Bahrain dictatorship censors even Saudi royal owned media


This 2011 video from the USA is called Bahrain government’s media censorship of tortured protesters.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

New Bahrain TV channel al-Arab off air after interviewing opposition grandee

Tuesday 3rd February 2015

A NEW news channel backed by a billionaire Saudi prince stopped broadcasting from Bahrain yesterday just hours after going on air with an interview with a prominent opposition activist.

The al-Arab television station claimed on Twitter that it halted coverage for “technical and administrative reasons” and hoped to be back on the air soon. It only went live on Sunday afternoon.

The unexpected stoppage, apparently on the order of Bahraini authorities, came just hours after the pan-Arab station surprised many viewers by featuring Bahraini opposition activist Khalil al-Marzooq among its first guests.

Bahrain’s Information Affairs Authority media director Yusuf Mohammed said that the channel would resume broadcasting once necessary procedures were completed but did not give further details.

Former deputy parliamentary speaker Mr Marzooq is a senior member of al-Wefaq, the country’s main Shi’ite political bloc.

He was cleared of allegations of instigating violence and having links to a protest faction that authorities blame for bombings and other attacks last year.

Mr Marzooq’s interview featured discussion on Bahrain’s decision Saturday to revoke the citizenship of 72 people, including several leading Shi’ite activists.

Bahrain has faced four years of instability following widespread anti-government protests in February 2011 that were dominated by the country’s Shi’ite majority, which seeks greater political rights from the Western-backed Sunni monarchy.

Al-Arab general manager Jamal Khashoggi told reporters in December that the network would “cover all views” and would not shy away from sensitive Bahraini topics.

See also here.

Al-Arab, which was removed from the airwaves after broadcasting an interview with a Bahraini opposition leader, will not return to Manama: here.

Saudi video maker arrested for filming beheading of woman


This video is about the horrible beheading of Ms Laila Bint Abdul Muttalib Basim in Saudi Arabia. Not fit to watch for children and sensitive people.

From the International Business Times:

Saudi Arabia: Man arrested for filming officers publicly beheading woman in street

By Jack Moore

January 19, 2015 12:02 GMT

Saudi authorities have arrested a man who filmed a viral video of authorities publicly beheading a woman in the street, according to local media reports.

Saudi news outlets revealed that the man had been arrested but did not state what he would be charged with.

However, an Interior Ministry spokesman confirmed that filming the incident would be classed as a cybercrime under the country’s strict form of Sharia law, based on the Quran.

The Burmese woman, Laila Bint Abdul Muttalib Basim, was hacked to death by sword in the holy city of Mecca after being dragged through the street and held down by four police officers.

She was convicted of the sexual abuse and murder of her seven-year-old step-daughter.

In the video she can be heard saying in Arabic: “I did not kill. There is no God but God. I did not kill.”

Haram. Haram. Haram. Haram. I did not kill … I do not forgive you … This is an injustice,” she continues.

The arrest of the man who documented the execution comes after the kingdom suspended the public flogging of a Saudi activist, Raif Badawi, on medical grounds and sent his case for review at the Supreme Court.

Badawi’s sentence of 1,000 lashes has been condemned by the United States and United Nations.

Politician censors Jesus picture, free speech for anti-Islam cartoons only?


Jesus, by Dirk Hardy

This is a picture of Jesus, by Dutch artist Dirk Hardy. More specifically, it is about Jesus’ ascension; important in Christian traditions, and often depicted before.

This picture by Hardy was supposed to hang in the town of Binnenmaas local authority in Brabant province. However, today the news is that mayor André Borgdorff, of the Christian Democrat party CDA, banned the picture, ‘as it might insult Christians’.

This happens in the same week where one can hear again and again three points about French weekly Charlie Hebdo and the massacre at its premises in the mainstream media, from government politicians, etc:

1. The massacre of cartoonists and other people at the Charlie Hebdo building was a terrible crime. So far, very true.

2. The free speech of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists should never be infringed by violence, etc. Also true. However, its credibility is undermined by people both in the French government and in governments allied with it, now denouncing the deaths of these twelve human beings in the media, who themselves violate free speech and other human rights.

