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May 9, 2012

Mexico and world react to murdered journalists

Mexico and world react to murdered journalists

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

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UN Secretary General leads a moment of silence on World Press Freedom Day 2012.
Image: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe.

The United Nations honored the 74 journalists killed since 2011.
Video: United Nations, UNTV.

This past weekend, over 100 journalists in Mexico City protested around a statue where a mock note said in translation, “Government Journalist Killer” in reaction to deaths in Veracruz. Recent journalist killings have also provoked international condemnation.

Earlier Javier Duarte de Ochoa, governor of Veracruz, said Friday he would create a state-led organization to protect journalists after recent violence against journalists, including the discovery of dead photojournalists.

Journalists around the nation and the government of Veracruz are reacting to the dismembered bodies of four Mexicans, three of them photojournalists, who were found in a canal in the state of Veracruz, Mexico, on Thursday, which happened to coincide with World Press Freedom Day, which is held on May 3 every year.

Two of the photographers worked for Notiver and later VeracruzNews. They were identified as Gabriel Huge and Guillermo Luna. The body of Luna’s girlfriend Irasema Becerra was also found. The other photographer, Esteban Rodríguez, had worked as a videographer for TV Azteca before working for Diario AZ.

The Committee to Protect Journalists released the following statement in condemning the death of the three photographers: “We are deeply troubled by reports of these murders that, coming as they do on World Press Freedom Day underscore the ongoing crisis in Mexico. Veracruz has seen a wave of lethal anti-press violence that is sowing widespread fear and self-censorship. Mexican authorities must act now to end the deadly cycle of impunity in crimes against the press.”

Irina Bokova, who is the director-general of UNESCO, said, “That these gruesome crimes have been committed on the eve of World Press Freedom Day – a day on which we honour the vital role played by journalists in upholding democratic values, protecting citizens’ rights to be informed and calling those in power to account – makes the situation all the more intolerable…I condemn these three murders in the strongest possible terms and urge the Mexican authorities to act quickly and decisively to find those responsible. Impunity is not an option.”

On the Saturday before the deaths, the body of Proceso journalist Regina Martinez was found in her Xalapa apartment. Martinez had been investigating other journalists who had been killed in the state of Veracruz. The three bodies of photographers and Regina Martinez bring to eight the number of journalists killed in Veracruz in the past year and a half.

Four journalists died in Veracruz in 2011. The long-time crime journalist for Notiver, Miguel Ángel López Velasco, better known by his pseudonym Milo Vera, was killed along with his wife and son. López’s son Miseal López Solana was a crime photographer at Notiver who often worked with his father. About one month after their death, the body of their colleague and friend at Notiver Yolanda Ordaz de la Cruz was found decaptitated with a note at the crime scene. She was investigating the López’s murder at the time. Earlier in 2011, Noel López Olguín of the La Verdad de Jáltipan was murdered.

In March 2012, the Mexican Congress approved a Constitutional amendment to make it a federal offense to attack a journalist and that would need six more states to sign on before it would become the law. Over the last ten years, the toll of the Mexican Drug War has been high on journalists as more than 80 have been killed and another fourteen are missing, according to Reporters Without Borders. Almost 50,000 people have died during Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s drug war.

The drug cartel known as the Zetas are active in Veracruz. However, a cartel that is closely allied with the Sinaloa cartel headed by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and is based out of Jalisco is at war with the Zetas over territory. Both of the competing cartels have been pressuring journalists in Veracruz to cover only its side of the story.

Mike O’Connor, a spokesperson for CPJ on Mexico, said, “It’s hard to imagine what else reporters can do to stay safe there.”

In other news on World Press Freedom Day, UNESCO presented Azerbaijan journalist Eynulla Fatullayev with its Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize at a conference on press freedom in Tunisia. He spent four years in prison for his journalism.

In New York, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon led a moment of silence to honor the 74 journalists who died since 2011, of which fourteen have already died this year. This figure does not include the most recent discovery of Mexican journalists.



