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The Summer 2023 issue of Index looks at neurodiversity, the term coined in the late 1990s to identify and promote the positives of variation in human thinking which has become more widely used in the past few years. Are old stereotypes still rife? Has the perception of neurodiversity improved? If not, was this because of censorship? Using neurodivergent voices, we wanted to know about this in a global context.
The majority of the articles are written by neurodivergent people, as we wanted to put their voices front and centre. Many said they did have more of a voice, awareness had shot up and the word “neurodiversity” empowered and welcomed a growth in onscreen representation. However, at the same time it was clear that conversations around neurodiversity were playing out along society’s current fault-lines and were far from immune.
Mind matters, by Jemimah Seinfeld: The term neurodiversity has positively challenged how we approach our minds. Has it done enough?
The Index, by Mark Frary: The latest in free expression news, from an explainer on Sudan to a cha-cha-cha starring Meghan and King Charles.
Bars can't stop a bestseller, by Kaya Genç: Fiction is finding its way out of a Turkish prison, says former presidential hopeful and bestselling writer
Don't mention femicide, by Chris Havler-Barrett: Murdered women are an inconvenience for Mexico’s president.
This is no joke, by Qian Gong and Jian Xu: The treatment of China’s comedians is no laughing matter.
Silent Disco, by Andrew Mambondiyani: Politicians are purging playlists in Zimbabwe, and musicians are speaking out.
When the Russians came, by Alina Smutko, Taras Ibragimov and Aliona Savchuk: The view from inside occupied Crimea, through the cameras of photographers banned by the Kremlin.
The language of war and peace, by JP O’Malley: Kremlin-declared “Russophobe foreign agent and traitor” Mikhail Shishkin lays out the impossible choices for Russians.
Writer's block, by Stacey Tsui: Hong Kong’s journalists are making themselves heard, thanks to blockchain technology.
The Russians risking it all, by Katie Dancey-Downs: Forced to sing songs and labelled as extremists, anti-war Russians are finding creative ways to take a stand.
The 'truth' is in the tea, by Jemimah Steinfeld: Spilling the tea on a London venue, which found itself in hot water due to a far-right speaker.
Waiting for China's tap on the shoulder, by Chu Yang: However far they travel, there’s no safe haven for journalists and academics who criticise China.
When the old fox walks the tightrope, by Danson Kahyana: An interview with Stella Nyanzi on Uganda’s latest anti-LGBTQ+ law.
Would the media lie to you?, by Ali Latifi: Fake news is flourishing in Afghanistan, in ways people might not expect.
Britain's Holocaust island, by Martin Bright: Confronting Britain’s painful secret, and why we must acknowledge what happened on Nazi-occupied Alderney.
The thorn in Vietnam's civil society side, by Thiện Việt: Thiện Việt: Responding to mass suppression with well-organised disruption.
Not a slur, by Nick Ransom: What’s in a word? Exploring representation, and the power of the term “neurodiversity” to divide or unite.
Sit down, shut up, by Katharine P Beals: The speech of autistic non-speakers is being hijacked.
Fake it till you break it, by Morgan Barbour: Social media influencers are putting dissociative identity disorder in the spotlight, but some are accused of faking it.
Weaponising difference, by Simone Dias Marques: Ableist slurs in Brazil are equating neurodivergence with criminality.
Autism on screen is gonna be okay, by Katie Dancey-Downs: The Rain Man days are over. Everything’s Gonna Be Okay star Lillian Carrier digs into autism on screen.
Raising Malaysia's roof, by Francis Clarke: In a comedy club in Malaysia’s capital stand up is where people open up, says comedian Juliana Heng.
Living in the Shadows, by Ashley Gjøvik: When successful camouflage has a lasting impact.
Nigeria's crucible, by Ugonna-Ora Owoh: Between silence and lack of understanding, Nigeria’s neurodiverse are being mistreated.
My autism is not a lie, by Meltem Arikan: An autism diagnosis at 52 liberated a dissident playwright, but there’s no space for her truth in Turkey.
Lived experience, to a point, by Julian Baggini: When it comes to cultural debates, whose expertise carries the most weight?
France: On the road to illiberalism? by Jean-Paul Marthoz: Waving au revoir to the right to criticise.
Monitoring terrorists, gangs - and historians, by Andrew Lownie: The researcher topping the watchlist on his majesty’s secret service.