3. It is supposedly ‘great’ that Charlie Hebdo published cartoons attacking Muslims, Islam and Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, etc. Well, it is not really ‘great’ to re-print the Muhammad cartoons of the xenophobic Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, depicting Muhammad as a bomb-throwing terrorist etc. Some people might say: Charlie Hebdo attacked not just Muslims, but also French government politicians. True. But when Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Charb depicted French minister of Justice Christiane Taubira, of African-Caribbean ancestry, as a monkey; then Charb sank to the racist level of a politician of Marine Le Pen‘s National Front, who did the same. On this blog, by Astrid Essed in the Netherlands, are more examples of racist cartoons in Charlie Hebdo (which, needless to say, can NEVER EVER be an excuse for the horrible killing of Charlie Hebdo people).

Back to Dirk Hardy’s Jesus picture. In this week, when all media are full about Charlie Hebdo cartoons, free speech, etc.: in this week that Jesus picture is banned.

Hardy’s picture is not a cartoon. Contrary to a Jyllands-Posten and Charlie Hebdo cartoon depicting Muhammad as a bomb-throwing terrorist, it is not a personal attack on a religious figure revered by hundreds of millions of people throughout the world. In Christianity there is no rule against depicting Jesus, similar to rules against depicting Muhammad in most Muslim tendencies. Yet, the Jesus picture is banned. While the Muhammad cartoons are praised.

Let us look at the ‘Danish cartoon controversy’ in 2005-2006. That was started by the biggest corporate newspaper in Denmark, Jyllands-Posten. Jyllands-Posten had a tradition of supporting Mussolini since the 1920s and Hitler since the 1930s. It had refused to publish cartoons of Jesus Christ, offered to them by cartoonists; and had campaigned not for free speech, but for banning such cartoons in media which it did not control itself (the ‘worst’ one of these Danish Jesus cartoons showed him having an erection. According to Christian dogma, Jesus Christ is both fully divine and fully human. As fully human beings of the male sex usually have erections, that cartoon cannot be said to be really anti-Christian. At least certainly not to the same extent that the cartoons commissioned by Jyllands-Posten, depicting the prophet of Islam Muhammad as connected to bomb throwing terrorism, can be said to be anti-Muslim).

Contrary to the Danish Jesus cartoons, made by cartoonists on their own initiative, Jyllands-Posten sent messages to Danish cartoonists urging them to draw cartoons for them on Muhammad; implying that if they would not do so, it would name and shame them as cowards.

And now, from Denmark in 2006 to the Netherlands in 2015. Dirk Hardy’s depiction of Jesus is even less controversial than the Danish Jesus cartoons; let alone the Danish Muhammad cartoons. Yet, the Jesus picture is banned. While the Muhammad cartoons are praised. Double standards, anyone?

Sri Lankan militarist film censorship


This video from Sri Lanka says about itself:

Oba Nathuwa Oba Ekka (With You, Without You) official movie trailer HD

19 April 2014

New film by Prasanna Vithanage

By Wasantha Rupasinghe in Sri Lanka:

Sri Lankan government censors Prasanna Vithanage’s latest film

18 December 2014

In another serious attack on fundamental democratic rights and freedom of artistic expression, the Sri Lankan government has demanded extensive cuts to Prasanna Vithanage’s With You, Without You. The film is the last in the writer-director’s Sri Lankan anti-war trilogy. Vithanage has been told he cannot publicly screen the film anywhere in Sri Lanka unless he makes the changes ordered by the government’s Public Performances Board (PPB).

With You, Without You is based on a novella by Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky. It is a tragic love story about a beautiful Tamil girl and her Sinhalese pawnbroker husband, who served in the military during the protracted civil war against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The film, which is set in Sri Lanka’s central highlands tea estate region during war’s aftermath, challenges Sinhala and Tamil communalism by sensitively dramatising the destructive impact of the war on human relations (see review here).

Since its international release in February 2013, the film has been screened at numerous film festivals and won awards in France, Russia, Italy, the US and India. At the Vesoul Film Festival of Asian Cinema in France, it won the prestigious Cyclo d’Or and Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) prizes. It has also been screened in Australia and released in dozens of Indian cinemas.

In Sri Lanka, all film screenings must be approved by the PPB, which comes under the Sri Lankan Ministry of Culture and the Arts. The PPB, which includes members of the defence ministry, wants virtually all comment on the Sri Lankan military removed from the film.

