Banned books and other forms of censorship

On the banning of books, censorship and other freedom of access issues

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Iranian newspaper banned

The Press Surveillance Commission of Iran has banned the pro-reform newspaper Rouzegar (Time), which according to Reporters Without Borders, "had just increased its print run and expressed a desire to cover political issues after being reinforced by an influx of journalists from the banned daily Shargh."

RWB protested the decision as "absurd," noting:
“Not content with censuring newspapers when they are slightly critical, the Iranian government has now established prior control. Rouzegar did not have a chance to upset the regime, but it is viewed as a potential threat, especially at election time.”

The newspaper was attempting to cooperate with an Oct. 18 order from the Culture Ministry not to include political articles, but on Oct. 23 it was banned altogether. A spokesperson for the ministry said
the decision was based on article 33 of the press law, which provides for “an immediate ban on the publication of a newspaper that replaces a banned newspaper with a name, logo and format that is similar.”

However, according to RWB, "
it was clearly Rouzegar’s new editorial team, rather than its format or logo, that scared the authorities. In this case as in many others, the Press Surveillance Commission and the culture minister usurped the role of courts in controlling the media. In July 2004, the moderate dailies Vaghayeh Ettefaghieh and Jomhouriat were shut down in a similar fashion."

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Annual press freedom index released

Reporters Without Borders has released its annual index ranking nations on the degree of press freedom enjoyed. Finland, Iceland, Ireland and the Netherlands rank first in the ratings, followed by the Czech Republic, Estonia, Norway, Slovakia and Switzerland. North Korea ranks at the bottom. Other countries in the bottom ten include Uzbekistan, Nepal, Ethiopia, Saudia Arabia, Iran, China, Burma, Cuba and Eritrea. Of these countries, it said journalists "are still risking their life or imprisonment for trying to keep us informed. These situations are extremely serious and it is urgent that leaders of these countries accept criticism and stop routinely cracking down on the media so harshly."

The United States has fallen nine places from last year to 53rd, tied with Botswana, Croatia and Tonga in press freedom enjoyed, and down from 17th in 2002. The "steady erosion of press freedom in the United States, France and Japan is extremely alarming,” it said.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Vietnam's internet restrictions reported by Amnesty International

Amnesty International released a report describing efforts by the Vietnam government to monitor and restrict use of the internet for subversive purposes. According to an accompanying press release from AIUSA, "A climate of fear exists in Viet Nam, with people afraid to post information online and Internet cafe owners forced to inform on their customers, reveals a new report released today by Amnesty International. Individuals are harassed, detained and imprisoned for expressing their peaceful political views online, with fear of prosecution fuelling widespread self-censorship."

Nevertheless, it noted courageous individuals who have defied government controls and are "using the Internet to discuss human rights, as well as a fledgling democracy movement that is growing online." The report also describes the legal basis for internet repression in Vietnam.

In other censorship news from Vietnam, Reporters Without Borders reports today that two newspapers have been banned for one month for criticizing the poor quality of Vietnam's new currency: "weekly Thoi Dai (Time), which is published by the Vietnam Union of Friendship Associations, and the biweekly Cong Ly (Justice), published by the People’s Supreme Court." Another magazine, Kinh Doanh Va San Pham (Business and Products), was closed by the government for publishing an article on sexual potency (not clear how long this magazine will be closed).

RWB notes: "The closures follow the adoption of a decree in July 2006 that allows administrative measures to be taken against anyone publishing 'secrets' or 'harmful' information. The communist government did not appreciate the media’s active role in exposing a scandal about embezzlement of international funds within the transport ministry."

In Vietnam, all publications are government-owned, normally attached to a particular ministry or other government institution.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Taking a break

I will have to take a break for the next week or two in order to deal with some personal issues. For those who may have tried contacting me at my normal email address,, unfortunately the ISP has been down for about a week now so I have been unable to access my email there. However, I can also be contacted at

- Steve Denney

Friday, October 13, 2006

Turkish novelist wins Nobel prize in literature

Turkey's most prominent novelist Orhan Pamuk has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his work examining the role of Islam in society. The head of the Royal Swedish Academy said his writings ""enlarged the roots of the contemporary novel" by linking Western and Eastern culture.

