Index on Censorship http://www.indexoncensorship.org the voice of free expression Fri, 31 Oct 2014 18:17:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=445 the voice of free expression Index on Censorship no the voice of free expression Index on Censorship http://www.indexoncensorship.org/wp-content/uploads/powerpress/Free_Speech_Bites_Logo.jpg http://www.indexoncensorship.org Life is getting harder for objective journalists in Turkey, says cartoonist sued by Erdogan http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2014/10/turkey-musa-kart-erdogan-cartoon-caricature-artistic-freedom/ http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2014/10/turkey-musa-kart-erdogan-cartoon-caricature-artistic-freedom/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:29:16 +0000 http://www.indexoncensorship.org/?p=61351 Musa Kart faced nine year behind bars over a caricature of the Turkish president

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(Image: Ben Jennings)

Cartoonists like Ben Jennings rallied around Musa Kart when he faced jail over a caricature of Turkey’s President Erdogan (Credit: Ben Jennings)

Not long ago Turkish cartoonist Musa Kart faced the prospect of spending nine years behind bars, simply for doing his job.

Taken to court by the Turkey’s President (and former Prime Minister) Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself, Kart last week stood trial for insult and slander over a caricature published in newspaper Cumhuriyet in February. Commenting on Erdogan’s alleged hand in covering up a high-profile corruption scandal, the cartoon depicted him as a hologram keeping a watchful eye over a robbery.

While Kart was finally acquitted last Thursday, his case was just starting to hit international headlines — in no small part due to the swift reaction from colleagues around the world. In the online #erdogancaricature campaign initiated by British cartoonist Martin Rowson, his fellow artists shared their own drawings of the president. With Erdogan reimagined as everything from a balloon, to a crying baby, to Frankenstein’s monster, the show of solidarity soon went viral.

“This campaign has showed me once again that I m a member of world cartoonists family. I am deeply moved and honoured by their support,” Kart told Index in an email.

Kart has been battling the criminal charges since February. His defiance was clear for all to see when he told the court on Thursday that “I think that we are inside a cartoon right now”, referring to the fact that he was in the suspect’s seat while charges against people involved in the graft scandal had been dropped.

He remains defiant today: “Erdogan would have either let an independent judiciary process to be cleared or repressed his opponents. He chose the second way,” he said. “It’s a well known fact that Erdogan is trying to repress and isolate the opponents by reshaping the laws and the judiciary and by countless prosecutions and libel suits against journalists.”

This isn’t the first time Kart has run into trouble with Erdogan. Back in 2005, he was fined 5,000 Turkish lira for drawing the then-prime minister as a cat entangled in yarn. The cartoon represented the controversy that surrounded the Turkey’s highest administrative court rejecting new legislation that Erdogan had campaigned on.

“I have always believed that cartoon humour is a very unique and effective way to express our ideas and to reach people and it contributes to a better and more tolerant world,” he explained when questioned on where he finds the strength to keep going.

It remains unclear whether the story ends with this latest acquittal decision. While the charges against Kart were dropped earlier this year, an appeal from Erdogan saw the case reopened. “Erdogan’s lawyers will…take the case to the upper court,” he said.

Kart’s experience is far from unique; free expression is a thorny issues in Erdogan’s Turkey. In the past year alone, authorities temporarily banned Twitter and YouTube and introduced controversial internet legislation. Meanwhile journalists, like the Economist’s Amberin Zaman, have been continuously targeted, as Index on Censorship’s media freedom map shows.

Kart is not optimistic about the future of press freedom in his country: “Unfortunately, day by day, life is getting harder for independent and objective journalists in Turkey.”

This article was originally posted on 31 October at indexoncensorship.org

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27 Nov: ArtFreedomWales – Free Speech Hearing http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2014/10/27-nov-art-freedom-walesfree-speech-hearing/ http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2014/10/27-nov-art-freedom-walesfree-speech-hearing/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 12:22:47 +0000 http://www.indexoncensorship.org/?p=61331   Do you believe in a fundamental right to free expression? Do you believe everybody has a right to artistic free expression? Do you believe Wales is enjoying its right to artistic freedom of expression? Index on Censorship champions the right to think, act and speak freely. Following recent free speech hearings around the world […]

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Art Freedom Wales

 

Do you believe in a fundamental right to free expression?
Do you believe everybody has a right to artistic free expression?
Do you believe Wales is enjoying its right to artistic freedom of expression?

