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India – 10 controversial cartoons from India’s Aseem Trivedi

27 Sep
10 controversial cartoons from India’s Aseem Trivedi – IFEX

27 September 2012


Earlier this month, Indian cartoonist Aseem Trivedi was charged with sedition and faces life in jail for his drawings satirising widespread corruption among India’s political elite. News of the case sparked protests among anti-corruption and free expression activists, who complain that India’s government is increasingly intolerant of criticism. Government ministers are even contemplating amending India’s sedition laws.

In India, people are asking, are his cartoons a political statement or just in poor taste? Does it matter? You decide. We’ve collected some of his most controversial drawings here.

IFEX is a global network of committed organisations working to defend and promote free expression.
Permission is granted for material on this website to be reproduced or republished in whole or in part provided the source member and/or IFEX is cited with a link to the original item.

via IFEX


Blog: For India, celebrations not in order on Singh’s birthday

27 Sep

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh turned 80 on Wednesday. (AP/Saurabh Das)

This week, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh marked his 80th birthday. He spent the day, Tuesday, in the company of family and at public events, according to news reports. “There are no celebrations. He prefers to be with his family in the morning–then work as usual,” Singh’s spokesman told the media.

Indeed, there isn’t much reason to celebrate. A man once credited for India’s emergence as an economic powerhouse is now mired in corruption scandals. His administration’s record on promoting press freedom has not fared well, either.

Since Singh took office in May 2004, eight journalists have been killed in India, according to CPJ research. Despite a vibrant media landscape, Singh’s government has done little to address impunity in attacks on the press. The world’s largest democracy ranked 12th in CPJ’s most recent annual impunity index, which calculates the number of unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of each country’s population.

Worse, this year, delegates from India, along with Pakistan and Brazil, took the lead in raising objections to a U.N. plan that would strengthen international efforts to combat deadly anti-press violence.

Also, in January 2011, police arrested journalist Sudhir Dhawale, who documented human rights violations for the Marathi-language monthly Vidrohi. He was charged with sedition and waging war against the state and was also charged under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act–a law that was strengthened under Singh’s administration.

Dhawale’s supporters say he was detained because he was a critic of a state-supported, anti-Maoist militia active in Chhattisgarh state, a center of the violence between Maoists and the state. Dhawale remains imprisoned, according to media reports.

More recently, cartoonist Aseem Trivedi was charged with sedition for his cartoons criticizing government corruption. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

We have also seen Singh’s government exercise stricter controls on expression. Google reported a sharp 49% rise in online content censorship in India between July and December 2011, compared with the previous six months. In its transparency report, Google said there were 101 requests for content removal by the government involving 255 items. In one request during the first half of last year, a local law enforcement agency requested that Google remove 236 communities and profiles that were critical of a local politician from the social networking site Orkut.

Last month, the government blocked access to around 300 websites, pages, and social media accounts–including the Twitter accounts of two journalists–in an effort to subdue communal violence in the turbulent northeast. Following the controversy, the Twitter hashtag #Emergency2012 became a top trending topic in India; it was coined in reference to a 21-month period in the 1970s known as the Emergency, when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi suspended elections and civil liberties.

Singh remains disturbingly sensitive to criticism. His office sent a sharp rejoinder to a Washington Post reporter who described him as “a dithering, ineffectual bureaucrat presiding over a deeply corrupt government.” The government also blocked several spoof Twitter accounts imitating Singh earlier this year, according to Reuters. Singh’s own Twitter account was noted by the BBC for its “dull entries.”

Singh, the only prime minister who has returned to power after completing a five-year term since Jawaharlal Nehru, was largely credited for India’s rapid growth when he served as finance minister in the early 90s. Many argue his economic reforms helped make India one of the leading emerging economies.  Further, he broke barriers when he became the first Sikh to win office in the Hindu-majority country.

But his administration was accused of unethically awarding contracts for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. The administration was then rocked by a scandal involving mobile phone bandwidth, which auditors say cost the country billions in lost revenue. Last year, a cable revealed by Wikileaks suggested that the government bribed members of parliament for their vote on the controversial 2008 nuclear deal between India and the U.S. 

And more recently the government was accused of awarding coal mining contracts to companies without competitive bidding, costing the government billions in revenue. Singh denied these allegations.