Earlier this year an Instanbul court dropped charges of state slander against him, for comments he made in a Swiss magazine article about Turkey's stance on the mass killing of Armenians during World War II. In July, another Turkish court dropped a slander suit brought against him by six Turkish nationalists. Pamuk is a visting professor at Columbia University.

Source: Jurist Legal News and Research, October 12.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Parent wants "Fahrenheit 451" banned

In what reads like a piece from the The Onion, a parent in a school district outside Houston, Texas has issued a formal challenge against allowing Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451 in the local high school curriculum. Alton Verm said his 15-year-old daughter had come to him with reservations about this anti-book burning novel because of its language. After perusing the book, Vern said it contained "just all kinds of filth," and listed among its offenses descriptions of cigarette smoking, drunkeness, "dirty talk," references to the Bible and using God's name in vain. Vern's daughter and another student have been allowed to read an alternative novel with a similar theme to Fahrenheit 451.

France considers anti-genocide speech law, Turkey protests

Turkey has protested to the European Union a law under consideration in the French National Assembly that would make it a crime to deny the genocide of Armenians in Turkey (1915-1918), punishable by up to one year imprisonment and a $57,000 fine. It is threatening to retaliate by making it a crime to deny that similar genocide took place in Algeria under French colonialism. It is estimated that between 400,000 and 1.5 Armenians were killed in Turkey between 1915-1923.

Update: The French National Assembly approved the legislation by by a vote of 106-19. It still needs ratification from the Senate and President before becoming law. Meanwhile, the Turkish parliament debated the above-mentioned legislation about denying French genocide in Algeria, but according to the Jurist, the "parliament's Justice Committee nonetheless concluded that there was little support for the measure and deferred it to a subcommittee for further review."

In related censorship news, another writer has gone on trial in Turkey; this time it is Ipek Calislar, accused of insulting Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey, in a biography about Ataturk's wife. He faces up to 4 1/2 years imprisonment if found guilty, under Article 301 of Turkey's penal code.

An editor of a Turkish newspaper also faces charges for publishing excerpts of Calislar's book.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Vietnam dissidents protest confiscation of property

The following open letter was smuggled out of Vietnam and translated by a friend of mine. The individuals below are well known pro-democracy advocates in Vietnam. This has not yet been published in English, or reported in any English language publication.

note: One US dollar equals 15,391 Vietnamese dong (VN$); or one Vietnamese dong equals .00006497 US dollars. SRVN is for Socialist Republic of Viet Nam; WTO for World Trade Organization.

- Steve Denney

Unified Letter to Protest the Illegal Confiscation of Working Properties and Tools from Democracy Advocates in Viet Nam

We the citizens and residents of Viet Nam whose addresses are indicated below, unanimously sign this letter of condemnation to appeal to the local and worldwide public opinion which will also be brought to the attention of:

- United Nations Human Rights Committee
- All governments, nations, people representatives, legislative members of lower and upper houses of all nations that cherish freedom, democracy and respect human rights in 5 continents of the world.
- Human Rights Watch
- Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ)
- Reporters Without Borders / Reporters Sans Frontieres
- Amnesty International
- Local, International Press
- All friends and concerned conscientious individuals

As citizens of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, an official member nation that in September 1982 signed and pledged to completely, wholly and absolutely honor all United Nations Human Rights Agreements such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all of which required all member nations to comply with and respect the articles of these treaties, as well as allowing their citizens to enjoy those fundamental human rights as follows:

According to article 19 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights :

"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

And the current constitution of the SRVN, Article 69 states:

"The citizen shall enjoy freedom of opinion and speech, freedom of the press, the right to be informed, and the right to assemble, form associations and hold demonstrations in accordance with the provisions of the law."

Article 71:

"The citizen shall enjoy inviolability of the person and the protection of the law with regard to his life, health, honor and dignity. No one can be arrested in the absence of a ruling by the People's Court, a ruling or sanction of the People's Office of Supervision and Control except in case of flagrant offenses. Taking a person into, or holding him in, custody must be done with full observance of the law. It is strictly forbidden to use all forms of harassment and coercion, torture, violation of his honor and dignity, against a citizen."

Article 73:

"The citizen is entitled to the inviolability of his domicile. No one can enter the domicile of another person without his consent, except in cases authorized by the law. Safety and secrecy are guaranteed to the citizen correspondence, telephone conversations and telegrams.
Domiciliary searches and the opening, control, and confiscation of a citizen's correspondence and telegrams can only be done by a competent authority in accordance with the provisions of the law."

