Papua New Guinea’s new media rules could undermine the work of journalists

Local and foreign reporters told not to directly contact the Prime Minister

The office of the prime minister of Papua New Guinea (PNG) has enforced new media rules which could affect not just the work of journalists but also undermine press freedom.

On August 31, the office of Prime Minister James Marape published a full-page public notice in two newspapers, National and Papua New Guinea Post-Courier, informing journalists that they can no longer directly contact the leader, and instead they should direct their questions to appropriate government ministries.

This circular is to advise all members of the media fraternity, both national and international, that the Prime Minister Hon. James Marape MP will no longer accept direct press enquiries from the date of this correspondence onwards.

The prime minister has been accommodating and has responded openly to our media ever since he took office in 2019. We would like to continue this partnership by streamlining your queries to our relevant ministries.

We are all in this game. It's our country and we need you. Media, you make or break leaders and paint either a good or bad image of your and our children's nation. We all work for the good of our country. Let's not get that wrong … support the PM. Take back PNG for us all.

…the requirements appear to be ludicrous and an affront to media freedom in PNG.

We ask the simple question, what have we got to hide from public scrutiny?

Our foreign friends should not be turned away on some ridiculous belief that they may stumble on some hidden secret that will unplug the government.

If the government is serious, it should allow its ministers to be interviewed regularly by foreign and PNG media on a weekly basis on issues of interest to the nation including why corruption remains the biggest stumbling block to development in PNG.

We cannot be seen as a nation that is suddenly turning against the most powerful source of information in the world – journalism!

It is in no way, in its message disseminated yesterday to the mainstream media, implying a recent intention to restrict foreign media from traveling to PNG.

A long-time blogger in PNG has a reminder for authorities who want to restrict the work of foreign journalists:

And Mr Marape should know that journalists will write stories about PNG whether they visit there or not.

As press freedom continues to decline across the Pacific, any restriction on journalists is a concerning development. The IFJ urges Prime Minister Marape and Papua New Guinea’s government to maintain press freedom and due consultation with the media, and allow journalists full and unfettered access to government proceedings.


Why fear of a coup attempt is on the horizon in Brazil's elections

Behind in the polls, incumbent Bolsonaro seems to feed fraud narratives

Jair Bolsonaro during Brazil's independence bicentennial | Image: Alan Santos/Brazil's Presidency/CC 2.0

In the early hours of this Sept. 29, three days away from the elections, Bolsonaro published a thread with a picture of Lula surrounded by political figures from different parties, who are now supporting the former president, and made a case of how they were all part of a system that felt threatened by Bolsonaro himself, concluding:

– Quem insiste em falsas memórias do passado ainda não entendeu que vivemos numa nova era. Aqueles que desprezam o povo e seus valores que se acostumem com a falta de sossego. Deus não me deu uma nova vida em 06/09/2018 para ser um gestor, mas para mudar de vez o nosso Brasil!

Who insists in fake memories from the past hasn't understood yet that we live in a new era. Those who despise the people and their values should get used to the lack of peace. God did not give me a new life in September, 6, 2018 [when he was stabbed, during a campaign act] to be a manager, but to change our Brazil once and for all!

Global Voices has been asking the Federal Police for access to the investigation that the president affirmed more than once to be public, but the department responsible has yet to respond.

With Lula leading the polls for months, a tendency seems to have already emerged. But there is a wave of misinformation running on different social media platforms trying to challenge this reality.

Jornal Nacional, the aforementioned news broadcast, had to clarify to viewers about a deep fake being shared that showed its anchors presenting a poll with Bolsonaro leading the numbers.

“Since Aug. 15, polls by Ipec and DataFolha, showed the Workers’ Party candidate, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, as the one with the bigger percentage of voting intentions. In all of them, Bolsonaro shows up in second place,” explained news anchor William Bonner.

In these elections, the war waged on the internet gained another weapon: the deep fake, an instrument to alter sound and image using artificial intelligence (AI). One of these videos shows that Bolsonaro would be ahead in the voting polls, which is false.

When Ipec, one of the leading research institutes in Brazil, published its latest results this Sept. 19, Fábio Faria, Bolsonaro’s communication minister, tweeted:

TSE, anote esses números que o IPEC está dando, que no dia 02 de outubro a população vai cobrar o fechamento desse instituto.

Chega desses absurdos com pesquisas eleitorais!!!

A hora da verdade está chegando.

