Sunday, February 15, 2009

Egypt: Concerns with Draft Broadcast Law

Egypt: Concerns with Draft Broadcast Law

ARTICLE 19 and the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information have serious concerns with the draft Broadcast Law released by the Egyptian authorities.

A detailed analysis of the draft Law conducted by ARTICLE 19 highlights these concerns, including the fact that the oversight body, the National Audiovisual Broadcasting Regulation Authority, would be controlled by government rather than being independent, as required under international law.
The draft Broadcast Law was released in July 2008 and we understand that the Egyptian government plans to present it to the People’s Assembly in due course.

ARTICLE 19 and the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information’s key concerns with the draft Law, in addition to the lack of independence of the Authority, are as follows:
It requires not only broadcasters, but also companies which deal in broadcast equipment, to be licensed.
It allocates broadcasting licences on the basis of the highest bidder, as opposed to public interest approach and fails to recognise community broadcasting as a third type of broadcaster.
It provides for excessive restrictions on broadcasting content.
It fails to set out a framework of rules for regulating ownership concentration and for ensuring competition in the broadcasting sector.
It provides only for heavy penalties, instead of putting in place a graduated system of sanctions for breach of the law, and fails to place appropriate conditions on the imposition of heavy penalties.

ARTICLE 19 and the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information call on the Egyptian authorities to amend the draft Law before putting it to the People’s Assembly so as to rectify these problems and to bring it into line with international standards in this area.

• The Submission is available in English at: and in Arabic at:

• For more information, please contact Toby Mendel, Senior Legal Counsel, ARTICLE 19,, +1 902 431-3688, or Gamal Eid, Executive Director, Arabic Network for Human Rights Information,, 0101936884.• Arabic Network for Human Rights Information is a non for profit institution works on promoting the human rights in Arab World and defending opinion makers and free expression activists in the region.

ARTICLE 19 Calls Upon UK Government to Lift Travel Ban on Dutch MP

Support Fitna and its maker Geert Wilders
(Fitna is available in the Internet, anybody can download it.Just use Google search or other search engine, you can see also the other documents and proof how Islam treating non-Islamic people - the horrific bloodshed and genocide. Every miscreation and horrendous attack done by Islam leave recorded/ written marks, these are history. Seeing / viewing history time and again is no offence. Its sheer covert conspiracy by the government support ban, Common people should defend Freedom of Expression )

If we do not hold our head high and straight now it will be too late. Already our tolerance and patience for human rights had given the enemies of Human kind a wrong signal that we , the defenders of Human rights are easily cowered and put in silence. Those People supporting and manipulating terrorism in the name of Islam are marked enemies of mankind. If the Government of different nations and countries and welfare organisations of Human Rights in all nations and countries under any religious faith fail to fight face to face all the covert Islamic terrorists , their covert agents/ representatives and open jihadists very soon the whole world will face bloodshed, genocide. This is my fear originated from the watch and observation from last decades. Those come forward to ban Fitna do they claim the documentary is false? do they promise the islamic terrorism will not happen anymore? What sorts of safety we have to protect ourselves from Islam at large? and their network? All ready Taliban and alquida started killing in middleeast and south Asia. Its a global concern and anxiety.
This is my plea to be bold at the point or border where Freedom of Expression and Human rights are under sacnner and violated. Defend Freedom of Expression at any cost. It is good for liberal Muslims also or Muslim world will go to hell by the cause of Islamic terrorists for whom they blindly and covertly support. In MiddleEast and South Asia where poverty, iliteracy and religious superstitions are the capital for exploitation by religious fanatics.
Like 'Fitna' there are lots and lots documents are available in the internet/ web and private collections of of organisations. Why Fitna is slected? It is sheer conspiracy to show terrorism. The more we avoid and fear the more victory the Islamic fanatics and terrorists count. Have you seen how numerous grass eating animal run in fear when they see one carnivorous animal? Numerous peaceloving people try to avoid any bloodshed, but they are being killed day by day.Avoiding is not answer. The whole world are against the attackers of Freedom of Expression. the surging insult and humiliation to non Islamic nations by Islamic terrorists , organisations is growing like big Bang and awaiting for blast. Do our defenders like UN security councils, Europe and America playing games staking our lives?

My plea to all save this world from bloodshed and defend our open voice through Article 19 ,Universal declaration of Human rights.
-- by Respectable.

ARTICLE 19 Calls Upon UK Government to Lift Travel Ban on Dutch MP
ARTICLE 19 considers that the decision of the Secretary of State for the Home Department (the “Secretary of State”) to ban Geert Wilders, a member of the Dutch parliament, from travelling to the UK on the basis that “his statements about Muslims and their beliefs, as expressed in film Fitna and elsewhere, would threaten community harmony and therefore public security in the UK” is in contravention with international and European human rights law on freedom of expression and should be reversed.

