Archive for the ‘Censorship and free speech’ Category

by John Pilger

Julian Assange has been vindicated because the Swedish case against him was corrupt. The prosecutor, Marianne Ny, obstructed justice and should be prosecuted. Her obsession with Assange not only embarrassed her colleagues and the judiciary but exposed the Swedish state’s collusion with the United States in its crimes of war and “rendition”.

Had Assange not sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, he would have been on his way to the kind of American torture pit Chelsea Manning had to endure.

This prospect was obscured by the grim farce played out in Sweden. “It’s a laughing stock,” said James Catlin, one of Assange’s Australian lawyers. “It is as if they make it up as they go along”.

Serious purpose

It may have seemed that way, but there was always serious purpose. In 2008, a secret Pentagon document prepared by the “Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch” foretold a detailed plan to discredit WikiLeaks and smear Assange personally.

The “mission” was to destroy the “trust” that was WikiLeaks’ “centre of gravity”. This would be achieved with threats of “exposure [and] criminal prosecution”. Silencing and criminalising such an unpredictable source of truth-telling was the aim.

Perhaps this was understandable. WikiLeaks has exposed the way America dominates much of human affairs, including its epic crimes, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq: the wholesale, often homicidal killing of civilians and the contempt for sovereignty and international law.

These disclosures are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution. As a presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama, a professor of constitutional law, lauded whistle blowers as “part of a healthy democracy [and they] must be protected from reprisal”.

In 2012, the Obama campaign boasted on its website that Obama had prosecuted more whistleblowers in his first term than all other US presidents combined. Before Chelsea Manning had even received a trial, Obama had publicly pronounced her guilty.

Few serious observers doubt that should the US get their hands on Assange, a similar fate (more…)

by Yassamine Mather

The Iranian presidential election campaign started last week with a televised debate between the six male candidates who had been approved by the country’s Islamic Guardian Council. They are Mostafa Agha Mirsalim, Mostafa Hashemi-Taba, Es’haq Jahangiri, Hassan Rouhani, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and Ebrahim Raisi.

Those who managed to watch the entire three-hour event should be given a medal for perseverance, since within the first few minutes it became clear how the debate would progress. The current president, Rouhani, and his deputy, Jahangiri, defended the administration’s record on the basis that they had averted a military attack, while their opponents, mainly from the conservative factions of the regime, talked of (more…)

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The following article first appeared in issue #6 of revolution magazine, May-June 1998.  Although nearly 20 years old, the article – which is actually based on talks given between 1995-97 – unfortunately remains highly relevant.

by Philip Ferguson

Over the last few years the term ‘political correctness’ has started to enter the vocabulary here.  Originating with a layer of liberals and leftists in the United States, politically correct practices and outlooks have gained a hold among elements of the professional classes in New Zealand.  The Anna Penn case in 1993, in which a trainee nurse was expelled from the nursing course at Christchurch Polytech for allegedly being “culturally unsafe”, and several cases in other nursing schools and social work courses, have garnered widespread media coverage.

In many ways, political correctness is stronger in New Zealand than anywhere else in the world.  It has become an important industry, with lucrative financial rewards, for a host of touchy-feely middle class liberals.  We have a range of counsellors now operating in most spheres of human problems, along with various consultancy agencies and individuals doing very nicely for themselves advising establishment institutions on how to be “culturally sensitive” to the people upon whose oppression these institutions depend.

In a real sense, political correctness in New Zealand has become the new (more…)

The piece below is taken from the site of Samidoun, the Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, here, March 20.  Please support their work. 

Two Palestinian prisoners are currently on hunger strike to demand their release from indefinite imprisonment without charge or trial under administrative detention. Mohammed Alaqimah of Jenin has been on hunger strike for 24 days, even after his health has deteriorated. He was joined by Raafat Shalash, 34, of al-Khalil, currently on his fifth day of hunger strike against administrative detention without charge or trial.