We are all dissidents, by Ruth Anderson: Calls to disassociate from certain dissidents due to their country of birth are toxic and must be challenged.
Manuscripts don't burn, by Rebecca Ruth Gould: Honouring the writers silenced by execution in Georgia, and unmuzzling their voices.
Obscenely familiar, by Marc Nash: A book arguing for legalised homosexuality is the spark for a fiction rooted in true events.
A truly graphic tale, by Taha Siddiqui and Zofeen T Ebrahim: A new graphic novel lays bare life on Pakistan’s kill list, finding atheism and a blasphemous tattoo.
A censored day? by Kaya Genç: Unravelling the questions that plague the censor, in a new short story from the Turkish author.
Poetry's peacebuilding tentacles, by Natasha Tripney: Literature has proven its powers of peace over the last decade in Kosovo.
Palestine: I still have hope, by Bassem Eid: Turning to Israel and Palestine, where an activist believes the international community is complicit in the conflict.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa, who runs the independent news site Rappler in the Philippines and is a former Index Awards judge, has slammed the annual Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism report on digital news for putting independent journalists like her at risk.
The Guardian has revealed that Ressa resigned from the board of the prestigious Oxford-based institution last year after it listed Rappler as the “least-trusted” news source in the Philippines. She had kept her resignation secret but has now gone public after RISJ failed to change its methodology for this year’s report.
She claimed the regime in the Philippines “weaponised” the Reuters report to attack the work of Rappler. In 2020, Ressa was found guilty of "cyberlibel" in a case relating to a Rappler story alleging links between a businessman and a top judge, even though its publication dated from before the legislation under which she was charged. The appeal is now before the Supreme Court. The authorities have also brought a number of other cyberlibel and alleged tax evasion cases against Ressa and she faces years in jail if convicted.
There could not be a more serious charge against RISJ than putting the brave journalists of Rappler at risk and Ressa’s concerns should be shared by every organisation working in the area of free expression. The digital survey is based on an extensive YouGov survey of attitudes amongst randomised participants in selected countries around the world. It has been funded to the tune of nearly £5m by the global information giant Google over the past three years. Ressa said the research failed to take full account of government disinformation campaigns and the influence of the tech platforms.
Ressa took to Twitter after RISJ issued the following apology: “We are sorry our work has been abused and Maria Ressa thinks our methodology risks undermining media in the Global South.”
In response, the author of How to Stand Up to a Dictator said: “It’s not enough to be sorry when your work is used to attack journalists in ‘inconvenient’ countries. Journalism research has no integrity if it endangers journalists at risk.”
Ressa revealed that she had been involved in four years of behind-the-scenes feedback to the Reuters Institute. She added; “With no substantive changes and no acknowledgement of its harms, you have to ask – what is the purpose of this research?”
She quoted from an email she sent on 4 July 2022 that stated: “If you don’t acknowledge your mistake you will repeat it – and other more vulnerable news groups may not weather it as well as we can.” She went on to explain that the Philippines' government and “propaganda machine” was using the Oxford University brand against Rappler. “When journalists are under attack, it isn’t business as usual for academics studying journalism. This isn’t just bad actors manipulating the study; the flaw is in the study itself.”
Branko Brkic, editor-in-chief of South Africa’s independent Daily Maverick, said he shared Ressa’s concerns about the Reuters Institute study and particularly its failure to distinguish genuine journalism from misinformation in his country.
It is difficult to overstate the significance of Ressa’s intervention. Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia, told the Guardian that the RISJ methodology was open to question: “If you only take an audience view of the threats to journalism, specifically in markets where you do not have strong protections for a free press, you are at high risk of ending up with a distorted picture.”
Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, the director of the RISJ, said he deplores the abuse of Ressa and the way the research has been misrepresented. But the real question is what he is going to do about it. Ressa has described the survey as “giving a loaded gun to autocratic regimes”. Her words are a devastating rebuke to Nielsen and RISJ. But they should also give pause for thought to all western actors in the field of human rights and press freedom, Index on Censorship included. Those working to support dissident writers and independent journalists around the world must first listen to those working on the ground.
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image="117699" img_size="full" add_caption="yes" alignment="center"][vc_column_text]The following remarks were made by Caoilfhionn Gallagher, QC of Doughty Street Chambers, a member of the international legal team for the family of Daphne Caruana Galizia at a vigil on Friday 15 October 2021 at the Maltese High Commission to mark the fourth anniversary of Daphne's assassination.