Index on Censorship champions the right to think, act and speak freely. Following recent free speech hearings around the world – workshops exploring the conditions necessary for free expression to flourish – we’re coming to Cardiff to ask the question: Is Wales enjoying its right to artistic freedom of expression?

Some say yes – Wales with a proud cultural heritage, a vibrant bi-lingual arts scene and a closely-knit community… Others cite concerns – too few voices, too little access, complex linguistic battles, poor infrastructure, dwindling resource?

Join us and voices from across Wales to make your case, to reflect on the opportunities and obstacles and to consider whether Wales could be a world centre for artistic freedom of expression?

 

WHERE: Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff
WHEN: Thursday 27 November 2014, 2.00-5.30pm
TICKETS: £5 (contribution towards costs) available here

 

DRAFT PROGRAMME

2.00pm. Opening 
Wales? From the eyes of artists living in exile.

2.15pm. Evidence: Is Wales enjoying its right to artistic freedom of expression?
Stories of opportunities, stories of obstacles – submissions invited and from the floor.

3.20pm. Taking Action: Working Groups
Promoting Wales’ strengths and tackling Wales’ weaknesses? Consider action.

4.30pm. Institutional Action: Plenary
Reflecting and deliberating on the afternoon’s discussion, a panel including

  • Dai Smith (Arts Council Wales)
  • John McGrath (National Theatre Wales)
  • David Anderson (Museums Wales)
  • Lleucu Siencyn (Literature Wales)
  • Elen ap Robert (Pontio)
  • Baroness Kay Andrews (House of Lords)

 

#ArtFreedomWales – ONLINE CONVERSATIONS

 

Sponsored by Arts Council of Wales and Western Power

Western Power

 

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Padraig Reidy: Sympathy for the devil http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2014/10/padraig-reidy-sympathy-for-the-devil/ http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2014/10/padraig-reidy-sympathy-for-the-devil/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 12:18:54 +0000 http://www.indexoncensorship.org/?p=61316 The very personification of evil is invoked more often than not by those who wish to see his hand in simple things they do not like or do not understand

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(Photo: Cindy (Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

(Photo: Cindy (Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

On 9 February 1986, the late Ian Paisley stood to deliver his sermon at the Martyr’s Memorial Church in Belfast.

Paisley was, as usual, horrified by the world. That particular week he had one thing in mind: “Rock music is satanic,” Paisley told the assembled. “Let me repeat that, rock music is satanic, and those who have studied it have proved that conclusively.”

The reverend’s attention had been drawn back to rock music by the visit to Belfast of heavy metal singer Ozzy Osbourne. Osbourne had, Paisley intoned, been “sacked by another satanic organisation called ‘Black Sabbath'” for his drinking. And now this man was on Paisley’s territory.

“[It] is the intention of the devil to carry the battle for youthful minds, for youthful hearts and for youthful bodies. The citadel of man is his soul, and the battle is on in this city for the souls of the youth of our city.”

Paisley was a man capable of seeing demons everywhere but in himself, but he was not alone in his conviction that satan himself was acting through music and other media to destroy young minds (though he may have been alone in his later belief that line dancing induced lustfulness).

The mid 80s and early 90s were a time when many people seemed convinced that pop musicians were having weekly conference calls with beelzebub on how to corrupt and destroy the world’s youth. Osbourne’s fellow Brummie rockers Judas Priest found themselves accused of causing the suicides of two young fans by planting subliminal messages in their records.

(Meanwhile, in an atmosphere of moral panic, Tipper Gore and her comrades at the Parents Music Resource Center were diligently seeking out the rude bits on every record released and taking careful note, like schoolboys who’d found a discarded copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

Pressure from the PMRC would lead to the “Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics” stickers put in the cover of every fun record released between 1985 and 1995, and contributed to the atmosphere where Miami Bass act 2 Live Crew found themselves in the dock for obscenity over their album As Nasty As They Wanna Be, the lewd content of which even the black and white stickers did not provide adequate warning for, it was claimed. Aptly, the song S&M on the 2 Live Crew album Move Somethin’, which preceded As Nasty As They Wanna Be, contained the lyric “I’m a disciple of Satan, with work to do”.)

One could argue that it’s a bit much to call your band Black Sabbath and then complain about being demonised. But it’s not just bat-biting metal bands that have faced accusations of evildoing.