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May 7, 2012

Mexican journalists found dead on World Press Freedom Day

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Monday, May 7, 2012

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UN Secretary General leads a moment of silence on World Press Freedom Day 2012.
Image: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe.

UN World Press Freedom Day 2012.ogv

The United Nations honored the 74 journalists killed since 2011.
Video: United Nations, UNTV.

This past weekend, over 100 journalists in Mexico City protested around a mock statue that said in translation, “Government Journalist Killer” in reaction to deaths in Veracruz.

Earlier Javier Duarte de Ochoa, governor of Veracruz, said Friday he would create a state-led organization to protect journalists after recent violence against journalists, including the discovery of dead photojournalists.

Journalists around the nation and the government of Veracruz are reacting to the dismembered bodies of four Mexicans, three of them photojournalists, who were found in a canal in the state of Veracruz, Mexico, on Thursday, which happened to coincide with World Press Freedom Day, which is held on May 3 every year.

Two of the photographers worked for Notiver and later VeracruzNews. They were identified as Gabriel Huge and Guillermo Luna. The body of Luna’s girlfriend Irasema Becerra was also found. The other photographer, Esteban Rodríguez, had worked as a videographer for TV Azteca before working for Diario AZ.

The Committee to Protect Journalists released the following statement in condemning the death of the three photographers: “We are deeply troubled by reports of these murders that, coming as they do on World Press Freedom Day underscore the ongoing crisis in Mexico. Veracruz has seen a wave of lethal anti-press violence that is sowing widespread fear and self-censorship. Mexican authorities must act now to end the deadly cycle of impunity in crimes against the press.”

Just last Saturday, the body of Proceso journalist Regina Martinez was found in her Xalapa apartment. Martinez had been investigating other journalists who had been killed in the state of Veracruz. The three bodies of photographers and Regina Martinez bring to eight the number of journalists killed in Veracruz in the past year and a half.

Four journalists died in Veracruz in 2011. The long-time crime journalist for Notiver, Miguel Ángel López Velasco, better known by his pseudonym Milo Vera, was killed along with his wife and son. López’s son Miseal López Solana was a crime photographer at Notiver who oftentime worked with his father. About one month after their death, the body of their colleague and friend at Notiver Yolanda Ordaz de la Cruz was found decaptitated with a note at the crime scene. She was investigating the López’s murder at the time. Earlier in 2011, Noel López Olguín of the La Verdad de Jáltipan was murdered.

In March 2012, the Mexican Congress approved a Constitutional amendment to make it a federal offense to attack a journalist and that would need six more states to sign on before it would become the law. Over the last ten years, the toll of the Mexican Drug War has been high on journalists as more than 80 have been killed and another 14 are missing, according to Reporters Without Borders. Almost 50,000 people have died during Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s drug war.

The drug cartel known as the Zetas are active in Veracruz. However, a cartel that is working closely with the Sinaloa cartel headed by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and is based out of Jalisco is at war with the Zetas over territory. Both of the competing cartels have been pressuring journalists in Veracruz to cover only its side of the story.

Mike O’Connor, a spokesperson for CPJ on Mexico, said, “It’s hard to imagine what else reporters can do to stay safe there.”

In other news on World Press Freedom Day, UNESCO presented Azerbaijan journalist Eynulla Fatullayev with its Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize at a conference on press freedom in Tunisia. He spent four years in prison for his journalism.

In New York, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon led a moment of silence to honor the 74 journalists who died since 2011, of which 14 have already died this year. This figure does not include the most recent discovery of Mexican journalists.



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January 3, 2012

Two Syrian journalists killed around New Year\’s Day

Two Syrian journalists killed around New Year’s Day

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

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The last two journalists reported killed at the turn of the year were Syrians; just at a time when protests and violence in the country are escalating, and the Arab League begins its initial assessment of the situation.

