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Sudan – Freedom of information group condemns YouTube block in Sudan

21 Sep

21 September 2012

(ANHRI/IFEX) – 18 September 2012 – The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemns the blocking of YouTube by Sudanese authorities.

On 16 September 2012, the Sudanese Ministry of Communication blocked YouTube from the Internet without reasons and without details. The decision was strongly condemned by several journalists and activists, who tried to call the National Communication Authority, but were not provided with information.

Some analysts attribute the block to the role that YouTube plays in communication between rebel movements; YouTube also provides these movements with media support.

Sudan now joins the list of countries that have blocked YouTube for the second and fourth time since its establishment. These countries are: Syria, India, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey.

According to ANHRI, “blocking YouTube and forbidding Sudanese citizens from following current events and news outside Sudan are clear violations of freedom of expression, opinion, the right to information access and exchange”.

ANHRI added that “blocking YouTube is a methodological continuation of the regime’s suppression of…any news related to angry movements that call for democracy”.

ANHRI mentioned that “the mechanism of suppressing and blocking [is] used by all suppressive regimes, especially the Arab regime.”

ANHRI calls on all concerned parties and activists to support freedom of opinion, expression and the Internet. Moreover, it calls on them to continue to protest against the blocking of YouTube until it is unblocked as it is one of the most important independent platforms supporting democracy in Sudan.


Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
10 Elwy Street
Apartment 5
Behind the Central Bank
Downtown Cairo
info (@)
Phone: +202 239 64058
Fax: +202 239 64058

via IFEX

Fourth Somali journalist killed in Mogadishu in 24 hours

21 Sep

Nairobi, September 21, 2012–Unidentified gunmen killed veteran Somali journalist Hassan Yusuf Absuge in Mogadishu this morning, just hours after he had reported on an explosion that killed 14 people including three of his colleagues.

The assailants shot Hassan three times in the head near a high school in Yaqshid district, but fled the scene before police arrived, according to local journalists and news reports. Hassan, a reporter and producer for the private Radio Maanta, had covered Thursday’s suicide bomb attack at a popular café frequented by journalists and civil servants, news reports said.

Local journalists told CPJ that the identities of the gunmen were not clear, but news accounts citing local journalists reported that the attacks were happening in government-controlled areas. “So it could be Al-Shabaab or another militia, or even former government officials,” said one journalist who spoke to CPJ on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. It is not clear why Hassan would have been targeted.

“CPJ mourns the death of Hassan Yusuf Absuge and extends its deep condolences to his family and colleagues,” said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. “Mogadishu has lost yet another good journalist who persisted with his work in the face of enormous risk. The new government must do its utmost to ensure security for the press.”

Hassan had worked as a journalist since 1989 and contributed to Radio Mogadishu and GBC broadcasters, according to local news reports.

The three journalists killed in Thursday’s attack were buried in different cemeteries in the city today due to security concerns, according to local reports. Somalia is the most dangerous country in Africa to practice journalism, according to CPJ research. The threat of violence has driven more journalists into exile from Somalia than from any other country in the past year, CPJ research shows.

  • For more data and analysis on Somalia, visit CPJ’s Somalia page here.

from Committee to Protect Journalists

Citizen journalist killed in Syria

21 Sep

New York, September 21, 2012–Syrian security forces launched an assault Wednesday on the home of a cameraman who had recorded hundreds of videos on the country’s conflict, burning the house and killing the journalist and three of his friends, local activists told international news outlets. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the brutal attack and calls on all sides to stop targeting journalists.

The assault took place in the central city of Hama at the home of Abdel Karim al-Oqda, a cameraman and reporter for Shaam News Network, a citizen news organization based in Damascus. News reports said soldiers killed the journalist and his friends first and then burned the house, but the exact manner of their deaths was not reported. An amateur video posted on YouTube showed four badly burned bodies, the reports said.

Agence-France Presse cited a media activist as saying that the army had targeted al-Oqda’s house because of his coverage of the unrest. “They knew very well who he was. The whole of Hama knew how much of the revolution he had filmed,” the activist said, according to AFP.

Al-Oqda, who used the pseudonym Abu Hassan, worked as Shaam’s reporter in Hama and filmed more than a thousand videos for the network and his YouTube channel, according to news reports. He covered fighting between regime forces and the rebel Free Syrian Army, bombardments by government troops, and civilian deaths, news reports said.

Shaam has posted thousands of videos documenting the unrest in Syria since the uprising began in March 2011. The network’s footage has been used by international news organizations such as Al-Jazeera and the BBC.

“We condemn this brutal targeting and murder of Abdel Karim al-Oqda,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “Journalists are civilians, and the army must know that it will be held accountable for its actions against reporters.”

At least 21 journalists have been killed covering the Syrian conflict since November, including one killed just over the border in Lebanon, making Syria the most dangerous place in the world for journalists, according to CPJ research.

