PEN International champions the essential role played by freedom of expression in healthy societies and the rights of citizens to transparency, information and knowledge.
The Wikileaks issue marks a significant turning point in the evolution of the media and the sometimes conflicting principles of freedom of expression and privacy and security concerns. The culture of increasing secrecy in governments and the rise of new technology will inevitably lead to an increasing number of transparency issues of this sort. PEN International believes it is important to acknowledge that while the leaking of government documents is a crime under U.S laws, the publication of documents by Wikileaks is not a crime. Wikileaks is doing what the media has historically done, the only difference being that the documents have not been edited[sic].
Note: The following is a statement drawn up, I understand, by Civil Society organisations, mainly for such organisations, but also for individuals, to endorse. The Institute for Security Studies is administering/organising it. According to http://writingrights.org the deadline has been extended to 20 August. Contact details are at the end of the document.
I wish to add my name to the statement.
Let the Truth be Told – Stop the Secrecy Bill!
A responsive and accountable democracy that can meet the basic needs of our people is built upon transparency and the free flow of information. The gains of South Africans’ struggle for freedom are threatened by the Protection of Information Bill (the Secrecy Bill) currently before Parliament. We accept the need to replace apartheid- era secrecy legislation. However, this Bill extends the veil of secrecy in a manner reminiscent of that same apartheid past. This Bill fundamentally undermines the struggle for whistleblower protection and access to information. It is one of a number of proposed measures which could have the combined effect of fundamentally undermining the right to access information and the freedom of expression enshrined in the Constitution.
Fidel Castro has resigned as president of Cuba. Here is the full text, taken from Granma:
Message from the Commander in Chief
Last Friday, February 15, I promised you that in my next reflection I would deal with an issue of interest to many compatriots. Thus, this now is rather a message.
The moment has come to nominate and elect the State Council, its President, its Vice-Presidents and Secretary.
For many years I have occupied the honorable position of President. On February 15, 1976 the Socialist Constitution was approved with the free, direct and secret vote of over 95% of the people with the right to cast a vote. The first National Assembly was established on December 2nd that same year; this elected the State Council and its presidency. Before that, I had been a Prime Minister for almost 18 years. I always had the necessary prerogatives to carry forward the revolutionary work with the support of the overwhelming majority of the people. Read the rest of this entry »
Many of you may know that Sandile Dikeni, famous and notorious in the late 1980s for his poem ‘Guava juice’, which, apocryphally, spurred on youth to adopt the Molotov cocktail as a ready weapon, was involved in a horrible car accident two years ago. He lost two friends and he himself was in a coma and reportedly had also lost his memory for a period of time.
Well, it seems that Comrade Guava Juice is on the mend, as BookSA today features two clips of him reading two short poems. Here’s one:
And here’s the post about it, including both clips.
Brian Lara retires from international cricket. Tomorrow, 21 April, will be your last chance to see him in action. The Windies are, shamefully, out of the World Cup, but hopefully we can see a big score by him against England. I’ll be wearing my Windies cap.