Shot on December 30, and the first journalist to die in 2012, was veteran journalist Shukri Ratib Abu Burghol. The senior journalist was shot in the face after arriving home from work at a radio station in Darayya, on the southern outskirts of the capital city Damascus. According to Reporters Without Borders, he died three days after the shooting at Al Mouwsat Hospital.

The Syrian uprising began 11 months ago with a “Day of Rage” on February 3, last year. Homs, north of Damascus, has been a flashpoint of the revolution.

Burghol, 56, was a journalist for about 21 years, working for the newspaper Al-Thawra (The Revolution) whilst also hosting a weekly show for Radio Damascus. A source told the Xinhua news agency Burghol had received threats.

Basil Al-Sayed became the last journalist to die in 2011, shot on December 29 by a sniper in the city of Homs. The Arab League has confirmed that the Syrian government have been seen using snipers against protesters elsewhere in Daraa. The shooting of Al-Sayed took place in the Bab Amr section of Homs. The city has been one of the hot spots for protests against Bashar al-Assad‘s government during 2011. In the last week of the year, the Bab Amr neighbourhood was attacked by the Syrian military and experienced heavy violence.

The 24-year-old camera operator was a citizen journalist who uploaded his videos to video-sharing sites to spread information about the protests. Photojournalists and camera operators have been some of the the most at-risk during the Arab uprisings in Tunisia and Libya. Ferzat Jarban — the first known journalist to be killed in Syria — was a freelance camera operator, arrested on November 19 whilst filming protests in Al-Qusayr, Homs Governorate. He was found dead the following day. In Syria, citizen journalists like Al-Sayed, and freelancers like Jarban, have been risking their lives by openly recording videos of protests which may serve as documentary evidence of human rights’ abuse.

Currently information is hard to verify and reliable independent sources are largely banned or restricted inside Syria. Foreign journalists have been barred from the country, and from covering the protests.

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At the end of 2011 Arab League observers had sent out observers to different cities in Syria to monitor the situation, whilst one of its advisers called for the organization to retreat after Al-Assad’s government reneged on agreements to halt the crackdown.

According to Navi Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations, more than 5,000 people have been killed during the Syrian uprising, a figure that includes around 300 children.

Three journalists are now known to have been killed in Syria.

In December, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) addressed an open letter to Syrian President Al-Assad calling for the release of all journalists in detention; the CPJ documented 29 cases of journalists being detained in 2011.

The CPJ reported that 45 journalists were killed worldwide in 2011, whereas — using differing criteria — Reporters Without Borders state that 66 journalists around the world died in 2011, and assert that, by almost every indicator, violence and censorship against international journalists was worse in 2011, up 16% on their 2010 figures.

 
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August 23, 2011

Pakistan government must investigate killings and abductions of journalists, says UN

Pakistan government must investigate killings and abductions of journalists, says UN

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

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The United Nations (UN) on Friday called on the government of Pakistan to investigate numerous killings and abductions, particularly of journalists.

“In the past eight days alone we have received reports on the killing of one journalist, Munir Shakir, in Balochistan on August 14 2011, and the disappearance of another journalist, Rehmatullah Daparkhel, three days earlier in North Waziristan on August 11,” said spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, nine journalists have been killed in Pakistan this year, and at least 16 were killed in 2010. None of the killings had been investigated satisfactorily, Colville said.

Colville said that the UN would like to see the government review all of the incidents. “We call on all responsible parties to immediately stop such violations of human rights, and we urge the government to take immediate steps to independently investigate these cases,” he said.

Amnesty International has also urged the government of Pakistan to ensure the protection of journalists and media workers in the country. They have further called upon the Pakistani authorities to investigate attacks on journalists and to try those responsible in line with internationally recognised standards of human rights.

Colville said that the recent attacks on journalists were not uncommon in Pakistan and that many journalist groups regard the country as one of the most dangerous places to work.

