Opinion: Freedom of expression under siege — Daily Times Nigeria

Opinion: Freedom of expression under siege

freedom of expression

By Rameez Mahesar

The seizure of press freedom is not a recent discourse but it has the long history of uncountable calamities like detentions, arrests, murders, kidnappings, media houses set ablaze, and press bans. It has been persistent for donkeys years.

A few days ago, I came across two reports, which appeared in a newspaper mentioning two incidents of detention and the arrest of a Chinese law professor at Tsinghua university of China and an Egyptian doctor respectively.

They were accused of writing against their countries’ governments.

The doctor, it is said, had criticized the brittle health system of Egypt and the government’s failure in the battle against coronavirus through his writings.

Not only the doctor was arrested, but also editor was taken from his home.

Since the virus first hit Egypt in the month of February, at least 10 doctors and six journalists have so far been arrested, bah! Besides, other people in the health sector have been threatened to keep quiet.

Above all, what was written in the write-up was almost exactly a true picture of the fragile health system of Egypt.

The article was alleged to have criticized the government’s failure in achieving the great triumph against the health problems.

Let’s look into the figures as the Health Ministry has recently issued.

It has recorded 76, 253 infections including 3, 343 deaths – the highest death toll in the Arab World. None can praise the government after running across these massive figures of health- related problems.

So, even a common writer can come down like a tonne of bricks on their government through their write-ups, thus, the malpractice of arresting the doctor by Egyptian authorities is mindboggling.

On the other hand, the detention of a Chinese professor shows that the freedom of expression in China has been under a severe siege.

The professor is alleged to have also gone against the grain of the country - China. The professor, in his article, has severely mocked the countrys government especially the president Xi Jinping.

It is said that the professor is an outspoken critic of the Chinese government and he has accused the president of ruling tyrannically.

He had taught at Tsinghua University and was barred from teaching in 2019 after he demanded in his essay the removal of presidential term limits.

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It is said that the free speech in China has targeted intellectuals. Multiple people have so far been detained Last year, one of the Chinese courts had sentenced Huang Qi to 12 years in prison for leaking state secrets.

They say, his website ran the sensitive topics. This openly shows how tightly the freedom of expression is controlled in the developed countries like China.

It is no exaggeration to call these countries` governments to be running under the authoritarian system.

There is a series of such incidents in China which has curtailed free speech.

A day before these two reports appeared in the newspaper, a protest was staged in Srinagar by journalists against crippling restrictions imposed by India on their fraternity.

They had demanded a repeal of a restrictive policy on the freedom of press. Undoubtedly, the press is the fourth pillar of the state and it must equally be given the empowerment the other three pillars enjoy.

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