William Friedkin’s The Exorcist, based on the novel of the same name, is one of the most Christian films ever made. Portraying the demonic possession of a young girl, what’s fascinating in watching The Exorcist now is how little of it is actually concerned with the “exorcism” itself. Huge chunks of the film are used in watching the priest Father Damien Karras explore every other avenue for the girls physical and mental state apart from possession. It is only in the last third of the film that the exorcist of the title appears, and the demon possessing the child is finally defeated. “You can have all the education and science you want,” The Exorcist suggests, “but only faith in God will save you from evil.”

This message would, you think, find favour with Christians. And yet Pastor Billy Graham, one of the UK’s most powerful preachers at the time of the film’s release in 1973, was appalled by The Exorcist. According to William Peter Blatty, who adapted the screenplay for The Exorcist from his own novel, Graham believed “’There [was] a power of evil in that film, in the fabric of the film itself.” Protestant evangelist Graham’s view of the film may not have been helped by it’s overt Roman Catholicism.

The Catholic church itself has recent form in perceiving satan at work. In 2003, then-cardinal and future pope Joseph Ratzinger reportedly denounced JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books as a “subtle seduction” which had “deeply unnoticed and direct effects in undermining the soul of Christianity before it can really grow properly”.

Later, in 2008, a Catholic academic put it rather more bluntly. Writing in the Vatican’s L’Osservatore Romano newspaper, Edoardo Rialti commented that: “Despite the values that we come across in the narration, at the base of this story, witchcraft is proposed as a positive ideal.

“The violent manipulation of things and people comes thanks to knowledge of the occult.”

Happily, like many an exhausted parent before it, the church eventually came to love the boy wizard and his Blytonian adventures. By the time the film of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released, L’Osservatore Romano was full of praise, saying: “There is a clear line of demarcation between good and evil and [the film] makes clear that good is right. One understands as well that sometimes this requires hard work and sacrifice.”

By this time, again like many an exhausted parent, the Vatican had moved on to the new territory of the Twilight saga. One Monsignor Perazzolo of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council warned that the vampires v werewolves film’s occultery could create a “moral void more dangerous than any deviant message”. This, of course, was the same series that faced heavy criticism for creator Stephenie Meyer’s apparent Mormon undertone of sexual abstinence.

Satan and the occult trump all when hand wringing is to be done, with the sole exception of accusations of paedophilia (the history of real, dangerous and false allegations of paedophilia linked to satanic ritual in the UK is for a separate article). The very personification of evil is still a significant presence even in our secular lives. But he is invoked more often than not by those who wish to see his hand in simple things they do not like or do not understand.

This article was posted on 30 October 2014 at indexoncensorship.org

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Bahraini court postpones trial of Nabeel Rajab until 2 November http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2014/10/bahraini-court-postpones-trial-nabeel-rajab-2-november/ http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2014/10/bahraini-court-postpones-trial-nabeel-rajab-2-november/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 18:28:40 +0000 http://www.indexoncensorship.org/?p=61311 A Bahraini court ruled that Nabeel Rajab will face criminal charges stemming from a single tweet in which both the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defense allege that he “denigrated government institutions.” The court postponed the trial until Sunday, 2 November.

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Nabeel Rajab during a protest in London in September (Photo: Milana Knezevic)

Nabeel Rajab during a protest in London in September (Photo: Milana Knezevic)

Today, a Bahraini court ruled that Nabeel Rajab will face criminal charges stemming from a single tweet in which both the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defense allege that he “denigrated government institutions.” The court postponed the trial until Sunday, 2 November. If convicted, Rajab could face up to six years in prison.

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), and Index on Censorship condemn the criminal prosecution brought against Rajab, denounce his continued detention on charges related to his right to free speech and call for his immediate and unconditional release.

Rajab, President of BCHR and Co-Director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR), was summoned to the Cyber Crimes Unit of the Central Investigations Directorate’s (CID) for interrogation and promptly arrested on 1 October after spending months advocating for human rights in Bahrain throughout Europe. After 19 days in pre-trial detention, Mr. Rajab appeared in front of a judge on 19 October, where the court postponed sentencing until 29 October and denied him release on bail.

The international community has been outspoken in condemning the arrest of Rajab and calling for his immediate and unconditional release. The United Nations called his detention “chilling” and argued that it sends a “disturbing message.” The governments of the United States, Norway, France, and Ireland, as well as the President of the European Parliament, United States Ambassador Samantha Power, United States Congressman James McGovern, 13 members of the UK Parliament and 40 members of the European Parliament also called for Mr. Rajab’s release. While the UK government claims to be following the situation closely, it has yet to call for Rajab’s release.

