Tag Archives: Media harassment

Thai authorities arrest Hong Kong journalist for having body armor

The BBC reports Hong Kong photojournalist Anthony Kwan Hok-chun was arrested for carrying body armor and a helmet as he was ready to board a flight back to Hong Kong.

Seems Kwan brought the equipment with him to cover the recent bombing of the Erawan Shrine a couple of weeks ago. And it seems having military type equipment is against the law.

The Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand issued a statement calling for Kwan’s release. The FCCT made the following points to the Thai government:

  • Hong Kongers were among the dead in the bombing
  • Protective gear is standard issue for reporters covering violent events.
  • The vest and helmet are not weapons
  • Journalists openly worn body armor during recent political turmoil without any action being taken government
  • Te deaths of two foreign journalists in Bangkok from gunfire during the political unrest in 2010 underscores the need for this kind of protection.

As the FCCT pointed out, it is not unusual for journalists to wear protective gear when reporting from dangerous areas. The Committee to Protect Journalists gives a rundown of the types of equipment to wear in different troubled areas:

  • Choose a vest rated to stop high-velocity bullets fired by military rifles.
  • Helmets are also recommended for journalists covering war zones.
  • Wear body armor whenever you are embedded with military forces

The CPJ also offers  tips about using protective gear in civil disturbance situations:

  • Protective gear  that is lightweight and relatively thin can provide protection against knife attacks, rubber bullets, and other hazards.
  • Baseball-style caps with metal plates are also available.
  • Armor may not be recommended for covering criminal matters because it may cause a journalist to be mistaken for a law enforcement agent.
  • Gas masks may also be worn, although in doing so journalists incur the risk that they could be mistaken for either riot police or demonstrators.

Kwan’s employer, Initium Media, hired a lawyer to contest the charges.

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Filed under Asia, Harassment

China’s campaign against bloggers

Just in case anyone ever thought good blogging (hell, even bad blogging) about events is not a form of journalism, they should look at China.

The Chinese government has been on a two-year rip against bloggers. The campaign matches the massive efforts to tighten the screws on press freedom.

In the case of bloggers, the problem is much greater. With the news outlets, the government can fire or re-assign reporters and editors who do not bow to their wishes. Bloggers, however, are individuals. That means the government has to go after each person one at a time and figure out how to apply pressure to get that person to stop. Failing that, out comes the hammer of prosecution and jail time. (Yep, in China “violators” of the rules of what can and cannot be published are given a fair trial, just before they are sentenced to jail. Funny how one always follows the other.)

China Digital News has a great summary of a larger piece by the Australian Financial Review on how the Chinese government has cracked down on bloggers.

From China Digital Times: How China Stopped Its Bloggers

Original Australian Financial Review piece: How China stopped its bloggers

Just like anywhere else in the world, China’s popular bloggers ply their craft via social media and are an eclectic mix of lawyers, academics, celebrities, investors, public intellectuals, food critics and journalists.

Yet they occupy a unique position in China as the only alternate voice to the party, and they speak to the world’s biggest internet population of 650 million people. And while they have never been accepted by the party, these so called “opinion leaders” were once tolerated, in what many saw as a necessary loosening of control in the age of social media and mobile internet.

That was until mid-2013 when the party resumed its previous role as the sole arbiter of what information the public should be told.

One example China Digital News brings up is the prosecution of Wu Gan, a provocative online campaigner.

From the South China Morning Post:

Observers said the government wanted to incriminate Wu Gan, 43, an influential online campaigner famed for his loud and colourful protests, to warn other activists not to target and embarrass even low-level officials.

Yan Xin, Wu’s lawyer, said prosecution authorities in Xiamen told him on Friday that they had granted police permission to arrest his client on two criminal charges – “inciting the subversion of state power” and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”.

Remember that the Chinese government considers any discussion of a controversial issue or any questioning of government action to be “provoking trouble” and subverting state power.

The bottom line is that the administration of President Xi Jinping will not allow any dissent during his term. And he is going after not only the mainstream media but anyone who has an opinion not cleared by the central committee of the Communist Party.

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Filed under Censorship, China, Freedom of Information, Harassment

Now Reuters is being blocked in China

Reuters now joins the ranks of The New York Times, BBC, Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal. Its websites are being blocked by the Great Firewall of China. (Reuters websites become inaccessible in China)

Reuters says they do not know why their website is being blocked. Inquiries to the Cyberspace Administration of China have gone unanswered.

