1. News & Issues

Free Speech

By

While many around the world enjoy democratic freedoms, others risk arrest or worse for simply saying what's on their minds. Here are some cases and individuals involved in the universal right for free speech.

Which countries repress Internet freedom?

(Photo by Peter Rogers/Newsmakers)
Each year on the World Day Against Cybercensorship, France-based press-freedom organization Reporters Without Borders releases its annual list of "Enemies of the Internet." Here's the group's overview of which countries made the list in March 2012 - and why.

How does religion influence the law in Pakistan?

Blasphemy is addressed in Pakistan's penal code, and has been since British colonial laws in the mid 19th-century. The addition of capital punishment or life in prison as a penalty came under hardline Islamist dictator Gen. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq: "Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo or insinuation, directly or indirectly defiles a sacred name of any wife (Ummul Mumineen), or members of the family (Ahle-bait), of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), or any of the righteous caliphs (Khulafa-e-Rashideen) or companions (Sahaaba) of the Holy Prophet description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both."

Can WikiLeaks be prosecuted for leaking government documents?

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
The third large release of documents from the shadowy website WikiLeaks on Nov. 28, 2010, shared more than 250,000 sensitive diplomatic cables and directives from the U.S. State Department, and followed large dumps of documents from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. The leak sparked furor among lawmakers and government officials, but can anything be done to punish WikiLeaks?

Garry Kasparov

(Photo by Mark Renders/Getty Images)
A former World Chess Champion -- the youngest ever to capture the title -- who has become an important opposition leader against an increasingly authoritarian Kremlin in post-Soviet Russia. A Russian chess grandmaster who retired from competitive chess in 2005 to focus on political activities and writing. Founder of the democracy-oriented United Civil Front, which was folded into The Other Russia opposition coalition.

Results of the Arab Spring

(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Protests against the government of longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who took office in a 1987 coup, sparked the Arab Spring with the act of one street vendor. Mohamed Bouazizi, 26, sold produce out of a small wheelbarrow, the only way he had to make a living and support his mother, uncle and siblings. Bouazizi was repeatedly harassed and publicly humiliated by officials as he tried to sell his wares, and he lacked the money to bribe police to continue his sales unfettered. Demanding his confiscated wares outside the governor's office on Dec. 17, 2010, which refused to hear his complaints, Bouazizi set himself on fire. He suffered burns over 90 percent of his body and succumbed to his injuries on Jan. 4, 2011. More than 5,000 people joined the funeral procession, and the protests fueled by numerous social and political grievances began.

Ai Weiwei

A Chinese activist and skilled artist and architect who has raised the ire of the government for exposing corruption and encouraging dissident thought, particularly among the country's youth. An unabashed government critic who has raised awareness of abuses in the People's Republic and has thus been targeted by the authorities. In response to the 2011 Jasmine Revolution calls, Ai tweeted, "I didn’t care about jasmine at first, but people who are scared by jasmine sent out information about how harmful jasmine is often, which makes me realize that jasmine is what scares them the most. What a jasmine!"

Aung San Suu Kyi

(Photo by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images)
The prime minister-elect of Burma (Myanmar) who was imprisoned by the military junta after winning 1990 elections. The daughter of General Aung San, a Burmese revolutionary and nationalist considered the father of modern-day Burma. A symbol of the struggle for democracy and freedom, and the recipient of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize. Frequently referred to as Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, with "daw" being an honorific title for older women meaning "aunt."
  1. About.com
  2. News & Issues
  3. World News
  4. Top Issues
  5. Press Freedom
  6. Free Speech - Championing Free Speech Around the Globe

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.