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Critics Say China Has Suppressed And Censored Information In Coronavirus Outbreak – NPR

Flowers and a portrait of Dr. Li Wenliang is left at his hospital in Wuhan, China. Li, regarded a whistleblower in the coronavirus outbreak, died of the infectious disease on Friday. Getty Images hide caption

Flowers and a portrait of Dr. Li Wenliang is left at his hospital in Wuhan, China. Li, regarded a whistleblower in the coronavirus outbreak, died of the infectious disease on Friday.

For the last two weeks, Eden Chen had been glued to her WeChat. A resident of the Chinese coastal city of Wenzhou, Chen and her family had been told to stay indoors, sending only one member out every other day to buy groceries. WeChat, the ubiquitous social media app in China, became an indispensable channel for checking up on relatives, exchanging information about quarantine measures and even getting on a waiting list to order now-scarce face masks.

Then on Wednesday evening, Chen's WeChat account along with thousands of others over the coming hours was suddenly sealed off. Chen, who exclusively uses WeChat to communicate with people, lost contact with hundreds of friends and relatives.

"Is writing a few sentences about the lack of face masks now enough to get one's account suspended?" said Chen. "I do not do anything to disrupt the country." She also said she "sent around some official notices and state media stories regarding the [coronavirus] epidemic."

China's state censors have clamped down this week on digital items related to the outbreak of a new coronavirus, removing local news reports that expose the dire circumstances in the city of Wuhan, epicenter of the outbreak, and scrubbing social media platforms of posts from Wuhan residents who say they are ill and desperate for medical care and supplies.

Those restrictions were put to the test on Friday after the death of Dr. Li Wenliang, one of the eight whistleblowers reprimanded by police for warning others about a mysterious pneumonialike disease in December. Less than 90 minutes after his death on Friday morning, the hashtag "I want freedom of speech" was trending on Weibo, a popular Chinese blogging site, with nearly 2 million posts. The posts were gone by sunrise.

This chokehold on information, now six weeks after the first public reports of a pneumonialike illness surfaced on Dec. 30, heralds a new stage in the Chinese state's response to the new coronavirus.

"We are also seeing these restrictions being accompanied by intensified propaganda," says Maria Repnikova, a global communications professor at Georgia State University. "The message being: We get that this is a grave problem, and we are fixing it."

First, for nearly four weeks, the municipal government officials in Wuhan worked to hide the severity of the disease. Then, when scientific disclosures made it untenable to downplay the crisis, regional authorities began placing quarantines unprecedented in scale and intensity over large swaths of the country.

Now, China is working to reestablish control over the narrative by shutting down individual social media accounts and reigning in aggressive local coverage of initial government missteps that may have contributed to the spread of the coronavirus beyond the city of Wuhan.

As of Friday, there were more than 31,000 confirmed cases and 630 deaths in China alone, though because of limited diagnostic and treatment capacity in Wuhan, some doctors believe that the number of cases is likely higher.

Stage 1: Suppress information

Paramilitary policemen guard the outside of the closed Hankou railway station in Wuhan, China. Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images hide caption

On Christmas Day, Dr. Lu Xiaohong, the director of gastroenterology at Wuhan Municipal Hospital, received alarming news: Several medical staff at two hospitals in the city had been infected with an unknown type of pneumonia. "That suggested the contagiousness of this virus was very strong," Lu later told the state-run China Youth Daily. It also suggested the mysterious virus could be transmitted between humans.

Lu was not the only one who noticed something amiss. Five days later, at least two doctors independently of each other began quietly warning other medical staff about several patients exhibiting pneumonialike symptoms after having visited the same seafood and live animal market in Wuhan.

One of those doctors was Xie Linka, an oncologist at Wuhan Union Hospital. Her colleagues in the hospital's respiratory unit had taken in "many patients" exhibiting an unknown pneumonia. "Be sure to wear masks and ventilate areas," she posted in a group on WeChat, the Chinese messaging app.

Li, an ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central University, also warned a group of about 150 alumni in a WeChat group that "seven SARS patients," all connected to a local seafood market, were being quarantined at his hospital. He believed that they were exhibiting a related coronavirus that had swept through parts of Asia and other countries starting in 2002 but was effectively quashed, with no new cases since 2004.

Reprisal came swiftly. Eight medical staff, including Li and Xie, were summoned by public security officers two days later and reprimanded for "disseminating rumors," according to an evening TV news report. (Public opinion would later reverse the official position, with the state's chief epidemiologist subsequently declaring the eight worthy of "utmost respect.")

On Dec. 31, Wuhan's city health commission had already put out a statement, acknowledging 27 cases of unknown pneumonia but said there was no evidence of human transmission of the disease. "The disease is preventable and controllable," it reassured residents. But the suspected origin of the virus Wuhan's Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market would be closed and cleaned, just in case.

The turning point came on Jan. 20 when Dr. Zhong Nanshan, a senior health official who had helped expose the government's cover-up during SARS, revealed on state television that the new coronavirus is capable of human-to-human transmission a full three weeks after Lu, the gastroenterologist, had heard as much from her colleagues.

On the same day, China's top leader Xi Jinping broke his silence. "It is of utmost importance to prevent and control the disease outbreak," the state news agency quoted him as saying. Three days later, authorities made the most drastic decision of all to contain the viral spread: Wuhan, a city of 11 million, would be sealed off from the rest of the country.

Stage 2: Lock it down

The decision by Wuhan authorities to shut down outbound transports came in the early hours of Jan. 23. With only hours to spare before all trains and planes were prohibited from departing, residents with cars rushed to highways. Those who didn't own cars and wanted to leave turned to carpooling services but at 10 times the usual fare.

By late afternoon, officials began sealing off highways leaving Wuhan as well.

A senior party official from Hubei province referred to the citywide lockdown as a "wartime measure" and called on local cadres of minor officials to closely monitor residents for any early symptoms of the new virus.

Although sealing off Wuhan may have slowed the spread of the outbreak, it did not contain it. Before the quarantine, 5 million people were able to hastily leave the city, Mayor Zhou Xianwang later admitted.

Cities outside the official quarantine zone have adopted their own drastic measures to limit movement. Remote villages have bottled in their residents in an effort to stop the virus from entering their communities. Other villages have torn up roads or built hasty barricades to keep migrant workers out. Various cities in coastal Zhejiang province now only allow one person per household to leave for groceries every two days.

As the number of cases, particularly in the city of Wuhan, continue to climb, authorities are turning to even more extreme measures. On Thursday, a top Chinese official urged local officials and residents in Wuhan to report anyone they see with symptoms and to send loved ones with symptoms to new, mass quarantine centers.

"There must be no deserters during a state of war. Those that do will be nailed to the pillar of shame for all of history," Vice Premier Sun Chunlan warned in an article in the party's flagship newspaper after visiting Hubei province. "Be selfless, and race against time. We must go all out to solve the problem of inaccurate, inadequate implementation."

Stage 3: Control the narrative

Within the quarantine zone, people have been confined to their apartments or new mass quarantine wards. But online, information began to proliferate.

Muckraking Chinese journalists have been publishing interviews with doctors with damning details that sometimes contradict official accounts. One piece, since deleted by censors, alleges the official tally of infected patients is far lower than the true scale of the outbreak, citing several Wuhan doctors.

To counteract the critical coverage of the Wuhan quarantine, the Communist Party's publicity department dispatched over 300 reporters from state media agencies to Wuhan and Hubei province earlier this week.

Not long after, authorities began turning to a more familiar tool for narrative control: censorship.

Government cyberspace regulators mandated in a notice on Wednesday that the country's biggest Internet companies, including Tencent, Baidu and ByteDance, "conduct special supervision" on epidemic-related news. Soon after, social media platforms, including WeChat, began suspending accounts found to have spread "sensitive information or illegal content," according to screenshots of sealed accounts. Tencent did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

"I think what this act is telling us is that the discussions online are entering into the zone of perceived sensitivity for the state," says Repnikova of Georgia State University. While earlier, uninhibited reporting provided valuable public knowledge about the outbreak, "it's evident that more supplies and more diagnostic equipment are needed. The benefit of allowing more social media critique is also getting slimmer."

One of the thousands of WeChat accounts suspended this week belonged to Triv Wen, a Beijing municipal engineer. His apparent offense: sharing an article that accused the Wuhan Red Cross of withholding much-needed supplies like masks from hospitals. (Earlier this week, the Hubei government fired the vice president of the provincial Red Cross for "malpractice and dereliction of duty.")

"All I hope is that the people have the right to hold the government accountable rather than to be managed," Wen told NPR, whose parents are both card-carrying members of the Communist Party. "From the bottom of my heart, I want everything to become better and speech to be more open and transparent."

In one of his last interviews before his death, with independent Chinese media outlet Caixin, Li said helping the public learn about the truth was far more important to him than getting justice for himself: "A healthy society should not have only one kind of voice."

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Critics Say China Has Suppressed And Censored Information In Coronavirus Outbreak - NPR

Rand Paul Blasts YouTube over Censorship of Speech on Senate Floor – Breitbart

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has called out Google-owned YouTube after it blacklisted a clip of him speaking on the Senate floor, an act of censorship he calls chilling and disturbing. Google censored Paul because he read out the name of the alleged whistleblower, Eric Ciaramella.

Politico reported the story as new, even though Breitbart News first revealed that YouTube was blocking clips of the Senator mentioning Ciaramellas name last week.

