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The Fund for Free Expression, one of the six divisions of Human Rights Watch, monitors and combats government censorship around the world and in the United States. In 1992, the Fund published newsletters on freedom of expression issues in the United States; sent appeals to the U.S. and foreign governments regarding threats to free expression in individual cases; and, along with Americas Watch, released Dangerous Dialogue: Attacks on Freedom of Expression in Miami's Exile Community (see chapter on United States). The Fund also continued to administer the Hellman/Hammett grants to persecuted writers and the International Academic Freedom Committee.

In appeals to foreign governments, the Fund expressed concern about the use of libel laws to silence government critics and human rights monitors. In August, a Polish man was convicted of slander for criticizing President Lech Walesa, and received a one-year suspended prison sentence and a fine equivalent to one month's salary. In Brazil, a human rights monitor who denounced a political candidate's prior involvement in a case of forced labor was convicted of slander in September. The Fund protested both convictions, calling on the respective governments to overturn these decisions on appeal and to affirm citizens' rights to voice criticism of candidates for office and elected officials.

The Fund also communicated with the U.S. government about restrictions on free expression in the United States. In a trial that began on October 27, the U.S. seeks to deport two permanent residents based upon their contributions to humanitarian projects in Palestine. Although they have never been accused of committing any crime or belonging to a terrorist organization, and their activity could not be penalized if they were citizens, they are being deported under a law allowing deportation of anyone who lends material support to a terrorist organization.

In a letter to Attorney General William Barr, the Fund and other Human Rights Watch divisions urged the U.S. to halt the deportation proceedings. In February, the Fund protested the U.S. Senate Special Counsel's issuance of subpoenas to journalists Nina Totenberg and Timothy Phelps asking the identity of their confidential sources concerning Professor Anita Hill's claims of sexual harassment against Justice Clarence Thomas.

February 14, 1992 marked the third anniversary of the fatwa-or death sentence-pronounced by Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini of Iran against British novelist Salman Rushdie. As the fatwa continues,and the accompanying bounty has been increased (see chapter on Iran), Rushdie remains in hiding; there have been violent attacks on people associated with publication of The Satanic Verses and other controversial works; and there is a continuing danger to U.S. publishers, booksellers and readers. The Fund, along with PEN and the American Association of Publishers, met with State Department officials to ask the U.S. to condemn the fatwa and ensuing violence, and to seek assurances that such state-supported terrorism would be a primary issue in formulating U.S. and U.N. policy toward Iran. The Fund also issued "The Threat Against Salman Rushdie," describing the continued threats against Rushdie and calling on the United Nations Human Rights Commission to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Iran to press for removal of the fatwa.

Minority Languages and English-Only Laws in the United States

In March 1992, the Fund issued a report on the movement to make English the "official language" of the United States. Official English laws have been passed in 18 states and numerous municipalities, with noticeable, and sometimes extreme, effects. The law in Dade County, Florida prohibited signs in zoos that identify animals by their Latin scientific names; the mayor of Monterey Park, California, where thousands speak Chinese, refused the Taiwan government's donation of 10,000 Chinese books to the public library because of an English-only law; a Parole Board in Arizona canceled a non-English speaking prisoner's parole hearing, fearing that the state's English-only law-later held unconstitutional-prohibited simultaneous interpretation. The workplace in particular has been the site of increasing language restrictions, where people who converse in languages other than English have faced dismissal and demotion.

No comprehensive right to use a language other than English has been recognized in the United States. However, English-only laws have a potentially harmful effect on the exercise of other legally protected rights, including the rights to a fair trial, voting, freedom from employment discrimination, and freedom of expression.

In 1993, the Fund plans to release a report on censorship of minority languages around the world, including restrictions on the press, total bans, restrictions on language in schools, restrictions on government funding, and official languages.

Communications Technologies and Civil Liberties

Traditionally, the U.S. government has regulated different forms of communications to differing degrees: while printed communication, for example, cannot be censored by prior restraints, broadcasters are subject to licensing and some content controls. But as new computer-based technologies emerge-such as electronic billboards and complex data retrieval systems-these distinctions are no longer applicable. In July 1992, the Fund investigated the impact of these new technologies in "Electrifying Speech: New Communications Technologies and Traditional Civil Liberties."

It is by no means a foregone conclusion among potential regulators that electronic speech is protected by the FirstAmendment of the U.S. constitution, or even so, the scope of that protection. In March 1990, for example, federal agents raided a Texas publisher of computer games and an electronic bulletin board. Agents seized computers and all of the information and private communications used to publish the bulletin board, and kept the information for four months. In a lawsuit filed against the Secret Service, the owner has argued that the search warrant constituted a prior restraint on publication.

