Iran denies western reporters visas to cover revolution anniversary

Handful of foreign correspondents still in Iran ordered not to report opposition protests

Ian Black

The Guardian: February 11, 2010

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/feb/11/iran-revolution-anniversary-media-restrictions

Iran has done all it can to limit coverage of celebrations of this year’s anniversary of the Islamic revolution, using lessons learned over the past eight months of sporadic protests since the disputed ­presidential election. Western journalists, including from the Guardian, have largely been denied visas to enter the country. The internet and phones have been interfered with.

The few foreign correspondents resident in Tehran operate under severe restrictions. Iranian officials claim that more than 200 foreign media were “cleared” to cover the anniversary, but minders from the ministry of Islamic guidance escorted selected journalists to today’s main official rally at Tehran’s Azadi square and warned them not to report opposition protests.

Exiled Iranian journalists had urged their foreign colleagues not to go, to avoid presenting “a caricature of the Iranian nation for your television cameras”.

Sixty-five Iranian journalists are in detention, according to the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders. Iran has become the leading jailer of journalists in the world, the International Press Institute (IPI) said today in its annual review of global press freedoms.

Iran’s official media does not offer a wide angle on the story. Gisoo Ahmadi, correspondent for English-language Press TV, made no mention of opposition protests but described her excitement at covering the revolution’s anniversary for the third time. “Every year I tell you that it’s very glamorous, it’s very exciting, it’s very impressive, the turnout of the people, and every year I think that, oh, it can’t be any better, and you know surprisingly, the next year I see that there’s even more happening,” she said.

Opposition websites are probably the best source of news about Iran and there is regular praise for the BBC Persian TV satellite channel, which depends largely on information sent in by viewers.

“The international media has done well with live blogs and so on considering the difficulties,” said Massoumeh Torfeh, an Iranian academic at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University. “The general picture is pretty accurate.”

Not surprisingly, Iran disagrees. Last November, during ceremonies marking the takeover of the US embassy in 1979, the official Islamic Republic News Agency accused TV stations such as al-Jazeera, CNN and France 24 of “seeking to create widespread unrest … by broadcasting phony stories and images” instead of reporting on the “epic public turnout” for pro-government rallies.

“The government cracked down on all forms of transmission of information, on bloggers, on journalists, on anybody that was transmitting any kind of information about the election,” said Anthony Mills of the IPI. “It’s an example of a government seeking to stifle dissent, by stifling independent reporting, by trying to make sure that no news, written or visual, comes out about events that are having an enormous impact on the country.”

Iran suspends Gmail-WSJ

February 15, 2010

Iran to Suspend Google’s Email

Christopher Rhoads, Chip Cummins and Jessica E Vascellaro

Wall Street Journal: February 10, 2010

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704140104575057621649270154.html?mod=WSJ-hpp-MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsSecond

Iran’s telecommunications agency announced what it described as a permanent suspension of Google Inc.’s email services, saying a national email service for Iranian citizens would soon be rolled out.

It wasn’t clear late Wednesday what effect the order had on Gmail services in Iran, or even if Iran had implemented its new policy. Iranian officials have claimed technological advances in the past that they haven’t been able to execute.

A Google spokesman said in a statement, “We have heard from users in Iran that they are having trouble accessing Gmail. We can confirm a sharp drop in traffic, and we have looked at our own networks and found that they are working properly. Whenever we encounter blocks in our services we try to resolve them as quickly as possibly because we strongly believe that people everywhere should have the ability to communicate freely online.”

An Iranian official said the move was meant to boost local development of Internet technology and to build trust between people and the government.

The measure was announced on the eve of the culmination of celebrations to mark the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Republic. Competing plans for pro-government and antigovernment demonstrations have set the stage for clashes between authorities and opposition protesters, who have taken to the streets repeatedly since contested presidential elections in June.