In a statement, Sen. Paul said:

It is a chilling and disturbing day in America when giant web companies such as YouTube decide to censure speech. Now, even protected speech, such as that of a senator on the Senate floor, can be blocked from getting to the American people. This is dangerous and politically biased. Nowhere in my speech did I accuse anyone of being a whistleblower, nor do I know the whistleblowers identity.

A spokeswoman for YouTube, Ivy Choi, defended the companys censorship of Sen. Paul in a comment, describing Ciaramella as the whistleblower:

Videos, comments, and other forms of content that mention the leaked whistleblowers name violate YouTubes Community Guidelines and will be removed from YouTube. Weve removed hundreds of videos and over ten thousand comments that contained the name. Video uploaders have the option to edit their videos to exclude the name and reupload.

As Breitbart News reported last week, Sen. Paul made his comments on the floor of the Senate after Chief Justice John Roberts refused to allow his question to be read during the impeachment trial. In his speech, Sen. Paul said:

Manager Schiff and Counsel for the President, are you aware that house intelligence committee staffer Shawn Misko had a close relationship with Eric Ciaramella when at the National Security council together, and are you aware and how do you respond to reports that Ciaramella and Misko may have worked together to plot impeaching the President before there were formal House proceedings?

Explaining his argument further in a subsequent CNN segment, Sen. Paul said I think its very important that we know if there was a concerted government plot to bring the president down by a lot of employees.

Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.

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Rand Paul Blasts YouTube over Censorship of Speech on Senate Floor - Breitbart

Transgender users have accused TikTok of censorship – here’s why – Derry Journal

Transgender users have complained about having their posts removed from popular social media platform, TikTok.

Videos, including some members of the community discussing their lives, were taken down and others complained of having the sound removed.

TikTok defended its actions, stating that some posts were deleted for breaking guidelines on smoking and nudity, but could not explain why others were removed.

'Sending a negative message to young transgender people'

LGBT charity Stonewall said this action by the social media giant sent a negative message to young transgender people who use the platform to express themselves.

In a statement, the short form video platform said, "TikTok is an inclusive space for positive and creative expression. We categorically do not remove any content on the basis of expression of gender identity.

"We have a vibrant and diverse community on TikTok: there are nearly two billion views of content under #trans and over 2.1 billion views of content under #lgbtq.

"We are proud to be a platform for positive and creative expression for our diverse community of users."

Content Removed

Reice Hodges, 35, told the BBC she had several videos removed, including one where she challenged instances of bullying. She claims TikTok deleted these posts before removing the abusive comments she received.

"It makes me mad when my content is removed. There are some videos that I spend hours making and to have one of those videos removed really discourages me," said Hodges.

"There are countless amounts of teenagers and adults who have reached out to me and thanked me for putting myself out there to be seen.

"To block something that can bring awareness to the trans community, when we already have so much hate and disgust coming toward us - where else are we supposed to go?"

Other users complained that their videos showing their transition in photographs were removed, although they were later able to repost them.

This is the latest in a series of controversies to affect TikTok in recent months. In December, the apps moderators acknowledged videos made by disabled users were prevented from going viral, due to a policy it said was designed to reduce the amount of cyber bullying on its platform.

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Transgender users have accused TikTok of censorship - here's why - Derry Journal

Newspapers fear new social media rules will lead to wider censorship – The Guardian

Newspaper groups fear the governments proposals to crack down on damaging social media content could inadvertently result in censorship of their own websites.

The Daily Mail is among the outlets that have warned about the governments proposals to ask Ofcom to ensure British websites do their best to reduce online content that is legal but harmful to society.

The newspaper ran a prominent comment piece on Thursday arguing that the new law may lead to state censorship, suggesting the rules could result in its popular sister website MailOnline being regulated and forced to react to concerns over harmful content.

As a result industry lobby groups, which have long campaigned for regulation of Facebook and Google, are asking the government to formally commit to a specific opt-out from the online harms law for news publishers. This raises the prospect that a small group of traditional news outlets will be specifically exempted from rules applied to almost every other major website.

Under the proposals announced on Wednesday, British websites that publish user-generated material including online comments will be required to produce a code of conduct setting out which material they will allow on their sites. Ofcom will check whether they are living up to their own stated standards.

The other scenario feared by mainstream publishers is that, if the likes of Facebook feel obliged to take down content that is legal but considered harmful to society, social networks could start blocking links to disturbing news stories.

Ofcom could ultimately end up in the position of looking at whether a social network should have removed a link to a particular mainstream article for being harmful.

Resolving the issue will be one of the first challenges for the newly appointed culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, amid signs that Downing Street is concerned about coverage suggesting the new rules could impact on the freedom of the press.

Ministers have repeatedly promised that there will be an exemption for news publishers but on Thursday the News Media Association (NMA), the group which represents almost all traditional British newspaper publishers, including the Guardian, said it was seeking an explicit exemption on the face of any legislation for news media publishers and their journalism which underpins our democracy.

The organisation insisted that the legislation should be designed to crack down on online harms propagated by the tech giants, arguing newspapers were already responsible for what they publish in the courts and through voluntary systems of press regulation.

The government has long insisted they would provide some opt-out but it is unclear how this would be implemented. If the government chose to exempt only members of the News Media Association in the law then it could end up with a two-tier system. This could see traditional news outlets given a legal opt-out from the legislation while non-NMA members such as digital-only sites Vice, HuffPost and BuzzFeed News ending up being caught by the obligation.

A government spokesperson pointed to the commitment by former culture secretary Jeremy Wright to ensure that news organisations were not caught by the new law.

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Newspapers fear new social media rules will lead to wider censorship - The Guardian

Anti-BDS laws are meant to censor & control speech, journalist Abby Martin tells RT after suing Georgia govt over cancelled talk – RT

Barred from speaking at a public university over her refusal to sign a pledge of allegiance to Israel, journalist Abby Martin is now suing the state of Georgia, arguing its anti-BDS legislation sets fire to the First Amendment.

Slated to give a keynote talk at a media literacy conference at Georgia Southern University later this month, Martin was asked to sign what amounts to a loyalty oath to the State of Israel, mandated under a 2016 Georgia law barring the government from hiring contractors who boycott Israeli products or associate with the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Martin told RT she was shocked when she saw what she was asked to sign.

I was not anticipating this whatsoever, she said. I was aware of the issue Ive talked about how over two dozen states have employed this measure for independent contractors but I just never connected the two.

Declining to sign the pledge, explaining that pro-Palestine activism is central to her work, the university swiftly called off Martins talk. When her colleagues came to her defense, the entire event was shut down, a move she says is emblematic of the state of academic freedom in the United States at large, where similar laws have been passed in 28 states.

I think thats really interesting, because theres essentially no discussion on left-wing speakers like myself discussing issues like Palestine, which are literally being blocked on the state level, Martin said, calling the censorship a direct violation of the First Amendment.

Its not only about the right to boycott and the right to participate in peaceful political action, its also about the right to just have free speech, especially on college campuses.

With right-of-center organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Heritage Foundation pushing free speech acts on college campuses across the country to protect conservative speakers, Martin said the anti-BDS lawsare clearly hypocritical, wielded to blot out certain viewpoints and control the public narrative around Israel.

Theres a stark hypocrisy going on when it really isnt about free speech at all, she said.

When you look at these laws... to protect certain kinds of speech and block out other kinds of speech, its really about what kind of speech you want and what kind of speech you dont want.

Shut out of Georgia Southern University solely due to her political views, Martin filed a lawsuit against the state on Monday, insisting her First Amendment rights were being trampled in the decision to cancel her talk. The former RT host said shes confident about the case, hoping it will mean that no independent contractors will have to forfeit their civil liberties and constitutional rights in order to just work in the state.

These are laws that should never have been passed in the first place. This is the fault of state legislatures that have passed these laws in direct violation of the US Constitution.

There is hope for the suit. Last April, a Texas judge blocked the state government from enforcing a similar anti-BDS law, ruling it an impermissible content- and viewpoint-based restriction on protected expression, which sought to manipulate the debate [around Israel] through coercion rather than persuasion.

Martin faces an uphill battle, however, with many forces arrayed against her cause in the US and beyond. With the Israeli prime ministers office admitting in a tweet this week that Tel Aviv has promoted [anti-BDS] laws in most US states, overturning the legislation could mean competing with a powerful foreign lobby, in addition to fighting it out in the courts.

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Anti-BDS laws are meant to censor & control speech, journalist Abby Martin tells RT after suing Georgia govt over cancelled talk - RT

Be more tolerant, Anwar tells Malaysians over art censorship – Malay Mail

PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim speaks during the Regional Conference on Peaceful Co-existence in Shah Alam February 12, 2020. Picture by Miera Zulyana

SHAH ALAM, Feb 12 PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has urged respective parties to be tolerant when it came to concerns of art censorship in the country.

We need to be more tolerant, Anwar said when met by reporters today after officiating the Regional Conference on Peaceful Coexistence held at the Grand Bluewave Hotel here.

He was responding to several instances which took place recently including four artworks by contemporary artist Ahmad Fuad Osman that were removed from the National Art Gallery (NAG) following complaints from the gallerys board members.

The NAG has since responded in a statement defending its decision to remove the four paintings citing its right to curate according to what it deems to be suitable for patrons and that it also followed standard operating procedures.

Criticisms were also hurled at rock group Drama Band over its performance at the Anugerah Juara Lagu 34 award show which parodied several scandals from Malay entertainment and politics.

Drama Band has since apologised for a performance that lampooned former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.