Singh’s term is not set to end until 2014. In the time that remains, he has the opportunity to help make India not just the largest democracy but a leading one. (He could begin by seeing to it that India’s colonial-era sedition law is revised). Whether Singh advances press freedom in India will surely affect the legacy he leaves behind.

from Committee to Protect Journalists

U.N. Human Rights Council resolution defends the press

27 Sep

New York, September 27, 2012–The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes today’s passage of a Human Rights Council Resolution on the Safety of Journalists. The resolution represents a robust effort to secure action that will safeguard journalists and deliver justice if they are killed.

“We are encouraged by this resolution, which recognizes that the price of reporting is high and that an assault on a journalist is a violation of our collective right to be informed,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “On average, more than 30 journalists are murdered every year, and the murderers go unpunished in nearly nine of 10 cases. This promising resolution seeks to tackle impunity in the killing of journalists and to safeguard their ability to report without fear of physical or legal reprisal.”

More than 20 journalists have been killed while covering the conflict in Syria and four Somali journalists recently lost their lives within 24 hours, both glaring examples of the need for action to protect the press. CPJ research shows that it is overwhelmingly local journalists working on local stories who are targeted and censored, whether by violence, intimidation, or sophisticated online censorship tactics, or through laws meant to punish and silence critical information.

The resolution, passed today by the 47-member body, was introduced by Austria, Brazil, Morocco, Tunisia, and Switzerland.

from Committee to Protect Journalists

International – Draw attention to impunity: IFEX launches editorial cartoon contest

27 Sep

27 September 2012


im·pu·ni·ty \ im-‘pyü-nə-t\ n. without punishment, without consequences

Journalists, photographers, musicians, writers, human rights defenders and others continue to be sued, threatened, attacked and even murdered with impunity in countries like Mexico, Russia, Iraq and Somalia for simply practicing their right to free expression. In our free expression community, impunity consistently ranks among the top concerns and remains a global issue that has defied all borders and political structures.

Help us draw the world’s attention by creating an editorial cartoon about impunity.

Some will be featured on the International Day to End Impunity website, and the top three winners will receive cash prizes.

The fine print

What can I win?
First prize: $700 CDN
Second prize: $200 CDN
Third prize: $100 CDN

As well, your name and cartoon will be featured on the International Day to End Impunity website.

Who can participate?
There are no restrictions on who can participate in this competition – it is open to participants of all ages, professional and amateur cartoonists. Submissions must be work original to the artist.

How do I participate?
All cartoons must be submitted by email to contest (@) along with your name, address, email and phone number. (This information is for administrative purposes only – please note that entries will be judged blind.)

What are the guidelines?
Submissions should depict the theme of impunity in some way, and may include different sizes of cartoons – single panel, a strip, or a two-tier strip. Submissions must be static images with no Flash or other animation.
Files must be submitted in .jpeg format. Minimum resolution of 300 dpi and dimensions of 600 pixels wide and 400 pixels high (must be suitable for printing). Please hang on to the originals! We may ask for them later.

Pictures speak louder than words. Since this is a global competition, submissions must not include any text. The message conveyed in the cartoon should be obvious regardless of language.

IFEX assumes all entries are original and are the works and property of the entrant, with all rights granted therein. IFEX is not liable for any copyright infringement on the part of the entrant and will not become involved in copyright disputes.

When is the deadline?
The deadline for entries is midnight EST on 4 November 2012. Winners will be revealed on the International Day to End Impunity website on the actual day (23 November).

How will my cartoon be judged?
A selection of the top submissions meeting contest criteria will be posted on the International Day to End Impunity Facebook page. Members of the public will be invited to vote on the cartoons from 7-19 November. The public’s top 10 cartoons (as determined by the number of “likes” the cartoon receives on our Facebook page) will make up the shortlist, from which judges from the IFEX Clearing House and Cartoonist Rights Network International will select the three winners.

Anything else I should know?
By participating in this competition you allow IFEX and /or any of its members the right to reproduce and publish your submissions online and in print. This use includes, but is not limited to website, IFEX social media, and other publications and resources. Any material used by IFEX or its members shall carry the artist’s credit line.

