Showing posts with label International Press. Show all posts
Showing posts with label International Press. Show all posts

May 7, 2019

If It Didn’t Get Filmed It Never Happened and Israel Has Restricted Photo Documentation About Military

If adopted, a proposed bill could ban the filming and photographing of Israeli soldiers on duty. Photo by Flickr user Tal King (CC BY-NC 2.0)
When Israeli police brought in bulldozers to demolish the Palestinian village of Khan al-Ahmar on 4 July, the small community of 200 people did not stand still. 
Photos and videos shared online showed local residents and activists climbing into and blocking bulldozers. Israeli forces responded by assaulting and arresting protesters, leaving 35 injured and 11 detained. 
One video that made the rounds online showed Israeli military officers ripping off the headscarf of a woman protester as they were beating her, before wrestling her to the ground and taking her away.
Such violent encounters with the Israeli military and security forces have long been commonplace in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory. Documenting and speaking out against such encounters is possible and has become much easier in the past decade, with the advent of smart phones. 
But it may soon become more difficult — or even illegal. Israeli legislators are pushing two bills that would further restrict speech by activists and journalists critical of its policies in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory.
The first bill would place restrictions on the filming and photographing of Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), prescribing a five-year prison term against anyone convicted of “filming, photographing, and/or recording soldiers in the course of their duties, with the intention of undermining the spirit of IDF soldiers and residents of Israel.” If a court ruled that the photographer's intention was to “harm [Israeli] state security,” the penalty would extend to ten years in prison.
The “Prohibition Against Photographing and Documenting IDF Soldiers” would also criminalise the dissemination of the photos or footage on social networks and mainstream media. 
The second bill would streamline processes for government officials to demand that social media platforms remove online content considered “incitement to violence”, and is set to be approved by the Knesset.
Knesset member Robert Ilatov described the first bill as a response to “harassment” of Israeli soldiers by “left-wing operatives” at the Gaza-Israel border, where IDF officers have violently dispersed protests.
Since 30 March 2018, thousands of Palestinians living in the besieged Gaza Strip have gathered at the border with Israel for the ”Great March of Return” protests, marking 70 years since 700,000 Palestinians were forced to flee during the creation of the state of Israel, events known as Nakba in Arabic (translated as catastrophe or disaster). 
The protesters are demanding the right to return for those who were displaced and their descendants, along with an end to the 11-year Gaza blockade. Since protests began in late March 2018, Israeli forces have killed at least 138 protesters and injured thousands.

Journalists targeted by Israeli fire on Gaza border

Two journalists were killed and several others injured when they were hit with live ammunition fired by Israel Defense Forces (IDF), while covering the ”Great March of Return” protests.
On 6 April, Yaser Murtaja, one of the founders of the independent news agency Ain Media (“Eye Media”), was shot by Israeli forces. He died later that night of his injuries. “When shot, he was wearing a vest with the inscription ‘Press’ that clearly identified him as a journalist,” Reporters Without Borders said
On 25 April, Ahmed Abu Hussein, a Palestinian photographer for the Gaza-based Voice of the People Radio, died from bullet injuries to his abdomen after he was shot by Israel forces on 13 April while covering the protests. On 8 June, AFP photographer Mohammed al-Baba was shot below in the leg while covering the protests. Many other journalists were injured as well.
In a 15 May statement, RSF submitted a request to the International Criminal Court to investigate “the direct shots that IDF snipers have fired at some 20 Palestinian journalists during the “March of Return” protests in Gaza.

Why shield soldiers from public scrutiny?

