Category Archives: Harassment

Not much love for freedom of expression in Turkey

Politics has always been a bare-knuckles and elbows blood sport, but the blood now seems to be from freedom of expression in Turkey.

Reuters: Turkey’s Erdogan threatens Twitter ban as vote looms

Al Jazeera: Turkey’s Erdogan threatens to ban Twitter

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan threat to shut down Twitter and other social media platforms came after audio recordings were posted on social media exposing corruption in his inner circle.

Even as Erdogan railed against social media, he added that he did not care about the international response.

Recently Turkey has tightened control of the Internet under the guise of “protecting privacy.”

Freedom House ranks Turkey’s Internet as “Partly Free” in a report that states:

  • Turkish authorities added several thousand websites to its blocking list, increasing the total to almost 30,000.
  • Ruling in favor of a Turkish user, the European Court of Human Rights found Turkey in violation of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights for blocking access to the hosting platform Google Sites

 

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Filed under Censorship, Corruption, Freedom of Information, Harassment

PA and Hamas Violating Palestinian Press Freedom

Once again Al Jazeera has a great piece on an issue that is not getting a lot of coverage in the U.S. media.

In this case the issue is press freedom in the West Bank and Gaza. Seems the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are engaged in numerous violations of press freedom and harassment and arrests of Palestinian journalists. The charges against the journalists from each government  is pretty much the same: The reporters where asking questions.

Palestinian journalists decry intimidation

The PA and Hamas have committed at least 500 documented press violations since 2007, including arrests, detention, torture, physical violence and censorship, according to the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA).

Journalists are consequently forced to work in a political climate that has increasingly “led to the promotion of self-censorship among journalists, and media outlets”, the MADA press release observed.

Rest of story

What Hamas and the PA apparently have not yet figured out is that for there to be a democratic and independent Palestinian state, there has to be free and independent media.

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Filed under Censorship, Harassment, Middle East, Press Freedom

Vietnam jails blogger, keeping up policy of free press suppression

Truong Duy Nhat, 50, was found to have “abused his freedoms to infringe upon the state’s interest” in posts on his blog, the last of which was in May last year, when he criticized the procedure for Vietnam first-ever parliamentary censure motion.

Vietnam jails ex-journalist over anti-government blog

 

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Filed under Asia, Harassment, Press Freedom

Hong Kong: Journalists worry about new pressures

News is spreading about the latest round of pressure being exerted on Hong Kong journalists to kowtow to the local and national governments.

The interview linked below with leading Hong Kong journalists is from Radio Australia.

Hong Kong journalists resist free media constraints

  • Kevin LAU: Violence is meant to intimidate. If we are frightened into submission we will lose our freedom. We journalists must stand fearless, we must insist that justice be served, we must strive to tell the truth without fear or favour. Freedom is not a given, freedom is not free, we all have to earn and guard it.
  • Willy LAM: I think the central government as well as the current administration are putting pressure on the Hong Kong media to toe the line from Beijing, not to report news which is considered to be embarrassing to the Chinese administration, and also to refrain from advocating a faster pace of democracy in Hong Kong
  • Shirley YAM: There’s certain so-called liberal commentators they were barred from appearing in certain newspapers. Story ideas were banned, headlines were changed and photos were added, columnists were sacked, this is the kind of reality we are facing, and we are worried that it’s going to get worse.

 

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Filed under Censorship, China, Harassment, Press Freedom

Hong Kong journalists fighting for freedom

A demonstration over the weekend by Hong Kong journalists showed pretty clearly that they have not given up on rule of law, free speech and freedom of press. (Hong Kong journalists take to streets to march for press freedom)

After all, these things are guaranteed in Hong Kong until 2047 — by international treaty.

Ever since China took over Hong Kong (1997 for those of you who could not remember), journalists have been under pressure to bow to the party line coming from Beijing.

As long as there has been a Hong Kong, most media owners have done all they could to keep the ruling government happy. That means before 1997 it was bowing to London.

The difference between pre-1997 and now, however, is that now many of the tycoons owning media outlets are afraid of hurting their gazzilion-dollar deals in mainland China. So they fire anyone on their staff who does not push a pro-Beijing position.

China learned early on in its opening to the West that it can influence organizations by making life (and business) difficult for foreign businesses trying to do business with the Middle Kingdom. It is simple, under the structure of ruling in China, they see no difference between the government and business operations. (That is changing a bit but not really that much.) Likewise, because, under Communist rule, the media are just another arm of the ruling party, this must also be so in other countries.

They project their policies and perceptions on the rest of the world — as many do — but unlike most other governments, Beijing ignores facts when presented to them. They still think they can run things by either brute force or claiming any objective reporting on human rights violations in the country either “violates Chinese sovereignty” or (and this is my favorite) “hurts the feelings of all Chinese people.”

The pressure against independent media in Hong Kong has stepped up under the latest power shift in China. And this time the pressure is not as indirect as it once was. Complaints from Beijing about how and what the Hong Kong media report are becoming more common and more strident. Pressure from scared media owners and the Hong Kong government has led to a perceived loss of press freedom in the territory.

Oh, and staying with the theme of this site, why should American journalists or the American people care about all this?

  1. In Hong Kong  freedoms are under attack. There is the basic American belief that freedom — of press, speech, assembly, etc — is a good thing.
  2. Hong Kong remains a major economic powerhouse. Without a free press, information on company valuation, risks and benefits — all the stuff that businesses use to decide investment strategy — is questionable. (Why do you think no one trusts the mainland China media when it comes to economic news?) A lot of US companies — and US jobs — depend on accurate and unbiased information.
  3. The guarantees of civic freedom in Hong Kong are part of an international treaty, not some wink and nod arrangement. International treaties are supposed to mean something. Adherence to these treaties is designed to prevent armed conflict.

 

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Filed under China, Harassment, Press Freedom