Against these principles, the Communist Party and the SRVN have instructed its security force-- an abusive, gigantic and diligent mechanism of the SRVN -- without any reason to carry out oppressive, terrorizing, suppressing and intimidating activities irrespective of
current codes of law. They have blatantly disregarded and boldly trampled upon the basic human rights that have been clearly indicated in the constitution as well as in those mentioned above international covenants.

They have blatantly confiscated properties that citizens rightfully possess. As implied by those red rhetorical banners hanging at every street corner, in every governmental agency, especially in security force offices touting slogans such as "Live, Work in compliance with Constitution, laws," "For the people: we serve," "Treat the people with RESPECT and POLITENESS" (excerpt from 1 of the 6 principles that Ho Chi Minh taught the People Security Force) the security force of the SRVN should have been a power to enforce the law, protect the
socialist government, set an example to wholly comply with the essence of those brilliant slogans. Instead, they have repeatedly treated the democracy advocates with atrocious, despicable treatments.

The people have compared those suppressive treatments with those from hooligans; such treatment totally contradicts the glamorous slogans of "The People Security Force" or "The People Safety."

Therefore, we the democracy advocates in Viet Nam anonymously and vigorously debunk and condemn the suppression, the terroristic maneuvers and illegal confiscation of properties as indicated above and hereby expose them to the local and international public conscience.

We also demand the A42 Unit -The general safety Unit of the SRVN Security Force - to immediately return without any condition the properties that it illegally confiscated from the following citizens:

1) Citizen Hoang Minh Chinh, residing at 26 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem District, Ha Noi. Properties that were illegally confiscated from him composed of:

One HP Compaq laptop valued at $US1,500. It was confiscated by the security officers from A42, P24, Ha Noi Security Office located at 87 Tran Hung Dao, Ha Noi after they conducted an unauthorized raid at the house of citizen Nguyen Khac Toan located at 11 Ngo Trang Tien,
Hoan Kiem Distinct, Ha Noi at the 16 hours on August 12, 2006

2) Citizen Hoang Tien, residing at room 420, apartment A11, Thanh Xuan Bac commune, Thanh Xuan district, Ha Noi.

Properties that were illegally confiscated from him composed of: 1 CPU valued at VN$5,000,000; 1 mobile phone valued at VN$1,500,000; more than 1,500 essays, literature articles written about freedom and democracy authored by him and other which were illegally removed and confiscated during a raid at his private residence on the 12th of August 2006.

3) Citizen Nguyen Thanh Giang, residing at Physical Geography and Airplane commune, Trung Hoa Nhan Chinh section, Tu Liem Village, a suburb of Hanoi.

Properties that were illegally confiscated from him composed of: A series of 33 books titled "Human Rights and Democracy in Viet Nam" and " Contemplation and Aspiration" which were illegally confiscated during a raid in the middle of July 2006.

4) Citizen Nguyen Khac Toan, residing at 11 Ngoc Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem district, Ha Noi.

Properties that were illegally confiscated from him composed of: 1 CPU and a monitor valued at VN$6,000,000; 2 mobile phones valued at VN$3,000,000; approximately 50 Kilograms of documentation, books and essays about freedom, democracy, human rights, political improvements, 100 files of justice grievances filed by the people against the government, tens of floppy drives and CD-ROM contained mentioned above documentation and various software. About 20 members of the P24 and A42 illegally raided the residence and confiscated
those properties at 15 to 18 hours of August 12, 2006.

5) Citizen Do Nam Hai, residing at 441 Nguyen Kiem street, Phu Nhuan district, Sai Gon.

Properties that were illegally confiscated and sealed from him composed of: 3 CPU (2 confiscated, 1 sealed), 12 books title "Let's Have a General Referendum" (1 original, 11 photocopied ones), 1 digital camera and many documentation on democracy. The properties were valued at VN$25,000,000.

6) Citizen Tran Anh Kim, residing at 502 Pho Quang Trung, Thai Binh city.

Properties that were illegally confiscated from him composed of: 1 brand new computer valued at VN$15,000,000, 1 recorder valued at VN$2,000,000, some petition letters from people mistreated by government and his essays on democracy.

7) Citizen Bach Ngoc Duong, whose rights of domicile has been seriously violated.