Shakir was shot dead after covering a protest organized by a Baloch separatist organization. Irshad Matsoi, the bureau chief for the Online News Network where Shakir worked, said that the killing was linked to the journalist’s work. Journalism in Balochistan is becoming “an endangered profession,” Matsoi said.

Reporters Without Borders (RWB) have appealed for punishment of those responsible for the murder. According to RWB, journalists do not feel free to report in Balochistan, which has led to self-censorship in the region.

The whereabouts of Daparkhel, kidnapped on August 11, is still unknown. The worldwide press freedom organization said that the government must do everything they can to find him immediately. “It is unacceptable that local journalists have to do the job of the police and investigate on their own using their contacts,” the organization said.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has condemned the incidents. “There is a growing sense of insecurity among media persons who increasingly interpret each attack on journalists as a warning to ‘behave,’” the HRCP said last Monday. The HRCP also said that in almost all cases of violence against journalists in the last few years, those responsible have not been identified or punished.

“The HRCP calls upon the government to respond through effective action and not mere words in the next few days, sending a strong message to the mischief makers that it would no longer stand by as a mere spectator as journalists are killed and snatched,” the Commission said.



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September 8, 2010

Iraqi TV presenter Riad al-Saray shot dead in Baghdad

Iraqi TV presenter Riad al-Saray shot dead in Baghdad

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

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Riad al-Saray, an Iraqi television presenter, has been shot dead. He was killed at 06.00 am (03.00 GMT) on Tuesday in western Baghdad by unknown gunmen while he was heading to his work place in Karbala. Saray presented several political and religious programs on al-Iraqiya TV.

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Image: NASA.

Television journalist Ahmed al-Mullah said that traffic police saw Saray’s car veer off the road and crash but did not hear any gunshots. He said that police have reported a silencer was used in what is thought to have been a planned attack. In addition to being a television presenter, Saray was also a trained lawyer, and served on the local council of a Shiite neighborhood.

Human rights organization Reporters Without Borders released a statement stating, “Reporters Without Borders calls for a proper investigation capable of identifying and arresting both the perpetrators and instigators of this murder and bringing them to justice. It would be deplorable it this killing were to go unpunished, which unfortunately has been the case in 99 per cent of the 230 murders of journalists and media workers since the US-led invasion in 2003.”

Saray’s death brings the death toll of al-Iraqiya journalists killed since the removal of Saddam Hussien to 15. A total of 230 journalists and media assistants have been killed in Iraq since the 2003 U.S invasion.



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January 21, 2009

Australian writer Harry Nicolaides jailed for three years for insulting Thai Royal Family

Australian writer Harry Nicolaides jailed for three years for insulting Thai Royal Family

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

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Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

Melbourne writer Harry Nicolaides, 41, was sentenced on Monday to three years imprisonment for defaming the Royal Family of Thailand. He had pled guilty to the lèse majesté indictment that arose from a self-published 2005 novel, Verisimilitude, of which only 50 copies were printed, and just seven sold. Meanwhile, yesterday, the Thai police charged a leading leftist political science professor, Dr. Giles Ji Ungpakorn, with lèse majesté.

The passage of concern, which comprised only 103 words or 12 lines, referred to a crown prince’s love life. This allegedly insulted the lifestyle of H.R.H. Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, the only son of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit.

The Royal Family of Thailand is the current ruling house of the Kingdom of Thailand, the Head of the House of the King of Thailand. It is protected by law (Lèse majesté) from insult, with the charge carrying a maximum 15-year sentence.

“He has written a book that slandered the king, the crown prince of Thailand and the monarchy,” the judge ruled. “He was found guilty under criminal law article 112 and the court has sentenced him to six years, but due to his confession, which is beneficial to the case, the sentence is reduced to three years,” the judge explained.