In a letter to Mr Wilders dated 10 February 2009, the UK Border Agency on behalf of the Secretary of State states that his “presence in the UK would pose a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat to one of the fundamental interests of society”. Mr Wilders, who will face prosecution in the Netherlands for inciting hatred following the decision of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal last month, was due to attend a screening of his controversial film Fitna in the House of Lords. ARTICLE 19 argues that the decision of the Secretary of State was unjustified and should be reversed for the following reasons:First, in our opinion, the restriction on Mr Wilders’ entry does not meet standards contained in international and European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) law on permissible restrictions to freedom of expression.
Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”) provides that restrictions on freedom of expression on national security grounds can only be imposed if they “are provided by law and are necessary … for the protection of national security”.
Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR”) provides that restrictions on freedom of expression must not only be “prescribed by law” but also must be “necessary in a democratic society … in the interests of national security…public safety, for the prevention of disorder …or for the protection of the rights of others …” amongst other legitimate aims (emphasis added). We question whether Mr Wilders’ presence in the UK really would have posed a threat to public order. Security in and around Parliament might have been shored up for Mr Wilders’ visit had a threat been identified. The restriction was not necessary in a democratic society: there are no convincing and compelling reasons to justify the travel ban to the UK based on Mr Wilders’ statements. Indeed, the democratic values of “pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness” that underpin the system of the ECHR involve the protection of expression even when it is offensive, shocking or disturbing. We also contend that Mr Wilders’ statements do not represent “a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat affecting one of the fundamental interests of society” as required by section 21 of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006. We argue that this provision must be read compatibly with the criteria for legitimate restrictions on Article 10 ECHR. Second, we acknowledge that limitations on freedom of expression may be imposed in order to protect equality: a restriction to freedom of expression may be imposed to protect “the rights of others” under Article 10 ECHR; and Article 20(2) of the ICCPR requires states to proscribe any “advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence”. However, we believe that the denial of Mr Wilders’ entry into the UK fails to fulfil the criteria for legitimate restrictions on the freedom of expression indicated above. The protection of the right to equal treatment of others could have been achieved through less intrusive means, such as by simply ensuring there was sufficient advocacy on equality issues at or around the time of the showing of the film.

Furthermore, it is our view that permitting Mr Wilders entry into the UK would not have been in contravention of the UK’s obligations under Article 20(2) ICCPR. International human rights law does not oblige states to impose travel restrictions on individuals who have expressed previously racist views or who have produced racist material. The film Fitna does not constitute “incitement” under Article 20 ICCPR, even though it advances a racist point of view. The film, which remains available on the internet to anyone who wishes to view it, was to be shown in the House of Lords rather than a setting (such as a meeting of a racist right-wing group) where it would have been actually possible to stir up racial incitement.Third, Mr Wilders’ exclusion from the UK is not only contrary to ECHR law and the requirements of the ICCPR, but is also counterproductive to the aims of those who oppose Mr Wilders’ views as well as one of the grounds for the exclusion – the protection of “community harmony”. Whilst Mr Wilders’ views as they are expressed in Fitna are clearly offensive to some, the result of the decision of the Secretary of State is to bring a higher level of publicity for his views than had it been the case if he had been permitted to enter the UK, and also and potentially to attract more support for the racist views he advances.

The exclusion will also discourage free debate and open discussion on important issues involving religion, Islam in particular, and is likely to polarise individuals from different religious and ethnic communities in the UK. Had Mr Wilders been allowed into the UK, his views could have been more directly challenged by UK-based equality and human rights advocates and bodies as well as by UK politicians, as part of a broader debate on religion, racism, intolerance and/or the limits of hate speech in Europe. ARTICLE 19's position is that intercultural understanding will bloom and strengthen within a society where speech, even if it is offensive, is permitted, provided it does not amount to incitement to hatred. In such an environment, the voices of political leaders against racist expressions and racism should be heard loud and clear.

FURTHER INFORMATION: • For more information: please contact Sejal Parmar, Senior Legal Officer: +44-207-278 9292,

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The editor and publisher held for 'offending Islam'

The editor and publisher held for 'offending Islam'
By Subir Bhaumik BBC News, Calcutta

The editor and publisher of a top English-language Indian daily have been arrested on charges of "hurting the religious feelings" of Muslims.
The Statesman's editor Ravindra Kumar and publisher Anand Sinha were detained in Calcutta after complaints.
Muslims said they were upset with the Statesman for reproducing an article from the UK's Independent daily in its 5 February edition.
The article was entitled: "Why should I respect these oppressive religions?"
It concerns the erosion of the right to criticise religions.
In it, the author, Johann Hari, writes: "I don't respect the idea that we should follow a 'Prophet' who at the age of 53 had sex with a nine-year old girl, and ordered the murder of whole villages of Jews because they wouldn't follow him."
Mr Kumar and Mr Sinha appeared in court on Wednesday and were granted bail.
Angry Muslims have been demonstrating in front of the offices of the Statesman since its republication of the article.
Police have broken up the demonstrations using baton charges several times this week.
Some Muslims close to the Jamiat-e-Ulema e Hind (The Organisation of Indian Scholars, a leading Islamic group in India) later filed a complaint with police alleging that the publication had "outraged their religious feelings", which is an offence under Section 295 A of the Indian Penal Code.
Mr Kumar has said he has already issued a public apology for reproducing the article.
"I admit it was an editorial misjudgement but it was never intentional," Mr Kumar told the BBC in an interview.
India is a party of international covenant of human rights which clearly mention in Article 19 (Universal Declaration of Human Rights ) Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. the right of freedom of expression.
And Indian Constitution has in PART III --FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
19 Right to Freedom : Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech, etc.

If any individual or group or any government force attack on news paper for its any expression of news / opinion its illegal and wrong. we condemn such attacks.

This is a crucial time the Indians are facing and passing. A series of terror attack by Islamic Fanatics, and by different form of terrorism. Attacking on freedom of expression using by opaque law and force is also a form of terrorism, It is abominable.