Properties that were illegally confiscated from him composed of: 1 book titled "Declaration of Human Rights and Civil Rights 1789". This is a priceless book. This book was confiscated by a group of more than 20 members from A42, village security force, chief of residential
unit during an illegal raid from 19 to 23 hoes August 12, 2006. One 1 GB USB flashcard valued at VN$500,000 with personal information, 1 camera 256 MB flashcard valued at VN$500,000, they both were confiscated by security officers Dang Hong Duc and Doan Anh Thuy from A42
during a personal search on September 1, 2006. The confiscated report declared that these flashcards contained "bad content" essays, documentations even though there was no such documentation stored. A 42 confiscated the camera flashcard with intention to restore sound
files that were erased.

8) Citizen Le Tri Tue, residing in Sai Gon.

Properties that were illegally confiscated from him composed of: 1 USB card and some business documentation after his visitation with Mr. Tran Anh Kim in the middle of August 2006.

9) Citizen Kha Van Chau, a mistreated citizen who in many years have filed complaints at Mai Xuan Thuong flower garden, Ha Noi, residing at Rach Gia, Kien Giang. Upon returning home from his visitation with Mr. Hoang Minh Chinh in the middle of August 2006, he was arrested,
searched and they confiscated VN$2,500,000 from him. Mr. Hoang Minh Chinh gave this money to Mr. Kha Van Chau to take care of his medical condition as requested so by the Most Reverend Thich Khong Tanh.

10) Citizen Nguyen Van Tuc and Vu Van Tai, residing at Dong La, Vu Thu, Thai Binh, having VN$190,000, one mobile phone valued at VN$1,000,000 confiscated with the reason that they received VN$190,000 from Mr. Nguyen Khac Toan for Mr. Hoang Minh Chinh which was
donated by the Most Reverend Thich Khong Tanh.

11) Citizen Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, residing at Diem wood mill commune, Cau Duong, Dong Anh Village, suburb of Ha Noi whose confiscated properties composed of one computer valued at VN$8,000,000, 1 USB Card valued at VN$300,000 during a terrifying raid at home.

12) Nguyen Van Dai, Le Thi Cong Nhan - Attorney at Law -- had their telephone lines discontented; internet services were threatened to be discontinued; they were arrested, invited for "working session" but in reality a summon for interrogation for many days due to their
political activities.

13) At the present time, there are citizens who are being illegally detained for no reason but simply out of their love for democracy, and they signed the petition to support the declaration of Democracy Freedom 8406, these are people like Truong Quoc Huy, Pham Ba Hai, Nguyen Ngoc Quang, Vu Hoang Hai, Tran Van Hoa, Vuong Quoc Hoai.

Additionally, there were other people who had their houses raided, properties confiscated but dared not speak up or were not included in this list. Presently, the SRVN security force is diligently, urgently and vigorously communicating to the people, village units, and
neighbors of the above individual the following verbatim propaganda:

"The Party, Government, Department of Security, the General Security Office has planned - after the success of APEC in November 2006, after all heads of states returned to their countries, after Viet Nam joined the WTO and especially after the US congress and
government passed the Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) -- to arrest, imprison all those counterrevolutionary elements who conspired to overthrow the people government, the socialism -- a path that the Party, Government, Uncle Ho and our people chose long time ago; those who opposed the Communist Party of Viet Nam (CPVN) , wreaked havoc the work to build the Socialism by the people - under the guidance of the CPVN. And this nationwide plan of arrest, suppression will be executed no later than the beginning of 2007."

That bold intimidating and terroristic statement made by the local security officers were instructed by higher authority to announce publicly during local people gathering, or where the mentioned above citizens residing. Such a plan was verified by revelations from
Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Van Binh of A42 General Department of Safety and hesitant statements from Upper-Colonel Nguyen Tien Dung of Ha Noi Security Office.

We therefore, earnestly appeal to local, overseas and international public opinion to be alert, getting ready to confront with worsened conditions that could be imposed in near future to the democracy advocates and citizens by the cruel regime of the CPVN.

To vigorously protest and demand security officers from A42 to return the properties of democracy advocates which were illegally confiscated during the terrorizing oppressive raids carried out recently.

Those properties might be meager in physical values but they were gigantic intellectual properties, we hereby sign our names together.