"We gather today in London to pay tribute to Daphne Caruana Galizia and honour her memory, and to stand in solidarity with her bereaved family in Malta. On this, the fourth anniversary of her assassination, I wish to say four things.
"First, it is now ten weeks since the independent public inquiry in Malta published its detailed 437-page report, finding that the Maltese State should shoulder responsibility for her death. The damning report concluded that a culture of impunity was created from the highest echelons of power within the Castille. Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was singled out and identified as enabling this culture of impunity, and his entire cabinet was found to be collectively responsible for their inaction in the lead up to the assassination.
"The State, the report held, 'created an atmosphere of impunity, generated from the highest echelons of the administration inside Castille, the tentacles of which then spread to other institutions, such as the police and regulatory authorities, leading to a collapse in the rule of law.' The report laid bare endemic corruption and fundamental structural failures, the very subjects of Daphne’s reporting.
"The Government created a 'favourable climate' for anyone seeking to eliminate Daphne to do so with the minimum of consequences, giving a green light to her being treated as a target. The State also failed to recognise the real and immediate risks to Daphne’s life, and failed to take reasonable steps to avoid those risks. And a myriad of other systemic failings were identified which failed Daphne, failed her family, failed journalists, and failed the Maltese people.
"And yet, 10 weeks on, we remain without a meaningful response to that report by the Maltese Government. The Government has not even released an English translation of the 437-page report – what translations you have heard or read have been provided by the bereaved family and their lawyers, not the State. Even this basic step, to commit to transparency and enable the international community to understand what happened and hold Malta to account, has not been taken.
"Second, it is now four years since Daphne was brutally murdered, in an assassination which sent shockwaves across Europe. Daphne was a brilliant, brave, dogged investigative journalist, who honed her craft over decades, often sitting at her kitchen table where she spent her last few hours with her son Matthew.
"She was isolated in those final months and years, facing multiple oppressive law suits, threats of financial ruin, abuse on the street and online, dehumanising and misogynistic images circulating. And yet, there has still been no unequivocal acceptance of the horrors that she faced, let alone an unequivocal apology for it, from Malta.
"Third, I ask what should Malta now do? Daphne’s assassination followed decades of abuse. It occurred within a climate of impunity and negative rhetoric directed against Daphne and other journalists in Malta. Today, her family calls upon the Government of Malta to unequivocally condemn the climate of impunity and negative rhetoric identified by the public inquiry, which dehumanised her and fuelled her murder.
"There must be root and branch political and legislative reform.
"And above all, Daphne’s family must have meaningful involvement in what comes next. The family counts on the Prime Minister to consult with them and civil society on the foundational principles for the independent committee of experts due to be appointed following the inquiry report, and on Terms of Reference to implement those principles. This consultation process is an essential first step before the proposed roles of committee members are formulated.
"Fourth, I ask what should the international community now do? It is fitting that we are standing here in central London. Many of those threatening legal letters which bombarded Daphne in the final months and years of her life came from London law firms. Whilst that climate of impunity festered in Malta, the world stood idly by. The UK and other countries across Europe ignored what was happening under their noses, and left Daphne to her fate.
"On 6 October 2017, weeks before her death, Daphne wrote on her blog, 'in journalism, as in many areas in life, you sometimes find the back-up you need a little too late.' Well, one week ago the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to two investigative journalists, one of whom, Maria Ressa, I am honoured to represent. The Norwegian Nobel Committee recognised their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, 'a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.'
"The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to journalists is a welcome recognition of the bravery of journalists doing what Daphne Caruana Galizia did so brilliantly – holding the powerful and the corrupt to account. This is important back-up from the international community, albeit far too late for Daphne. In the decades leading up to her assassination, the world failed to act. They failed to act in 2017. Four years on, it is long past time for other States who clam to believe in the importance of freedom of expression – the UK, Council of Europe Member States, EU Member States, every single country which has signed up to the Media Freedom Coalition – to act. They failed Daphne then. Now, they must hold Malta to account and ensure the change Daphne’s family and Malta need and deserve comes to pass."
The vigil for Daphne was co-sponsored by the Maltese community in London, ARTICLE 19, the Association of European Journalists, the Commonwealth Journalists Association, Index on Censorship, PEN International, Reporters Without Borders, and Transparency International-UK.
