JUST a day after aÂ golf c lub mauling incidentÂ was reported, dozens of blogs are denouncing alleged perpetrators who happen to be high-ranking government officials. Masui, Lanao del Sur Mayor Nasser Pangandaman, Jr. and several of his golf comp anions and bodyguards figured in an altercation last December 26 with Delfin de la Paz and his 14-year old son Bino at the Valley Golf and Country Club in Ant ipolo City. It was later found out that Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pang andaman Sr. was also present at the golf club but was said to have not been par t of the alleged mauling. The incident was later blogged byÂ Bambee de la Pazand was reported by several news organizations. Bloggers also picked up the story and have since been calling for an investigation over the incident wh ile a few others called for both Pangandaman's resignations. Bambee de la Paz's blog was reposted on theFilipinoVoices.comÂ and received dozens of comments. Comic book artis t Gerry Alanguilan also posted hisopinionÂ on the matter, while Juned Sonido also had hisÂ takeÂ on the issue. Blogger Tonyo Cruz listed severalÂ messagesÂ from other bloggers in Global Voices. Filipina Mom Bloggerlisted downÂ other blogs that are showing outrage for the alleged mauling. Manuel Quezon III wrote aÂ scathing commentaryÂ where he relates the incident to the warlo rd culture in the provinces. Â
Recently in Human Rights Category
By Agence France-Presse KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Malaysia's leading blogger, Raja Petra Kamaruddin, wa s Friday released from detention under controversial internal security laws aft er a court ruled the government had no right to hold him. Raja Petra, a vocal government critic who had been held at a notorious detentio n camp since September, wept and embraced his family after being freed by the S hah Alam High Court. "I'm realy glad it's over. I'm really tired. The judge's decision proves that t here was no justification for my detention," he said, calling for an end to the Internal Security Act (ISA) which allows for detention without trial. "We have to fight all-out and get the ISA abolished," he told reporters. Looking haggard and dressed in a brown T-shirt and jeans, Raja Petra was garlan ded by dozens of supporters outside the court before stepping into a maroon Rol ls Royce provided by a supporter to ferry him home. "It's a great day for human rights and fundamental liberties," said Malaysian human rights commissioner Denison Jayasooria. "The executive must use the ISA only in situations where there is a real threat to national security," he told AFP. Raja Petra, founder of the popular Malaysia Today website which has outraged to p leaders with its stream of critical stories, was detained in September for wr iting articles that allegedly insulted Islam. His lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar said the High Court ruled earlier Friday that Ho me Minister Syed Hamid Albar had acted outside his powers by ordering Raja Petr a to serve two years in detention without trial. "The judge ruled that the circumstances which existed at the time that Raja Pet ra was detained did not satisfy the threshold conditions under the ISA," he tol d AFP. Malik said it was the first time a court has ordered the release of an ISA deta inee since 1989, when courts were barred from interfering once a detention orde r has been signed by the home minister. "It is certainly an historic ruling and a profound moment for civil liberties i n this country," he said, while adding that the government can appeal the decis ion. Opposition parliamentarian Lim Kit Siang said the ruling "sustains hope that ba sic judicial decency, independence and integrity have not been completely destr oyed, despite two decades of judicial darkness." He called on the government to "fully respect" the verdict and "slap down any t rickery or stratagem to frustrate the judicial decision, such as a re-arrest." Raja Petra is best known for his articles on politics, and had already been cha rged with sedition and defamation for linking Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife to the sensational murder of a Mongolian woman. But he was also accused of threatening public security and causing racial tensi on by inciting hate in his articles on Islam -- a serious offence in predominan tly Muslim Malaysia. There has been a rash of detentions in recent months under the ISA, which allow s for renewable two-year periods of detention without trial. Raja Petra was detained on the same day as opposition lawmaker Teresa Kok and j ournalist Tan Hoon Cheng, both of whom have since been freed. Tan's arrest in particular caused a furore as she had merely reported on racist comments from a ruling party member who was subsequently suspended by the Unit ed Malays National Organisation.