The move marks another effort by the regime to close the gap with its opposition in controlling Iranian cyberspace, according to Internet security experts. The government has a tight grip over old media—television, radio and newspapers—but learned during the unrest following the contested election last June that the opposition and its supporters dominated new media, including social networking Web sites like Twitter and Facebook.

“The primary purpose for doing this is to control communication and mine that communication, so the government can crack down on dissenters and people who threaten the government,” said Richard Stiennon, founder of Internet security firm IT-Harvest, based in Birmingham, Mich.

“If the government can induce the population to use a state-controlled email service, it would have access to the content of all of those emails,” he added.

The Iranian regime has been intensifying a crackdown on supporters and leaders of Iran’s opposition. Part of the government’s efforts have involved tracking the Facebook, Twitter and YouTube activity of Iranians around the world, and identifying them at opposition protests abroad, say former Iranian lawmakers and former members of Iran’s elite security force.

Blocking an email service like Gmail is fairly simple, according to Mr. Stiennon, particularly in a place like Iran where the government controls the nation’s telecommunication infrastructure, and largely the service providers that depend on it. The regime, through its telecom arm, the Telecommunication Co. of Iran, could block the domain name address of Gmail, so that the country’s estimated 23 million Internet users would no longer be able to access it, he said.

Google could theoretically change the address of its email service in Iran, but ultimately if the government wants to block the service from its network it could do so, he said.

Nikahang Kowsar, an Iranian online activist in Toronto, said he experienced disruptions using Gmail Wednesday afternoon with friends in Iran. Usually, Gmail works without problems, he said. Gmail replaced Yahoo as the most popular email service in Iran in the past year because users believe it is the most secure, or the hardest for government censors to crack, he said.

Users in Iran on Wednesday also reported to Mr. Kowsar that all their Gmail contacts were shown on their computer screens as being “offline,” when that wasn’t the case, he added. “I was able to use the Google chat for about 10 minutes, but it was on and off,” said Mr. Kowsar.

“The government is doing this because it wants to control everything,” he added. “That is the only reason behind this.”

Other countries have taken similar steps as Iran, but usually not for a specific email service. China has blocked Twitter and Facebook, among a host of other sites and services. Pakistan, among other countries, tried to block its Internet users from accessing YouTube, Google’s online video site. That botched attempt disrupted YouTube access outside of Pakistan as well, and had the effect of diverting those trying to access the site in other countries to servers in Pakistan.

In Iran, the government and its supporters have tried for months to reign in the opposition’s effective use of the Internet to get news out to the rest of the world. Earlier last year, the Revolutionary Guard announced it was creating 10,000 bloggers to spread its views. The presence on social networking Web sites like Twitter of supporters of the regime grew during the crackdown on protest. Some regime supporters sent messages, or “tweets,” designed to disrupt opposition plans, or cloud the site with offensive messages and images.

Still, these efforts haven’t prevented a flood of online information about the protests from reaching the world. Opposition members and their supporters have honed their communication skills, taking advantage of video, still images and text messages posted on blogs and news Web sites to chronicle their latest antigovernment action.

Google’s Gmail is one of the most popular of the Western email services in Iran; it appeals to the country’s younger generation, which has formed the backbone of the opposition movement.

Iran’s announcement adds to Google’s mounting international woes. The fate of its China business is up in the air, after the company said it would stop censoring its search results in compliance with Chinese law, responding to a major cyber attack it suffered and said it traced to the country. Since Google announced the move last month, executives have said it has gotten more difficult to do business in China in recent years but that they are hopeful they can continue to have some operations in the country.

In the wake of Google’s recent tussle with China, the latest development intensifies the discussion about the company and free speech on the Internet, according to Jonathan Zittrain, a co-founder of Harvard University’s Berkman Center for the Internet and Society.

“Through a series of circumstances, Google is now firmly enmeshed in a fundamental debate about Internet freedom,” said Mr. Zittrain. “I would be very interested to see if it cooks up ways to get to Gmail in cases where it is blocked.”