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Be more tolerant, Anwar tells Malaysians over art censorship - Malay Mail

China’s censors tried to control the narrative on a hero doctor’s death. It backfired terribly – CNN

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","descriptionText":"CNN's u003ca href="https://www.cnn.com/profiles/brian-todd-profile" target="_blank">Brian Toddu003c/a> reports on the growing threat of coronavirus and how it is affecting passengers who are stuck on cruise ships and other sites under quarantine. "},{"title":"Cruise ship employee: We just want to get back home safe","duration":"03:44","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"https://edition.cnn.com/","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/world/2020/02/12/coronavirus-outbreak-diamond-princess-cruise-ship-crew-rivers-pkg-intl-ldn-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"world/2020/02/12/coronavirus-outbreak-diamond-princess-cruise-ship-crew-rivers-pkg-intl-ldn-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200212154124-coronavirus-outbreak-diamond-princess-cruise-ship-crew-rivers-pkg-intl-ldn-vpx-00002703-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/world/2020/02/12/coronavirus-outbreak-diamond-princess-cruise-ship-crew-rivers-pkg-intl-ldn-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/around-the-world/","description":"Nearly 1,000 crew members on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship are not under quarantine despite the novel coronavirus outbreak. 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With an influx of tourists, CNN's Robyn Curnow look at what climate activists are saying is the long-term forecast for this remote land.","descriptionText":"A research base at the tip of Antarctica recorded the highest temperature on record for the continent. With an influx of tourists, CNN's Robyn Curnow look at what climate activists are saying is the long-term forecast for this remote land."},{"title":"Papal document expected to disappoint Pope's liberal supporters","duration":"02:31","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"https://edition.cnn.com/","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/world/2020/02/12/pope-francis-married-priests-amazon-female-deacons-catholic-church-gallagher-intl-ldn-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"world/2020/02/12/pope-francis-married-priests-amazon-female-deacons-catholic-church-gallagher-intl-ldn-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200212134849-vatican-religion-pope-francis-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/world/2020/02/12/pope-francis-married-priests-amazon-female-deacons-catholic-church-gallagher-intl-ldn-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/around-the-world/","description":"In 2019, Pope Francis called for "bold proposals" to meet the spiritual needs of Catholics in the Amazon. The lack of an opening for married priests, or women deacons, is expected to disappoint the Pope's liberal supporters. CNN's Delia Gallagher reports from Rome.","descriptionText":"In 2019, Pope Francis called for "bold proposals" to meet the spiritual needs of Catholics in the Amazon. The lack of an opening for married priests, or women deacons, is expected to disappoint the Pope's liberal supporters. CNN's Delia Gallagher reports from Rome."},{"title":"'Nanny McPhee' actor dies at 25","duration":"00:47","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/entertainment/2020/02/11/nanny-mcphee-actor-raphael-coleman-dead-llr-orig.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"entertainment/2020/02/11/nanny-mcphee-actor-raphael-coleman-dead-llr-orig.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200211094244-01-raphael-coleman-file-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/entertainment/2020/02/11/nanny-mcphee-actor-raphael-coleman-dead-llr-orig.cnn/video/playlists/around-the-world/","description":""Nanny McPhee" star and climate change activist Raphael Coleman has died at the age of 25. ","descriptionText":""Nanny McPhee" star and climate change activist Raphael Coleman has died at the age of 25. "},{"title":"How does coronavirus spread? 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Watch "Full Circle" every weeknight at 5 p.m. ET."},{"title":"This is the first same-sex couple to tie the knot in Northern Ireland","duration":"01:07","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/world/2020/02/11/gay-marriage-northern-ireland-orig-acl-na.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"world/2020/02/11/gay-marriage-northern-ireland-orig-acl-na.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200211163619-gay-marriage-ireland-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/world/2020/02/11/gay-marriage-northern-ireland-orig-acl-na.cnn/video/playlists/around-the-world/","description":"A Belfast couple made history after British MPs voted to extend same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland last July.","descriptionText":"A Belfast couple made history after British MPs voted to extend same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland last July."},{"title":"Ousted leader to be handed to ICC to face war crimes charges","duration":"01:30","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"https://edition.cnn.com/","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/world/2020/02/11/sudan-omar-al-bashir-icc-war-crimes-charges-elbagir-intl-ldn-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"world/2020/02/11/sudan-omar-al-bashir-icc-war-crimes-charges-elbagir-intl-ldn-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200211151830-02-omar-al-bashir-file-2019-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/world/2020/02/11/sudan-omar-al-bashir-icc-war-crimes-charges-elbagir-intl-ldn-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/around-the-world/","description":"Sudan's former president Omar al-Bashir and other Sudanese wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) will be handed over to face war crimes charges at The Hague. Bashir faces five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes.","descriptionText":"Sudan's former president Omar al-Bashir and other Sudanese wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) will be handed over to face war crimes charges at The Hague. 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","descriptionText":"The number of the novel coronavirus cases on Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama, Japan, doubled in one day, making it the worst-hit place by the virus outside mainland China. CNN's Matt Rivers reports. "},{"title":"Militant attack leaves 30 people dead","duration":"00:54","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/world/2020/02/11/nigeria-borno-militant-attack-lon-orig-bks.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"world/2020/02/11/nigeria-borno-militant-attack-lon-orig-bks.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200210130630-nigeria-borno-checkpoint-attack-0210-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/world/2020/02/11/nigeria-borno-militant-attack-lon-orig-bks.cnn/video/playlists/around-the-world/","description":"At least 30 people, including a pregnant woman and a baby, were killed after suspected Boko Haram militants set fire on sleeping travelers in Borno state, Nigeria, according to the governor's spokesman.","descriptionText":"At least 30 people, including a pregnant woman and a baby, were killed after suspected Boko Haram militants set fire on sleeping travelers in Borno state, Nigeria, according to the governor's spokesman."},{"title":"Coronavirus global death toll surpasses 1,000 people","duration":"01:25","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"http://www.cnn.com","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/health/2020/02/10/wuhan-coronavirus-death-toll-worldwide-latest-gupta-tsr-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"health/2020/02/10/wuhan-coronavirus-death-toll-worldwide-latest-gupta-tsr-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200210163309-coronavirus-economia-mundial-afecta-brote-virus-portafolio-global-cnnee-00000000-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/health/2020/02/10/wuhan-coronavirus-death-toll-worldwide-latest-gupta-tsr-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/around-the-world/","description":"The Wuhan coronavirus has killed more than 1,000 people globally since the outbreak began, according to authorities. More than 40,000 have been infected. Since its outbreak in December, the Wuhan coronavirus has killed more people than the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak.","descriptionText":"The Wuhan coronavirus has killed more than 1,000 people globally since the outbreak began, according to authorities. More than 40,000 have been infected. Since its outbreak in December, the Wuhan coronavirus has killed more people than the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak."},{"title":"Coronavirus patient: Take it seriously, but keep calm","duration":"02:51","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"https://edition.cnn.com/","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/world/2020/02/10/coronavirus-outbreak-us-patient-diamond-princess-ship-quarantine-ripley-pkg-intl-ldn-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"world/2020/02/10/coronavirus-outbreak-us-patient-diamond-princess-ship-quarantine-ripley-pkg-intl-ldn-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200210121900-rebecca-frasure-quarantine-coronavirus-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/world/2020/02/10/coronavirus-outbreak-us-patient-diamond-princess-ship-quarantine-ripley-pkg-intl-ldn-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/around-the-world/","description":"When Rebecca Frasure, a US citizen who was aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, tested positive for coronavirus, she didn't know where she was going. She's being held alone in a room, but hasn't experienced serious symptoms from the virus so far. u003ca href="https://edition.cnn.com/profiles/will-ripley" target="_blank">CNN's Will Ripleyu003c/a> reports.","descriptionText":"When Rebecca Frasure, a US citizen who was aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, tested positive for coronavirus, she didn't know where she was going. 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China's censors tried to control the narrative on a hero doctor's death. It backfired terribly - CNN

China Ramps Up Censorship On Coronavirus As Critics Risk Criminal Charges – Forbes

Masked police officers and a health professional stand at a screening checkpoint on a highway toll ... [+] station on the outskirts of Shanghai, China, on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Chinas government is now ramping up efforts to punish locals for spreading rumors and harshly criticizing the government about the fast spreading coronavirus.

As death tolls rise and new cases level-off due to a new way of counting infected persons, Chinese leadership is now working overtime on two fronts: fighting the Wuhan virus outbreak on one; convincing people to that the economy is nearing all- system-go.

Beijing decided this week to clamp down on virus rumors being spread via social media and messaging apps like WeChat, the South China Morning Post reported this evening in Hong Kong.

According to the daily, a set of guidelines was issued on Monday by Chinas judicial and law enforcement agencies where they named 10 categories of new criminal charges to brought against people deemed jeopardizing disease control, undermining social stability by spreading fear about the disease, and criticizing the Communist Partys handling of the novel coronavirus, officially named Covid-19 by the World Health Organization on Tuesday.

Parents and relatives of Pakistani students studying in Wuhan protest to demand their government ... [+] evacuate family members from China. Scenes like this has the WHO worried people will become anti-China. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images)

Senior officials from the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Justice said the measures were needed to cope with the crisis.

Some 1,117 people have died, mostly all of them in the Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak. China has confirmed over 45,000 cases.

China: Investors Ignoring The Noise

For the past two weeks, investors were waiting for the virus to surpass the SARS death toll of 775. Once breached, people wanted to see the number of new cases falling before declaring a bottom. That breach occurred over the weekend, but the number of new cases keeps rising, with no end in sight. The base case scenario sees a decline in new cases at some point between February 14 and the end of March.