In its explanatory note, the bill refers to “a worrying phenomenon of documentation of Israeli soldiers” by non-governmental organizations engaged in documenting violations against Palestinians. 
One such organization is The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, better known as B'Tselem. On 4 July, B’Tselem’s field researcher director Kareem Jubran was arrested as he was filming preparations for the forcible removal of the community of Khan al-Ahmar, before he was released the same day.
“As an organization, we have had staff members beaten, harassed and arrested,” B’Tselem spokesperson Amit Gilutz told Global Voices. Giltuz views the bill as part of a government led campaign that portrays those who “advocate for the human rights of all people living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea” as ‘traitors’.”
“What is clear is that the documentation of the reality that Israel is trying to hide – instead of changing – will continue nonetheless,” he said. 
While the bill's adoption may not stop activists and rights groups from documenting Israeli policies and practices in occupied territories, its impact will particularly be felt among Palestinian communities and activists.
Nadim Nashif, the executive director of the Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media, told Global Voices:  
This bill aims solely for censorship of commonplace Israeli forces’ human rights violations under the motto of “if it isn’t recorded, it didn’t happen.” If passed, it will dangerously increase the impunity of Israeli soldiers and further endanger Palestinians that have already been stripped of almost all means to protect themselves and advocate for their basic human rights.
Palestinians resisting the occupation already face a myriad of threats and restrictions, including violence, administrative detention, imprisonment and repressive laws. Those who turn to social media to criticise human rights violations and Israeli occupation policies or to simply show the everyday realities of occupation face arrests and prosecution for incitement.
The ‘Removal of Terror-Inciting Content from Social Media’ bill
And there's the second bill. The Removal of Terror-Inciting Content from Social Media Bill would criminalise content the Israeli government considers an “endangerment to personal, public or national security,” or speech that “could severely damage the Israeli economy or infrastructure,” local media reported.
This would double down on existing practices of prosecuting people for online speech and asking social media companies to remove allegedly inciting content. Incitement to violence is already illegal under Israel's 1977 penal code and under the 1945 Emergency Regulations.
In September 2016, Palestinian activists documented numerous suspensions of personal Facebook accounts of Palestinian journalists and media pages. Four editors at the Palestinian Shehab News Agency and three journalists from Al Quds News Network, which both have millions of followers, had their personal accounts shut down. Supporters responded, protesting online under the hashtag #FBCensorsPalestine. Facebook later apologized for the suspension and said that it was mistake.
Critics say the bill represents a threat to freedom of expression. A new report by the Israel Democracy Institute concluded that the bill sets a “dangerous legal precedent” and “opens the door to the dangers of state censorship”.
According to the report's authors Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler and Rachel Aridor-Hershkovitz:
The use of administrative law ex parte, with no admissible evidence to determine whether a criminal act has been committed, is an unprecedented international juridical act.
Social media companies, Facebook in particular, already face accusations of “complicity” in censoring Palestinian speech. One of the bill's initiators Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked declared that Facebook complies with ”most of the state's requests to remove inciteful [sic] content”.
“Instead of protecting freedom of expression online, social media companies are almost blindly following Israeli government requests for removal,” Nashif said.

April 26, 2017

Gay Reporter Broke The Gay Persecution in Chechnya Gone Into Hiding

A prominent Russian reporter who revealed horrific details of a crackdown on gay men in Chechnya has told CNN she is in hiding after receiving death threats.

Elena Milashina, a journalist at the Russian-language Novaya Gazeta newspaper, said she abandoned her apartment in Moscow and plans to leave Russia altogether after Muslim clerics in Chechnya delivered a fiery sermon calling for “retribution" against her and other journalists.

"This is the first time we got that kind of threat, when 15,000 people got together in a mosque and announced jihad against all the staff of Novaya Gazeta," Milashina told CNN in an interview. “It will last forever until the last of us dies.”

Speaking to a packed mosque in the regional capital, Grozny, the clerics adopted a resolution calling for the "instigators" of the reports to be held to account. The sermon was broadcast in full on regional state television in Chechen and independently transcribed for CNN.

The editorial board of Novaya Gazeta released a statement calling the sermon "an incitement to massacre journalists." Shortly afterwards, the newspaper received two envelopes filled with white powder.

"We still don't know what the powder is. We have asked the security forces to check it," Milashina told CNN. “But all of us, including me, consider this situation is very serious."
The threats come after a series of reports first written by Milashina focusing attention on allegations of mass arrests and torture of gay men in the mainly Muslim republic of Chechnya, in southern Russia.

CNN has spoken to several victims who say they have fled the region after being detained and suffering horrifying abuses.

"They tied wires to my hands and put metal clips on my ears to electrocute me," said one victim, whose identity CNN agreed to hide for his safety.
"When they shock you, you jump high above the ground," he told CNN at an undisclosed location.
Chechen authorities have refused to acknowledge the violence, denying that there are any gay men in Chechnya.

The Kremlin says it has no confirmation of any gay men in Chechnya suffering abuse.
But the reports have clearly struck a nerve. Local Chechen television has broadcast footage of Muslim clerics condemning what they called “women's gossip" and "lies" in newspaper reports.

Threats against journalists not new

In a country where journalists are routinely beaten up or even killed for their work, the clerics’ remarks have been taken as a worrying development.