Our only duty is to keep vigil and fight the war of terrorism of any form. The Islam is used and carried by Taliban, al quida and LeT and muslims are covert help to spread their satanic force in India. I think Indian Government should keep alert in more stringent manner. Every attempt should be nipped in the bud.
Johann Hari: Why should I respect these oppressive religions?
Whenever a religious belief is criticised, its adherents say they're victims of 'prejudice'
Wednesday, 28 January 2009
The right to criticise religion is being slowly doused in acid. Across the world, the small, incremental gains made by secularism – giving us the space to doubt and question and make up our own minds – are being beaten back by belligerent demands that we "respect" religion. A historic marker has just been passed, showing how far we have been shoved. The UN rapporteur who is supposed to be the global guardian of free speech has had his job rewritten – to put him on the side of the religious censors.
More Johann Hari articles
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights stated 60 years ago that "a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief is the highest aspiration of the common people". It was a Magna Carta for mankind – and loathed by every human rights abuser on earth. Today, the Chinese dictatorship calls it "Western", Robert Mugabe calls it "colonialist", and Dick Cheney calls it "outdated". The countries of the world have chronically failed to meet it – but the document has been held up by the United Nations as the ultimate standard against which to check ourselves. Until now.
Starting in 1999, a coalition of Islamist tyrants, led by Saudi Arabia, demanded the rules be rewritten. The demand for everyone to be able to think and speak freely failed to "respect" the "unique sensitivities" of the religious, they decided – so they issued an alternative Islamic Declaration of Human Rights. It insisted that you can only speak within "the limits set by the shariah [law]. It is not permitted to spread falsehood or disseminate that which involves encouraging abomination or forsaking the Islamic community".
In other words, you can say anything you like, as long as it precisely what the reactionary mullahs tell you to say. The declaration makes it clear there is no equality for women, gays, non-Muslims, or apostates. It has been backed by the Vatican and a bevy of Christian fundamentalists.
Incredibly, they are succeeding. The UN's Rapporteur on Human Rights has always been tasked with exposing and shaming those who prevent free speech – including the religious. But the Pakistani delegate recently demanded that his job description be changed so he can seek out and condemn "abuses of free expression" including "defamation of religions and prophets". The council agreed – so the job has been turned on its head. Instead of condemning the people who wanted to murder Salman Rushdie, they will be condemning Salman Rushdie himself.
Anything which can be deemed "religious" is no longer allowed to be a subject of discussion at the UN – and almost everything is deemed religious. Roy Brown of the International Humanist and Ethical Union has tried to raise topics like the stoning of women accused of adultery or child marriage. The Egyptian delegate stood up to announce discussion of shariah "will not happen" and "Islam will not be crucified in this council" – and Brown was ordered to be silent. Of course, the first victims of locking down free speech about Islam with the imprimatur of the UN are ordinary Muslims.
Here is a random smattering of events that have taken place in the past week in countries that demanded this change. In Nigeria, divorced women are routinely thrown out of their homes and left destitute, unable to see their children, so a large group of them wanted to stage a protest – but the Shariah police declared it was "un-Islamic" and the marchers would be beaten and whipped. In Saudi Arabia, the country's most senior government-approved cleric said it was perfectly acceptable for old men to marry 10-year-old girls, and those who disagree should be silenced. In Egypt, a 27-year-old Muslim blogger Abdel Rahman was seized, jailed and tortured for arguing for a reformed Islam that does not enforce shariah.
To the people who demand respect for Muslim culture, I ask: which Muslim culture? Those women's, those children's, this blogger's – or their oppressors'?
As the secular campaigner Austin Darcy puts it: "The ultimate aim of this effort is not to protect the feelings of Muslims, but to protect illiberal Islamic states from charges of human rights abuse, and to silence the voices of internal dissidents calling for more secular government and freedom."
Those of us who passionately support the UN should be the most outraged by this.
Underpinning these "reforms" is a notion seeping even into democratic societies – that atheism and doubt are akin to racism. Today, whenever a religious belief is criticised, its adherents immediately claim they are the victims of "prejudice" – and their outrage is increasingly being backed by laws.
All people deserve respect, but not all ideas do. I don't respect the idea that a man was born of a virgin, walked on water and rose from the dead. I don't respect the idea that we should follow a "Prophet" who at the age of 53 had sex with a nine-year old girl, and ordered the murder of whole villages of Jews because they wouldn't follow him.
I don't respect the idea that the West Bank was handed to Jews by God and the Palestinians should be bombed or bullied into surrendering it. I don't respect the idea that we may have lived before as goats, and could live again as woodlice. This is not because of "prejudice" or "ignorance", but because there is no evidence for these claims. They belong to the childhood of our species, and will in time look as preposterous as believing in Zeus or Thor or Baal.
When you demand "respect", you are demanding we lie to you. I have too much real respect for you as a human being to engage in that charade.
But why are religious sensitivities so much more likely to provoke demands for censorship than, say, political sensitivities? The answer lies in the nature of faith. If my views are challenged I can, in the end, check them against reality. If you deregulate markets, will they collapse? If you increase carbon dioxide emissions, does the climate become destabilised? If my views are wrong, I can correct them; if they are right, I am soothed.
But when the religious are challenged, there is no evidence for them to consult. By definition, if you have faith, you are choosing to believe in the absence of evidence. Nobody has "faith" that fire hurts, or Australia exists; they know it, based on proof. But it is psychologically painful to be confronted with the fact that your core beliefs are based on thin air, or on the empty shells of revelation or contorted parodies of reason. It's easier to demand the source of the pesky doubt be silenced.
But a free society cannot be structured to soothe the hardcore faithful. It is based on a deal. You have an absolute right to voice your beliefs – but the price is that I too have a right to respond as I wish. Neither of us can set aside the rules and demand to be protected from offence.
Yet this idea – at the heart of the Universal Declaration – is being lost. To the right, it thwacks into apologists for religious censorship; to the left, it dissolves in multiculturalism. The hijacking of the UN Special Rapporteur by religious fanatics should jolt us into rescuing the simple, battered idea disintegrating in the middle: the equal, indivisible human right to speak freely.
If you want to get involved in fighting for secularism, join the National Secular Society here.