This week, authorities in China said they would only list a new case if the person was proven to be infected with the virus rather than having checked in for displaying symptoms.

Markets in China have been boosted by the central bank over the last five days, and by news that companies were back to business in provinces other than Hubei.

President Xi Jinping has since been seen donning a surgical mask in Beijing, warning that the virus was very serious and advising everyone to remain vigilant. There are quarantine orders and travel restrictions still in place nationwide.

Xisaid today that progress was being made in bringingthe outbreakunder control and that the focus now should be on returning to work.

Getting the economic engines firing again is imperative. Although information out of China is not easy to come by, there is a sense that people there have been afraid about sharing their concerns on social media. Now that risk is real, with criminal implications for doing so if too critical of the government.

WeChat users will have to get more creative. Or just stop talking about it altogether. Those who cheer the success of the government are likely to be viewed skeptically now that Beijing has essentially put a gag order on covid-19.

For the market, those who believe Chinas coronavirus numbers are the same as those who trust Chinas GDP numbers. Those who dont trust Chinas GDP numbers, dont trust the coronavirus numbers either.

China investors are obviously in the trust camp and have been there all week. Once again, China is beating the S&P 500.

Over the last five days, the Xtrackers China A-Shares ETF (green) has outperformed the MSCI China ... [+] and the S&P 500 (blue) despite an ever-increasing death toll caused by Covid-19.

Storm Not Over

Hong Kong surpassed Singapore on Wednesday as the No. 2 hot spot for the virus off mainland China. Borders with the mainland have been sealed. Singapore also banned flights from China.

Covid-19 is a still being called a virus of unknown origin. The general consensus is that it came from bats and infected humans either through a bat bite, or via human consumption. Another idea is that the virus escaped a research lab in Wuhan. China has been silent on its origins, and is now silencing any chit-chat about it on mainland social media.

If the outbreak is not contained, Beijings clamp-down on allowing people to discuss it beyond the parameters of the official view could further test the patience of the Chinese. Such a situation would risk putting Chinas otherwise stable social structure into unchartered territory.

Combatting this virus means everything to Beijing, and this could be another reason why the market is willing to stay invested despite daily forecasts for lower growth in China.

Virologists are still trying to find a way to combat the disease. To do so, they need to know more about its origin.

On Wednesday, New Scientist magazine reported that the virus came from bats.

From the virology evidence available to date, the virus is almost certainly from a species of bat, says Andrew Cunningham of the Zoological Society of London.

On Wednesday, Chinas Ministry of Finance announced it would allow local governments to sell $122 of new debt issuance to raise money from the market, instead of the government. China bond prices have been in decline all week, suggesting either a risk-on move with bonds selling in favor of equities, or fears that the outbreak is going to hurt numerous companies more than the government is letting on.

Says Brendan Ahern, CIO of KraneShares, a China ETF fund in New York, We are not out of the coronavirus storm yet.

More here:

China Ramps Up Censorship On Coronavirus As Critics Risk Criminal Charges - Forbes

Heres How China Is Silencing Coronavirus Critics in the U.S. – VICE

Last Thursday, with the coronavirus death toll hurtling past 500 and no sign of new infections slowing down, Mr. Yan decided he wanted to share his anger at the governments botched response to the outbreak.

So the 36-year-old data scientist, who lives in Washington, D.C., posted links to a series of articles critical of Chinese President Xi Jinping to a WeChat group with about 22 other people.

At first, everything appeared to be normal, but then Yan realized that his friends in China were not seeing any of his posts. Only the two other U.S.-based group members and one in the Philippines had seen what he posted.

I have never received any notice from WeChat about being blocked. And thus there is no way for me to appeal. I have sent messages to WeChat Help but there hasn't been any responses, said Yan, who is a green card holder living in the U.S. Technically, they did not cover my mouth but covered my friends and relatives' ears when I speak.

Yans case is not isolated. VICE News spoke to dozens of WeChat users in the U.S. and Canada, as well as some users in the U.K., France, Spain, Australia, Germany, and Malaysia, who reported identical problems with their accounts as they tried to share information with their family and friends in China.

The restrictions prevent international users from sending information to contacts in China, and in some cases they have also had their accounts suspended or blocked completely and accused of spreading malicious rumors. In many cases, the censorship means their only communication link to people inside China has been cut off completely.

For decades China has sought to strictly control what people can say and see online by tightly regulating any company that operates in China. But as Chinese companies have gone global, so has Chinas ability to censor communications outside of the mainland.

READ: China arrested a whistleblower who shot viral video of coronavirus corpses in Wuhan

WeChat is a unit of Tencent, one of Chinas largest tech companies, which also happens to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Now users in the U.S. are calling for Congress to intervene.

I came to the U.S. for freedom. I thought I escaped from the threat of the Communist Party. But I'm wrong.

Tencent is the evil helper of a totalitarian government that suppresses freedom of speech and democracy, one WeChat user who lives in Philadelphia and wanted to remain anonymous due to fears of retribution, told VICE News. They delete or block your posts if they think it promotes democracy and challenges the government. It violates my civil rights as a U.S. citizen. I came to the U.S. for freedom. I thought I escaped from the threat of the Communist Party. But I'm wrong, I still live in terror because Tencent is monitoring my WeChat and may report me to the Chinese authorities.

Tencent did not respond to specific questions about its censorship of international users, but sent an emailed statement saying it was committed to providing a secure and open platform for all its users.

While we continue to adhere to this commitment, communications on these platforms are subject to the relevant laws and regulations that apply to the respective platforms on which such communications are being carried out, the statement said.

As a Chinese company, Tencent is obligated to comply with strict government regulations on what content is allowed to be published on its platform, and it invests heavily in both automated systems for content filtering and human curation. That includes undercover community leaders who monitor group chats and report any questionable behavior.

While users in China are used to this type of monitoring, U.S. residents are unaccustomed to having their communication subject to Chinese censorship.

READ: The Chinese doctor who tried to warn the world about coronavirus has died

But thats exactly whats happening according to WeChat users VICE News spoke in North Carolina, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Houston, Pennsylvania, Atlanta, and Indiana, as well as many in Canadian cities like Toronto and Ottawa.

As a U.S. citizen, in the land of freedom, I am still under communist control, a WeChat user who called herself Xianzi and who lives in Edison, New Jersey, said.

All those who spoke to VICE News told similar stories of having their accounts silently restricted without any notification. It is likely many other people have had similar restrictions put in place, but have yet to notice it.

The problem with non-transparent/silent censorship is that you never know your messages are censored unless you check with the receivers, which is something that we as users do not usually do, Lotus Ruan, a researcher on internet censorship with the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab, told VICE News.

Tencent operates two versions of its app. The Chinese version (known as Weixin) offers a much greater variety of features everything from calling a cab to applying for a divorce than the international version, which is comparable to WhatsApp.

In China WeChat has close to a billion users who spend an estimated one-third of all their time online using the app. Because practically everyone in the country uses it, it is one of the only ways that Chinese people around the world can keep in contact with their family and friends back home.

Chinese people heavily depend on WeChat, not only for day-to-day chatting, but often for business and reaching out to clients and so on, as well as payments and other financial tools. Losing WeChat is often just unacceptable for many people, and the Chinese government knows that, a Chinese national currently working for Google in California who called himself Benjamin and who recently had his WeChat account suspended, told VICE News.

VICE News has reviewed multiple screenshots showing how messages posted outside of China did not appear for members of a group inside Chinas all-powerful internet censorship apparatus, known as the Great Firewall yet there was no indication or notification that such filtering was taking place.

READ: China Is erasing tributes to coronavirus whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang

But the restrictions are not uniform. Some people report that they can continue to post content in one-on-one chats with Chinese users over WeChat, while others say that feature is also now blocked.

Others report they can send links and pictures, but not messages. More have had their accounts suspended for periods of between one and 30 days. Some groups have been blocked entirely, with warning messages telling them they have been reported for violating WeChats policies.

My family also lives in terror and beg me not to say anything that's challenging or criticizing the Chinese government.

In one case, two account holders who shared a message sent from VICE News to groups they were members of had their group chat feature disabled.

Tencent censors content based on a mysterious collection of keywords, Ruan said, but points out that during times of heightened tensions, the censors widen their restrictions.

Our past research shows that WeChat censors not only content deemed critical to the government but also a wide range of content during critical times, probably as a way to play safe and avoid official reprimands, Ruan said. The platforms sometimes censor even neutral references to official ideologies and government policies. In practice, it means that even if users are genuinely discussing or commending government policies, their messages can still get censored.

The lack of transparency has left many WeChat users confused and frustrated, especially as they worry that their actions may put their families in danger.

My family also lives in terror and beg me not to say anything that's challenging or criticizing the Chinese government, one U.S.-based user told VICE News on the condition of anonymity over fears their family in China would be targeted. Their worries are valid because I know the Communist Party can do anything they want and I will get myself or my relatives in trouble.

Cover: A spectator wears a mouthguard and holds her smartphone in her hand at a table tennis tournament in Germany. (Photo: Swen Pfrtner/picture alliance via Getty Images)

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Heres How China Is Silencing Coronavirus Critics in the U.S. - VICE

Here are the 9 titles Netflix purged due to government censorship – The Next Web

In its 23 years of service, Netflix has removed only nine pieces of content due to government censorship.

In a new report titledEnvironmental Social Governance, the streaming giant revealed that over the years it has received takedown requests from the governments of New Zealand, Vietnam, Germany, Singapore, and Saudi Arabia. The first ever takedown notice came from New Zealand in 2015, but Singapore is by far the most active.

