As in 1957, 1966 and 1989, Chinese intellectuals are feeling more or less the same fear as one does before an approaching mountain storm. The scariest [fear] of all is not being silenced or sent to prison; it is the sense of powerlessness and uncertainty about what comes next… It’s as if you are walking into a minefield blindfolded.
Hao Qun, as quoted in The Guardian. China Tries to Rein in Microbloggers.
The News, via The Guardian:
China has launched a new drive to tame its boisterous microblogging culture by closing influential accounts belonging to writers and intellectuals who have used them to highlight social injustice.
The strict censorship of mainstream media in China has made social media an essential forum for public debate, but authorities have shown increasing determination to control it. Previous campaigns have warned the public against spreading rumours – a theme that has recurred in this crackdown – and ordered users to register with their real names.
Now attention has turned to the country’s opinion formers. A recent commentary in the state-run Global Times newspaper warned that “Big Vs” – meaning verified accounts with millions of followers – had become “relay stations for online rumours” and accused them of “harming the dignity of the law”.
Somewhat Related: The South China Morning Post reports that the central government has ordered universities to stop teaching seven subjects, among them civil rights, press freedom and the communist party’s past mistakes.
Via the Washington Post:
Iran has arrested 14 journalists for alleged cooperation with foreign-based Persian-language media organizations, several chief editors of Iranian outlets said Monday.
The arrests signal a major escalation in a press crackdown that reflects Iran’s zero tolerance for those who work with dissident media or outlets considered hostile to the regime.
Via the New York Times:
None of the arrests were reported by the raided organizations themselves. Some Iranian journalists said the omissions appeared to reflect fears of further antagonizing the Revolutionary Guards and affiliated security forces whose loyalties lie with the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The Mehr news agency said the arrested journalists had been accused of “collaborating with some of the Persian-language foreign media” — apparently an allusion to the Persian services of both the BBC and the Voice of America. The Fars news agency, without citing any sources, said the suspects had tried to contact the foreign media and had sought training on photography and filming with cellphone cameras. “Moreover, they wanted to learn how to assemble the pieces and send them to the BBC,” Fars said.
Via the Committee to Protect Journalists:
CPJ ranks Iran as the world’s second-worst jailer of journalists, with 45 behind bars in 2012, according to its prison census conducted on December 1.
As the Washington Post notes: “Since 2000, Iran’s judiciary has shut down more than 120 pro-reform newspapers and jailed dozens of editors and writers on vague charges of insulting authorities.”
Yesterday they raided radio stations; today we have explosions at journalists’ homes.
There is an open effort to terrorize the media, a vital part of our democracy.
Simos Kedikoglou, spokesperson, Greek Government, in response to an attack against five journalists by a group called Lovers of Lawlessness. The group claims the journalists are sympathetic to the austerity measures being imposed on the country due to its economic crisis. New York Times, Journalists in Greece Are Becoming Targets.
The News: On Friday, attackers detonated gas canisters at the homes of an editor, two broadcasters, a crime reporter and a former journalist who’s now spokesman for a government agency privatizing Greek assets.
“These attacks are the most visible expression of an increasingly dangerous climate for all journalists, who are being turned into the scapegoats of a crisis they are just analysing,” said Reporters Without Borders in a statement.
As the Times reports, “Activism by far-left groups appears to be on the rise after a series of attacks and threats against journalists last year by Golden Dawn, the far-right neo-facist group.”
No one was injured in the attacks.