Nicolaides earlier confessed to having slandered 81-year-old King Bhumibol and his son Vajiralongkorn. “I respect the King of Thailand. I was aware there were obscure laws (about the monarchy) but I didn’t think they would apply to me,” he tearfully said. He was arrested and detained at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on August 31 as he tried to leave the country on a routine trip. Nicolaides was unaware of an arrest warrant issued on March 17, since he was not officially notified of the preliminary investigation.

Nicolaides had even sent copies of the published book to the Thai Ministry of Culture and Foreign Affairs, the national library and the Bureau of the Royal Household, for approval. In the decision, the Thai judge clarified that Nicolaides had placed the monarchy into disrepute, even obliquely, by his “reckless choice of words”. The judgment cited a passage about the novel’s fictional prince which caused “dishonour” to the royals and suggested an “abuse of royal power.”

The fictional passage in question goes as follows:

From King Rama to the Crown Prince, the nobility was renowned for their romantic entanglements and intrigues. The crown prince had many wives, ‘major and minor’, with a coterie of concubines for entertainment. One of his recent wives was exiled with her entire family, including a son they conceived together, for an undisclosed indiscretion. He subsequently remarried another woman, and fathered another child. It was rumoured that if the prince fell in love with one of his minor wives, and she betrayed him, she and her family would disappear with their name, familial lineage and all vestiges of their existence expunged forever.
Verisimilitude, Harry Nicolaides

Nicolaides, who had worked in Thailand from 2003 to 2005 as a Chiang Rai university lecturer in hospitality and tourism, left the Bangkok court wearing a dark orange prison jumpsuit with his feet shackled. “This is an Alice-in-Wonderland experience. I really believe that I am going to wake up and all of you will be gone. I would like to apologise. This can’t be real. It feels like a bad dream,” said Nicolaides. He felt “dreadful,” adding, “I wish my family the best.”

Queen Sirikit of Thailand with Vladimir Putin in Kremlin, Moscow (July, 2007)

His brother Forde Nicolaides said Harry is not appealing but will request a Thai royal pardon. “We’re devastated. You might be able to hear my mother crying in the background. It’s quite devastating for us. The whole case has been a massive emotional ordeal that has consumed our entire family. It’s beyond belief,” Forde was reported as saying.

Nicolaides’ family has attributed some blame to the Rudd government for its failure to intervene in the case. Forde criticized Foreign Minister Stephen Smith: “There is a huge expectation gap between what Australian citizens think the Australian government will do when they are in trouble overseas versus what they will do.”

Harry’s father Socrates Nicolaides, 83, delivered an appeal letter to Mr. Rudd last week. “I said to him, as one father to another father, please Mr. Prime Minister, I plead with you to do your utmost to do everything in your power to get Harry released,” Mr. Nicolaides said. His wife Despina Nicolaides, 75, collapsed when she saw the video footage of her son. “He has just written a book,” she said amid tears.

Despina Nicolaides said on Wednesday she appealed to King Bhumibol for a royal pardon, but her family has not received any reply from the Thai government. “We don’t know when really it will be okay for Harry to be released – they don’t say anything,” she said. “I’m worrying sick. I hope that they will help us too like they did the Swiss people,” she added.

According to Foreign Minister Smith, an Australian consular staff in Bangkok visited Nicolaides 25 times in prison. “We understand the anxiety that is being felt by Mr. Nicolaides and his family, however, he is subject to the legal and judicial processes of Thailand,” the Smith’s spokesman said. Moreover, Thai laws require a waiting period of 30 days from promulgation of the sentence before Nicolaides becomes eligible to apply for a Thai King’s pardon.

Cquote1.svg I feel persecuted, to be honest… I want to be given a chance to apologise and explain. Cquote2.svg

—–Harry Nicolaides

Smith mentioned that he had forwarded the Federal Government’s letter to Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya Monday for the Australian writer’s pardon. “I raised Mr. Nicolaides’ case with then Thai Foreign Minister Sompong when we met at APEC in November last year,” Mr. Smith added.

