Banned books and other forms of censorship

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

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Thailand: pro-democracy book banned

Thai police have banned and confiscated copies of a book by long time social critic, Sulak Sivaraksa, titled A Quarter of a Century of Thai Politics: A Thorn-filled Path. The Special Branch police ordered Sulak on October 2 to stop printing, selling and disseminating the book, citing Thailand's 1941 Printing Law, which authorizes police to censor and stop publications that are deemed a threat to peace, public safety or public morals. Sulak is a well known Buddhist social activist who has been persecuted before for his criticism of Thai politics and the monarchy.

Cuba censorship has crippled creative thought, says Tariq Ali

An interesting leftist perspective on Cuba censorship is offered by Tariq Ali in Counterpunch. While the thrust of his article is highly critical of President Bush and his announcement that Fidel Castro being succeeded by his brother Raul is not acceptable to the U.S., Ali also said:

"State censorship is not only deeply unpopular but has crippled creative thought on the island. The new opening has brought all the old contradictions to the fore. Cuban film-makers are publicly challenging the bureaucrats... That the Cuban system needs to be reformed is widely accepted in the country. I have been told often that the decision 'forced on us by the embargo' to follow the old Soviet model was 'not beneficial.' The choice now is Washington or Caracas. And while a tiny layer of the Cuban elite will be tempted by the dollars, most Cubans would prefer a different model. They will not wish to see an end to their health and education systems, but they do want more economic and political diversity, even though the model of the Big Neighbour under whose shadow they live does not exactly offer that choice."

Uzbekistan: severe religious literature censorship

Felix Corley of Forum 18 reports that Uzbekistan maintains a policy of severe censorship against religious literature, including the burning of books:

"Uzbekistan continues to maintain severe religious literature censorship, Forum 18 News Service notes. Current examples include two shipments of Jehovah's Witness literature – one in transit for Tajikistan and one intended for an Uzbek congregation – which have been held for more than a year. Other religious communities, such as Protestants and Muslims, also experience problems. A Protestant, involved in sending literature requested by Christians in Uzbekistan, told Forum 18 that most shipments never arrived. 'This was either through postal inefficiency or because it was rejected at Uzbek customs,' the Protestant stated. 'So we have given up trying to send literature.' Many who would like to receive literature are afraid of the consequences of being identified by the authorities as Christians, from their receiving literature by post. Uzbek officials are reluctant to discuss the issue, but insist that religious material can only be received after specific approval by the state Religious Affairs Committee. Uzbekistan frequently burns religious literature, including the Bible, confiscated from Muslims, Protestants, Hare Krishna devotees and Jehovah's Witnesses. Even legally imported literature is confiscated in police raids."

Monday, October 15, 2007

Turkey genocide of Armenians and Islamo-Fascism awareness week

I was watching David Horowitz on a news show a few days ago in which he was describing his plans for Islamo-Fascism awareness week, to take place next week on college campuses across America. He complained that the left was trying to censor these events and implied that the left was in collusion with Islamic extremists. I certainly support his right to speak freely and for these events to take place without disruption.

Meanwhile, however, the Bush administration and Republican leaders oppose a proposed congressional resolution which has passed the House Foreign Affairs committee, opposing the "deportation of nearly 2 million Armenians from the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923, resulting in the deaths of 1.5 million of them, amounted to 'genocide.'" see:

The concern is that if passed by the full House, this will hurt our relationship with Turkey, a key ally in the Iraq conflict, which has strongly protested this non-binding resolution, and has also recalled its ambassador to the U.S. for consultation in protest of the vote.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi has vowed to press on with a full vote on the resolution, stating "there's never been a good time" to vote on the resolution, but that it is important to pass the resolution now, "because many of the survivors are very old." Meanwhile, U.S. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell seemed to confirm Pelosi's position that there has "never been a good time" for Congress to pass such a resolution when he stated: "But I don't think the Congress passing this resolution is a good idea at any point. But particularly not a good idea when Turkey is cooperating with us in many ways, which ensures greater safety for our soldiers." McConnell also stated incorrectly that the event occurred 100 years ago, when actually it took place between 1915 and 1923. See:

So, while we may rightly condemn students and off-campus radicals who disrupt college events denouncing Islamo-fascism, here we have the largest event of Islamo-fascism in modern history, a prelude in its magnitude of mass killings to the Nazi holocaust, yet America is not supposed to take note of this genocidal event because it might disrupt our relations with Turkey and hurt the Iraq war effort. And according to Senator McConnell, this resolution would not be a "good idea at any point," which implies that even after the Iraq war ends, if that actually happens, there will be still be no appropriate time to denounce Turkey's genocide of Armenians.

Is this not a case of self-censorship of much larger proportion?

In Turkey itself, it is illegal to describe the mass killings of Armenians during this time as genocide. Hrant Dink, a Turkish-Armenian who was convicted under Article 301 for violating this law, accused of insulting Turkish identity, was subsequently murdered by a Turkish nationalist for his writings.

It is incorrect to state that the left is suppressing awareness of Islamic extremism, when the Bush administration and the Republican leadership oppose any official protest of the worst case of Islamic extremism in modern history.