CPJ has documented a resurgence in dangers facing the press in Syria over the past five weeks, including the disappearance of three foreign journalists. Turkish cameraman Cüneyt Ünal and reporter Bashar Fahmi, a Jordanian citizen of Palestinian origin, who work for the U.S. government-funded Al-Hurra, were reported missing in the northwestern city of Aleppo on August 20, according to news reports. Six days later, Ünal appeared in a video saying he had been taken captive while reporting in Syria, but did not explicitly name his captors, although the video appeared on a pro-government television channel. The cameraman made no mention of Fahmi. No further information is known about the journalists’ whereabouts or condition.

U.S. freelance journalist Austin Tice has not been heard from for over a month. At the end of August, the Czech ambassador who represents U.S. interests in Syria said the government had detained Tice, but Syrian authorities have refused to confirm if they are holding him, according to news reports. No further information is known about his whereabouts or condition.

“We call on the captors of Cüneyt Ünal, Bashar Fahmi, and Austin Tice to release them,” said CPJ’s Mahoney.

  • For more data and analysis on Syria, visit CPJ’s Syria page here.

from Committee to Protect Journalists

Journalist, fearing attack, flees town in Mali

21 Sep

Soumaïla Abdoulaye Maïga, a presenter with community station Radio Soni in the northeastern town of Ansongo, went into hiding on April 13 after being warned of an imminent attack by separatist fighters of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), according to local journalists. After Maïga fled, the fighters raided his house and detained a fellow journalist and friend, local journalists said.

Maïga told CPJ that he had received a tip that said he was in danger in connection with a radio broadcast he had done that rebels perceived to be favorable to the Malian government. During an April 12 newscast, Maïga had reported extensively on the swearing-in of interim Malian President Dioncounda Traoré, according to Fatoumata Abdou, the director of Radio Soni.

MNLA fighters went to his home shortly after he fled, and threatened his friend, journalist Youssouf Touré. The next day, the rebels ordered Radio Soni, the only functioning station in the town, to change its name to Radio Azawad, Abdou told CPJ. Abdou closed the station for one day to protest the intimidation, she said.

The MNLA seized Ansongo in late March and have pushed back the Malian army in an attempt to create an independent state in northern Mali, according to news reports.

from Committee to Protect Journalists

Blog: With new focus on sedition law, India poised at juncture

21 Sep

Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, center, has been charged with sedition. (AP/Rafiq Maqbool)

Although it is the world’s largest democracy, India has retained its colonial-era sedition law. But with a national debate ensuing after the arrest of 25-year-old political cartoonist Aseem Trivedi on the antiquated sedition charge and others, members of the Indian government have been forced to do some soul-searching.

Government ministers formally initiated a review of the law, news accounts reported on September 14. The law, which was introduced by the British in 1870 to guard against rebellion, states that anyone who “brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India” could face life in prison. The legislation falls under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code.

“Many politicians have raised their voice against the sedition law, in public appearances and through Twitter. I hope they will do the same in parliament,” Trivedi told CPJ.

If convicted, Trivedi could face life imprisonment. The cartoonist, who was arrested on September 8 but is free on bail, told CPJ that he has four cases pending in different police stations with charges ranging from sedition to violation of the Information Technology Act, the National Emblem Act, and the Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act, among others. Trivedi had criticized corruption on his website, Cartoons Against Corruption, and published cartoons that mocked national symbols. One cartoon, for example, depicted India’s parliament house as a filthy toilet bowl. The website was shut down by the government when the cartoons surfaced last year.

Even while behind bars, Trivedi has spoken out against the injustice of the charges. In a statement from prison last week, he said, “If speaking the truth is sedition, then I have indeed committed sedition. If raising one’s voice against injustice is sedition, then I have committed sedition. If nationalism and the definition of nationalism have changed, then you could say I have committed sedition.”

The cartoonist also told CPJ that a special investigation team had been appointed to look into why he was charged with sedition. He said his next court appearance is scheduled for October 12 at the Mumbai High Court. After being released on bail last week, Trivedi told journalists, “This fight will continue until 124A is repealed.”

Decades ago, Mahatma Gandhi was charged under the sedition law during his struggle for independence. But critics in recent years have been silenced by the draconian law as well. In February 2010, journalists Vijay and Seema Azad were arrested on sedition charges after the police found “anti-national” literature in their possession. The couple, who had been accused of having links to Maoists, was finally granted bail after more than two years in prison.

Time and again, ideas have been conflated with sedition. In late 2010, the charge of sedition was leveled against notable writer Arundhati Roy for speaking out in support of Kashmiri independence. In 2008, magazine editor Lenin Kumar Roy was arrested after he blamed Hindu extremists for targeting minorities in the Kandhamal district.

Speaking of the Trivedi case, Indian journalist Salil Tripathy wrote: “These are only cartoons, not bombs.”

from Committee to Protect Journalists

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