BREAKING NEWS: Indians held for reprinting Independent article that "offends Islam"
by Jerome Taylor
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
Breaking news coming out of India today. The editor and publisher of The Statesman, a highly respected Kolkata based English daily, have been arrested on charges of "hurting the religious feelings" of Muslims because they printed a piece written last month by Independent columnist Johaan Hari. Hari, a liberal athiest, penned the comment piece, "Why should I respect opppressive religions?", at the end of January and it was later syndicated by The Statesman. In the article, Hari (somewhat prophetically) lamented how the right to criticise a religion is being steadily eroded around the world. Muslim protestors in Kolkata, West Bengal, have been standing outside The Statesman's offices since it ran the article and police have even used baton charges to disperse them. In his piece Hari defends the right to criticise all religions, including Islam, Judaism and Christianity. But the Muslim protestors in Kolkata appear to have been particularly upset by a paragraph that talks about the sexual history of the prophet Muhammad. Hari writes: "All people deserve respect, but not all ideas do. I don't respect the idea that a man was born of a virgin, walked on water and rose from the dead. I don't respect the idea that we should follow a "Prophet" who at the age of 53 had sex with a nine-year old girl, and ordered the murder of whole villages of Jews because they wouldn't follow him."Ravindra Kumar and Anand Sinha, The Statesman's editor and publisher, appeared in court today and were granted bail. As the world's largest democracy freedom of speech is guaranteed in India's constitution but "outraging religious feelings" is technically illegal under section 295 A of the Indian Penal Code. In a country where inter-communal tensions can often spill over into horrendous violence, 295 A is seen as a way of heading off tension between religious communities and stopping firebrands from inciting violence. But it is often also used by religious hardliners, including both Hindus and Muslims, to stifle open criticism and discourse of religious matters in a country where religion plays an incredibly vital role.Mr Kumar has already issued a public apology for reprinting Hari's article and The Statesman's website have taken it down. There is also no mention on their site at the moment that their editor appeared in court today. I've left a message with them to see if he'll get back to me. I'm also trying to contact Johaan and if he gets back to me I'll update this blog. The fact that protests broke out in Kolkata will probably be surprising to many. Traditionally Kolkata has been one of India's liberal heartlands. Bengalis are staunchly proud of the literary heritage and being the homeland of Tagore, India's first Nobel prize winner for literature,3553,Why-should-I-respect-these-oppressive-religions,Johann-Hari

“Why should I respect these oppressive religions?” by Johann Hari
Why indeed? Please read this excellent article by Johann Hari at the Independent, detailing the tragic hijacking of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights by religious bigots. Here’s a taste:
Starting in 1999, a coalition of Islamist tyrants, led by Saudi Arabia, demanded the rules be rewritten. The demand for everyone to be able to think and speak freely failed to “respect” the “unique sensitivities” of the religious, they decided – so they issued an alternative Islamic Declaration of Human Rights. It insisted that you can only speak within “the limits set by the shariah [law]. It is not permitted to spread falsehood or disseminate that which involves encouraging abomination or forsaking the Islamic community”.
In other words, you can say anything you like, as long as it precisely what the reactionary mullahs tell you to say. The declaration makes it clear there is no equality for women, gays, non-Muslims, or apostates. It has been backed by the Vatican and a bevy of Christian fundamentalists.
All people deserve respect, but not all ideas do. I don’t respect the idea that a man was born of a virgin, walked on water and rose from the dead. I don’t respect the idea that we should follow a “Prophet” who at the age of 53 had sex with a nine-year old girl, and ordered the murder of whole villages of Jews because they wouldn’t follow him.
I don’t respect the idea that the West Bank was handed to Jews by God and the Palestinians should be bombed or bullied into surrendering it. I don’t respect the idea that we may have lived before as goats, and could live again as woodlice. This is not because of “prejudice” or “ignorance”, but because there is no evidence for these claims. They belong to the childhood of our species, and will in time look as preposterous as believing in Zeus or Thor or Baal.
When you demand “respect”, you are demanding we lie to you. I have too much real respect for you as a human being to engage in that charade.
This is a great article and should be read by all people concerned with human rights and freedom of speech, regardless of their attitudes toward religion.
These robed thugs are grotesque caricatures of humanity and must be stopped. I’m staggered that the UN is letting the bastards get away this.

From The Sunday Times
September 28, 2008
Muslim gang firebombs publisher of Allah novel, Martin Rynja
David Leppard
Scotland Yard's counter-terrorist command yesterday foiled an alleged plot by Islamic extremists to kill the publisher of a forthcoming novel featuring sexual encounters between the Prophet Muhammad and his child bride.
Early yesterday armed undercover officers arrested three men after a petrol bomb was pushed through the door of the north London home of the book’s publisher.
The Metropolitan police said the target of the assassination plot, the Dutch publisher Martin Rynja, had not been injured.
The suspected terror gang was being followed by undercover police and the fire was quickly put out after the fire brigade smashed down the front door.