AT least two bloggers, a journalist, and one opposition politician were arreste d under Malaysia's Internal Security Act (ISA) on September 12 in wha t media and activists are afraid may be the start of a wider crackdown ahead of an anticipated opposition push to gain control of parliament next week, the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) said. SEAPA said in a statement that Malaysia's leading blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin , who is also a staunch government critic on his website "Malaysia Today," was the first to be arrested in this weekâs arrests. Journalist Tan Hoon Cheng who works Sin Chew Daily, a Chinese-language newspape r that had recently covered a controversial outburst from a ruling party member who called the ethnic Chinese community "squatters," was also reportedly arres ted, SEAPA said quoting reports from. Malaysiakini.com. Lawmaker Teresa Kok of the Chinese-based DAP and Deputy Chief Minister in Selan gor was also arrested under the ISA, SEAPA said. The draconian ISA law allows government to detain people without tri al. It is a preventive detention law currently enforced in Malaysia. SEAPA said that the Centr e for Independent Journalists (CIJ) has already issued an urgent appeal, as it reported that another blogger, Haris Ibrahim, was arrested. Ibrahim was rep ortedly credited with starting a "People's Parliament project," which monitors the Malaysian government. SEAPA said Malaysian media, oppositionists and activists are expressing fears t hat the Malaysian government may be planning more arrests. SEAPA said that CIJ sees the recent arrests as measures that âbear a disturbing resemblance to the period in the lead-up to the Operasi Lalang in 1987," where dozens of activists, artists, academics and politicians were detained. "Both incidents are similar in that it relates to ongoing political crisis with in (Malaysian ruling party) UMNO, but manifested as alleged racial tension by t he government," SEAPA quoting CIJ said. SEAPA fears that this weekâs arrests may be part of a wider campaign after last weekâs threat to suspend Malaysian newspapers the Sin Chew Daily, The Sun -- w hich is a free English-language daily, and Suara Keadilan which is published by the opposition. The group said that the CIJ and the Writers Alliance for Media Independence (WA MI) have sounded the alarm over a warning issued by government to the three new spapers over coverage of the same controversy for which journalist Tan was arre sted. "Political observers fear the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, which was humiliated in March elections and is now threatened by the opposition's plans, was planning a repeat of an infamous 1987 crackdown," SEAPA said quoting news website Malaysiakini.com.
WE also had our share of using technology such as short message service (SMS) o r text messaging to organize a mass protest against then President Joseph Estra da. But imagine if blogging was widely available at the time. We would have see n Filipinos liveblogging about it. In China where political bloggers are censored, the recent mass protest in Xiam en against the p lanned construction of a toxic chemical pl ant dangerously close to the city core on June 1 was seen as a landmark move f or Chinaâs leading independent bloggerâs collective Bullog, Global Voices wrote . Excerpt:
With a media blackout on news of the demonstration, the time, locat ion and target turnout of one million people were spread almost exclusively by SMS, bbs posting s and on blogs. The government was able to stop the SMS from spreading for seve ral days and nearly all bbs webmasters and blog service providers were swift to delete any related discussion, leaving Bullog members free to go on to pos t several in-depth posts this past week looking at various angles of the situat ion, including one of of the key public figures lobbying against the PX plant, Southern Metropolis Daily columnist and Xiamen resident Lian Yue. Several other Bullogers took it a step further by attending the demonstration i n person, leaving one at home to post their SMS live updates straight onto Bull og, giving it a national exclusive as to what was happening minute-by-minute do wn on the ground which, by the afternoon of the 1st, had attracted enough reade rs that Bullogâs host server was left unable to keep up. With Bullog inaccessib le, the live SMScast was temporarily moved here, from where many of t he below discussions mixed in with the live reporting were taken.
GLOBAL Voices Online reports that Egyptian blogger Abdulmonem Mahmood will be f reed. Here's an excerpt from the Global Voices Online ent ry:
A recent clampdown on Egyptian bloggers encompassed bloggers of dif ferent political orientations. Egyptian blogger Abdul Monem Mahmood who has been detained for 46 days on politic al allegations belongs to the banned Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. However, vari ous bloggers of different backgrounds showed support to Monem without discrimin ation.