This is not the first time Rajab has faced arbitrary detention. From July 2012 to May 2014, he was detained after calling for and participating in peaceful protests in Bahrain’s capital of Manama. Rajab was also previously sentenced to 3 months imprisonment for allegedly defaming citizens of Muharraq via Twitter. Despite his eventual acquittal by the Court of Appeal, Rajab served most of his sentence.

We, the undersigned human rights organizations, call on the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and other national and international bodies to actively engage the Government of Bahrain to:

  • Immediately and unconditionally release Nabeel Rajab;
  • drop all charges against him in relation to or retaliation for his work and his exercise of the right to freedom of expression; and
  • ensure that all civil society organizations and human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to conduct their work without fear of retaliation or reprisal.

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)

Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)

Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)

Index on Censorship

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Bahrain’s allies must take action to free human rights defenders http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2014/10/bahrains-allies-must-take-action-free-human-rights-defenders/ http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2014/10/bahrains-allies-must-take-action-free-human-rights-defenders/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 14:12:31 +0000 http://www.indexoncensorship.org/?p=61304 The undersigned 40 organisations call on the international community to publicly condemn the ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders, who face harassment, imprisonment, and forced exile for peacefully exercising their internationally recognised rights to freedom of expression and assembly. With parliamentary elections in Bahrain scheduled for 22 November, the international community must impress upon the […]

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The undersigned 40 organisations call on the international community to publicly condemn the ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders, who face harassment, imprisonment, and forced exile for peacefully exercising their internationally recognised rights to freedom of expression and assembly. With parliamentary elections in Bahrain scheduled for 22 November, the international community must impress upon the government of Bahrain the importance of releasing peaceful human rights defenders as a precursor for free and fair elections.

Attacks against human rights defenders and free expression by the Bahraini government have not only increased in frequency and severity, but have enjoyed public support from the ruling elite. On 3 September 2014, King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa said he will fight “wrongful use” of social media by legal means. He indicated that “there are those who attempt to exploit social media networks to publish negative thoughts, and to cause breakdown in society, under the pretext of freedom of expression or human rights.” Prior to that, the Prime Minister warned that social media users would be targeted.

The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) documented 16 cases where individuals were imprisoned in 2014 for statements posted on social media platforms, particularly on Twitter and Instagram. In October alone, some of Bahrain’s most prominent human rights defenders, including Nabeel Rajab, Zainab Al-Khawaja and Ghada Jamsheer, face sentencing on criminal charges related to free expression that carry years-long imprisonment.

Nabeel Rajab, President of the BCHR, Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), and Deputy Secretary General of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), was arrested on 1 October 2014 and charged with insulting the Ministry of Interior and the Bahrain Defence Forces on Twitter. Rajab was arrested the day after he returned from an advocacy tour in Europe, where he spoke about human rights abuses in Bahrain at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, addressed the European Parliament in Brussels, and visited foreign ministries throughout Europe.

On 19 October, the Lower Criminal Court postponed ruling on Rajab’s case until 29 October and denied bail. Rajab’s family was banned from attending the proceedings. Under Article 216 of the Bahraini Penal Code, Rajab could face up to three years in prison. We believe that Rajab’s detention and criminal case are in reprisal for his international advocacy and that the Bahraini authorities are abusing the judicial system to silence Rajab. More than 100 civil society organisations have called for Rajab’s immediate and unconditional release, while the United Nations called his detention “chilling” and argued that it sends a “disturbing message.” The United States and Norway called for the government to drop the charges against Rajab, and France called on Bahrain to respect freedom of expression and facilitate free public debate.

Zainab Al-Khawaja, who is over eight months pregnant, remains in detention since 14 October on charges of insulting the King. These charges relate to two incidents, one in 2012 and another during a court appearance earlier this month, where she tore a photo of the King. On 21 October, the Court adjourned her case until 30 October and continued her detention.

Zainab Al-Khawaja is the daughter of prominent human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who is currently serving a life sentence in prison, following a grossly unfair trial, for calling for political reforms in Bahrain. Zainab Al-Khawaja has been subjected to continuous judicial harassment, imprisoned for most of last year and prosecuted on many occasions. Three additional trumped up charges were brought against her when she attempted to visit her father at Jaw Prison in August 2014 when he was on hunger strike. The charges are related to “entering a restricted area”, “not cooperating with police orders” and “verbal assault”.