What makes the Iran government’s step unusual is that the move isn’t about censorship, but about surveillance, Mr. Zittrain added. By having the country’s email users on a government-issued email service, the government will have a window into communication that it couldn’t otherwise have.

Google’s announcement that it was working with the U.S. National Security Agency, or NSA, to help with its problems in China might have factored into Iran’s decision to no longer allow Gmail use in the country, said Mr. Stiennon. “Iran could view that as a significant risk to its security,” he said.

The U.S. State Department said Wednesday it couldn’t confirm whether Iran planned to suspend Google’s Gmail, but it said any efforts to keep information from Iranians would fail.

“While information technologies are enabling people around the world to communicate … like never before, the Iranian government seems determined to deny its citizens access to information, the ability to express themselves freely, network and share ideas,” said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.

Write to Chip Cummins at chip.cummins@wsj.com and Jessica E. Vascellaro at jessica.vascellaro@wsj.com

‘Shut Up’? Pakistan President’s Outburst Scrubbed From ‘Net

ABC News: February 7, 2010

http://blogs.abcnews.com/theworldnewser/2010/02/shut-up-pakistan-presidents-outburst-scrubbed-from-net.html

ABC News’ Nicholas Schifrin reports from Islamabad, Pakistan:

When President Asif Ali Zardari says “Shut up,” he apparently means it.

A few weeks ago, a short video of Pakistan’s unpopular, democratically elected president began playing on endless loop on the dozen private channels here. In the clip, he is giving a speech in Urdu to a crowd that apparently wasn’t listening to him too closely (not uncommon in Pakistan). As he speaks, you can hear background chitchat from the inattentive audience. Well, he could hear that same chitchat too, so at one point he looked down at someone and yelled, in English, ”Shut Up!”

All the local television anchors had a good laugh featuring the video, as did those at home — some of whom created remixes of Zardari’s outburst (see HERE, HERE and HERE) and posted them to YouTube.

“Such behavior is embarrassing for any politician, but especially for the president of a country,” wrote Adil Najam of All Things Pakistan, a moderate blog that promises to “talk about [Pakistan’s] problems constructively.”

Which brings us to the evening of Sunday, Feb. 7. At about 9:30 p.m., according to the Pakistan Twitterverse, YouTube suddenly disappeared from Pakistani Internet Service Providers.

About an hour later, it seems that all was fixed — with one very blatant exception. The dozen or so YouTube videos featuring Zardari’s explosion in loop were still restricted. You could search for them, but you couldn’t watch them (see screen grab below).

Both the government and YouTube say they’re checking to see what’s going on.

I called my Internet Service Provider and one official said he was under the impression all had been fixed — and insisted nobody from his side was specifically restricting embarrassing videos of the democratically elected president.

“It must be some restriction from government side,” he said, confirming that the videos had been restricted. He laughed and joked, “Zardari might be blocking it himself!”

It’s important to note that as of right now, it’s not clear who restricted the videos (or at least, nobody’s owning up to it).

But Zardari’s government – the first democratic government in Pakistan in more than a decade — has taken steps in the past to restrict critical speech.

Last summer, the government passed a law threatening anyone who sends text messages or e-mails that “slander the political leadership of the country” with 14 years in prison.

(For some good Zardari jokes, click here, especially if you can understand Urdu.)

It’s not clear if anyone was actually charged under that statute (including the journalists who printed the SMSs)…

Judging by the instant reaction online — especially on Twitter — the government will be blamed for this, and it will not go down well. Tonight, one blogger critical of Zardari – Huma Imtiaz of “The World Has Stopped Spinning” — wrote, “This move comes just when one thinks the government of Pakistan cannot outdo themselves. What’s next, a ban on free speech?”


Tunisia: Censorship Again and Again!