The PPB’s letter to Vithanage demanded the following cuts:

“1. At about the 50th minute, the film shows a soldier who had deserted the army as having a pistol. Soldiers who have deserted the army or those not reporting for service are not allowed to keep a pistol with them. Such scenes [in the film] could be misinterpreted and harm the stature of the army.

“2. The statement of the wife gives the impression that she was sent to the mountain area by her parents to prevent her from being raped by the military and it might distort the public’s understanding about the situation that prevailed at the time in North and East.

“3. The wife says that her two school-going brothers were killed by the military and it too shows that the military killed innocent students without any reason. Since it is not true, it is not suitable to be shown.

“4. Finally, questions such as, “How many Tamils have been killed by the military? How many of our girls have been raped by the military? How much gold was looted from us?” which were emotionally demanded by the lady from her husband, are not suitable and could be erroneously interpreted.”

In other words, the PPB wants Vithanage to remove any reference to the brutal conflict and the military’s war crimes, particularly during the last phase of the war in 2009. These crimes have been documented in a number of local and international reports.

With You, Without You does not explicitly portray these crimes or show a single battle scene or soldier in uniform. The movie is an exploration of how the war destroyed the marriage of a Tamil girl and her Sinhala husband. The film’s sparse dialogue accurately captures the sentiments and plight of tens of thousands of victims on both sides of the conflict.

The ban on With You, Without You is an intensification of the anti-democratic measures taken against filmmakers and artists during the war.

During the war, filmmakers who realistically portrayed Sri Lankan life or criticised the military had their work banned and were subjected to threats and violent attacks. Vithanage was one of only a handful of Sri Lankan artists who stood firm and continued to expose the reality of war in their works.

In 2000, the United People’s Freedom Alliance government of President Chandrika Kumaratunga banned Vithanage’s Death on Full Moon Day (1997), the first film in his anti-war trilogy. That film explored the impact of the conflict on an elderly Sinhala villager whose son was killed in the war.

In 2000, filmmaker Asoka Handagama’s This is My Moon was angrily denounced by high-ranking military officials and Sinhala racialists. Five years later, in 2005, the internationally acclaimed Forsaken Land (2005) by Vimukthi Jayasundara was withdrawn from Sri Lankan cinemas after threats from the military and Sinhala extremists.

Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara declared in Sri Lanka’s Sunday Times in 2005 that local film directors should make pro-military movies. Any film that “even indirectly contributed towards fulfilling [LTTE] objectives,” was “treason and should be dealt with severely,” he wrote. He specifically named Vithanage, Handagama, Jayasundara and Sudath Mahadivulwewa.

More than five years after the end of the war, President Mahinda Rajapakse’s government is acutely sensitive to any criticism of the Sri Lankan military. After fully backing the war against the LTTE and turning a blind eye to the military’s war crimes, the US is cynically exploiting the atrocities to put pressure on Rajapakse. This has nothing to do with defending “human rights” in Sri Lanka but is aimed at forcing the government to cut its ties with Beijing and fully embrace the US-led “pivot to Asia”—a diplomatic offensive and military build-up against China.

Having called an early presidential election, Rajapakse confronts a concerted effort by the opposition parties, tacitly supported by Washington, to engineer his electoral defeat. The common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena, who split from the government shortly after the election was announced, is being falsely promoted as a great defender of democracy.

Significantly, neither Sirisena nor any of the opposition parties have issued a statement opposing the censorship of With You, Without You. All of them, like the government, are mired in Sinhala communal politics and backed Rajapakse’s war to the hilt. They have embraced the banner of “democracy” and enlisted in the US “human rights” campaign purely to advance their own interests and those of sections of the corporate elite.

Likewise, the Sri Lankan media, even as it reports the international success of With You, Without You, has dutifully fallen into line and is maintaining a deafening silence about the censorship of the prize-winning movie.

Workers, youth, artists and intellectuals in Sri Lanka and internationally must unconditionally condemn this act of censorship and demand the film’s immediate Sri Lankan release. These anti-democratic measures will inevitably be used against working people, regardless of whether Rajapakse or Sirisena wins next month’s presidential election.

‘British spies in child abuse cover-up’


This video from Britain is called Peter Watt and Simon Danczuk on Westminster child abuse inquiry.

From weekly The Observer in Britain:

Media ‘gagged over bid to report MP child sex cases

Security services accused of aiding Westminster paedophilia cover-up

Daniel Boffey, policy editor

Saturday 22 November 2014 11.33 GMT

The security services are facing questions over the cover-up of a Westminster paedophile ring as it emerged that files relating to official requests for media blackouts in the early 1980s were destroyed.