The foiled terrorist attack recalled the death threats and uproar 20 years ago following the publication of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, and the worldwide protests that followed the publication in a Danish newspaper in 2005 of cartoons deemed offensive to Islam, in which more than 100 people died.
Security officials believe Rynja was targeted for assassination because his firm, Gibson Square, is preparing to publish a romantic novel about Aisha, child bride of the Prophet Muhammad. The Jewel of Medina, by the first-time American author Sherry Jones, describes an imaginary sex scene between the prophet and his 14-year-old wife.
It was withdrawn from publication in America last month after its publisher there, Random House, said it feared a violent reaction by “a small radical segment” of Muslims. It said “credible and unrelated sources” had warned that the book could incite violence.
Random House reacted after Islamic scholars objected to its contents, saying it treated the wife of the Prophet as a sex object. One of them, Denise Spellberg, of the University of Texas at Austin, described the novel as “soft-core pornography”, referring to a scene in which Muhammad consummates his marriage to Aisha. She called it “a declaration of war” and a “national security issue”.
At the time, her warnings were dismissed by the author. “Anyone who reads the book will not be offended,” said Jones. “I wrote the book with the utmost respect for Islam.” However, Jones admitted receiving death threats after the book was withdrawn.
It was soon after this that the Met appears to have received a tip-off that the British publisher who had subsequently agreed to print it could be the target of an attack.
A Met spokesman said three men had been arrested in “a preplanned intelligence-led operation” at about 2.25am on Saturday.
Two of the suspects were arrested in the street outside Rynja’s four-storey townhouse in Lonsdale Square, Islington, while the third was stopped by officers in an armed vehicle near Angel Tube station.
They were being questioned yesterday on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism, a spokesman said.
Rynja, 44, could not be contacted yesterday. He is believed to be under police guard.
Yesterday, Natasha Kern, Jones’s agent, said she was shocked to learn of the attack. She said the book had been misinterpreted by its critics and did not contain sex scenes, as had been alleged.
“I honestly believe that if people read the book they will see it is not disrespectful of Muhammad, and moderate Muslims will not be offended. I don’t want anyone to risk their lives but we could never imagine that there would be some madmen who would do something like this. I’m so sad about this act of terrorism. Moderate Muslims will suffer because of a few radicals.”
Kern said it was too early for her to comment on whether the book should be withdrawn. “That’s up to Martin, and I still need to absorb the fact that he was at risk. I’m just so glad he has not been hurt.”
Residents said they saw armed police break down the door of Rynja’s house, helped by firefighters.
Francesca Liebowitz, 16, a neighbour, said: “The police couldn’t get the door open so the fire brigade battered it down.”
Another neighbour, who declined to be named, said: “I was woken at about 3am and I looked out the window and I saw several unmarked cars with what I now think were police officers in them. These officers came out of the cars and there was huge screaming and shouting. Some of the police officers were carrying sub-machineguns.
“I then saw a small fire at the bottom of the door at the house. I heard the police officers shout and scream and try to get neighbours out of the house.”

Calcutta Muslims in a 2006 protest against Prophet Muhammad cartoons

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

the Harassment of Ghada Jamsheer

Country/Topic: Bahrain
Date: 06 February 2009
Source: ARTICLE 19
Person(s): Ghada

Urgency: Bulletin
(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - The following is a 5 February 2009 ARTICLE 19 press release:
Bahrain: ARTICLE 19 Calls for the End of the Harassment of Ghada Jamsheer
ARTICLE 19 has written to Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, King of Bahrain, asking him to ensure that women's rights activist Ghada Jamsheer is protected from harassment and guaranteed her right to free expression.
Jamsheer is leader of the Women's Petition Committee, which works to protect women and advocate for improved women's rights in the country's sharia courts. She has been repeatedly harassed in the course of her work and has been effectively banned from the country's media since 2007.
In November 2008, while attending the AWID (Association for Women's Rights in Development) Conference in South Africa, Jamsheer's home was reportedly entered by a state security agent and detailed photographs were taken of her residence. Her house phone, mobile phone and email account were also reportedly put under surveillance.
After reporting this incident to the police, Ms Jamsheer's 74-year-old mother and sister were then accused by the police of attacking the state security agent. They are now facing court proceedings. Rather than the legitimate process of justice, this appears to be another attempt to intimidate Ms Jamsheer.
Ghada Jamsheer and her family have also received threatening text messages and have allegedly been followed by a car.
Jamsheer is unable to publish any articles or obtain any media coverage under a reported media ban issued by His Excellency Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, Minister of the Royal Court.
"The harassment campaign and the media ban against Ghada Jamsheer are directly related to her legitimate work in the defence of women's rights in Bahrain and are a clear violation of her right to freedom of expression and of the freedom of the press in Bahrain," comments Dr Agnès Callamard, Executive Director, ARTICLE 19. "It undermines much needed debate in Bahrain and, in particular, silences women's voices and discourages their participation in civil society."
In the letter to the Bahraini monarch, ARTICLE 19 expressed its concerns about the physical and psychological welfare of Ghada Jamsheer and her family, and urged the authorities to restore freedom of expression, including freedom of the press, by lifting the ban and putting a stop to all intimidation of human rights defenders in Bahrain.
Updates the Jamsheer case:
For further information, contact ARTICLE 19, 6-8 Amwell Street, London, EC1R 1UQ, U.K., tel: +44 20 7278 9292, fax: +44 20 7278 7660, e-mail:, Internet:

Mission to Nepal

International Press Freedom and Freedom of Expression Mission: Rapid Response Assessment Mission to Nepal