[Read: How to opt out of Netflixs autoplay previews]

Here are the nine titles Netflix removed over the years:

For what its worth, Netflix aims to make as much content as possible available on its platform, but it says itll ultimately comply with removal notices if a country has forbidden the distribution of certain titles.

This is the first time Netflix has revealed the list of titles that have been removed following government pressure, but the company intends to continue disclosing such information in the future. Beginning next year, we will report these takedowns annually, the company writes in the report.

via Axios

Read next: Every c-suite leader needs to be a Chief Empathy Officer

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Here are the 9 titles Netflix purged due to government censorship - The Next Web

Parler: Twitter Suspending James OKeefe Is Political Censorship and Election Interference – Breitbart

Social media company Parler has slammed Twitters decision to suspend Project Veritas founder James OKeefe, saying that the move amounts to political censorship and election interference.

Twitter suspendedOKeefes account last month shortly after Project Veritas released undercover footage showing Bernie Sanders staffers praising Stalins gulags and promising that cities will burn if President Donald Trump is re-elected.

Parler CEO John Matze said in a statement to Breitbart News that Twitters decision represents an attack on investigative journalism.

Investigative journalism requires information to be released that would not normally make it to the public eye. This is a form of transparency. By going out of your way to stonewall transparency you are killing real journalism and when you only do it to protect politicians with your favored ideology, it looks biased and it is political censorship. This is election interference, he said.

Additionally I would like to stress that people need to make a stand against social publications and join Parler because this election interference by Twitter is going to get much worse before it gets better and Parler is the only answer.

Parler launched in 2018 as a competitor to Twitter and has attracted conservatives concerned about censorship from Silicon Valley giants.

Twitter has claimed that it lockedOKeefes account because of privacy violations after OKeefe posted a publicly available FEC paystub of the Sanders staffer who praised violence and gulags.

OKeefe told Breitbart News earlier this month that the information we published was a screenshot from a U.S Government website, certainly not private. But even if it was private, the information did meet the threshold of overriding public interest.

See the rest here:

Parler: Twitter Suspending James OKeefe Is Political Censorship and Election Interference - Breitbart

Censorship, lies and death: China’s government under fire – TheArticle

The coronavirus is the greatest crisis to have faced President Xi Jinping since he took power in 2012.

Since the outbreak began in the central city of Wuhan last December, it has killed 565 people and infected more than 28,200. All but two of the deaths were in mainland China. It has forced the government to lock down cities with a population exceeding 60 million and is likely to cut GDP growth this year by at least 0.5 percentage points.

Who is responsible for this catastrophe? Beijing cannot blame it on the United States and the hostile foreign forces it holds responsible for eight months of protest in Hong Kong and helping Tsai Ying-wen to win a second presidential term in Taiwan. No the guilty parties are within China.A bitter war is being waged on the Chinese internet over this issue.

Many believe the government is guilty of a cover-up after the first patient in Wuhan experienced the symptoms of the disease on December 1. On the social platform Douban, many people have written reviews of the television series Chernobyl, about the Soviet nuclear disaster in April 1986. The Soviet government delayed news of the catastrophe and did not report faithfully what had happened. In any era, any country, its the same. Cover everything up, wrote one blogger. That is socialism.

On December 30, Li Wenliang (pictured), a Wuhan doctor, informed fellow doctors in an online chat group that seven patients from a local seafood market had been diagnosed with a SARS-like illness and were quarantined in his hospital. Contaminated animals in the market are the most likely source of the virus.

Li and seven other doctors were visited by city police; they accused them of rumour-mongering and warned them not to discuss the disease in public. Li himself was tested positive for the virus on February 1 and died in the early hours of February 7.

His death caused an outpouring of grief and anger on social media. Wuhan government owes Dr Li Wenliang an apology, said one. We want freedom of speech, said another. Tens of thousands read the comments before the censors deleted them.

If any of us here is fortunate enough to speak up for the public in the future, please make sure you remember tonights anger, said another comment.

Lis death is the most tragic result of a cover-up. On January 2, hospitals in Wuhan accepted 27 patients who had direct exposure to the seafood market. By January 18, the number of infected patients in Wuhan had risen to 62; that day the city government arranged a public banquet with 40,000 families making and sharing food. By then doctors had told the city government that the virus could be spread from human to human.

But it was only on January 22 that the city was quarantined and severe measures put in place. In the weeks before, five million people had left Wuhan to travel all over China and around the world. It is they who have carried the disease across the globe.

Chinese are asking why it took seven weeks from the first case to the public announcement and imposition of drastic measures. The answer is Chinas highly centralised reporting system. The Wuhan government is likely to have reported details of the disease to Beijing; but it could not announce anything or take strong measures without approval.

Was it only Xi himself who could make such a major decision? Did the Prime Minister and Minister of Health have to wait for him?

Many of the bloggers direct their anger at Wuhan Mayor Zhou Xianwang and Hubei governor Wang Xiaodong. During an interview that Zhou gave to state television, one commentor wrote in a live stream: Stop talking. We just want to know when you will resign.

To avoid the censors, bloggers must be ingenious. Some refer to Xi Jinping as Trump. Others describe the police and police stations with characters that are incorrect but have the same sound as the correct ones. This works because most of the censoring is done by computers, which cannot detect wordplay.

In the early days of the crisis, control of the Internet was eased, allowing criticism of the local government. Then this week President Xi said that the government needed to step up propaganda and strengthen online media control to maintain social stability. Many WeChat accounts have been shut down. State news media runs positive stories about how China is defeating the virus and about health workers in the front line.

This epidemic is devastating and figures at the very top of government are implicated in the appalling response. The Chernobyl catastrophe was so horrific that it helped to speed the collapse of the Soviet Union. The question now is what the consequences will be for the Chinese government of this terrible, growing crisis that it has handled so incompetently.

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Censorship, lies and death: China's government under fire - TheArticle

A glimmer of hope: Mallika Sarabhai on the cancelled NID event, CAA protests, censorship and more – Scroll.in

On February 3, the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, unexpectedly cancelled its convocation ceremony that was scheduled to be held on February 7.

This sparked speculation that the institute had cancelled the ceremony under pressure from the Modi government because it had invited dancer and performer Mallika Sarabhai as the chief guest. Sarabhai has remained a vociferous critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi since his tenure as chief minister of Gujarat.

In an interview with Scroll.in, Sarabhai said the institute did not offer any explanation for the cancellation. She said she knew how much pressure institutes were under. But she saw a silver lining in the ongoing protests against the Citizenship Act in India: Suddenly, hundreds and thousands of people otherwise silent who never thought of themselves as activists, who never thought of themselves as defenders of the nation are out there. That is a huge silver lining.

The 65-year-old dancer continues to run Darpana Academy of Performing Arts in Ahmedabad that was set up in 1949 by her parents Mrinalini Sarabhai, a classical dancer and Vikram Sarabhai, a scientist who initiated space research in India.

Excerpts from the interview:

How long ago did NID invite you as their guest and when did they inform you that the event was cancelled?They invited me three or four months ago. On Monday [February 3], I got the same letter as everyone else [informing them that the convocation was cancelled].

Did the institute give an explanation as to why the event was cancelled?No.

How do you view the institutes decision on cancelling the convocation because of unforeseen circumstances?I know how much pressure institutions are under. It is on the board to take a decision on whether they want to give in to that pressure or not. We also know what happens to people who do not give into pressure. I might have taken a different decision had I been the chairI dont know.

It is also not an individual thing, right? There are so many things that one needs toI am not condoning or approving, I am just saying that it is a difficult time.

What had you planned to speak about in your address to students at the convocation?I am actually contemplating making public what I was going to say in the next few hours. I was going to talk about how the world has gone wrong because human beings think we are the centre of the universe, and the universe and everything on it is for our good and for our greed. That has got us to the state we are in where the world is falling apart and animal species are being destroyed and languages are being destroyed and diversity is disappearing.

If there is one thing that is the soul of India, it is our diversityit is our culture that means 900 languages, 3,000 ways of weaving, 500 ways of placing embroidery, colours, the fact that dal is not the same from one village to the nextthat is the only thing that makes us unique.

I think we have gone wrong when we are trying to catch up with what we think are our superiors because we have an inferiority complex. For instance, if you look at traditional building technologies, every school is teaching how to build with cement and concrete when we know that cement and concrete uses so much water in the making of it and then falls apart in two to three years. And if you go into traditional building then you have forts that lasted 500 years.

Why is it that when we have answers to the kind of crisis we are in just now, why is it that we are still copying people we think are our superiors. And this kind of muscular patriarchy and capitalism is what is wrong. I want students to be actually able to change their worldview from this lackey of the West to what we should really celebrate is where we can lead the world.

The terms have to be ours because we have things that should be shared with the world. We have the recycling culture and tradition that the world needs to follow and not that we need to follow the world. And that the diminishing of difference into only one thing that is right is killing the very essence of India.

Are you aware of the mock convocation that NID students held?Yes, absolutely. I wish they called me. I would have loved to have gone...that is the spirit.

How far back does your familys association with the institute go?It goes back to its birth, to its very idea. My aunt and uncle Gira and Gautam Sarabhai were the ones who brought in [American designers] Charles and Ray Eames and founded it.

I have worked on and off with NID. We have had a lot of students coming and working at Darpana, studying dance, studying mudras, doing projects. I have been on their governing council.