Zainab’s sister, Maryam Al-Khawaja, was also targeted by the Bahraini government recently. The Co-Director of the GCHR is due in court on 5 November 2014 to face sentencing for allegedly “assaulting a police officer.” While the only sign that the police officer was assaulted is a scratched finger, Maryam Al-Khawaja suffered a torn shoulder muscle as a result of rough treatment at the hands of police. She spent more than two weeks in prison in September following her return to Bahrain to visit her ailing father. More than 150 civil society organisations and individuals called for Maryam Al-Khawaja’s release in September, as did UN Special Rapporteurs and Denmark.

Other human rights defenders recently jailed include feminist activist and women’s rights defender Ghada Jamsheer, detained since 15 September 2014 for comments she allegedly made on Twitter regarding corruption at Hamad University Hospital. Jamsheer faced the Lower Criminal Court on 22 October 2014 on charges of “insult and defamation over social media” in three cases and a verdict is scheduled on 29 October 2014.

While the government of Bahrain continues to publicly tout efforts towards reform, the facts on the ground speak to the contrary. Human rights defenders remain targets of government oppression, while freedom of expression and assembly are increasingly under attack. Without the immediate and unconditional release of political prisoners and human rights defenders, reform cannot become a reality in Bahrain.

We urge the international community, particularly Bahrain’s allies, to apply pressure on the government of Bahrain to end the judicial harassment of all human rights defenders. The government of Bahrain must immediately drop all charges against and ensure the release of human rights defenders and political prisoners, including Nabeel Rajab, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Zainab Al-Khawaja, Ghada Jamsheer, Naji Fateel, Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace, Nader Abdul Emam and all those detained for expressing their right to freedom of expression and assembly peacefully.
Signed,

Activist Organization for Development and Human Rights, Yemen

African Life Center

Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
Avocats Sans Frontières Network

Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)

Bahrain Human Rights Observatory (BHRO)

Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)
Bahrain Salam for Human Rights
Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR)

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE)
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

English PEN

European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR)
Freedom House

Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR)

Index on Censorship

International Centre for Supporting Rights and Freedom, Egypt

International Independent Commission for Human Rights, Palestine

International Awareness Youth Club, Egypt

Kuwait Institute for Human Rights

Kuwait Human Rights Society

Lawyer’s Rights Watch Canada (LWRC)

Maharat Foundation

Nidal Altaghyeer, Yemen

No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ – Italy)

Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT – Italy)

PEN International

Redress

Reporters Without Borders

Reprieve

Réseau des avocats algérien pour défendre les droits de l’homme, Algeria
Solidaritas Perempuan (SP-Women’s Solidarity for Human Rights), Indonesia

Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA)

Syrian Non-Violent Movement
The Voice of Women

Think Young Women
Women Living Under Muslim laws, UK

Youth for Humanity, Egypt

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Serbian prime minister grilled on press freedom at London event http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2014/10/serbia-vucic-lse-media-press/ http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2014/10/serbia-vucic-lse-media-press/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 12:38:51 +0000 http://www.indexoncensorship.org/?p=61273 Controversy surrounded Aleksandar Vucic’s Monday night lecture at the London School of Economics

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Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic speaking at LSE (Photo: Milana Knezevic)

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic speaking at LSE (Photo: Milana Knezevic)

It wasn’t quite a remote controlled drone carrying a provocative political message, but Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic’s Monday night lecture at the London School of Economics (LSE) came with its own controversial incident.

“What can you say about the total censorship of all opposition media”,  Vucic was asked by a young woman in the audience just as the premier sat down for the question and answer portion of the event. She explained that she was representing Nikola Sandulovic, an opposition politician from the Serbian Republican Party, who was sitting beside her. Sandulovic said later he had travelled to London to confront Vucic.

Chaos ensued. Sandulovic claimed, among other things, that a police officer connected to Vucic had threatened to kill him and that he had evidence contained on a CD he held aloft. Vucic hit back that the Republican Party had only 0.01% of public support, and disputed Sandulovic’s assertion that he had been an adviser to former Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, who was assassinated in 2003. Accusations flew across the room until LSE’s moderator James Ker-Lindsay finally managed regain control of the situation.