Independent Senator Nicholas (Nick) Xenophon has called on the Australian Federal Government to exert pressure on Thailand for the early repatriation of Nicolaides who has already served five months in jail. He has been refused bail four times. Xenophon is a South Australian barrister, anti-gambling campaigner and No Pokies, independent in the South Australian Legislative Council.

“The imprisonment has taken a heavy toll on his physical and mental health. He has lost weight, he has been continually unwell for extended periods of time and obviously psychologically he has found the experience of being in prison in Thailand very challenging,” his Australian lawyer, Mark Dean SC said. “Once that sentence is passed, if it’s not a suspended sentence, then an application will be made for a royal pardon and we’re hoping that that will be processed as quickly as possible,” he added.

Acting Premier of Victoria, Justin Hulls said he has enquired about whether Victorian Government can provide assistance to Nicolaides. Hulls’ legal team applied for a Thai royal pardon. His office has also communicated with lawyers of the case and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Nicholas (Nick) Xenophon.

According to Reporters Without Borders (RWB, or Reporters Sans Frontières), a Paris-based international non-governmental organization that advocates freedom of the press, the sentence imposed was “a serious violation of free expression.” The group has expressed concern at the use of the Lèse majesté laws to suppress political discussion and dissenting voices.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Thai police filed a lèse majesté case against Dr. Giles Ji Ungpakorn, 55, a political science professor at Chulalongkorn University and Thailand’s leading leftist political analyst. “The government, the prime minister, should order that they (the lese majeste laws) cease being used against people and that a whole review of the law should take place,” Giles said.

The accusations against Giles stem from the publishing a 2007 anti-military coup book, ‘A Coup for the Rich,’ which can be downloaded free on his blog http://www.wdpress.blog.co.uk. The 144-page critique is an academic textbook dealing with the Thailand political crisis 2005-2006, the bloodless coup of September 19, 2006 which overthrew former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Professor Ungpakorn’s father Puey Ungpakorn was the Bank of Thailand’s governor for 12 years and also a Thammasat University dean, and whose brother Jon Ungpakorn is a former senator.

Giles was duly informed of the charges at the central Pathum Wan Police Station. He was granted 20 days to file a sworn counter-statement to the police, who will then rule on whether to file formal charges in the courts for trial. “Lèse majesté is being used to destroy free speech,” said Giles who denied the charges. “The lès majesté laws are there to protect the military and to protect governments that come to power through military action. They’re not really about protecting the monarchy,” he added.

The Thai people believe that King Bhumibol and the Thai Royal Family are semi-divine. Accordingly, insulting the monarchy is taken extremely seriously in Thailand. Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga earlier vowed to impose tougher regulations to implement the laws. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, however, announced last week that he was trying to “strike the balance between upholding the law and allowing freedom of expression.” Pirapan has reported that more than 10,000 websites have similar criminal contents.

Sulak Sivaraksa.

The Thai government had already blocked about 4,000 websites, including 2,300 websites recently, for alleged violations of lèse majesté law. As of last week, more than 17 criminal cases of insulting the royal family were still pending. About 400 more websites await a court restraining order, according to Information and Communication (ICT) Minister Ranongruk Suwanchawee.

Lèse majesté cases have been filed against several people, including Chotisak On-soong, Jitra Kotchadej, Darunee Charnchoengsilpakul, Suwicha Thakhor, Sondhi Limthongkul, and social activists like Sulak Sivaraksa who were charged in the 1980s and 1990s. The King, however, has routinely granted pardons to most people jailed for lèse majesté. In March 2007, Swiss national Oliver Jufer was convicted of lèse majesté and sentenced to 10 years for spray-painting on several portraits of the king while drunk in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Jufer was pardoned by the king on April 12, 2007.

