Archive for the 'Asia' Category

“A Path that was Not Paved in Gold, but in Danger”: Freedom of Expression in Pakistan

Pakistani correspondent for the Italian news agency Asnkronos International (AKI) and Asia Times Online, Saleem  Shahzad, was awarded an International Journalism Award by Italy’s Ischia Prize Foundation on 12 June 2011 for his “illuminating analyses of international terrorism” and his commitment to the profession’s “supreme mission for peace and culture.”

This prestigious award, however, was granted to Shahzad posthumously.

 Saleem Shahzad was kidnapped, tortured, and brutally murdered in Pakistan in May 2011 just days after publishing an investigative report on a military attack in Karachi.

 Although Article 19 of the 1973 Pakistani Constitution ensures that “every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, and there shall be freedom of the press,” there is substantial speculation that Shahzad was detained and killed by Pakistani intelligence authorities. If true, this emphasizes the government’s continued backhand control of freedom of expression in Pakistan.  Continue reading ‘“A Path that was Not Paved in Gold, but in Danger”: Freedom of Expression in Pakistan’


Behind the ‘Great Firewall’: Internet Censorship in the People’s Republic of China

Recognising the huge and growing importance of the Internet as a vehicle for facilitating in practice the free flow of information and ideas that lies at the heart of the right to freedom of expression’

– Preamble, International Mechanisms for Promoting Freedom of Expression – Joint Declaration by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media and the OAS Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression

In fact, a new term was coined to refer to the citizens the world over who interact through the Internet and participate in social, economic and political discussion on an unprecedented global scale; they are the ‘netizens’ and there are now more than 400 million of them in the People’s Republic of China. Continue reading ‘Behind the ‘Great Firewall’: Internet Censorship in the People’s Republic of China’

China’s crackdown on human rights lawyers

In a press release dated 14 April 2011, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) called for ‘an end to intimidation and abuse of human rights lawyers in China’. The IBAHRI’s press release names 9 human rights lawyers who had ‘disappeared’ since February 2011. Some have since been released, others are still missing. Indeed, according to Amnesty International, it appears that the Chinese government has embarked over the past few months on a fresh wave of repression in its ongoing  ‘campaign of harassment and intimidation’ of human rights lawyers.  Continue reading ‘China’s crackdown on human rights lawyers’

Broken Promises: Afghan women fear that their newly-resurrected rights may be forgotten as the West leave.

The Guardian, last week, reported upon the uncertain future of Afghan women’s rights; as the USA and the UK gear up to pulling out of Afghanistan, women of the country fear their future in a state whose politics is still very much influenced by extremism.

The Taliban still control much of the country and with the Afghan government making plans for reconciliation with the hardline militia many are concerned. It is this that is striking fear into the hearts of many of the country’s women as such unity was the mechanism for past restrictions upon women and their freedoms of both expression and association.

In November 2001, Cherie Blair made a public statement at Downing Street, surrounded by Afghan women, she called upon UK ministers to “give back a voice” to Afghan women deprived of human rights under the Taliban regime. The question remains, has this promise been fulfilled? Over the past few years, Afghan women slowly began to enjoy more rights, including freedoms of expression and association. As the UN reported in 2010, we have seen important examples of women’s peace activism in Afghanistan culminating in the lobbying of women that took place around the June 2010 Peace Jirga which resulted in the allocation of 5 seats at the donor conference as well as an invitation to participate in the important peace negotiations committee. Continue reading ‘Broken Promises: Afghan women fear that their newly-resurrected rights may be forgotten as the West leave.’

“Asian Values”: a credible alternative to a universal conception of human rights,or a justification for restricting freedom of expression?

A recent High Court ruling has reignited fierce debate on Freedom of Expression in Singapore. Dr Chee Soon Juan, the leader of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party, has just lost his appeal to overturn a conviction for speaking in a public place without a licence. Sentenced to a fine of $20,000 or imprisonment of 20 weeks in default, the SDP leader is facing the very real risk that, incarcerated, he will be unable to lead his party in the forthcoming general elections.

Dr Chee’s case is symptomatic of a wider problem in Singapore: the systematic repression of the right to freedom of expression. On the issue of freedom of the press, former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew remarked:

“We cannot allow [the press] to assume a role in Singapore that the American media play to America, that of invigilator, adversary and inquisitor of the administration.”

Continue reading ‘“Asian Values”: a credible alternative to a universal conception of human rights,or a justification for restricting freedom of expression?’

Cambodia’s newly amended penal code: an easy way to ‘incite’ conviction

In his recent report the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, Surya P. Subedi stated: “Cambodia remains a complex country in terms of the protection and promotion of human rights, as democratization has not yet fully taken root.” Subedi also remarked upon the country’s struggle for an independent judiciary, free from political ties or obstruction. Subedi’s findings were supported by Cambodia’s Centre for Human Rights’ President, Ou Virak, in an Open Letter to the United Nations Secretary General Ban K-moon whereby he wrote of “what a recent resolution of the European Parliament termed ‘the strategy of Cambodia’s ruling party…to use a politically subservient judiciary to crack down on all government critics.”’ Continue reading ‘Cambodia’s newly amended penal code: an easy way to ‘incite’ conviction’

Spotlight on Tibet: Tibetan writer Gedun Tsering speaks out on his home-land

Gedun Tsering, writer of  books and blogs on Tibet, today  lives in Dharamsala, India, where the Tibetan government in exile is based. He recently fled there, after  living in hiding for  twelve months, but continues to write and peak of his home-land.

According to the Chinese authorities his writing is politically motivated and like other Tibetan writers, he has been accused of ‘inciting separatism’. Whereas, Tsering, in an recent interview with ‘Reporters without borders’ (that has also been diffused by the “Tibetan Post”)states that he just wants to talk about his homeland and his articles are more descriptive than politically charged. Continue reading ‘Spotlight on Tibet: Tibetan writer Gedun Tsering speaks out on his home-land’

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