TSE, take note of these numbers that Ipec is presenting, because on Oct. 2 the people will ask for the closure of this institute.

Enough with the absurd of these electoral polls!!!

The time of truth is arriving.

Four years ago, when Bolsonaro was elected president, polls did indicate he could be defeated in the second round, although polls closer to Election Day got the numbers pretty close to the actual results and within the margin of error.

O então candidato Jair Bolsonaro (PL, na época PSL) encerrou o primeiro turno em 2018 com 46,03% dos votos válidos, na frente do petista Fernando Haddad, que teve 29,28%. A última pesquisa de intenção de voto divulgada pelo Datafolha mostrou Bolsonaro com 40% dos votos válidos, contra 25% de Haddad. Na do Ibope, Bolsonaro teve 41% das intenções de votos válidos e Haddad, 25%.

Then candidate Jair Bolsonaro ended the first round in 2018 with 46.03% of the valid votes, ahead of Workers’ Party Fernando Haddad, who had 29.28%. The last poll published by DataFolha showed Bolsonaro with 40% of the valid votes, against 25% for Haddad. At Ibope’s [now Ipec], Bolsonaro had 41% of the votes and Haddad, 25%.

[Bolsonaro] seems to be laying the rhetorical groundwork to cry ballot fraud and deny the voters’ verdict. Brazilians fear he could then incite an insurrection, perhaps like the one America suffered when a mob of Donald Trump’s supporters invaded the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021—or perhaps even worse.


He thus poses as great a threat to Latin America’s largest democracy as he does to the world’s largest rainforest. (On his watch, the slashing and burning of the Amazon has proceeded 70% faster than before, because he does almost nothing to stop it.) And whatever happens, he and his movement are not going away. He has learned from Mr. Trump how to snatch influence and power from the jaws of defeat.

The newspaper affirms that “opponents fear not only pre-election violence but also a Trump-style bid to hang on to power in defiance of the electorate,” but with the aggravation that the armed forces are part of Bolsonaro’s government and he claims to have their support:

Though few accept his sweeping assertion, there is real concern that he could find significant support within the armed forces. A clear, outright victory for Lula, ideally in the first round but more likely in a runoff, is the best result for Brazilian democracy and the planet. Other countries must make it clear that they will not tolerate any attempt by Mr Bolsonaro to cheat, bully or menace his way to a second term.


My journey to learning Ukrainian and the online language tools that took me there

‘I wanted to feel connected to my Ukrainian friends and colleagues’

Image courtesy of Giovana Fleck.

In this post, I want to share the resources that I found helpful in my language learning journey. Perhaps other learners will find them useful. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and it is heavily influenced by the languages I already speak (English and Russian), as well as my personal preferences. 

Most language learners find speaking the most challenging part of learning a language. This is also true for me, especially when it comes to making mistakes in front of others. I still remember how, when I went to the United States as a teenager, I refused to speak English at school for the first three months, passing notes to my (very patient) classroom teacher instead. 

When it comes to multilingual resources, I find Global Voices stories in Ukrainian to be very helpful when learning a language. I usually read a story in Ukrainian and refer to the English text to check my understanding. This helps me build my reading ability without being overwhelmed by unknown words and phrases. 

Here are some other resources for learning Ukrainian that I collected in the course of my language learning journey. Some of these resources are available only in Ukrainian, while others are accessible to speakers of English or Russian.  

One star indicates that the resource is suitable for beginners, while three stars are for advanced learners.    

I’d love to know what resources and methods other learners of Ukrainian found helpful. Please let us know in the comments!

Online courses for Russian speakers, including courses for beginners and intermediate learners, and two courses on language use in professional contexts.

A course designed to help learners understand Ukrainian grammar, spelling, and phonetics (in Ukrainian).

A podcast in Ukrainian highlighting various topics of interest and useful phrases. Free, with an optional premium subscription that includes episode transcripts, additional explanations, and vocabulary flashcards.

Short podcast episodes by the author of the Ukrainian Language Podcast covering a range of everyday interactions with explanations in English. 

Many classics and contemporary fiction and non-fiction, as well as children’s books.

Compiled by the author of the Ukrainian Language Podcast. 

This YouTube channel about the outdoors and hiking (especially in the Carpathian Mountains) can be a great resource if, like me, you’re interested in hiking, camping, and the outdoors. The videos are clear and fairly easy to understand, in addition to being fun and informative. 