Novaya Gazeta is no stranger to violent threats against its staff. In 2006, its star Chechnya reporter, Anna Politkovskaya, was gunned down in the elevator of her Moscow apartment building.
And since 2000, at least five other Novaya Gazeta journalists have also been killed in Mafia-style hits, a grim testament to how dangerous reporting in Russia can be and the bravery of reporters like Milashina who continue to report on Chechnya.

"The only way to stop people who might possibly think of murdering my colleagues is to show them there will be another one," she told CNN.
Asked if she was prepared to put her life on the line for that ideal, Milashina replied: "Yes. Absolutely. That makes me much stronger than my enemies in Chechnya.”

February 5, 2013

Saudis Making a Priority in Teaching English in Schools

Saudi ministry of education sees learning English as top priority

Teaching Saudi students the English language is a now a top priority for the Ministry of Education in the kingdom. (AFP)
Teaching Saudi students the English language is a now a top priority for the Ministry of Education in the kingdom. (AFP)
To enable students to overcome challenges, teaching English is going to a top priority in Saudi Arabia, the kingdom’s Deputy Minister of Education, Nora al-Fayez, was quoted as saying in an interview published in the local newspaper, al-Madina.

Professor of Computer Science at King Abdul Aziz University, Hussein Sendi, said the lack of proficiency in English among Saudi students could be attributed to three factors, which include: the Saudi culture, education shortcomings and shortage in the resources required to learn English.

“First, we need to improve the cultural factor in order to advance the learning of English in the kingdom,” he told Al Arabiya.

Sendi explained that parents need to know that English is not just one of the many languages spoken across the globe, but is now the most important of them, especially when it comes to technology.

“Almost 80 percent of internet servers are in the United States and they all operate in English and around 75 percent of the internet’s most important sites in the fields of knowledge and culture are also in English.”

December 9, 2012

First Gay Community Magazine in Egypt Halts Production

The creators of Ehna Magazine, an online publication for the homosexual community in Egypt, are anonymous and appear to be isolated from rights organizations in the country. (Facebook image)

The closing down of an online magazine catering for the gay community in Egypt, believed to be first of its kind, has stirred concerns from rights activists about the status of homosexuals in the country.

Ehna, which translates from Arabic to “us,” halted its online circulation earlier this year in hushed circumstances, with an abrupt statement, after launching its first issue.

On the magazine’s Facebook page, once abundant with empowering slogans, links and screenshots from the magazine’s web pages, a lone message posted on May 27, reads:

“We have been forced to shut down the online magazine due to security reasons. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.”
Ehna had a bold mission statement: To become the voice for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Questioning (LGBTIQ) communities in Egypt. The magazine attempted to defend their rights, tackle homophobia in the country and raise awareness on issues such as HIV, spotlighting celebrity members of the gay Egyptian community.

But as the site’s announcements gathered pace, the site came to a standstill.

Commenters who had breathed a sigh of relief that an online magazine for the homosexual community had launched, were left stumped.

October 1, 2012

FARS Iran News Agency is Sorry For Something! They F*up

Screengrab of Fars news agency website


An Iranian news agency has apologised after being fooled by a spoof story from a US satirical website.
Fars news agency said on its website that its news item "was extracted" from the Onion website on Friday, but was taken down in less than two hours.
The Onion's story claimed that rural Americans preferred Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Barack Obama.
Fars' editor-in-chief said he still believed that US politicians were deeply unpopular with their public.
"Although it does not justify our mistake, we do believe that if a free opinion poll is conducted in the US, a majority of Americans would prefer anyone outside the US political system to President Barack Obama and American statesmen," the Fars story quoted the unnamed editor as saying.
"FNA makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of its reports, however very occasionally mistakes do happen."
The report then goes on to list errors it says have been made by other news organisations over the years, including the BBC, New York Times and ITV.
Fars, which is affiliated with the powerful Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), did not credit the Onion for its original report.
The story quoted a West Virginia resident as saying the Iranian leader "takes national defence seriously, and he'd never let some gay protesters tell him how to run his country like Obama does".
Homosexuality is punishable by imprisonment or, in some cases, death in Iran.
The Onion has a history of its reports being picked up by news outlets.
In 2004, China's state-run Beijing Evening News carried an Onion report that said the US Congress was threatening to move out of Washington unless a new Capitol was built.
And in 2009, two Bangladeshi newspapers apologised after publishing an Onion article claiming the Moon landings were faked.


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