In March 2008, Police Colonel Watanasak Mungkijakarndee filed a similar case against Jakrapob Penkhair for comments made in a Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCCT) event in August 2007. In 2008 BBC south-east Asia correspondent Jonathan Head was accused of lèse majesté three times by Colonel Watanasak Mungkijakarndee. In the most recent case Watanasak filed new charges highlighting a conspiracy connecting Jonathan Head to Veera Musikapong at the FCCT.

Canberra Thai Embassy Minister counselor, Saksee Phromyothi, on Wednesday defended the country’s harsh lèse majesté, saying that, “under Thailand’s constitution, the king was above politics and was prevented from publicly defending himself from personal attacks.” Mr. Saksee explained that “99 per cent of foreigners convicted under this law get pardoned and then we deport them.”



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April 7, 2008

Olympic torch extinguished three times in Paris

Olympic torch extinguished three times in Paris

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Monday, April 7, 2008

The torch on its way through London yesterday.
Image: Adam Brookes.

Today, the Olympic torch went out three times while traveling through Paris, France. Olympic officials claim that this came as a result of actions by Pro-Tibetan protesters. It has been reported that the torch was extinguished, then put on a bus to keep it safe. The torch was extinguished one time by a Chinese official when the torch was in the hands of David Douillet, and one time due to technical problems.

Sylvain Garel, of the Green Party and member of the Paris City Council tried to catch the torch from bearer Stephane Diagana’s hands.

Protesters held anti-torch poster during the relay.
Image: Peter Karlsson.

A ceremony on City Hall Plaza was canceled, “by Chinese officials” according to Paris’ mayor Bertrand Delanoë. A banner with “Paris defends human rights around the world” was installed on the City Hall. Reporters without Borders, head of the protest in France, put a banner on the Eiffel Tower and on Notre-Dame de Paris by its Secretary-General Robert Ménard.

This action comes soon after the official news agency of China described the actions by the protesters as “vile misdeeds”. A spokesman for Beijing 2008 said “the torch represents the Olympic spirit and people welcome the torch.”

A spokesperson for the International Olympic Committee said that the IOC is concerned about the situation in Tibet, although they do not encourage people to disrupt the ceremonies. The spokesperson said “The International Olympic Committee has expressed its serious concern and calls for a rapid peaceful resolution in Tibet.” He did, however, say that the style of protesting was “not compatible with the values of the torch relay or the Olympic Games”.

The BBC has reported that 500 protesters were present in Paris today. Yesterday, protesters tried to grab and extinguish the torch in London, without success. The events were not broadcast live, as a Chinese Committee demanded to screen the footage prior to broadcast.


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  • “Protests surround Olympic torch relay” — Wikinews, April 6, 2008

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March 25, 2008

Olympic flame for Beijing Games lit amidst protest

Olympic flame for Beijing Games lit amidst protest

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Olympic countdown-clock at the National Museum of China.

The Olympic flag.

On Monday, the Olympic torch for the 2008 Summer Olympics was lit in Olympia, Greece as per tradition. The Games of the XXIX Olympiad are scheduled to be held in and around Beijing, China from August 8, 2008, to August 24, 2008.

Members of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and others, were able to break through the police cordon. “We cannot let the Chinese government seize the Olympic flame, a symbol of peace, without denouncing the dramatic human rights situation in the country,” RSF said in a statement.

While Liu Qi, president of the Beijing Organizing Committee and a former mayor of Beijing, delivered a speech, at least one protester was able to run up behind him and display a flag that resembled the Olympic flag, except it was black and the rings were handcuffs.

The protester was quickly apprehended and Liu Qi continued his speech relatively uninterrupted. “The Olympic flame will radiate light and happiness, peace and friendship, and hope and dreams to the people of China and the whole world,” he told the crowd.

Cquote1.svg All we wanted to do was break into the torch relay and shout that this is a torch of shame as the Chinese government continues to kill hundreds of our people. Cquote2.svg

—Tenzin Dorjee

“Shame on China. Don’t send China’s blood-tainted torch to Tibet. Free Tibet. Tibet is an independent country,” shouted Tenzin Dorjee, a leader for Students for a Free Tibet, while he was taken by police.

