted with “unhealthy, improper” advertisements. Producer Fang Li said was an apparent reference to the wording, “indulgent body, lost soul” used on movie posters.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080104/ap_en_mo/china_movie_sex_ban_2