The International Press Freedom and Freedom of Expression Mission (also known as the International Media Mission) visited Nepal from 5 to 8 February to undertake a rapid response assessment of the press freedom situation in the country. The International Mission was represented by ARTICLE 19, International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), International Media Support (IMS), International Press Institute (IPI), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), UNESCO and World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC).
Press freedoms in Nepal continue to face serious threat despite the hope that restoration of democratic rule would improve the situation. The Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) recorded a staggering 342 press freedom violations in 2008 alone, including a significant escalation in the number of physical attacks on journalists and media houses. Four journalists - Uma Singh, J.P. Joshi, Birendra Sah and Pushkar Bahadur Shrestha - have been killed since 2006. The International Mission calls on the authorities to undertake prompt, independent and impartial investigation of these and all other cases of murder and disappearances of journalists.Another journalist, Prakash Singh Thakuri, has been missing since July 2007. Late last year the Government withdrew charges against the accused, who was earlier released on bail. Prime Minister, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, assured the International Mission that the case would be reopened. The International Mission also calls for an investigation into killing of Dekendra Thapa, after his remains were found last year.The International Mission is deeply worried over the attacks on media houses, including Kantipur, Himal Media, Ankush Daily, Ramaroshan FM and APCA Group. Such attacks on media workers, publications and property are unacceptable. Those responsible must be held accountable for their actions. Any substantive grievances over work conditions must be addressed through dialogue and negotiation. The International Mission is concerned that due process is not being observed in the cases against Rishi Dhamala, Ram Subhak Mahato, Birendra K.M., Manoj Mahato. The reported kidnapping of Pankaj Das in Birgunj whilst the International Mission was in the country must be swiftly followed-up by the authorities. The ongoing attacks, threats and harassment of media personnel and organisations are having a chilling effect on press freedom. Free and open debate is being undermined with journalists and media being forced into self-censorship, seriously jeopardising the peace and democratisation process currently underway in the country. A pattern in the attacks and harassment is discernible. Critical reporting is being met with violence and perpetrators go unpunished. The authorities are failing in their duty to prevent, punish and redress the harm caused by such attacks. The violations of journalists’ rights is a direct infringement of the public right to information. Furthermore, the links between political parties and some the perpetrators of these violent acts are a matter of serious concern and would indicate the acceptance, and possible complicity, of those political parties in the violence. The Nepali constitution and international covenants that Nepal is signatory to place a positive obligation on the State to prevent these abuses. Conditions for women journalists, already seriously underrepresented in the profession, are of particular concern as they are more vulnerable to attack and harassment, and are being forced to leave their work and sometimes to move away from home due to such pressures.The International Mission notes that as of now, not one person has been convicted for a criminal act against journalists and media houses, and calls on the Prime Minister and Government to follow-up their commitment to end impunity. Moreover, the International Mission demands that all acts of violence against journalists and the media end immediately. The International Mission urges the Government and political parties to implement the recommendations for freedom of expression and press freedom outlined in the Agenda for Change document as swiftly and fully as possible. Specifically, the International Mission draws attention to the following six points, which should be addressed in accordance with international standards and best practice:
· Guarantees of freedom of expression for all and press freedom must be enshrined in the new constitution;
· The Right to Information (RTI) Act should be properly enforced so as to give practical effect to the presumption in favour of disclosure;
· The Government should end control of media and introduce Public Service Broadcasting;
· An independent regulator for broadcasting should be created in place of direct government control;
· Criminal defamation should be abolished and defamation should be addressed only through civil law;
· The Working Journalists’ Act should be implemented and accompanied by regular dialogue between media workers and owners.
Furthermore, the International Mission urges the Constituent Assembly to form a committee to deal with the reforms outlines in the Agenda for Change, as well as to follow and respond to the press freedom situation in the country.The International Mission is convinced that all media stakeholders must rally around the common goal of safeguarding freedom of expression. The International Mission urges the international community to support the national media community in its efforts to defend press freedom. The International Mission remains committed to supporting and defending freedom of expression and press freedom in Nepal together with its national partners.

• The International Mission travelled to Nepal in February 2009 with only two weeks notice on the request of the Federation of Nepali Journalists and other members of the Nepali media community. The International Mission met with the Prime Minister, Ministers, Constituent Assembly, leaders of Government and opposition political parties, heads of security agencies, media, and civil society organisations. Mission members also visited Janakpur in Dhanusha District, where the journalist Uma Singh was murdered on 11 January 2009. The International Mission incorporates fifteen international organisations, including UN agencies, global media associations, freedom of expression advocates and media development organisations. This is the sixth visit of the International Mission to Nepal, the previous trips being in July 2005, March 2006, September 2006, January 2008 and April 2008.The International Mission thanks the Federation of Nepali Journalists and other national media organisations involved in preparing and hosting the visit, acknowledging the importance of close cooperation with national stakeholders and ensuring a nationally-driven process for ensuring press freedom in Nepal• For more information please contact Sejal Parmar, ARTICLE 19: +44 20 7278 9292,, or Sukumar Muralidhara, International Federation of Journalists: +91 98105 18009,, or Thomas Hughes, International Media Support: +45 2645 6563,

Freedom of Expression in Mexico

9 February 2009
ARTICLE 19 Submits Report on Freedom of Expression in Mexico to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review

On the occasion of the fourth session of the Universal Periodic Review, which will examine Mexico for the first time, ARTICLE 19 submitted a report to the human rights council on the situation of freedom of expression, and the issue of impunity in the country.