Alaqimah, 27, from the vilage of Barta’a, has been imprisoned without charge or trial since 16 August 2016. He launched a hunger strike for eight days in late December after his four-month administrative detention order was renewed. He launched his current hunger strike against the renewal once again of his imprisonment without charge or trial. Alaqimah is married and a father of two.

Shalash, from Beit Awwa village, held in the Negev desert prison, announced that he launched his hunger strike against the renewal of his administrative detention. He was seized by occupation forces on 17 January 2016 and has been subject to three consecutive administrative detention orders; his current order expires on 14 April 2017 and he is demanding that it not be renewed. He is married with three children and has spent seven years in Israeli prisons.

Alaqimah and Shalash are among over 530 Palestinians held without charge or trial under (more…)

In recent decades there has been a rise in the West in opposition to the state of Israel and its dispossession, and continuing repression, of the Palestinian people.  Most recently, the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, modeled on similar campaigns against apartheid in South Africa, has won wide support and put the Zionist state, and the various Israeli parties and governments which uphold it, on the back foot.  The response of the Zionists to opposition is usually to go on the offensive.  Central to their political offensive against the growing support movement for the Palestinian cause has been to equate hostility to Zionism with anti-Semitism and try to make out that if you are politically opposed to Zionism (a political movement) than you must be some kind of anti-Jewish bigot.

The article below is not immediately relevant to New Zealand, but it provides a useful illustration of this new Zionist offensive against Palestinian rights and free speech in Britain.  Plus, we can be pretty sure that as the pro-Palestinian movement becomes more active in this country, a similar campaign will be launched here by supporters of the Israeli state and its racism and repression against the Palestinians.  So forewarned is forearmed.  The author of the article is a veteran anti-imperialist and independent Marxist activist in Britain.

by Tony Greenstein

In the past two weeks Palestine societies on university campuses in Britain have been organising activities around the annual Israel Apartheid Week. This year, however, the right to organise such events has come under systematic attack from university authorities.

Two weeks ago Jo Johnson, the universities minister, wrote to Universities UK demanding the suppression of Israel Apartheid Week as a way of combating “anti-Semitism”.1 Apparently holocaust denial leaflets had been distributed at Cambridge University and swastikas found at Exeter University. Ipso factothis meant that the responsibility lay with supporters of the Palestinians! A classic example of the McCarthyite guilt-by-association technique, combined with the big lie.

At least three universities have reacted by either proscribing Israel Apartheid Week or severely limiting its (more…)

images-2by Sarah Black

Art critic, novelist, writer and academic John Berger died last week, aged 90. Amid the media accolades, Suzanne Moore writes an opinion piece for The Guardian entitled ‘I do not recognise the stereotype of John Berger as a dour Marxist – his work embodied hope’. Though the headline is provocative, Moore’s piece does remember the man as kind, interested and warm.

Berger originally trained as a painter at the Chelsea School of Art, but stopped painting in the late 40s, as the post-war images-1nuclear threat seemed to him to render his work trivial. Instead he threw his energies into writing. He managed to enrage the art and media establishment by his pro-Soviet stance, as well as his criticism of big figures in the art world, such as Henry Moore, Francis Bacon and Pablo Picasso (whose work he felt further mystified art). Berger wrote extensively throughout his career – not just criticism, but fiction and other non-fiction works. In 1972 he won the Man Booker prize for his novel, G. His 1975 book, The seventh man, focuses on the plight of the urban poor.

Berger’s warmth comes across in his most well-known work,Ways of seeing. Unlike contemporary programmes of the time, this 1972 BBC four-part series of films-turned-essays was not presented by a stuffy old man in an art gallery with a suit and a pipe. Filmed in an electronics workshop, Berger, sporting an Aztec-patterned shirt, talks to the viewers at home in a laid-back, conversational manner – the aesthetics of the production have a dynamism that transcends the very 1970s look. Berger places advertising images next to still lifes and soft porn beside nudes, in order to make the viewer interrogate the image, the artist and the subject. His aim was to demystify western European painting from its holy status (where criticism’s purpose was to help us pray) and instead find a different way of (more…)