Freedom of Expression in the News: Weekly Round-Up, 5th – 11th February 2011

Rwanda: women journalists get 17, 7 years in Jail

Agnes Uwimana Nkusi, The Rwandese Editor of the bi-monthly  journal Umurabyo  and one of the journal’s reporters, Saidath Mukakibibi, were respectively sentenced to 17 and 7 years imprisonment by the Kingali High Court. They were convicted of inciting civil disobedience, causing divisions, and denying the 1994 genocide.


China: Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng ‘beaten’

Chinese Human Rights Defenders reported to the news that prominent Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng and his wife Yuan Weijin had been severely beaten.

The punitive action followed the recent release of a secret video showing the couple living under house arrest. The video was made public by a US-based campaign group called China Aid.

Guangcheng spent the last four years in jail. He was arrested soon after speaking out publically  on the forced abortions or sterilisations against up to 7 000 women carried out by the Chinese authorities in the province where he lives, Shandong. Guangcheng is also known for having provided legal aid to local people. Nevertheless, he was formally charged with damaging property and disrupting the traffic.


Iran: Iranian opposition leader Mehdi karrabul placed under house arrest

Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi was placed under house arrest on Thursday. Witnesses report having seen police officers outside his house and only his wife has been granted access.

It seems that the measure is connected to Mehdi Karroubi’s recent call for organising a rally in support of Tunisian and Egyptian demonstrations with the house arrest due to elapse the same day the demonstration is scheduled, 14th February.


Zimbabwe: newspaper vendors attacked as Zimbabwe’s political violence escalates

Newspaper vendors have been harassed and copies of an independent newspaper called News Day have been consequently destroyed in Harare, Zimbabwe. Those responsible are alleged to be supporters of President Robert Mugabe’s political party ZANU PF.

The Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) expressed its outrage over the incident and condemned it as an act which hinders freedom of expression.

News Day is a privately owned newspaper, known for not aligning to the State.

From a broader point of view, there has been an escalation in violence among ZANU PF young members. The reason seems to be the election and referendum due to be held by the end of 2011.


Egypt: record number of IFEX members call for Mubarak to respect free expression as attacks on media continue

A record number of IFEX members called on Mubarak to protect and respect freedom of expression and freedom of information in the country.

The IFEX web-site also reports of a journalist’s death in Cairo. His name was Ahmad Mohamed Mahmoud. He worked for “Al-Ta’awun” newspaper, and he is the first who lost his life in exercising his professional duties since the protest started last 25th January. His death followed a sniper’s shot last week while he was filming the confrontations taking place in the capital city between protesters and security forces.


Cuba: Spain must press Cuba to keep promises to free journalists, says CPJ

The Committee to Protect Journalists has just addressed a letter to Spanish President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero asking him to put pressure on the Cuban Government with regard to 52 political prisoners still in jail since the 2003 crackdown on dissents. Among them, there are several journalists.



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