You have been an active voice of dissent in the protests against the amended Citizenship Act and proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens in Gujarat. How do you view the current political situation regarding the ongoing protests?For the first time in many years, I feel such a glimmer of hope that the young people are really taking on what is of absolute essential value to India, which is non-violent protest. More and more people are coming into this without a single leaderthe women that have come out of it. For me, working in womens empowerment, I think that this is amazing and thank god for breaking the silence and finally finding your own speech and your voices and the sisterhood.

Our Constitution and our flag have become genuine symbols of our good rather than something that you stand up and salute every few months.

What role do you think women have played during these protests?Very primary. They are at the absolute centre. It is something that we are seeing for the first time. I have heard that during the freedom struggle there were a lot of women involved but I do not think women were leading it.

But certainly, in all my years of activism, I have never seen women as the force of the protestsThe sisterhood that has come out is breaking through [the lines of] caste, community and religion, and their men who keep them at home.

At the Jaipur Literature Festival, protestors were detained by police. At the India Art Fair, a Shaheen Bagh-inspired exhibition was disrupted. How do you view such incidents as a performer and dancer?When I first did Sitas Daughters in 1990, I told Sitas story from her perspective, I had right-wing Hindus trying to burn the theatre down in Pune. That was 1990. Two years ago, Professor [Shivaji] Panikkar at MS University [Maharaja Sayajirao University in Baroda] had to resign and leave the city because of [something like] this.

How do you think cultural spaces have been affected by this?I think that while censorship is on at its fullest and most brutal, the fact that every kind of artist is using the art, poetry, painting, cartooning, songs is amazing. That is the true role of culture.

The bigger the festival, the more they feel scared. It is done to frighten people into silence into not protesting. What is a literature festival if literature is not dissent and debate?

Some observers say that these are the biggest protests since the Emergency in the 1970s...This is the first time. Nirbhaya was one sort of thing, the anti-corruption [movement] was one sort, but this is about the soul of India.

This is about who we are. It is otherwise a very distant concept for those people looking at their rozi roti everyday but suddenly it is not a distant concept.

Suddenly, the Constitution is what makes us us. And suddenly, hundreds and thousands of people otherwise silent who never thought of themselves as activists, who never thought of themselves as defenders of the nation are out there. That is a huge silver lining. And I think it will turn into a silver cloud, not just a lining.

What are you currently working on?I have just done a major tour a few months ago of a new piece that my colleague Yadavan Chandran and I created with a Pakistani British singer Samia Malik and the show is called Colours of Her Heart. It was looking at five individual personal stories of the five performers to try and build a post #MeToo dialogue between men and women, men and men and women and women. And it had tremendous success.

We did 10 cities in America and people from the audience would come and hold our hands and say that they had never spoken about this. There were men who came and said thank you for giving us the opportunity and we have felt so frustrated, so frightened and so guilty because no one gives us a chance to say that there are men who are different, who would like to defend you, and there are men who think that what we are doing is wrong, there are men who think that entitlement is all-pervasive and needs to be changed.

We have finished the building of our theatre which was necessitated by the Riverfront Sabarmati project cutting off our state from the rest of us, a process that took three and a half years. We have created a very beautiful gallery that we have dedicated to my mother and because we were trying to get the theatre up and running we have not had time to do what we wanted to do which is for the first three months create an exhibition celebrating her many facets people do not know at all. That is one thing I am very actively working on.

For years, people have been telling me to write a book about the experiments I have done with health, food, nutrition and exercise because I am constantly asked how I look the way I do. So I am writing. I have never worked on a book before.

See the article here:

A glimmer of hope: Mallika Sarabhai on the cancelled NID event, CAA protests, censorship and more - Scroll.in

Penny Thoughts: Editing and Censorship | – West Alabama Watchman

Anyone who has ever published or has sought to publish something has had the experience of being at the mercy of an editor. Essentially, it is the editors responsibility to make certain that there are given structural consistencies. The material must be grammatically correct, punctually right, and substantially consistent with the publishing organizations stated mission. This is the editors job!

With it all, it is a necessity that there be a collaborationbetween the author and the editor.Editors destroy the art of the author if they become blinded by thelenses of their individual political, moral, or emotional biases. If they are, then they become no differentthan some banana republic tyrant. Andbelieve me, some editors are plainly and simply tyrants!

In this instance, Thomas Carlyle observed, Great is journalism. Is not every able editor a ruler of the world,being the persuader of it? (1837).Indeed, a ruler of the world, and clearly such a ruler would beconcerned with the preservation of the status quo refracted through thefocus of her/his perceptive. That editorialprocess is blatant censorship!

Adding to this process, H.G. Wells stated, No passion in the world is equal to the passionto alter someone elses draft. Theoperative word is alter, and in this instance, it implies that an editorhas a predisposed position which the editor seeks to proffer, regardless of thequality of the authors work. Again,this is censorship.

As a case in point let us suppose an author holdsposition x and the editor holds position y.We can assume that x and y are diametrically opposed. Just how the editor exercises editorialprocesses will reveal the intent of the editor.The question remains: what is the editors position? Bend the authorsx to look more like the editors y?Or to present the authors x as it stands?

Essentially, what IS the editors responsibility? And that is just the question every editor must self-impose and exercise. When it comes to novels and even some poetry, it is fair that the editor suggests amendments which further refine what the author seems to intend more so with novels than with poetry. But when an editor wields a form of judgment framed by the personal views of the editor, then such a process falls monumentally short of true editorial commission.

In an allegorical observation, Elbert Hubbard in 1847 declared, Aneditoris someone who separates the wheat from the chaff and then prints the chaff. In 1964, Adlai Stevenson re-quoted this same observation. It holds weighty implications when closely examined and harkens to Matthew 13:24-30, which deals with the wheat being separated from the chaff. In my perspective, this is the best analogy for an editor to face up to editorial responsibility.

Having published articles, poems, and a textbook, in every instance my work was at the mercy of an editors view. Some were good, some bad, but all of them held the sword which could have eviscerated my entire submitted piece. There are expectations an author has from the work of an editor. Even with all the structural functions an editor must exercise, in the final analysis, an editor must be objective! Of all the duties an editor must exhibit, objectivity must be at the forefront! If that is not the case, then editorship becomes censorship.

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Penny Thoughts: Editing and Censorship | - West Alabama Watchman

How does a government censor the Internet? A rare peek from Jammu and Kashmir – Security Boulevard

From time to time we hear that a totalitarian government has locked down Internet access for a part or all of their country. Normally, that is about all we hear about the situation. In the case of India, not normally thought of as a Totalitarian government, we have a unique opportunity to look at what they are censoring as they began to relax the total lockout of Internet services that was put into place in Jammu and Kashmir.

The lift of total censorship began on January 14th, when Internet Service Providers were ordered to install firewalls that would only allow access to 153 government-approved websites. As was pointed out by The Wire, No Mainstream News in List of 153 Whitelisted Websites Under Kashmirs First Govt Firewall. TheWire.in noted that Conspicuously absent from the list that includes Gmail, Netflix, Zomato, Oyo Rooms and Paytm are news and social media websites.

The order from the Principal Secretary to the Government, Home Department to the ISPs stated that the Internet shutdown was because there have been number of reports of the use of internet in cross border terrorism/terror activities, incitement, rumour-mongering, etc. as also misuse of pre-paid mobile connections by anti-national elements.

I would invite others to make relevant observations in the comments sections, or in your own publications linking back to this page. The list is intended to be a faithful representation of the new order, which can be found on the JK Home Office website as Home-05(TSTS) of 2020.

While the order has been commonly described as containing 300 URLs, there are a handful of duplicates, where a URL was included both with a trailing slash and without the slash. It should also be noted that there are a very large number of websites included by Top Level Domain, due to the inclusion of the TLDs: Ac.in (most academic institutions in India will be included here), Gov.in (most government offices and services in India will be included here), and Nic.in (most network infrastructure services from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is included here.)

It is curious how it was decided which websites to include and not to include. For example, why include Adidas and Reebok, but not Nike? Im sure the programmers are thrilled to see that Github and StackOverflow are included! What other observations strike you as interesting? Please comment or Tweet about them!

*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from CyberCrime & Doing Time authored by Gary Warner, UAB. Read the original post at: http://garwarner.blogspot.com/2020/01/how-does-government-censor-internet.html

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How does a government censor the Internet? A rare peek from Jammu and Kashmir - Security Boulevard

The many ways to censor cutting-edge art in Russia – The Economist

Feb 1st 2020

MOSCOW

ANASTASIA PATLAY thought something was amiss when she checked the young mans ID. He seemed a couple of years below the strict 18+ requirement for this performance of Out of the Closet, a play adapted from interviews with gay men and their families. That restriction was not the choice of Ms Patlay, the director, but a demand of Russian federal law, which since 2013 has banned the promotion of non-traditional sexual relationships to minors. A photocopy of his passport, which Ms Patlay snapped on her phone, suggested he had recently turned 19. Perhaps she was being paranoid, but Teatr.doc, which specialises in verbatim dramas assembled from real-life documents and transcriptsand has long been described as Russias most controversial theatre companyhad already had enough trouble from the authorities.

Her hunch was vindicated; the spectator was a plant sent by a far-right group. Shortly after the show began, he and his friend walked out to rendezvous with a dozen more agitators. Together they accused the theatre staff of illegally exposing children to gay propaganda. (The passport had been doctored; in reality, the youngster was 15.) Then they invaded the auditorium, stopping the play and shouting homophobic slurs. Police were called and a fight broke out; Teatr.doc complained about the invasion, the saboteurs that a minor had been admitted.