1) Hoang Minh Chinh
2) Nguyen Thanh Giang
3) Hoang Tien
4) Nguyen Khac Toan
5) Do Nam Hai
6) Tran Anh Kim
7) Bach Ngoc Duong
8) Le Tri Tue
9) Kha Van Chau
10) Nguyen Van Tuc
11) Tran Khai Thanh Thuy
12) Vu Van Tai

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Dubai censors scrutinize Musharraf book

The Dubai censorship board has postponed authorization to distribute within Dubai Pakistan PM Musharraf's autobiography, In the Line of Fire, apparerently because of his allegations that the Pakistan nuclear energy chief had set up a front in Dubai to sell nuclear secrets to other countries. Dubai booksellers say that unlike magazines, where objectionable parts may be blocked out, with books, "If it does not pass the censors, it would be banned completely."

As noted in my Oct. 2 entry below, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party of India has also called for his book to be banned because of maps within the book showing disputed areas to be Pakistan territory.

Friday, October 06, 2006

AI report on China repression

Amnesty International issued a detailed report Sept. 21 on various forms of censorship, torture, and other forms of human rights violations in China. One of the more interesting and depressing points was that a number of innocent people have been executed because they were tortured into making false confessions. Organ transplants are a big trade for China, according to a BBC report (April 19, 2006), China is harvesting the organs of thousands of executed prisoners every year for sale on the international market.

Death penalty prisoners continue to be handcuffed and shackled on death row in all parts of China, including Beijing, AI noted: "During his visit to China in November 2005, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture met with death penalty prisoners held at the Beijing Municipality Detention Centre while they awaited appeal. He noted that they were ‘handcuffed and shackled with leg-irons weighing approximately three kilograms, 24 hours per day and in all circumstances (including during meals, visits to the toilet etc).’"

It seems like death row in China is a kind of stockyard to produce live organs for wealthy individuals overseas.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Seventh grader ordered not to read Bible during lunch

A 12-year-old girl in the seventh grade of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School in Prince George county Maryland was ordered by the vice principle to stop reading the Bible during lunch hour. Lawyers for the Rutherford Institute have gone to court on her behalf. It appears the vice-principle was violating not only the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but also the school's own regulations, which state that students "may read their Bibles or other scriptures, say grace before meals, and pray before tests to the same extent they may engage in comparable, non-disruptive activities.” The U.S. Department of Education 2003 guidelines under the No Child Left Behind Act also support this right.

Sources: Washington Post Oct. 3; Sept. 29 press release of the Rutherford Institute. News via the Heretical Librarian.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

UN special rapporteur reports on Cuba repression

United Nations Special Rapporteur Christine Chanet reported to the United Nations Human Rights Council on continued human rights concerns in Cuba. Chanet, who had been given a mandate to investigate this issue, couched her report in the context of detailed criticism of the U.S. embargo of Cuba and policy in general; she also noted positive accomplishments made within Cuba on literacy and other issues. Nevertheless she noted the following concerns:

19. One subject of concern relates primarily to the arrest of almost 80 persons in March-April 2003 in what the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention regards as arbitrary detention. In its Opinion No. 9/2003, the Working Group categorized them as persons

20. Most of those detained support the Varela project, which involves the collection of signatures for the organization of a referendum on changing the electoral system and the fostering of other legislative reforms.

21. The charges levelled against the accused persons fall in some cases solely under article 91 of the Cuban Criminal Code, covering acts contrary to the independence or integrity of the State, and in others under article 91 combined with Act No. 88, on protection of Cuba’s national and economic independence.

22. Several of the accused persons have been charged with such actions as receiving funds from foreign countries or engaging in activities deemed to be subversive by the State, giving interviews to Radio Martí, a network broadcasting from the United States, communicating with international human rights organizations, possessing radio or video equipment, or participating in trade unions, associations or academic groups deemed to be “counter-revolutionary”.

23. These persons were tried in very short order, sometimes within a few days, denying them sufficient time to prepare their defence. Neither independent counsel nor diplomats nor foreign journalists were allowed to attend these trials. Prison terms ranging from 6 to 28 years were imposed.

24. Moreover, in 2005 more people were arrested and convicted for openly expressing dissident political opinions.

25. On 28 July 2005, the Personal Representative of the High Commissioner sent a letter to Cuba seeking information on the situation of 9 persons still being held following the arrest of 33 persons by the security services during a demonstration in front of the French Embassy in Havana on 22 July 2005. On 26 July 2005, the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture, the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders and the Chairperson of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention had sent an urgent appeal on the same subject.