After the event, Sandulovic told Index he came to London because the media in Serbia ignore him and his party, apart from when government-friendly outlets attack him.

That press freedom was a popular topic on the night did not comes as a surprise. Serbia has seen a string of censorship incidents during Vucic’s time in power, as Index and many others have reported.

The prime minister himself brought up the press in his introductory lecture. He explained how his government has passed several new laws aimed at improving the media landscape, and complained that despite this, they are “scapegoated”. He directly addressed the recent controversial cancellation of a political talk show, Utisak Nedelje (Impressions of the Week), saying authorities have been subjected to a blame campaign for what was a commercial decision. Supporters of the show, including host Olja Beckovic, say it was down to political pressure.

In a joking reference to his infamous role under Slobodan Milosevic, he said he had been the “worst minister of information”. Curiously, he also used this former job as a counterargument to critics, arguing that his past had made it easy to blame him for any instance of censorship.

But this didn’t seem to stop the press-related questions, though none of the journalists present were chosen to ask one. Apart from the memorable Sandulovic intervention, an audience-member pointed out that Utisak Nedelje wasn’t the only show to have been taken off air in recent times.

If there was an overarching theme to the night, it was that it seemed to showcase different — some would say conflicting — sides of Vucic and his administration. He reminded the audience that Belgrade had recently organised a successful Pride parade, before adding that he didn’t want to attend. To have that choice, he argued, was a real mark of freedom.

There were, of course, questions about the football drone. While Vucic said he didn’t want to share his own views, he said UEFA (European football’s governing body) saw Serbia’s side of the story by awarding them the win, before pointing out that Serbia carries its share of the responsibility. The planned state visit from Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama — the first in 68 years — will go ahead, he also confirmed, despite the post-drone postponement.

In response to questions about relations with Russia — just weeks after the Belgrade military parade where Vladimir Putin was the guest of honour — he said the two countries would continue to build their relationship, but that this would have no impact on Serbia’s ultimate goal of European Union accession.

Much has been made of Vucic’s apparent journey from Milosevic man to EU enthusiast. He seemed to reference this as he said he is “not perfect” and that he works “every single day” to change and better himself. But on Monday, he left more questions than answers about the direction he is taking Serbia in.

Mapping Media Violations in Europe: Serbia

serbia-map10292014

Five media outlets targeted with DDoS attacks

Protesters criticise cancellation of political talk shows

Deputy mayor fined for insulting journalist

Macedonian journalist released from extradition detention

Photographer injured by anti-pride parade protesters

This article was originally posted on 29 October at indexoncensorship.org

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Azerbaijan crackdown continues with new arrest and activist deprived of lawyer http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2014/10/azerbaijan-human-rights-crackdown-continues/ http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2014/10/azerbaijan-human-rights-crackdown-continues/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 08:57:59 +0000 http://www.indexoncensorship.org/?p=61280 Journalist from opposition newspaper Azadliq sentenced to 25 days of administrative detention, as jailed activist says she has been denied access to her lawyer

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Arif and Leyla Yunus (Photo: HRHN)

Arif and Leyla Yunus (Photo: HRHN)

A journalist from Azerbaijani opposition newspaper Azadliq was today sentenced to 25 days of administrative detention. Khalid Garayev, who also hosts online show Azerbaijani Hour, was found guilty of hooliganism and insubordination to the police by a court in the capital Baku. He told the court the case against him is “fabricated, and politically motivated” because of his “journalistic activities and active civil position” reports contact.az.

Also today, jailed human rights activist Leyla Yunus said she has been denied access to her lawyer. Yunus made the claim in a letter sent from the detention centre in Baku where she is being held. This comes a day after her husband Arif Yunus, who was arrested with her in July, had his pretrial detention extended until 5 March, 2015. Azerbaijani authorities also announced yesterday that police will be able to use electric shockers, following an amendment to the police law.

Leyla Yunus’ lawyers have previously reported being denied access to her cell or an opportunity to see her. She has also reportedly been beaten and denied medical attention. The lawyers say the conditions she is being exposed to in prison “raise a lot of concerns”.

In addition to the Yunus couple, rights activist Rasul Jafarov, lawyer Intigam Aliyev and journalist Seymur Hezi have been detained since late this summer.

Last week, the European Union praised an announcement from President Ilham Aliyev that 80 prisoners, including at least four activists, would be granted amnesty. This was “a positive first step in reversing the trend of recent months,” said the EU in a statement.