Mexico will be reviewed for the first time by the United Nations Human Rights Council in the fourth session of the Universal Periodic Review in Geneva on Tuesday February 10th. The Review has been created as a mechanism to assess the situation of human rights in all member states. In the context of the mounting threats to freedom of expression in Mexico, ARTICLE 19 has submitted a report on the situation of the exercise of the right to Freedom of Expression. Mexico is currently considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world to practice journalism. In recent years the country has experienced an ever increasing number of cases of threats and violence against journalists. Of these crimes almost none have been brought to justice. ARTICLE19 considers the impunity that is allowed to prevail in the state as one of the most serious threats, not only to the right to freedom of expression but to all human rights. In the report published by ARTICLE19 the following conclusions are drawn on the major threats to freedom of expression in Mexico.
· The failure to address the impunity that currently prevails in the state is born out of lack of political will.
· In the past eight years at least twenty four journalists and media workers have been killed, eight are missing, and many more have been threatened and physically attacked in the practice of their profession
· The Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against journalists is in urgent need of reform, to strengthen and clarify its faculties.
· In spite of the fact that a number of new groups of perpetrators of crimes against journalists have emerged in the past few years, the authorities remain the principal aggressors of crimes against journalists and freedom of expression in Mexico.

• To see full text please visit: • For more information, please contact Ricardo Gonzalez, ARTICLE 19 Mexico, at, +55 11 30 57 00 42

Targeting of Human Rights Activists and Calls for the Reform of Laws Aimed at Silencing Dissenting Voices

Bahrain: ARTICLE 19 Condemns the Targeting of Human Rights Activists and Calls for the Reform of Laws Aimed at Silencing Dissenting Voices

On 26 January 2009, three prominent Bahraini human rights activists Mr Hasan Mushaima, Secretary General of the Movement of Civil Liberties and Democracy (HAQ); Mr Mohamed Habib Al-Muqdad, a scholar and social activist; and Dr Abdul-Jalil Alsingace, Head of Human Rights Unit at HAQ, were arrested. Following almost nine hours of interrogation, Mr Mushaima and Mr Al-Muqdad were held in custody for further interrogation, while Dr Alsingace was released on bail and officially banned from travel out of Bahrain. The Public Prosecutor declared that he would take the necessary measures to pursue cases against them in the courts and prosecute them on charges related to the national security of Bahrain.All three activists are heavily involved in promoting human rights in Bahrain and in documenting cases of abuse. During the interrogation they were questioned about their human rights activism including publishing electronic articles and conducting speeches, seminars and presentations about human right abuses in Bahrain. They were also questioned about their involvement in HAQ, an unregistered grassroots organisation that campaigns for genuine democratic reforms, human rights and civil liberties. The activists were charged of “forming an organisation, outside the provisions of the law, which disrupts the Constitution or prevents any of the State enterprises or public authorities from exercising their duty”, “provoking hatred of the regime” and “inciting violence and the overthrow of the political system”.The first charge is referenced in Article 6 of Bahrain’s anti-terrorism law (Protecting Society from Terror Acts no. 58 of 2006) which states that those who establish an illegal organisation likely to disrupt the Constitution and laws, or prevent any State apparatus from performing its duties, are punishable by life imprisonment. The other two charges are based on the Bahrain Penal Code; promoting the overthrow of the regime by force punishable by five years imprisonment (Article 160) as well as instigating hatred against the regime, punishable by imprisonment of up to three years as per Article 165. The three activists deny all these allegations and consider their arrest and the charges to be politically motivated. In addition to recent interrogation, Dr Abdul-Jalil Alsingace, a prominent Bahrani blogger and critic of the Bahraini regime, has also been subject to a defamation media campaign, lead by state guided media and aimed at human rights defenders. This was following his participation in a debate on religious freedom in Bahrain in the US Congress in October, 2008. “The apparent arrest of three human rights activists for legitimate and peaceful human rights activities is highly deplorable. It is an attempt to silence opposition voices and signals further deterioration for freedom of Expression in Bahrain. ARTICLE 19 is deeply concerned about articles in the Bahraini Penal Code and anti terrorism legislation that are used to deprive Bahrainis of the right to freedom of expression and calls for urgent legal reform” said Dr. Agnès Callamard, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19.ARTICLE 19 urges the Bahraini authorities to reverse this alarming trend of harassment against human rights activists. We call upon the Bahraini authorities to immediately release Mr. Hassan Mushaima and Mr. Mohammed Habib Almuqdad, withdraw all the charges related to their legitimate and peaceful activities and lift the travel ban against Dr. Abdul-Jalil Alsingace.ARTICLE 19 reminds the authorities that Bahrain acceded to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 2006 and calls upon the government of Bahrain to reform those provisions in the Penal Code and anti-terrorism legislation that flagrantly violate Bahrain’s international human rights commitments on freedom of expression.