No charges were brought, but that sting last August turned out to be the start of a protracted ordeal for the Moscow-based company at the hands of ultraconservatives. Despite all the official pressure that Teatr.doc had suffered, this campaign was (and is) a new and different problem. It encapsulates the dual challenge of artistic censorship in Russiawhich, as Vladimir Putins rule has progressed, has come to be enforced by freelance outfits as well as the state, and as much for supposedly moral reasons as over political dissent.

Teatr.doc was founded in 2002 by Elena Gremina and Mikhail Ugarov, husband-and-wife playwrights who were inspired by verbatim drama workshops in Russia led by the Royal Court theatre of London. Its shows elicited strong responses from the start, not only because of the contentsubjects included homelessness, immigration and HIVbut also their style and everyday language. Productions that drew particular ire (and acclaim) included September.doc, in which actors read comments made in internet chat rooms following the Beslan school siege of 2004, and One Hour Eighteen Minutes, a reference to the time doctors were denied access to Sergei Magnitsky, a whistle-blowing lawyer, before he died in police custody. They went after things that ail the society, says John Freedman, a critic and translator of Russian drama, and they did it in a way that was quite direct.

Despite its quality, Teatr.doc only ever played in small venues. It has been obliged to find a new one three times in the past six years after leases were terminated, supposedly because of noise and safety complaints. Bomb scares have been reported at several performances, shutting them down, but no explosives have been found. Instead, police have exploited the scares to check audience members documents.

It might seem odd for the authorities to expend so much effort on niggling an experimental troupe. But as well as being a salutary demonstration of power, such treatment nudges the Kremlins opponents to rally round artists who can be caricatured as libertine extremists. Some alternative targetspop stars, sayhave higher profiles, but also followings too big to alienate. Teatr.doc is not the only cutting-edge company to have faced official harassment. Kirill Serebrennikov, director of the Gogol Centre theatre in Moscow, spent almost 20 months under house arrest as part of an ongoing embezzlement case.

In 2018 both of Teatr.docs founders died, leaving the company to be run by Ms Greminas son, Alexander Rodionov; many wondered if it would carry on. It did, but the intimidation continuedonly in a new form. A month after the sting on Out of the Closet, protesters threw foul-smelling chemicals through the window during a performance of War is Close, a play about the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Again, no charges were brought. Instead, at the end of last year authorities launched an investigation of Teatr.doc following a complaint from an activist group called the National-Conservative Movement. It accused the theatre of disseminating LGBT propaganda, justifying terrorism in War is Close, and promoting drug use in another production. Staff were questioned; the theatre handed over the scripts of the plays for review.

Last month police said they would not bring criminal charges, in what Ms Patlay called a victory for common sense. But her adversaries have not gone away.

In this parallel censorship drive, far-right agitators have taken aim at several other shows and exhibitions. Side by Side, an LGBT film festival, has been picketed, as have art shows with religious themes. In 2015 the director of a Siberian opera house was forced out after his staging of Wagners Tannhuser was deemed sacrilegious by Orthodox Christians. Such independent provocateurs are scarier than the authorities, says Ms Patlay, because they are unpredictable and they are new. She thinks they have been emboldened by the increasingly reactionary rhetoric of Russias politicians. And they appear to operate with the states tacit consent. The lack of punishment for them and the inaction from policeit sends a signal that we are not defended.

On the contrary, says Valentina Bobrova, the National-Conservative Movements founder. Outfits like hers may further the Kremlins bid to stoke a culture war between conservatives and those it portrays as radicals, but she insists the movement is privately funded and has no links with the authorities. She says she never had much hope that her complaint would close the companyand that it is not the likes of her but liberal voices that hold too much sway in modern Russia. Teatr.doc is an enemy of our country that is working from within, she says. We cannot stay quiet and we decided to act. She was behind the disruption of Out of the Closet, too. Her members are looking out for other signs of anti-Russian activity.

Ms Patlay worries about the effect of all this on the audience, who might conclude that you have to be particularly brave to go to the theatre. And we dont have the right to ask spectators to be brave. As to whether Teatr.doc has managed to change Russian society, she is illusionless. I dont think the percentage of decent people has increased, she accepts. But those people who are still here, who havent emigrated, perhaps it is a support of some kind. At the very least, she says, the company has shown it is possible to talk openly about things that others would rather hush up.

This article appeared in the Books and arts section of the print edition under the headline "The many ways to censor cutting-edge art in Russia"

Original post:

The many ways to censor cutting-edge art in Russia - The Economist

Pompeo And Trump: Censure Of The Press As A Form Of Retaliation – Forbes

The State Department has withdrawn an NPR correspondent's press corps attendance as a form of ... [+] retaliation.

The U.S. Department of State has blocked NPRs diplomatic correspondent, Michelle Kelemen, from covering Secretary of State Mike Pompeos trip to Europe and Central Asia, including Ukraine. This follows Pompeos reportedly cursing and yelling at NPR correspondent Mary Louise Kelly after she questioned him about Ukraine and his treatment towards former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

NPR has asked the State Department for its reasoning behind blocking press credentials to Kelemen. As of 3:27 pm on January 24th, 2020, Kelemen had been scheduled to attend and had received information from the State Department about hotels for the trip. Kellys interview with Pompeo was aired on NPR that day at 5:06 pm. On January 25, 2020, Pompeo released an official statement criticizing Kelly, including wording that she was shameful, and that she had lied to him. On January 26, 2020, Kelemen was informed that she was no longer welcome on the trip.

President Trump publicly stated support of Pompeos treatment of Kelly during a press conference. He said, That was very impressive. That reporter couldnt have done too good a job on you yesterday. I think you did a good job on her, actually.

Why should all of this be very concerning to you, regardless of where you are on the political spectrum? It is a blatant show of vengeance towards the press behavior which should be beneath the State Department. In addition, this censorship has been condoned by the White House. When the free press is blocked from participating in official government activity, it is a slippery slope towards full censorship of any journalist that criticizes the federal government.

This is by far not the first time that Trumps administration has engaged in retaliatory behavior towards a reporter and his or her media organization. In November 2018, the White House suspended the press pass of CNN reporter Jim Acosta. This was not a one-time block; his hard pass was revoked, which meant he was not even allowed on the White House grounds. He was not informed about his pass being revoked until he arrived at the White House one hour prior to filming a segment.

In May 2019, the Columbia Journalism Review reported that the White House had revoked the press passes of a significant chunk of the Washington press corps because they didnt meet a new standard. This new standard required that journalists had to be in the White House for at least 90 days out of a period of 180 days. This is an impossibly high standard to reach, created by design. All seven of The Washington Post White House correspondents didnt qualify for a pass under this new rule. The White House then decided who qualified for an exception to this rule. Dana Milbank, a journalist for The Washington Post who held a White House press pass for 21 years, received an email that his press pass had been revoked. He was also denied an exception.

No one should be surprised by this censorship from the White House. In November 2018, President Trump threatened to revoke press passes of other reporters. He singled out journalist April Ryan of American Urban Networks, saying, Shes very nasty, and she shouldnt be. Ryan tweeted in response, I love this country and have the most respect for the Office of the President. I will continue to ask the questions that affect America, all of America. Ryan was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists, and has covered the White House since 1997.

We need to be mindful of the impact that press censorship by the White House and State Department has on some of the publics perception of the free press. After an article regarding Kellys interview of Pompeo, this contributor received an email stating, The press and their water carriers are scum. No 1st Amendment rights will be harmed if the press is destroyed... When the President of the United States endorses censorship of the press that questions him, refers to legitimate news organizations and reporters as fake news, supports the State Departments censorship of a reporter with no just cause, and tweets a GIF of himself beating someone with a superimposed CNN logo on his head with the hashtag #FraudNewsCNN, our response should be one of alarm. When members of the free press are not allowed to report freely, every citizens right to express an opinion is at stake.

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Pompeo And Trump: Censure Of The Press As A Form Of Retaliation - Forbes

Circus of censorship – The News on Sunday

Zindagi Tamasha has become controversial despite the fact that the film has not yet been released, and except the censor board, no one has seen it in full. However, its trailer has brewed a storm and calls have been made to ban the film.

Sarmad Khoosat, one of our most creative directors, has been running from pillar-to-post to make sense of his films treatment. He has even written to the prime minister, to explain the reality of the situation. Obviously, there was no satisfactory response which only added to his fears; that his effort and time will have been wasted, as the film would not be screened publically, according to schedule.

This is yet another example of shrinking space and the narrowing of avenues where and through which ideas can be expressed, aired and then become subjects of debate. There is a vast difference between a debate and a controversy; a debate is an invitation to join in stretching the canvas upon which ideas can be explored; while controversy is the first step towards inciting violence. It is a death knell to the freedoms that we cherish so much in contemporary times.

Really, this is the issue. Decisions are being made in areas where they are not supposed to be made. The forum which determines the acceptability of a film for public display, is the censor board. Due to the devolution of powers to provinces, there is one small and ineffective board at the centre, while each province has its own.

As the central board and two provincial boards had cleared the film for public viewing, far-right parties such as the Tehrik-i-Labbaik Pakistan, took the matter to the streets and alleged that the film contained blasphemous material. The threat of mob violence and country-wide protests was given. Voices are raised for the film to be banned and not screened; in fear of a violent backlash. The only threat that matters in Pakistan, is of mob violence and resultantly the prevalence of mob justice. Unfortunately, this is becoming the new-normal that no-one can deny; institutions are made ineffective, as they are not allowed to function, under threat of mob rule. Decisions taken by relevant forums too, are under the ominous shadow of street power at times.

Khoosat is a highly creative person, who deserves credit for standing up for his work and what he wants to achieve, let us all stand by his side. Such censorial steps will deter other filmmakers who may not be made from material as resilient as Khoosat.