Lina Ben Mhenni

Global Voices: February 8th, 2010

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2010/02/08/tunisia-censhorship-again-and-again/

More than ever before, censorship seems to become the rule in Tunisia. The last two weeks in the Tunisian blogosphere witnessed a war launched by Ammar (the nickname given to the Tunisian censorship apparatus), who has been censoring blogs arbitrarily.

Following the censorship of Fatma Arabicca and Sofiene Chourabi’s blogs, two other blogs had been censored. One of them is the Free Jailed Tunisian students.

The second blog blocked is Nocturnal Thoughts . The censorship of the latter created a wave of protests on the Tunisian blogosphere.

Ghodwa Nahrek(Tomorrow I will illegally immigrate) wrote:

عمار قالك ماعادش يحب أفكار ليلية.. يحب على افكار في القايلة

مدونة “أفكار ليلية” متاع خونا و صديقنا طارق الكحلاوي تعرضت اليوم للحجب بعد اكثر من الـ3 سنوات من التدوين المتواصل في المواضيع الهامة و الحساسة . مقصّ الرقابة في تونس ولات عندو دلالات اخرى و تجاوز كونه شكل من اشكال القمع و الحد من حرية التعبير بقدر ماهو وسام للمدوّن و شهادة من الرقيب نفسه في قيمة المدونة و اهمية المواضيع المطروحة فيها.

مبروك للصديق طارق و مرحبا به مجددا في نادي المدونات المحجوبة

Ammar said that he doesn’t like Nocturnal Thoughts anymore. He prefers afternoon thoughts. Nocturnal Thoughts, the blog of our friend and brother Tarek Kahlaoui, had been censored after more than three years of continuous blogging about interesting and sensitive subjects. In Tunisia, the scissors of censorship acquired new significance. It is no onger a form of oppression and a limit to freedom of expression as it is a medal for the blogger and a certificate from the censor showing the value of a blog and the importance of the subjects it deals with. Congratulations to our friend Tarek and welcome again in the club of censored blogs.

Matrka(Hammer) blogged saying:

المدونات تصل الجميع والامكانيات تتطور كل يوم

افكار ليلية، مدونة طارق الكحلاوي، مدونة ممتازة تستحق المطالعة والقراءة ويمكن ان يكون الفرد مختلف مع طارق في هذا الموضوع او ذاك، كما يمكن ان يختلف طارق في الرأي مع هذا او ذاك، ولكن حجبها خسارة، بالطبيعة خسارة للناس الي تقرا وتهتم بالقراءة، وحجبها هو عمل متخلف مكانو الطبيعي في بداية القرن العشرين على اكثر تقدير…

Blogs connect people and their potential is evolving every day. Nocturnal Thoughts, the blog of Tarek Kahlaoui, is a good blog which deserves reading. Individuals might not be in total agreement with Tarek about one subject or another. Tarek might have a different opinion from a person or another. But the censorship of his blog is a loss. Of course, it is a loss for those who read and are interested in reading, and its censorship is a retarded action and its normal place is in the beginning of the 20th century…

Samsoum blogged under the title Ammar does not like thoughts and thinkers especially those who blog about their nocturnal thoughts saying:

واللَه مانيش مصدَق اللي مدونة طارق الكحلاوي تصنصرت خاطر نسيت اللي عمار مقص ما عندوش لوجيك يمشي بيها في ميدان التصنصير و ممكن كي فطن اللي الموضوع فيه تفكير و كلام صعيب شوية قال مانخوش الريسك و اللي خاف نجي يعني صنصر طوَا و لوَج عي سبب من بعد

الحاصل مرحبا بطارق في نادي المصنصرين و انشالله العمليَة الارهابية متاع عمار تزيد تشجعك بش تزيد تنورنا بافكارك اكثر من قبل و مدونتي مفتوحة طالما عمار موش رادد بالو

والله الواحد يحشم علي روحو كيعرف انو استاذ يكتب في صحف اجنبية و يقري في الاجانب في تاريخ الفن يتم صنصرته في بلاده لأنو تجرَء و فكَر…

I can’t believe that the blog of Tarek Kahlaoui had been censored because I forgot that ”Ammar the Scissors“ does not have a logic to follow in the field of censorship. Maybe he discovered that the subject includes thinking and difficult discourse and decided to avoid risks so he decided to censor the blog immediately and to find an argument for this censorship later on.