Previously, the European Parliament has called on Azerbaijan to release political prisoners, including Arif and Leyla Yunus. The parliament also called on the government to cease its harassment of civil society organisations, opposition politicians and independent journalists.

On 13 October, thousands protested in Baku, calling for the resignation of President Ilham Aliyev, the release of political prisoners and an end to human rights abuses in the country. Two days prior, a travel ban had been placed on journalist Khadija Ismayilova. She currently faces a lawsuit over libel and document forgery, accusations she denies. As Index has reported, government supporters have threatened Ismayilova in the past.

Fellow journalist Arzu Geybulla was threatened on social media and accused of treason following a recent interviewed with Azerbaijani news site Modern.az. In July, the Index award-winning newspaper Azadliq was forced to suspend publication due to financial pressure from authorities.

Nominations are now open for the Index Freedom of Expression Awards 2015. Put forward your free expression heroes here.

This article was posted on 29 October 2014 and updated on 30 October at indexoncensorship.org

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Recap Report: Draw the Line workshop with Ovalhouse Young Associates http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2014/10/recap-report-draw-line-workshop-ovalhouse-young-associates/ http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2014/10/recap-report-draw-line-workshop-ovalhouse-young-associates/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 13:31:09 +0000 http://www.indexoncensorship.org/?p=61131 Index on Censorship held its latest Draw the Line workshop with the young associates of Ovalhouse theatre in south London. The young associates are the theatre’s steering group for the national Truth about Youth initiative, which aims to challenge and change negative perceptions about young people, by supporting projects which enable them to work with adults, the media […]

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Index on Censorship held its latest Draw the Line workshop with the young associates of Ovalhouse theatre in south London. The young associates are the theatre’s steering group for the national Truth about Youth initiative, which aims to challenge and change negative perceptions about young people, by supporting projects which enable them to work with adults, the media and the wider community. The group individually explored different freedom of expression issues before examining this month’s question “Do laws restrict or protect free speech?” in more detail as a group.

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Young Associate Jordan Mitchell shares his experience of the workshop:

Going into the freedom of expression workshop, I had a couple of questions in mind; who defines freedom? Does freedom mean something different to each person? And how do we draw the line between free expression and infringing on another person’s freedom and sense of self? As a young associate, my colleagues and I are actively involved in the community, and one of the things we encourage and are encouraged to do ourselves is to appreciate different opinions, and respect that everyone has the right to that opinion.

The exercises were informative and engaging, particularly the “belief scale” (this involves being given a statement and having to answer how far you agree/disagree by positioning yourself on an invisible line across the room with either end representing “agree” or “disagree”). Often the questions posed to us led to a spread across the scale, which showed how varied opinions can be, even in a group containing people with similar interests. The great thing about it was that the reasoning put forward by people was incisive, and even if my view didn’t change, I understood and accepted that point of view.

One thing was reaffirmed in my mind at the end. Freedom of expression is limited dependent on who you know. Influence plays a big part, and tying in with the work that we do as young associates, something has to be done to build more platforms for people to be heard.

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This article was originally posted on 28 October at indexoncensorship.org

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Bahrain: Nabeel Rajab and Zainab Al-Khawaja trials postponed http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2014/10/bahrain-nabeel-rajab-zainab-al-khawaja-trial/ http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2014/10/bahrain-nabeel-rajab-zainab-al-khawaja-trial/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 12:29:17 +0000 http://www.indexoncensorship.org/?p=61235 The prominent human rights defenders are facing charges of insulting government institutions on Twitter and publicly insulting the king respectively

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Nabeel Rajab during a protest in London in September (Photo: Milana Knezevic)

Nabeel Rajab during a protest in London in September (Photo: Milana Knezevic)

President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), Nabeel Rajab, is due to face trial on Sunday 2 November. Rajab was charged after he allegedly “denigrated government institutions” on Twitter, according to the Ministry of Interior.

Rajab was released from prison in May after serving a two years on charges which included making offensive tweets.

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The trial against Zainab Al-Khawaja was delayed until December, her sister Maryam Al-Khawaja reported on Twitter on 30 Oct. The prominent human rights defender is currently eight months pregnant and could face up to seven years in prison. Al-Khawaja is the sister of Maryam Al-Khawaja, who held a press conference at Index earlier this month urging the UK government to speak out against human rights violations in Bahrain. Zainab Al-Khawaja faces charges of publicly insulting King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa for ripping up a photo of him when she was recently in court over charges connected to previous rights campaigning. A verdict is expected on Thursday 30 October.