According to Monemâs blog, he is in jail under inhuman conditions, denied to attend his post-graduate studies exams and barely succeeded in visiti ng his ailing father few days ago. Egyptian bloggers received the news of Monemâs release with apprehension reflec ting the amount of distrust in the Egyptian security. Nora Younis said âthe release decision came as surpri se like the detention orderâ¦I am still apprehensive. I wonât congratulate Mone m before I see him with my eyes.â
ONE of Egypt's most prominent political bloggers, known only as Sandmonkey, is now offline. Here's an excerpt from the Agence France-Presse a rticle:
The Egypt-based blogger, known only as "Sandmonkey" -- a derogatory term for people of Arab descent -- posted his last entry on Saturday."One of the chief reasons (for quitting) is the fact that there has been too much heat around me lately," he said. Sandmonkey -- who describes himself as "extremely cynical, snarky, pro-US, secu lar, libertarian" -- started posting two years ago and has since been one of th e main animators of Egypt's vibrant blogosphere. The blog offered stinging commentary on the Islamization of Egyptian society as well as virulent criticism of President Hosni Mubarak's 26-year-old regime.
HUMAN Rights Watch has called for the release of Egyptian TV journalist and blo gger Abd al-Monim Mahmud.Â Here's an excerpt from the Human RightsÂ Watch statement posted on the Human Rights Education AssociatesÂ site. Â
Around midnight on April 14, security forces at the Cairo airport d etained `Abd al-Monim Mahmud, a 27-year-old journalist for the London-based satellite channel Al-Hiwar and prominent blogger affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, as he attempted to travel to Sudan to do reporting for an Al-Hiwar segment on human rights in the Arab world.
The next day, a prosecutor charged Mahmud with "membership in a ban ned organization," with "being an administrator of a banned organization," and with funding an armed group. According to Islam Lutfi, one of Mahmud's lawyers present at his interrogation, the State Security bureau's preliminary investigation (mahdar al-tahamiyyat) also cited Mahmud's public criticisms of the government's human rights record and specifically its use of torture. The prosecutor ordered Mahmud detained for 15 days, after which time the prosecutor must review the order. "Once again, the Egyptian government is prosecuting a journalist because he has reported on human rights abuses in the country," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "The government should focus its energies on ending the abuses, not silencing those who expose them." Â
I RECEIVED an e-mail from a Malaysian journalist last week. It was about a stor y from Malaysiakini.com highlighting a recent warning from its Internal Security Ministry against newspapers quoting or citing "anti-government" content from blogs and online portals. Unfortunately, Malaysiakini.com's story is only available for its paying subscr ibers. But for the purpose of our discussion on blogs and free expression, I ha ve picked a few points from the article to highlight:
- The Ministry sent a letter to newspapers reminding them of the Pri nting Presses and Publications Act of 1984. According to Section 8A(2) of the l aw, newspapers should ensure "correctness and truth of news before publishing t hem."
- It discouraged newspapers from publishing online content from blogs and online portals that were reportedly based on speculation and unverified in formation.
- But the article stressed that this circular from the Ministry was a "thinly veiled threat" to dissuade newspapers from citing blogs and other simi lar online sources.
- Blogs and websites have apparently exposed alleged corruption in so me government agencies including the Internal Security Ministry.
HERE'S an excerpt from the AFP wire story tha t came out in INQUIRER.net Infotech:
CAIRO--The Egyptian judge, who chairs the court that is to hear a b logger's appeal against a four-year jail sentence that drew criticism from arou nd the world, is seeking to gag 21 websites, a judicial source told AFP Sunday. The chairman of the appeals court in the second city of Alexandria, Abdel Fatta h Murad, has taken the unusual step of applying to the administrative court for an injunction to close down the websites for allegedly harming the reputation of President Hosni Mubarak, the sources said.Good thing no Filipino blogger has been jailed for criticizing the government - - or the Roman Catholic Church for that matter. For more reactions to the plight of the Egyptian blogger Kareem Nabeel Sulaiman , check out this Global Voices Online p ost and this Western Resistance entry. Visit the Free Kareem Coal ition site to find out how this interfaith alliance of young bloggers and c ollege students is campaigning for Kareem's freedom.Interestingly enough, Karee m's blog is still online here, though you'll need a translator.