Welcome Tarek in the club of the censored bloggers and I hope that the terrorist actions of Ammar, will give you courage to enlighten us with your thoughts more than before. And my blog is open to you as long as Ammar did not pay attention to it.

One is really ashamed when he knows that a professor writing in foreign newspapers and teaching the history of art abroad is censored in his own country because he dared to think.

Two popular Web sites blocked in Vietnam

Associated Press: February 11, 2010

http://us.asiancorrespondent.com/breakingnews/two-popular-web-sites-blocked-in-vi.htm

Two pioneering Web sites that stretched the limits of free expression in Vietnam say they have been hacked and shut down, just months after the communist government blocked the social networking site Facebook.

Both sites had been critical of Vietnam’s policies toward China, a subject of great sensitivity to the government, whose efforts to maintain good relations with its massive northern neighbor sometimes run afoul of nationalist sentiment.

But both sites were generally restrained in tone, and neither had called for an end to Vietnam’s single-party system.

The sites’ problems arose in the midst of Vietnam’s latest crackdown on dissent, which has seen 16 democracy activists jailed in just over three months.

The government has not responded to questions about the Web sites submitted earlier this week by The Associated Press.

But shortly after Vietnam began blocking Facebook in November, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga declared that Vietnam would take “appropriate action” against Web sites that it believes threaten national security. The government did not specifically acknowledge shutting down Facebook, but two Internet service providers said they had been ordered to block the site.

One of the recently closed sites, blogosin.org, was shut down earlier this week, according to its author, Huy Duc, a Ho Chi Minh City blogger who wrote under the pen name “Osin,” which, loosely translated, means “housekeeper.” He often campaigned against corruption and lampooned bureaucratic incompetence.

The second site, bauxitevietnam.info, was founded last year by three men who oppose the government’s plans to open a giant bauxite mine in Vietnam’s strategically sensitive Central Highlands.

The bauxite site’s manager, Nguyen Hue Chi, said he has been playing an online cat-and-mouse game with unknown hackers since December, when the site was first blocked. Last month, he moved it to a new Web address, but it was recently hacked again. It is now accessible at yet another address that Chi recently established.

Duc lost his job at the Saigon Tiep Thi newspaper last August after posting a piece on the Osin site that praised the fall of the Berlin Wall and criticized the former Soviet Union’s communist leaders.

From the time it opened last year until it was closed in December, the Bauxite site had drawn more than 17 million hits from readers concerned about the government’s mining plans.

Vietnam has hired a Chinese company to build the plant to process bauxite taken from the mines and hundreds of Chinese are reportedly working there.

Vietnam has some of the world’s largest reserves of bauxite, the primary ingredient in aluminum. The government has argued that the mine would bring economic benefits to the impoverished Central Highlands.

Opponents say the project would cause major environmental problems and have raised the specter of Chinese workers flooding into the strategically sensitive region. Among them is the legendary 98-year-old Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, who expelled French and U.S. troops from Vietnam.

Giap’s photograph is prominently featured on the bauxite Web site.

Suspicion of China runs deep in Vietnam, which has a long history of conflict with its northern neighbor.

The two countries fought a bloody border war in 1979 and they have ongoing disputes about two archipelagoes in the South China Sea, the Spratlys and the Paracels.

Like Osin, bloggers on the bauxite site have argued that the Vietnamese government has not taken a tough enough stand against China.

During an interview last summer, Chi said the founders established the site because the dispute over the bauxite mine had been largely ignored by Vietnam’s state-controlled media.