According to the 2012 Index advocacy award-winning BCHR, a total of 40 arbitrary arrests, including three children under the age of 18, were documented last week.  Six individuals were released, leaving over 3000 prisoners still in arbitrary detention.

Nominations are now open for the Index Freedom of Expression Awards 2015. Put forward your free expression heroes here.

This article was originally posted on 28 October and updated on 30 October at indexoncensorship.org

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Hungarians take to the streets to protest “internet tax” http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2014/10/hungarians-take-streets-protest-internet-tax/ http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2014/10/hungarians-take-streets-protest-internet-tax/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 08:00:07 +0000 http://www.indexoncensorship.org/?p=61249 Barring a u-turn from the Hungarian government, demonstrators will return to the streets of Budapest this afternoon to oppose Prime Minster Viktor Orban’s plans to tax the internet

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Hungarians gathered in Budapest on Sunday to protest plans to introduce a tax on internet bandwidth. (Photo: 100,000 Against the Internet Tax /Facebook)

Hungarians gathered in Budapest on Sunday to protest plans to introduce a tax on internet bandwidth. (Photo: 100,000 Against the Internet Tax /Facebook)

Barring a u-turn from the Hungarian government, demonstrators will return to the streets of Budapest this afternoon to oppose Prime Minster Viktor Orban’s plans to tax the internet

The draft law proposed by Orban’s government would levy a fee of 150 forints (£0.40; €0.50; $0.60) per gigabyte of data traffic. In the face of public outrage, ruling party Fidesz promised that the tax will be capped at 700 forints for consumers and 5,000 forints for businesses. However, this did not calm the angry protesters.

Sunday’s rally that drew thousands of people to the Hungarian captial’s city center. The peaceful protest became heated when some demonstrators marched to the Fidesz headquarters, and broke the windows of the building with old computers and peripherals.

This protest was arguably the largest anti-government demonstration since 2010, when Viktor Orban came to power. In contrast with other protests, the gatherings denouncing the internet tax were not organized by the weak, discredited and fragmented opposition.

According to the Hungarian media, the new tax was Viktor Orban’s own brainchild. He did not consult with his staff or the members of his government. The prime minister plans to use the money to raise the salaries of policemen and other employees of the interior ministry.

According to official estimates, the new tax will bring into the budget about 20 billion forints annually. While the Hungarian government is saying that the companies will pay the new tax, consumers fear that in the end the costs will be pushed onto their bills. The Association of IT, Telecommunications and Electronics Companies has already said the tax would force them to raise prices.

The protests are likely to continue because Hungarians realise this is more than just another tax. Many fear that the new tax will restrict access to information, put another burden on already impoverished small businesses and act as a curb on freedom of expression. It will also be a leash on young people who mainly use online media and who tend to be critical towards the government.

“The move… follows a wave of alarming anti-democratic measures by Orban that is pushing Hungary even further adrift from Europe,” the organisers of the Facebook group 100,000 against the internet tax said in a press release. “The measure would impede equal access to the internet, deepening the digital divide between Hungary’s lower economic groups and limiting internet access for cash-poor schools and universities,” they added. The group has drawn more than 200,000 likes.

Moreover, many people believe the plan of the tax is just a way to direct the public’s attention away from the US visa ban scandal. Recently Washington banned six Hungarian state officials from entering the United States, because of their alleged involvement in high-level corruption.

This is an unprecedented step towards a country that is member of the EU and NATO, and signals a low point between the relations of Hungary and the United States.

The tax didn’t go unnoticed in Brussels either. Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe tweeted that it was “a shame for users and a shame for the Hungarian government”. Her spokesperson, Ryan Heath also criticized the tax in harsh terms during an EU Commission press briefing.

The internet tax is just another in a series of “special taxes” the Orban government introduced in the last couple of years to be able to keep the budget deficit in check. Retail, banking and energy sectors, as well as telecommunications providers are required to pay extra taxes. At the same time, the Hungarian government lowered the personal income taxes and subsidises the price of electricity and water.

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Community radio application rejected

Deputy prime minister labels investigative journalists “traitors”

Police raided the offices of NGOs, seized documents

See all media violation reports from Hungary

This article was posted on 28 October 2014 at indexoncensorship.org

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