Two newspaper executives have told the Observer that their publications were issued with D-notices – warnings not to publish intelligence that might damage national security – when they sought to report on allegations of a powerful group of men engaging in child sex abuse in 1984. One executive said he had been accosted in his office by 15 uniformed and two non-uniformed police over a dossier on Westminster paedophiles passed to him by the former Labour cabinet minister Barbara Castle.

The other said that his newspaper had received a D-notice when a reporter sought to write about a police investigation into Elm Guest House, in southwest London, where a group of high-profile paedophiles was said to have operated and may have killed a child. Now it has emerged that these claims are impossible to verify or discount because the D-notice archives for that period “are not complete”.

Officials running the D-notice system, which works closely with MI5 and MI6 and the Ministry of Defence, said that files “going back beyond 20 years are not complete because files are reviewed and correspondence of a routine nature with no historical significance destroyed”.

Theresa May, home secretary, this month told the Commons that an official review into whether there had been a cover-up of the Home Office’s handling of child-abuse allegations in the 1980s had returned a verdict of “not proven”. The review, by Peter Wanless, the chief executive of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, was prompted by the discovery that 114 Home Office files related to child abuse in the 1980s had gone missing.

On Saturday night the Labour MP for Rochdale, Simon Danczuk, whose book Smile for the Camera exposed the child sex abuse of the late Liberal MP Cyril Smith, said it was a matter of deep concern that D-notice correspondence had also disappeared, presumed destroyed. D-notices to media outlets are rare, with just five sent in 2009 and 10 in 2010, according to a freedom of information response from Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Vallance, secretary of the defence, press and broadcasting advisory committee, which oversees the system.

Danczuk said: “There are clearly questions to be answered as to why these documents were destroyed. They issue very few of them – where was the need to destroy correspondence?

“It feels like just another example of key documents from that period going missing. We need to know more about what has happened. The journalists who have said that D-notices were issued are respected people with no reason to lie.”

The two journalists, Don Hale, the former editor of the Bury Messenger, and Hilton Tims, news editor of the Surrey Comet between 1980 and 1988, both recall their publications being issued with D-notices around 1984. Tims, a veteran of the Daily Mail and BBC, where he was head of publicity for the launch of colour TV, said that his chief reporter had informed him that a D-notice had been issued to him after he tried to report on a police investigation into events at Elm Guest House, where Smith is said to have been a regular visitor.

Tims, 82, said: “One of the reporters on routine calls to the police learned that there was something going down at the guest house in Barnes. It was paedophilia, although that wasn’t the fashionable phrase at the time, it was ‘knocking up young boys’, or something like that.

“The reporter was told that there were a number of high-profile people involved and they were getting boys from a care home in the Richmond area. So I put someone on to it, the chief reporter I think, to make inquiries. It was the following day that we had a D-notice slapped on us; the reporter came over and told me. It was the only time in my career.”

Hale, who was awarded an OBE for his successful campaign to overturn the murder conviction of Stephen Downing, a victim of one of the longest-known miscarriages of justice, said he was issued with a D-notice when editor of the Bury Messenger. He had been given a file by Castle, by then an MEP, which had details of a Home Office investigation into allegations made by the Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens of the existence of a Westminster paedophile ring. The files contained the name of 16 MPs said to be involved and another 40 who were supportive of the goals of the Paedophile Information Exchange, which sought to reduce the age of consent.

Hale said he asked the Home Office for guidance on the dossier and the progress of the investigation but was stonewalled.

Hale said: “Then shortly after Cyril Smith bullied his way into my office. I thought he was going to punch me. He was sweating and aggressive and wanted to take the files away, saying it was a load of nonsense and that Barbara Castle just had a bee in her bonnet about homosexuals. I refused to give him the files.

“The very next day two non-uniformed officers, about 15 uniformed officers and another non-uniformed person, who didn’t introduce himself, came to the office waving a D-notice and said that I would be damaging national security if I reported on the file.”

Bahrain, CNN and censorship


This video from the USA says about itself:

1 October 2014

Amber Lyon recounts her time spent covering the Bahrain conflict and how CNN censored her story about the events taking place there.

Bahrain: Free Activists Facing Free-Speech Charges: here.