26. The persons concerned are: Santiago Valdeolla Pérez, Julio César López Rodríguez,Francisco Mouré Saladrigas, Oscar Mario González, Miguel López Santos, Jesús Adolfo Reyes, Raúl Martínez Prieto, Ricardo Medina Salabarria and René Gómez Manzano.

27. The Personal Representative of the High Commissioner has not received any response to her request for information made on 28 July 2005.

28. In May 2005, a number of journalists and members of the European Parliament were deported from Cuba.

29. The Personal Representative of the High Commissioner is alarmed at the allegations of ill-treatment in detention submitted by families of prisoners. Food and hygiene are substandard and medical care either unavailable or inappropriate. Some prisoners are kept in solitary confinement, while others are subjected to dangerous levels of overcrowding with ordinary prisoners. There have been several reports of guards humiliating and even striking prisoners. Relatives encounter many problems when trying to arrange visits to prisoners, who are often detained far from their homes.

30. Several prisoners have been on particularly stressful hunger strikes. In that regard, the Personal Representative of the High Commissioner has taken note of the appeal in favour of three hunger strikers issued on 29 September 2005 by the European Union.

31. Relations with the Catholic Church deteriorated in 2005, in particular following the ban on public religious ceremonies imposed by the Cuban authorities on 8 September.

She presented her report, originally prepared last January, to the UN Human Rights Council for debate on Sept. 26. She said she had made several attempts to contact the Cuban authorities to initiate a dialogue but had not received any replies.

Chanet was bitterly denounced by the delegate from Cuba, who dismissed her report as a "libellous document," which "did not deserve any respect or credibility;" and called upon her mandate to be terminated immediately. Joining Cuba in denunciation of Chanet were delegates from some of the most repressive regimes in the world, such as China, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Iran, Russia, Algeria and Belarus. Delegates from Germany and Finland, on the other hand, responded favorably to her report, while the U.S. delegate defended U.S. policy.

For written transcripts of the debate, click here and here. For the webcast, click here.

Within the American Library Association and the International Federation of Library Association, there have been highly acrimonious debates on various online forums about Cuba, particularly regarding the independent library movement there. I will comment more on this issue later.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Australian academics may be allowed to view jihad books

Australian attorney general Phillip Ruddcok has announced that he may allow Australian academics limited viewing of two books recently banned. The two books are Defence of the Muslim Lands and Join the Caravan, both by the late Sheik Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian- born Islamic radical who was assassinated in 1989 (see Sept. 1 entry of this blog). Responding to protests after the books were removed from the Melbourne University library, Ruddock said he is prepared to discuss "as to whether or not, on a limited basis and a structured basis, material necessary for research can be made available for that particular purpose."

In response to a comment that the books can still be viewed or purchased online, Ruddock said "I wouldn't want to give a legal opinion about whether or not downloading is in fact lawful, but I would certainly say that those who seek to display them, hire them out or sell them, do commit offences."

The two books had been brought to the Melbourne University library by a professor who felt they might be useful in helping his students to understand the concept of jihad. However, when the Australian classification board refused to give the books any classification, that meant they were banned and the Melbourne University library was forced to remove them lest they receive fines of up to $27,000, or even imprisonment of up to two years. A broad coalition of library and literacy organizations has protested the decision.

India party wants Musharraf's book banned

The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party of India is demanding that Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf’s book In the Line of Fire be banned because it contains maps showing certain areas of Jammu and Kashmir as part of Pakistan. "If it is established that the inaccuracies are in the book on purpose then the book should be banned and copies lying with distributors should be confiscated,” said BJP Vice President Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

An article by Manini Chatterjee in the Jan. 25, 2004 issue of the Indian Express lists some books banned in India at that time; and notes that most of the banned works are critical of India, Indian foreign policy or Kashmir. (Citation via Wikipedia article.)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

FEER banned in Singapore

The Hong Kong based Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER) has lost its permit to sell and distribute its publication in Singapore because it did not meet some technical requirements, according to Singapore officials. However, the loss of this privilege is more likely related to the lawsuit filed against the magazine by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his father Lee Kuan Yew, a long time ruler of the country, who have sued for defamation.