It is making the current system ineffective, powerless and emasculating the civil structure, so that it either fails to make decisions, or does so under duress. For a number of decades, our society has been characterised by fear ruling us, rather than reason or logic.

After bright spots of hope, the same pall of darkness spreads, with greater intensity and desire to kill all freedoms, especially the freedom to hold and express ones opinion fearlessly. Such hope is perceived as a dangerous sign, which is reason enough to snuff it out by demonising it either in the name of religion, patriotism or corruption.

It appears now that the matter is being referred to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII). May I ask; what is the film about religion or human beings? The proper study of mankind is man; all art is about human beings because it revolves round us. Has the CII taken over or is seen as a substitution for the Censor Board? Is the next step the knocking at the doors of the Organisation of Islamic operation, for the fear of it being detrimental to the common image of the Ummah? This may as well be invoked

Initially, technical objections were raised; that the censor board was not in full attendance when the film was approved, hence it was not certified by all members. However, this is how it is supposed to be, as it is the quorum that is supposed to rule and not all members. It was only that rules and regulations were being followed and no violation or bulldozing of the general opinion took place.

There is a negative and general tendency, where if the final outcome is not favourable, than rules and laws pertaining to the matter are changed, or there is an inclination to find faults with the current rules and laws. There is greater urge to have it approved or disapproved by a higher tier, even if it does not fall within its purview. This general tendency is apparent in bureaucracy, judiciary and government hierarchies which has actually resulted in a heavy centralization of authority. Everything ends up being decided at the top, and lower tiers are made to abdicate their powers.

Films are hardly made in this country and there has been a great effort at reviving the film industry, the few films that are made, are seen as signs of that revival. But such hypersensitive measures which do not allow authorised bodies to function, can never be conducive in creating an environment where art can exist, let alone thrive. It will take a sinister turn and end up being an underground activity. What is needed most is an environment which nourishes various art forms, alongside an essential factor a space where one can breathe freely.

Khoosat is a highly creative person, who deserves credit for standing up for his work and what he wants to achieve, let us all stand by his side. Such censorial steps will deter other filmmakers who may not be made from material as resilient as Khoosat, and move abroad to more favourable climes to express themselves for we have seen so many do exactly that.

Excerpt from:

Circus of censorship - The News on Sunday

Study: North Korea, China, and Russia top internet censorship charts – The Next Web

A new study published by Comparitech.com, a site that compares privacy tools, ranks countries on how much they exercise internet censorship. The study says North Korea takes the crown, while China is on the second spot followed by Russia, Iran, andTurkmenistan.

The website has taken a total of 10 factors into account:

[Read:Internet partially restored in Kashmir after 165 days social media still blocked ]

North Korea scores a whopping 10 out of 10 on this scored card with China scoring 9. Russia, Turkmenistan, and Iran scored 7 in this survey. Internet censorship is a huge issue across the world as more and more countries are trying to stifle or control online content one way or another.

Governments are also recognizing that more and more users are using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to overcome the countrys internet restriction to access content or post on social media sites.

Unfortunately, the study doesnt include internet shutdowns, which is a major problem in countries like India with relatively lighter internet restrictions. However, legislators are trying to fight authority and minimize internet blocks. Recently, the countrys apex court ruled that the internet is a part of the basic right of freedom of speech.

You can check the study here and you can check out the full spreadsheet with data from all countries here.

Read next: Filipino billionaire denies endorsing Bitcoin 'scam'

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Study: North Korea, China, and Russia top internet censorship charts - The Next Web

Cries of censorship in Sudan as media outlets linked to old regime closed – Middle East Eye

The closure in Sudan earlier this month of four media outlets believed to have been connected to former ruler Omar al-Bashir's government has attracted international criticism following a period of praise regarding improvements that had been made over the freedom of the press.

The decision to close the Al-Sudani and Al-Ray Al-Am newspapers, as well as the satellite channels of Ashrooq and Teeba, over alleged corruption and financing by the National Congress Party (NCP), Bashir's former ruling party, has also caused controversy within the country.

Sudan seizes assets of Omar al-Bashir's former ruling party

The four media outlets were closed on 8 January as part of a broader effort to dismantle the NCP and all its affiliated entities.

In November, the country's transitional authorities announced a law to dissolve the NCP, which also allowed for the party's assets to be seized.

The committee that ordered the closure of the media outlets said the aim was to examine their bank accounts and establish whether they were still being financed by members of the former government.

Other institutions affected included the Holy Quran society, which was closed down over similar allegations, and the International University of Africa, based in Khartoum, which was ordered to be audited.

Taha Othman, a member of the sovereign council legal committee, said the Ministry of Religious Affairs would now manage the Holy Quran society.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) all condemned the decision to close the media outlets.

Reporters Without Borders condemns the new Sudanese governments sudden closure of four media outlets that supported the former regime and asks it to show concern for the fate of their more than 200 journalists," RSF said in a press release.

"Instead of closing media outlets, the authorities should make sure the Sudanese media comply with a code of ethics.

Sudan is ranked 175th out of 180 countries in RSFs 2019 World Press Freedom Index.

In a statement on its official website, the IFJ said: In a new move to curb press freedom, the Sudanese government announced the seizure of four independent media houses, including two newspapers and TV-channels.

"Their offices have been occupied by security forces and all employees have been ordered to leave

The CPJ called on Sudanese authorities to revise the decision.

Sudanese authorities should end the suspension of these newspapers and TV stations and ensure that press freedom does not become collateral damage during a sensitive moment, it said.

All four media outlets and the Holy Quran society have denied receiving money from the NCP.

Wagdi Salih, spokesman for theAnti-Corruption Committee, which has been tasked with dismantling the NCP and its affiliated entities, defending the decision to close down the media outlets.

Salih accused them of receiving illegal finance, money laundering and looting public funds, among other financial crimes.

'Its a big joke that the supporters of the old regime are now crying for the freedom of press and expression that they oppressed everyday through the 30 years of their ruling'

-Wagdi Salih, Anti-Corruption Committee

He told Middle East Eye that the decision to close the outlets had nothing to do with the freedom of the press or freedom of expression in the country.

We are tracking the illegal ownership of these institutions, not their editorial policies or what they wrote, Salih stressed.

Its a big joke that the supporters of the old regime are now crying for the freedom of press and expression that they oppressed everyday through the 30 years of their ruling.

Salih said the committee had hard evidence and information they had received from the security organs and other institutions concerned proving that the outlets had basically been established and financed by the former ruling party.

Our aim and mandate asis to return the looted money to the nation because its one of the main demands of the revolution so we wont abandon our task...We will press on to dismantle all institutions that looted the money of the Sudanese people, regardless of them working in the media or any other area.

In a news conference last week, Rashid Saeed, the undersecretary of the Sudanese ministry of information, said that Ashrooq had been established by money paid following an order from Bashir.

He also said that the transitional government had suspended the media outlets under the law authorising authorities to seize the assets and funds of the former regime, and not because of their editorial line.

They spent millions of euros to establish this channel with public money, also for the Teeba channel, the former president himself has admitted in front of the court that he paid for them from public money, said Saeed.

For example, for the Holy Quran society, we found that it owns a gold mining site, this is clear corruption that we would never tolerate."

Inside Sudan, journalists and pro-democracy protesters were split over the closure, with some supporting the transitional government's committee tasked with the dismantling of the former ruling party, while others opposed the action, arguing the decision went against the message of the revolution.

Diya Aldin Bilal, the chief editor of Al-Sudani, one of the newspapers that was closed down, accused the transitional government of silencing the voices of journalists and any opposition, adding that they are practising the same attitude of the old regime.

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Addressing a news conference in Khartoum earlier this month, Bilal denied any links with or the financing of his newspaper with the old regime.

We have nothing to do with the old regime's money or political positions, but the current government is practicing the same oppression against the media, he said.

Unfortunately, the Sudanese politicians are changing their views according to their political position and the government of the Forces ofFreedom and Change has changed its slogans and the principles that they claimed that they had come to defend when they came to the power.

However, Khalid Fathi, the secretary general of the Sudanese Journalist Network, welcomed the decision, saying its aim was to fight corruption and to control the assets of NCP, and had nothing to do with freedom of expression.

We have to take these outlets case by case, as for example with Teeba the authorities have received complaints from Nigeria and Ethiopia that this channel is broadcasting hate discourse in local languages in these countries," he told MEE.

"For Ashrooq and Al-Ray Al-Am it is known that they have been financed by the former ruling party, the controversy is now about the ownership of Al-Sudani, and that can be easily checked by the general auditor.

This moveis for fighting corruption and is actually supporting transparency and the rule of law.

"But the committee dismantling the old regime's institutions is supposed to be cautious and needs to double check the information it receives, especially about the media houses, because this issue is sensitive and can be linked to freedom of expression.

Sudanese political analyst Magdi el-Gizouli, a scholar at the Rift Valley Institute (RVI) think tank, believes that the transitional government should be focusing on more pressing threats to democracy in Sudan, rather than the banning of newspapers.

The real threats to democracy in Sudan are not the newspapers, but the security organs, the army leaders and the militias, they are all now on the top of the government following the compromise made between the civilians and the military, he said.

The reformation of the security sector is the priority, not the media.

I wonder how the new rulers, who were freedom fighters resisting the former regime, are now trusting the security organs which were part of the old regime, and receive their reports regarding the assets and investments of the former ruling party from them.

See the article here:

Cries of censorship in Sudan as media outlets linked to old regime closed - Middle East Eye


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