Chi, whose grandfather was friends with Vietnam’s revolutionary hero Ho Chi Minh, stressed that he wanted to work with the Communist Party, not replace it.

He expressed confidence that the government would gradually ease restrictions on expression.

“The right to independent thought and free expression is enshrined in the Vietnamese constitution,” Chi said.

Vietnam: Expanding Campaign to Silence Dissent

Award-Winning Writers Put on Trial for Seeking Peaceful Reforms

Human Rights Watch: February 4, 2010

http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/02/04/vietnam-expanding-campaign-silence-dissent

The Vietnamese government should immediately drop all charges and free the prominent writer and democracy activist Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, Human Rights Watch said today. She is to be put on trial February 5, 2010, on assault charges after thugs attacked and beat her in front of her home, as undercover police looked on.

Tran Khai Thanh Thuy and Pham Thanh Nghien, who was sentenced to prison on January 29 on charges of disseminating anti-government propaganda, are both recipients of the prestigious Hellman/Hammett award, which honors writers who have been victims of political persecution.

“Courageous women such as Tran Khai Thanh Thuy and Pham Thanh Nghien face years behind bars rather than being able to contribute to the country’s development,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “When will the Vietnamese government stop locking up peaceful activists who simply have different ideas and the courage to express them?”

In defense of the Vietnamese Communist Party’s crackdown on dissent, the party’s general secretary, Nong Duc Manh, said on February 2, “We struggle against all the … hostile forces by preventing them from profiting from…democracy, human rights, multi-partyism and pluralism to sabotage the Vietnamese revolution.”

The trials of the two women are the latest in a recent string of political trials of dissidents arrested during 2009. At least 17 dissidents have been sentenced to prison since October.

“None of these activists should be in prison,” Adams said. “They are being targeted for their legitimate and peaceful activities as human rights defenders, democracy campaigners, dissident writers and political bloggers.”

An established novelist and political essayist, Ms. Thuy, 50, was arrested the evening of October 8, 2009. Earlier that day, police stopped her from travelling to Hai Phong to attend the trials of fellow dissidents. They ordered her to return to her home in Hanoi, where that evening she and her husband were harassed and attacked by thugs.

Ms. Thuy, who suffered injuries to her head and neck, was arrested after the attack and detained at Dong Da police station in Hanoi on charges of “intentionally inflicting injury on or causing harm to the health of other persons” under article 104 of Vietnam’s Penal Code. On October 19, she was moved to Hoa Lu prison in Hanoi. Since her arrest, her family has been denied contact with Ms. Thuy, who suffers from diabetes and tuberculosis.

Ms. Thuy has played a key role in Vietnam’s besieged democracy movement. In 2006, she started an association for victims of land confiscation (Hoi Dan Oan Viet Nam), helped found the Independent Workers’ Union of Vietnam, and joined the editorial board of the pro-democracy bulletin To Quoc (Fatherland), which is printed clandestinely in Vietnam and circulated on the internet.  Up until five weeks before her last arrest, she was also an active blogger (still available online at: http://trankhaithanhthuy.blogspot.com/).

Since emerging as an activist in 2006, Ms. Thuy has been repeatedly denounced and humiliated in public meetings organized by the authorities, including a “People’s Court” in 2006, at which  police gathered 300 people in a public stadium to insult her. In November 2006 she was dismissed from her job as a journalist and placed under house arrest to bar her from meeting with international journalists and diplomats attending the Asian Pacific Cooperation Summit in Hanoi. In April 2007 she was arrested and held incommunicado for more than nine months at B-14 Detention Center in Hanoi. After her release in January 2008, she continued to encounter relentless harassment from police, local officials, and orchestrated neighborhood gangs.

During 2009, for example, thugs attacked her house at least 14 times, throwing excrement and dead rodents at her gate. They also inserted metal into her front door lock on two occasions, locking her out of her own home. When she went to the police to file a complaint, they refused to take any action, even though neighbors reported that police were watching during some of the attacks on her home.