Perhaps one reason for being blocked is included in Reuters’ comment about the action:

“Reuters is committed to practicing fair and accurate journalism worldwide. We recognise the great importance of news about China to all our customers, and we hope that our sites will be restored in China soon,” a Reuters spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

That whole “fair and accurate journalism” is a real problem for the Chinese leadership.

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Nicaragua keeping canal plans under wraps

One thing that remains constant with governments such as those in Nicaragua and Venezuela, the government does like to control things.

The Committee to Protect Journalists now reports that details of the massive — as in US$50 billion — canal project are hard to find. In fact, it was even hard for reporters to attend the gala groundbreaking ceremony in December. (Reporters covering Nicaragua waterway project obstructed by lack of information)

Government officials told [journalists] to wait in a Managua hotel for a bus that would transport them to the ribbon-cutting ceremony, according to the Nicaragua Dispatch. But the bus never showed up. Tim Rogers, editor of the online news outlet, said that journalists who traveled to the Pacific coast site on their own were turned back by police.

To be honest no one should be surprised that the Ortega govenrment is being tight lipped about the project.

First, it is not in the nature of the Sandanista governments (and Ortega in particular) to be too enamoured with the idea of public scrutiny of government projects.

Second, the Sandinistas — like their patrons in Venezuela — have no great love for free and independent media.

Third, let’s face it , governments in the region in general are not hospitable to having people looking too closely at how money is spent.

And lastly, the partner in the canal is a firm that has an office in Hong Kong but whose founder is all up close and tight with Chinese state industries.

So you have a nice coalition putting the canal together by people who really don’t think it is anyone’s business but their own to know what is going on.

Given the global financial and political implications of another canal cutting through Central America, I would think there would be more pressure from U.S. and European business groups, governments and media outlets to see the paperwork on the building of this new canal.

Remember how conservatives in the U.S. got all hot and bothered when the Panama Canal was returned to Panama? Besides the whole “We stole it fair and square” stuff, they were also going crazy because Hong Kong businessman Li Ka Shing won the contract to handle the ports on either end.

Screams of how the Chinese communists were taking over the canal were heard across the land.  Unfortunately for the screamers, Li is no communist. He is from Hong Kong — a place Heritage Foundations loves for its economic freedom — and has no love for the rulers in Beijing. (In fact, Li is moving a lot of his holdings from Hong Kong to Bermuda. That should say something about how “lcommunist” he is.)

So now here comes a company, also registered in Hong Kong, but whose CEO is all about mainland China.

So, where are the stories? At least stories about how much we don’t know about the project.

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Filed under Central America, China, Freedom of access

Nothing sheepish expected from Chinese censors

The Hong Kong chief executive wants Hong Kongers to emulate the zodiac animal for this year. No surprise given the pressure CY Leung is under from Beijing.

The same could be said for the way Beijing wants the people of China to act as well. And leave it to the government and party aparatus to serve as shepards.

The ruling elite in China has the attitude that they know what is best and everyone else should just shut up and follow orders. It is such an intregal part of the way they work, they cannot seem to think of any other way to operate.

So while the people are to be sheep, the govenrment will act as both shepard and wolf.

And now, from Foreign Policy a prediction for the Year of the Sheep: Five Predictions for Chinese Censorship in the Year of the Sheep

  1. Tightening of the Great Firewall
  2. WeChat Arrests
  3. Intensified censorship during Pres. Xi’s visit to USA in September
  4. More arrests and jail time for dissidents and free speech activists.
  5. Stepped up pressure on the free media in Hong Kong.

To be honest, these are the same predictions one could make about the state of freedom of press/expression in China every year.

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Filed under Censorship, China, Harassment, Hong Kong, Press Freedom

Jailed Turkish TV Chief Calls For End Of Campaign Against Free Press

There is little I can add to this piece by Roy Greenslade at the Guardian. Just click on the headline and read the piece.

Arrested Turkish TV chief writes an open letter from his jail cell

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Filed under Censorship, Harassment, Press Freedom

China: Not exactly a rule of law place

ANGELA KÖCKRITZ, a correspondent for Die Zeit describes the hell she and her Chinese assistant were put through by Chinese authorities. None of it should suprise anyone, except those who think things really have changed in the way the Chinese government operates.

How my assistant got into trouble with Beijing’s security apparatus and I got to know the Chinese authorities 

This is the really scary part of the story: “Zhang Miao is a completely normal Chinese citizen. And we will treat her like we deal with Chinese citizens.”

Believe me, that is not something to make one feel comfortable.

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Filed under Censorship, China, Harassment, Press Freedom