THE FUND FOR FREE EXPRESSION
The Fund for Free Expression works with the regional divisions ofHuman Rights Watch to investigate and analyze freedom of expression problems in particular countries; publishes thematic studies about global freedom of expression problems (in the past, these have included reports on the link between governmental corruption and censorship and the persecution of environmental advocates); and brings an international perspective to U.S. freedom of expression problems. In addition, the fund administers the Hellman/Hammett grants to persecuted writers and journalists, and manages the work of two casework committees, the Committee for International Academic Freedom and Filmwatch.
In April, the fund joined the International Freedom to Publish Committee of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) on a mission to Egypt to investigate government restrictions on freedom of expression and association, particularly as they relate to the growing power of Islamists who advocate implementation of Islamic law. A report based on their findings was planned for publication early in 1994. With Middle East Watch, the fund wrote to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak calling on him to denounce a government-connected sheik's testimony, in the trial of the accused killers of Farag Fouda, a prominent secular writer and intellectual, that Dr. Fouda's murder was justified because he was an "apostate."
The fund joined Middle East Watch to analyze the laws and decrees used to regulate the media in Lebanon and to report on repressive measures designed to stifle dissent. The forty-eight-page report, released in July, detailed actions that forced the closure of three daily papers and a television network and caused the arrest of four journalists. The government claimed that the closings and prosecutions were necessary to avoid the kind of religious and ethnic strife that fueled its disastrous civil war. But the report argued that by closing outlets for nonviolent opposition, the government heightened such tensions and encouraged dissidents to resort to lawless actions.
Helsinki Watch and the Fund for Free Expression published reports on free expression issues in Poland, Greece and Great Britain. The Poland report, released in August, warned that freedom of expression was threatened by government use of a repressive Communist-era law to prosecute its critics and by a new law which required all broadcast programming to respect "Christian values."
The report on Greece covered six cases in which criminal prosecutions were used to stifle the views of citizens who questioned government policy on Macedonia, relying on statutes that targeted peaceful political expression and violate international human rights guarantees.
In an update of their 1991 report on "Freedom of Expression in the United Kingdom," the fund and Helsinki Watch reviewed recent developments in Great Britain. The report, released in May, noted some movement toward more open government, including the first official recognition of MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service. But the government also opposed adoption of a Bill of Rights and a Freedom of Information Act and stepped up moves toward tighter regulation of the media; Scotland Yard impounded record albums under the Obscene Publications Act; and the government sued under the Prevention of Terrorism Act to force disclosure of the names ofconfidential news sources.
In September, the fund joined with Helsinki Watch to conduct an investigation of media freedom in Hungary, with particular attention to the battle for control of state radio and television. A newsletter was scheduled for release in December.
The fund joined other free expression groups to found the Rushdie Defense Committee, USA. With the Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Program at New York University Law School, the fund sponsored a symposium in October titled "Speech and Equality: Do We Have to Choose?"
Committee for International Academic Freedom
The Committee for International Academic Freedom acts on behalf of professors, teachers and students around the world when they are harassed or imprisoned for attempting to exercise their rights of free expression and inquiry and when their work is censored or universities are closed for political reasons. The committee sends cables and letters to appropriate government authorities and publicizes the cases of abuse in the U.S. academic community.
In 1993, the committee wrote protest letters to thirteen countries in all parts of the world. Among the issues addressed were: the confiscation of a scientific journal for criticizing the lack of political reform in China; also in China, the arrest and torture of a retired professor and a middle-school teacher for having peacefully supported students in the 1989 pro-democracy movement; in Ethiopia, the violent suppression of a student demonstration, closing Addis Ababa University and firing the president and forty-one senior faculty members; in Indonesia, banning a student newspaper and politically selective prosecution of students; in Peru, holding a professor in prison after the government acknowledged that it found no evidence to support the charges of terrorism for which he had been arrested; in Saudi Arabia, the dismissal and/or arrest of three professors for forming an association intended to protect the political rights of the opposition; Serbian government-imposed curriculum changes and new language regulations so that the Serbian minority was favored over the Albanian majority in Kosovo; the arrest and dismissal in Uzbekistan of seven teachers and professors who appeared to have been targeted merely for their connections with political groups that peacefully criticized government officials or public policy.
The committee is composed of twenty-three university presidents and scholars. Jonathan Fanton of the New School for Social Research, Hanna Holborn Gray of the University of Chicago, Vartan Gregorian of Brown University and Charles Young of the University of California at Los Angeles are co-chairs.
In 1989, the estates of American writers Lillian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett asked the Fund for Free Expression to set up and administer a special fund to assist writers from around the world who are in financial need as a result of political persecution. Grants from the Hellman-Hammett funds are awarded every spring after nominations have been reviewed by a five-person selection committee composed of Fund for Free Expression board members. Throughout the year, the selection committee makes smaller emergency grants, usually to writers who have an urgent need to leave their country or who are otherwise in dire material circumstances.
In addition to offering financial assistance, by highlighting individual cases, the grants help publicize repression and censorship around the world. While some recipients have asked to remain anonymous for safety reasons, many others have used the grant to call attention to human rights conditions in their own countries.
In 1993, the grants ranged from $3,000 to $10,000 and were awarded to twenty-two writers in fifteen countries. The recipients included Mariella Sala Eguran, a Peruvian novelist who had been targeted for assassination by Sendero Luminoso; Liu Qing, a Chinese journalist who was imprisoned and tortured for his repudiation of the Cultural Revolution; Nader Naderpour, an Iranian poet who voluntarily left Iran in vocal opposition to the cultural policies of the government and who signed a declaration condemning the death sentence, or fatwa, against Salman Rushdie; five writers from three Central Asian republics which were formerly part of the Soviet Union.
The committee also selected two groups of writers to receive Hellman-Hammett grants: twelve journalists in Peru at the newsmagazine Caretas and twenty-four writers in Bosnia. Six writers received emergency funds.