“Charging the victim of a beating with assault is yet another example of Vietnam’s Kafkaesque efforts to silence government critics,” Adams said. “The thugs who attacked her, the people who sent them, and the police officers who refused to intervene should all be brought to justice.”

Ms. Nghien, 33, a writer and democracy campaigner, was sentenced by the Haiphong Court on January 29 to four years in prison followed by three years under house arrest on charges of spreading anti-government propaganda under article 88 of the penal code. As with Ms. Thuy, Ms. Nghien’s family has not been allowed to visit her since her arrest in September 2008.

In 2007, when the wool company where Ms. Nghien worked went bankrupt, she began doing advocacy work on behalf of landless farmers and writing articles calling for human rights and democracy. In July, 2007, authorities barred her from attending the trial of her close friend, the democracy campaigner Le Thi Cong Nhan. After that, Ms. Nghien was repeatedly harassed by the police, who regularly summoned her for aggressive questioning.

In June 2008, Ms. Nghien was detained after signing a letter with fellow activists requesting authorization from the Public Security Ministry to organize a peaceful demonstration against China’s claims to the Spratley and Paracel islands.  A few days later, she was attacked and beaten by thugs, who threatened her life if she continued “hostile actions” against the state. In September 2008, she was arrested along with other democracy activists during a government crackdown that aimed to prevent planned anti-China protests at the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi.

Human Rights Watch called on Vietnamese authorities to guarantee the physical and psychological well-being of both women in prison, including providing needed medication and medical treatment and allowing for regular family visits. Human Rights Watch has documented systematic use of torture of political prisoners in Vietnam, including beatings, electric shock, confinement in solitary, dark cells, and prolonged shackling.

Human Rights Watch noted that the victims of the government’s crackdown include established writers, journalists, businesspeople, and lawyers such as Le Cong Dinh, who was sentenced to prison last month on subversion charges. A long-time journalist for the state media, Ms. Thuy is a member of the Association of Hanoi Writers, the Club of Women Poets, the Club of Humoristic Journalists, and the Association of Vietnamese Journalists. She is also an honorary member of English PEN.

Other recipients of the Hellman/Hammett award who have been sentenced to prison in recent months include Nguyen Xuan Nghia, a 2008 recipient, and Tran Anh Kim, a 2009 recipient.

“Vietnam’s intolerance for different opinions has recently reached a new low as the government tightens its grip in the run-up to next year’s party congress,” Adams said. “Unless Vietnam’s donors make it clear that these abuses are completely unacceptable, the downward trend will only get worse.”

[FACT comments: We are trying to get ahold of a copy of this blocklist. It should be very revealing of China’s repressive censorship.]

China government’s undesired websites unveiled

Taiwan News: February 12, 2010

http://www.phayul.com/news/article.aspx?article=China+government’s+undesired+websites+unveiled&id=26607

Google’s row with China over Internet freedom has aroused an universal concern for its controversial mechanism of information censorship. Many cannot help but wonder what is China’s rationale underlying Internet censorship? And what kind of websites are forbidden?

Recently, Phoenix Weekly stationed in Beijing published a “confidential blacklist,” revealing a series of unwelcome websites – KMT is surprisingly included in the list.

Websites calling for separatism are the main targets for China – including Tibetan Youth Congress, International Tibetan Separatist Movement, and Students for a Free Tibet. Taiwan’s opposition DPP as well as its related websites whose appeals always run counter to the China government are unsurprisingly included in the list.

Overseas Chinese websites are also under China’s control: BBC Chinese, the New York Times, Washington Post, Apple Daily, CNN, China Affairs, Open Magazine, New Magazine, Central News Agency, China Times, the Wall Street Journal and Boxun Network.

Religious websites in favor of Uighur freedom, human rights and Falun Dafa are also screened by China’s censorship mechanism.


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