FURTHER INFORMATION: • For more information: please contact Hoda Rouhana, Programme Officer for Middle East and North Africa,,+44 20 7278 9292

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A reporter who wrote extensively on crime and corruption was gunned down

A reporter who wrote extensively on crime and corruption was gunned down last week in northern India, the third journalist to be killed in eight days, report Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
Vikas Ranjan, a part-time correspondent for the daily paper "Hindustan", was shot dead by armed men on motorbikes as he left his office on 25 November in the Samastipur district of the state of Bihar.
The murder of Ranjan may have been connected to his work, says CPJ. He had been receiving threats for some time. Three of his recent reports on counterfeit merchandise and stolen goods trafficking had sparked official inquiries. RSF reports that he had been investigating local drug trafficking during the past few weeks.
According to RSF, police said that three suspects had been identified and would probably be arrested in the next few days.
Ranjan's relatives and fellow journalists gathered outside the hospital where he was taken and staged a spontaneous protest against the failure of the local police to take action.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has meanwhile asked the authorities of Assam and Manipur, the two other northeastern states where journalists have been murdered in the past two weeks, to carry out effective investigations and to protect journalists.
The spate of murders comes at a time when India is reeling from the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai.
Sabina Sehgal Saikia, a cultural commentator for "The Times of India", India's largest English-language newspaper, was one of the casualties, reports IFJ.
"We mourn all the lives that have been lost and note in particular that the killing of Sabina Sehgal Saikia within hours of the terrorists commandeering the historic Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai has left Indian journalism the poorer," IFJ said.
"The Times of India" and other members of India's media community have played a major role in relaying the horrors of the Mumbai attacks to millions of households in the country.

Visit these links:- RSF: CPJ: IFJ: IFJ on terrorist attacks:

Call for comprehensive freedom of expression reform

Call for comprehensive freedom of expression reform

ARTICLE 19, Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) and Freedom Forum hosted a major conference yesterday in Kathmandu launching their joint publication, An Agenda for Change: The Right to Freedom of Expression in Nepal. The document was launched at a conference bringing together leading figures from all of the main political parties, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, ambassadors, members of the International Press Freedom and Freedom of Expression Mission to Nepal, which coincides with the conference, and a wide range of local stakeholders and international groups.

“The Agenda for Change Report represents the culmination of a year of intensive activity by the three lead organisations, ARTICLE 19, FNJ and Freedom Forum, working with a group of expert local stakeholders,” said Toby Mendel, Senior Legal Counsel, ARTICLE 19. “It sets out comprehensive recommendations for freedom of expression in Nepal, which should serve as a authoritative framework for reform in this area.”

The Agenda for Change addresses all of the key challenges facing freedom of expression in Nepal, providing in-depth analysis and over 60 concrete recommendations for reform. Some of the key recommendations are:
_ The guarantee of freedom of expression in the new constitution should conform to
international human rights standards, including by applying to everyone and by setting
out a clear and narrow test for restrictions.
_ The authorities should take immediate and robust action to protect journalists, a
particularly pressing need in the current environment in Nepal.
_ Steps should be taken to implement the Right to Information Act in an effective manner
which ensures public transparency and accountability.
_ Comprehensive reforms should be introduced to establish public service broadcasting and an independent broadcast regulator, promoting pluralism and the public interest in the airwaves.

ARTICLE 19, FNJ and FF call on the Nepalese authorities to take steps to honour the
commitments they have made to implement the Agenda for Change. Specifically, we call on them to put in place mechanisms to this end, among others a dedicated parliamentary committee on freedom of expression reform.

_ The Report is available in English at:
_ _________ ________________ _________________________:

For more information, please contact
Toby Mendel, Senior Legal Counsel, ARTICLE 19,, +977 98039 68987, Dharmendra Jha, President, Federation of Nepali Journalists,, +977 98510 71459, or Taranath Dahal, Freedom Forum,, +977 98510 87891.

Kenya and Somalia : continued risks for Media

Kenya and Somalia : Death of two Journalists show continued risks for Media
It’s just a few short weeks into the year and two journalists have lost their lives, simply for doing their jobs. In Kenya, freelance journalist Francis Nyaruri was abducted and killed, and in Somalia, radio journalist Said Tahlil Ahmed was shot dead in a market. These killings are a reminder of the continued danger that so many media workers currently face in the East and Horn of Africa.
Francis Nyaruri, who wrote under the pen name Mong’are Mokua, was a reporter for the Kenyan private paper, Weekly Citizen in Nyamira, Nyanza district. His family had reported him missing on 15 January and his body was discovered on 30 January.
Nyaruri had previously published articles exposing corruption, brutality and other malpractice by the local police. The Kenyan police are reportedly one of the least trusted institutions in the country, with a recent Steadman Group opinion poll showing that only 18 per cent of the
public trust the police, largely because of corruption and bribe taking.

ARTICLE 19 calls on the Kenyan authorities to ensure that the killers of Francis Nyaruri are brought to justice.
ARTICLE 19 also mourns the loss of HornAfrik radio station’s director, Said Tahlil Ahmed. A highly respected journalist who had remained in Somalia in spite of the country’s ongoing violent conflict, he was shot dead in Bakara market in Mogadishu on 4 February.

The media is frequently targeted by armed factions in Somalia, forcing many Somali journalists to flee. The former director of HornAfrik, Ali Imam Sharmake, was killed in August 2007, whilst two other journalists have been killed in the past year. HornAfrik radio has done much to promote freedom of expression, press freedom and media development in the country, including its contribution to the development of a Code of Ethical Conduct for the Somali media.

ARTICLE 19 Executive Director, Dr. Agnès Callamard, stated: “Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, as enshrined in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.” She continued: “Media practitioners must be able to exercise this right in safety, without fear of attack or danger to their lives.”
ARTICLE 19, 6-8 Amwell Street, London EC1R 1UQ
Tel: (+44) 20 7278 9292 / Fax: (+44) 20 7278 7660

Web: / Email:

· For more information: please contact Roxanne Abdulali, .
Tel: +254 20 386 2230/2.
· ARTICLE 19 is an independent human rights organisation that works around the world to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression. It takes its name from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees free speech.