“All we wanted to do was break into the torch relay and shout that this is a torch of shame as the Chinese government continues to kill hundreds of our people,” Dorjee said later. “They were stalking me from the moment I touched down to Greece,” he added.

Cquote1.svg The torch is the link between all athletes and citizens of this world; between all of us who believe in Olympism and the virtue of sport. It has the force to unite humanity and to stand for harmony. Cquote2.svg

—Jacques Rogge

The torch is still scheduled to be carried around the world in a relay that will go through twenty countries before arriving in Beijing for the start of the Games.

Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has defended having the Games in China, saying, “The major political leaders don’t want a boycott.”

In his speech Monday, he said, “The torch is the link between all athletes and citizens of this world; between all of us who believe in Olympism and the virtue of sport. It has the force to unite humanity and to stand for harmony.”

Germany’s Olympic Committee rejected a boycott of the games aimed at events in Tibet. Noting that the 1980 Summer Olympics boycott did not avert the Soviet war in Afghanistan, the president of the committee said they concluded that the role of sports is to start dialog and promote understanding — and not to exert political pressure.



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December 13, 2007

Garry Kasparov will not run for Russian presidency

Garry Kasparov will not run for Russian presidency

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Garry Kasparov (second from right) and other ‘The Other Russia’ leaders at a rally on June 9, 2007.
Image: GoWest.

Garry Kasparov, the world champion chess-player turned political activist, says he will not contest the 2008 presidential election in March. Kasparov says that he is forced to withdraw from the race because his political group, The Other Russia has been unable to hold a nominating convention.

“In all Moscow we have not been able to find a hall where our supporters could meet,” Kasparov said. “We pay and the people agree. There are no problems. And then they call us to say they are refusing, can’t give us the hall any more,” he continued. “They refuse to give us the hall for technical reasons.”

Kasparov’s campaign had previously run into a variety of other problems including police crackdowns and censorship. In one incident, Andrei Novikov, a reporter critical of the government and supportive of Kasparov, was detained for nine months in a psychiatric hospital.

Reporters Without Borders said of the Novikov incident: “It seems that Russia’ special service sand psychiatrists are still empowered to take charge of anyone whose words or actions stray from the Kremlin line.”

Analysts believe that Dmitri Medvedev will win the March elections after he was endorsed by Vladimir Putin, who wields tremendous popular support.



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September 28, 2007

Japanese journalist shot and killed in Myanmar

Japanese journalist shot and killed in Myanmar

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Kenji Nagai, 50, a Japanese video journalist shot dead in Myanmar (Burma) this Thursday, is alleged to have been shot intentionally, a report says. On Friday Japanese television station Fuji TV aired a film in which Nagai had been shown. In that film, VOA reports Nagai was “thrown to the ground by a soldier and shot at close range.” Tokyo based Yomiuri Shimbun reports the anonymous local testimonies of that incident: Nagai was shot from a near distance while he filmed the anti-government demonstration. The local testimonials state that military and polices aimed at many citizens with cameras.

After being informed of the death of Nagai, the Japanese government demanded that the Burmese government investigate the death and punish the killer, Yomiuri reports.

APF, the Tokyo based news agency for which Nagai worked, reports that Reporters Without Borders, the Paris based non-profit, issued a protest against the Burmese government in response to his death. According to APF, RWB states Burmese government disturbs communications in several ways, including disturbance of cellular connection and blocking of blogs. According to Jiji, a Tokyo based newswire, RWB also requested Japanese government sanction of Myanmar.

Also, European Committee spokesperson accused the Burmese military government of being responsible for Nagai’s death as well as all other violence in Burma. European Committee expresses their concern of the Burmese government attitude toward foreign press.



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2007 Burmese anti-government protests
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