Turkey | Egypt | Vietnam | Iraq
A number of journalists, civil society groups, Turkish government bodies, and a coalition of 11 international organisations will be engaging with the government authorities regarding the country’s increasingly restrictive press freedom. A controversial social media legislation that came into effect in early October has given the Turkish government more ammunition to restrict freedom of speech and expression within the country.
Reporters Without Borders said that under the new legislation, three news websites, and 347 news articles were banned. On October 6, Free Web Turkey, an anti-censorship organization, tweeted about the ban of Germany-based pro-Kurdish opposition news site Nupel, as well as NuçeCiwan and minority sect Alevi news website, AleviNet.
In two other separate instances, news reports on the suspicious death of a woman were banned and a columnist for a left-wing daily was fined $25,000 for accusing publications under a pro-government media group of producing fake news.
Also, the state-run Radio and Television Supreme Council warned of legal consequences on journalism that “wears down” state institutions.
Egyptian journalist Basma Mostafa was arrested while covering the death of Awais al-Rawi, who was killed by a police officer during a raid. Al Manassa, the news platform that Mostafa covered the story for, said that shortly after Mostafa reached Luxor on October 3, all contact with her was lost. The next day, she was seen at the State Security Prosecution in Cairo and the prosecutors ordered her to remain in custody for 15 days after an interrogation. However, following public outcry from international press freedom agencies, she was released by Egyptian authorities on October 6.
The Vietnamese police, on October 6, arrested Pham Doan Trang, a prominent independent journalist and democracy activist, for allegedly making, storing, spreading information, materials, items for the purpose of opposing the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Trang recently published a report on a land dispute case between the Vietnamese government and Dong Tam village, in which the government’s attack on the village resulted in the death of the village leader, three police officers, and the arrest of several villagers in January 2020. Previously, she has been vocal about numerous issues on environmental concerns and land rights.
Incidentally, the arrest happened just hours after the annual US-Vietnam dialogue on human rights. Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, have demanded the release of Trang.
Will Nguyen, a Vietnamese democracy activist, released a letter written by Trang titled, ‘Just in case I am imprisoned,’ in which she said, “I don’t want freedom for myself; that’s too easy. I want something greater: freedom for Vietnam.”
Sherwan Amin Sherwani, an Iraqi Kurdish journalist and editor-in-chief of magazine Bashur, was arrested by police officers on October 7 according to Metro Center for Journalists’ Rights and Advocacy, a local press freedom group. The warrant produced by the police did not have information about the reason of his arrest.
According to Arab News, Sherwani had called for demonstrations over unpaid salaries of civil servants of the Kurdish Regional Government.
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said that Sherwani had criticised Kurdish region’s PM Masrour Barzani for his inaction on the killings of journalists and human rights activists in the region through his Facebook account, which was taken down shortly after the arrest. CPJ’s Middle East & North Africa representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado demanded that if the charges of his arrest cannot be disclosed, he should be released immediately.