Computer technology raises new issues about protection of individual privacy, since computers offer new means for government and business surveillance. For example, employers often reserve the right to read all electronic mail of employees, sometimes without informing employees of this policy. The changing form of information also alters regulation of access to government information. While theoretically computerization could enhance government responses to citizens' requests for records, the access laws have left unaddressed what constitutes a "record" and a reasonable search, at times increasing the difficulty of obtaining comprehensive records.

The Committee for International Academic Freedom

The Committee for International Academic Freedom opposes harassment and human rights violations directed at teachers and students, as well as censorship and the closing of universities for political reasons. It sends letters and cables of protest to governments on behalf of imprisoned or harassed educators and scholars, and alerts the U.S. academic community to incidents of human rights abuses against their peers worldwide.

The committee is comprised of 23 university presidents and scholars. Jonathan Fanton of the New School for Social Research, Vartan Gregorian of Brown University, Hanna Holborn Gray of the University of Chicago, and Charles Young of the University of California at Los Angeles are co-chairs.

In 1992, the committee sent 17 letters to governments protesting abuses against teachers and students, and issued two membership bulletins. The letters addressed the following countries and issues: Bulgaria, concerning the National Assembly's adoption of a law barring service in various academic and scientific positions on the basis of current and past associations, rather than individual qualifications and proof of illegal, corrupt or repressive activities; China, about the arrests and continued imprisonment of teachers and students in Hunan Province for participating in the 1989 pro-democracy movement; Colombia, where a high school teacher was murdered and others receive death threats; Cuba, where 11 university professors were dismissed for signing a human rights declaration; Czechoslovakia, about the removal of the rector and other government interference with Trnava University; Guatemala, concerning numerous incidents of threats, intimidation, attacks and murder against students and university teachers; Haiti, where students were detained without charges, and student demonstrations have been met with violence; Indonesia, two letters, concerning students held in long-term detention as a result of participation in peaceful demonstrations, and about two student emcees at a rock concert who were detained for making punsthat changed the meaning of Islamic phrases; Israel, concerning a West Bank professor who was barred from returning home after a stay in the United States because of the political affiliations of his brother; Ivory Coast, protesting an army raid on a university campus during which students were reportedly raped and beaten and four were killed, and protesting as well the subsequent fines and prison sentences against student leaders, professors, and 12 government critics who protested the army's actions; Myanmar (Burma), two letters about the detention of students and the temporary closure of 27 universities in response to non-violent pro-democracy demonstrations; Nigeria, where campuses have been closed and hundreds of students have been detained in a wave of governmental repression beginning in May 1991; Peru, where, after university students were forced to participate in a "census" by the military, 19 students were murdered and at least seven others "disappeared"; and Venezuela, two letters concerning the use of excessive force against students participating in anti-government demonstrations, reported incidents of torture and ill-treatment of those detained in connection with these demonstrations, and the deaths of three students while participating in them.

Hellman/Hammett Awards

Under the terms of legacies from the writers Lillian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett, the Fund for Free Expression administers grants for writers in financial need as the result of political persecution. In 1992, the third year of the program, 36 writers from 16 countries received grants in amounts of up to $10,000 each.

Among this year's recipients were Ettore Capriolo, the Italian translator of Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses, who was assaulted and stabbed in Milan by an unknown assailant; Maria Elena Cruz Varela, a Cuban poet who was beaten, detained and denounced as a traitor and a "CIA lackey" after she and other writers submitted a letter calling for elections and the release of political prisoners; Max du Preez, a South African journalist who founded the first Afrikaans-language newspaper opposed to apartheid and has since faced numerous attempts at harassment and intimidation; Li Guiren, a Chinese publisher imprisoned for taking part in the pro-democracy movement who is currently gravely ill in a prison hospital; and Ilker Demir, a Turkish journalist who was tortured while in detention in connection with his work as an editor. Additional grants were given to writers from Burma (15), Cambodia, China (5), Croatia, Kenya, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru (2), Somalia, South Korea, Vietnam (2), and Yugoslavia.

Nominations for these grants are solicited in the fall and decisions announced early the following year. In addition to the annual grants, smaller amounts are available on an ongoing basis from a special emergency fund. In 1992, emergency grants were awarded to seven writers from seven countries, including Sudan, Yugoslavia and Peru.

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