This morning ARTICLE 19, Index on Censorship and Fair Trials wrote to Interpol to request clarification about whether a Red Notice or Diffusion has been issued against the British journalist, Clare Rewcastle Brown. The fourteen undersigned organisations would like to reiterate calls for Interpol to clarify the situation in order to ensure Ms Rewcastle Brown’s unrestricted entry to Spain later this week.
Ms Rewcastle Brown is the founder and editor-in-chief of the Sarawak Report and known for exposing high-level corruption involving the former Prime Minister of Malaysia (popularly known as the ‘1MDB scandal’). In 2015, the Sarawak Report published an article on the diversion of USD 700m into the personal accounts of the prime minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak. Subsequently, Ms Rewcastle Brown faced charges of 'activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy’, which formed the basis of a Red Notice request by the Malaysian authorities. In August 2015, Fair Trials wrote to Interpol expressing concerns that the Red Notice would likely violate Interpol’s rules. At the time, they took the unusual step of confirming that although a Red Notice request had been received, it was refused by the General Secretariat.
As of 23 September 2021, Ms Rewcastle Brown has been subject to a new arrest warrant in Malaysia. According to media reports, she is wanted over criminal defamation charges brought by the wife of the Sultan of Terengganu regarding statements made about her in Ms Rewcastle Brown’s 2018 book about the 1MDB scandal.
If a Red Notice has been issued, Ms Rewcastle Brown could be arrested when she travels to Spain later this week to visit an elderly relative who needs her support. There is also a risk that she could be held in detention and face extradition to Malaysia.
The undersigned organisations have serious concerns that the Malaysia National Central Bureau might be trying to use Interpol’s systems to judicially harass Ms Rewcastle Brown. The organisations are calling on Interpol to clarify whether there has been an attempt to issue a Red Notice or Diffusion by Malaysia, and whether such an attempt has been successful.
Clare Rewcastle Brown said: “These criminal charges are linked to a civil defamation case and my lawyers believe they represent an abuse of due process to put pressure on me as the defendant against a politically powerful litigant. When the original criminal complaint was brought in 2018 the police declined to action it. However, last month the political party behind the multi-billion dollar 1MDB sovereign wealth fund theft, which lost an election after I had exposed the scandal, returned to office.
“I am concerned that the same actors who tried to abuse Interpol by having me arrested as a terrorist in 2015 will, having returned to power, attempt to file another Interpol Red Notice alert with the aim of having me detained anywhere in the world. They are seeking to paint me as a criminal for exposing their corrupt practices which is my job as a journalist and they are using a claim of ‘criminal libel’ which is simply not a crime that exists in the UK or most democratic countries where the freedom of journalists to report on the politically powerful is rightly protected. I could be thrown into jail at a border by officials who have no idea about the background to this case or the spurious nature of these charges and then face months of legal action fighting extradition charges to get back to Britain.”
Bruno Min, legal director at Fair Trials said: “Some countries will go to extraordinary lengths to quash dissent, including by abusing Interpol Red Notices and Diffusions to harass and intimidate critics, wherever they might be. Interpol must send a clear message to the world that it will not tolerate the misuse of its systems as a tool of oppression by ensuring that journalists and writers like Clare Rewcastle Brown are protected from abusive Red Notices and Diffusions.”
Sarah Clarke, Head of Europe and Central Asia at ARTICLE 19 said: “This latest act of legal intimidation by the Malaysian authorities against Clare Rewcastle Brown is part of a pattern of serious judicial harassment against the journalist as a direct reprisal for her work in exposing massive corruption. Interpol must recognise this as a vexatious act of intimidation and ensure they are not complicit in the abuse of their system.”
Jessica Ní Mhainín, policy and campaigns manager at Index on Censorship said: “It’s an indictment of international policing that a journalist travelling from one jurisdiction to another should fear an arrest for her work, which is overwhelmingly in the public interest. Interpol should take immediate steps to block any efforts by the Malaysian authorities to abuse its systems to harass Clare Rewcastle Brown, and ensure her unrestricted entry to Spain.”
Read the letter to INTERPOL here
Contact: Jessica Ní Mhainín, policy and campaigns manager, [email protected]
Blueprint for Free Speech
The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation
European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
Index on Censorship
International Press Institute (IPI)
Justice for Journalists Foundation
OBC Transeuropa (OBCT)
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]