More questions?
Send us an e-mail us at contest (@)

About IFEX
The International Freedom of Expression based in Toronto, Canada, is the most extensive community of leaders defending and promoting freedom of expression around the world. We share content, analysis and tools on free expression cases and trends, campaign on critical issues, and support collaboration to increase our members’ effectiveness.

More about the International Day to End Impunity
IFEX chose 23 November – symbolic because it’s the anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre, the single deadliest day for journalists in recent history – as the International Day to End Impunity. The purpose of the day is to raise public awareness and showcase the work of organisations working for justice for those being persecuted for practising their right to freedom of expression. This is the campaign’s second year.

via IFEX

Georgia – Protestors, political activists detained in Georgia

27 Sep

27 September 2012

Source: Human Rights Watch
(Human Rights Watch/IFEX) – Tbilisi, September 26, 2012 – Georgia’s use of administrative detention to lock up protesters and political activists violates the country’s international commitments to safeguard against arbitrary detention, Human Rights Watch said today. The government should immediately ensure all those deprived of liberty enjoy their full due process rights and receive a fair trial regardless of whether the charges against them are administrative or criminal.

In recent weeks, protests across the country have swelled in response to a prison abuse scandal, and Georgian media and political parties are reporting that police have arrested more than 28 people since September 21, 2012, on administrative, or misdemeanor, charges of disobeying police orders. Those arrested have been sentenced to up to 40 days’ imprisonment. They include activists for the Georgian Dream opposition coalition and at least six other people actively involved in the recent protest rallies in Tbilisi. The protests are taking place less than a week before the October 1 parliamentary elections.

“Anyone arrested for a misdemeanor offense is entitled to due process, and their basic rights in detention must be respected,” said Giorgi Gogia, senior Europe and Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “A misdemeanor charge may not lead to a permanent criminal record, but the punishment imposed qualifies as a criminal punishment.”

Georgia’s Code of Administrative Offences sets out prison sentences of up to 90 days for minor public order breaches, but does not provide for adequate due process rights, so that many facing administrative charges may end up in arbitrary detention. The Code does not require police to inform defendants promptly of their rights or to provide reasons for their detention. Several lawyers representing recent detainees told Human Rights Watch that the trials were perfunctory, with judges not allowing defense council to examine witnesses or introduce evidence.

Courts have consistently found all detainees guilty of violating the administrative code and sentenced almost all of them to imprisonment ranging from 10 to 40 days. One activist was released on September 25 after he had been fined GEL400 (US$242).

At least seven individuals were detained in four separate incidents in Tbilisi on September 21, 22, and 25 under similar circumstances. The Ministry of Interior stated on its website that all seven defendants disobeyed police orders and insulted them.

A lawyer for Davit Patsatsia, detained on September 21 and sentenced to 40 days administrative imprisonment, told Human Rights Watch that he was not allowed to provide an effective defense during the Tbilisi City Court hearing. The judge did not allow him and his client to question the policemen who wrote their arrest report; declined a motion to hear a defense witness who was present during the arrest, claiming he would be biased; and rejected a motion to introduce video evidence from a CCTV camera installed at the scene of the incident.

Dachi Tsaguria, 30, one of the organizers of student protests in Tbilisi, was detained on September 22 and sentenced to 10 days’ administrative imprisonment for disobeying a police order and insulting a policeman. Bekar Aladoshvili, another activist, was detained together with Tsaguria and sentenced to 10 days at the same hearing. Their lawyer told Human Rights Watch that the judge granted only one of 10 defense motions – to hear police testimony – and even then did not allow the defense to ask any questions. He and his clients had only 10 minutes to familiarize themselves with the case file and prepare their defense, which he claims was insufficient. Furthermore, Tsaguria alleged that he had been beaten during the arrest and again in police custody and he bore visible bruises during the trial. However, the judge did not inquire about the nature and circumstances of the injuries or refer the case to a prosecutor for investigation. The Ombudsman’s office representatives, who visited Tsaguria a day after his detention, confirmed that he indeed had bruises and that he claimed to have sustained them as a result of police ill-treatment.

“Anyone facing detention has the right to a real trial with a real defense, it should never be a rubber stamp,” Gogia said. “Authorities should swiftly and effectively investigate any allegations of ill-treatment in police custody.”

Continue reading

via IFEX

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