A YouTube playlist from UA:Перший TV that covers some common conversational situations in Ukrainian, as well as Ukrainian pronunciation.

All stories are also available in English and other languages, to help to check your understanding of the Ukrainian text.   

The books in Ukrainian are available for free on the publisher’s site

Knowing where to put the stress (наголос) in a word can be a particular challenge. This website allows you to enter a word or a phrase and see which syllables must be stressed. 

Ukrainian dictionaries, including Ukrainian-English, Ukrainian-Russian, word definitions (in Ukrainian), etymology, and more.

Includes grammatical and spelling resources, style guides, dictionaries, and school textbooks.

A Facebook page with words and expressions to help with Ukrainian fluency with a special focus on errors typically made by Russian speakers.

Ukrainian translations of loan words. Here you can find the best way to say how to “like” a social media post or how to say “deadline” in Ukrainian without “borrowing” words from English.

(Android/iOS/Web) An online translator that recently added Ukrainian to its languages, DeepL tends to be more accurate than Google translate and often offers more translation variants. 

(iOS/Mac/Windows/Web) An app that will check your Ukrainian grammar and punctuation, highlight any errors, and offer suggestions. The free version allows you to check text up to 20,000 characters in length. The app can also be installed as a browser extension.

(iOS) A fun word game that you can play against a bot or with other players.  

(Web) An app to test your Ukrainian spelling and orthography. 

(Android/iOS) Interesting Ukrainian words with examples and word etymology (Android and iOS).



Undertones: Anti-army hashtags gain rare visibility in Pakistan

This is an unprecedented trend on Pakistani Twitter

Khan supporters, journalists, lawyers, civil society actors, and the public at large are openly discussing the role of the military in politics. This is an unexpected occurrence in Pakistan, as any criticism of the country’s powerful military is met with censorship and arrests

Despite the state’s repression of this behavior, Khan supporters are generating thousands of tweets, calling for Army chief General Bajwa to resign after ostensibly meddling in politics and orchestrating Khan's ouster in April 2022. Popular hashtags are #باجوہ_استعفی_دو (“#Bajwa resign” in Urdu) and #GoBajwaGo.

Pakistan’s powerful military

For decades, top generals were blamed for meddling in politics. Imran Khan, a former cricket champion, was brought in as their latest prodigy in 2018 but their “same-page” politics eventually fell out of line.

In a nutshell

Criticism of Pakistan’s powerful military has always been voiced in hushed tones, but since the ouster of Prime Minister Imran Khan back in April, Pandora’s box has been flung open. Anti-army hashtags, with tens of thousands of tweets, run daily on social media platforms, defying the reprisal of state agencies.

Some media items are reflective and insightful op-eds, like this in-depth essay by lawyer Salahuddin Ahmed exploring the military’s role in Pakistani politics.

He explains how the military's protégé led to further polarization in Pakistan and also discusses how the courts and the military escape accountability for their political meddling by using the “neutral” card.

Our researchers have positively ranked this media item’s impact on society by giving it the Observatory’s top score (+3) for its quality of information. 

Neutrality — a hot topic

The term “neutral” was popularised by Imran Khan after his ouster from office. He called out the military in his public speeches for not staying “neutral” and equated the establishment to animals. The military, on the other hand, has publicly denounced claims of meddling in politics and maintains its neutral stance. Today, a running joke in pro-Khan circles is to sarcastically call top generals “neutral.”

Yet, other media items have been negatively ranked by our researchers due to their nefarious impact on civic debate and society. For example, this widely-shared meme portrays Pakistani politics as an action movie and instigates online violence. 

The meme, posted by an anonymous account on Twitter, shows Army chief Bajwa and chief justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial as “criminals” starring in “the most terrifying” film since 1947, the date of the India-Pakistan Partition. “NRO-2” refers to the National Reconciliation Ordinance, a rule that granted amnesty to thousands of officials and politicians between 2007 and 2009. In this meme, the author insinuates that the army would like to continue benefitting from corruption.

The online trend of questioning Pakistan’s military is far from over – and might actually pick up even more as the date to replace the military’s chief of staff approaches. The current chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa, will retire in November, and our researchers predict that we might see an uptick in Khan’s narratives.

Meanwhile, General Qamar Javed Bajwa does not appear to slow down his diplomatic activities. On the contrary, journalist Mosharraf Zaidi pointed out on Twitter that Bajwa had recently met with European Union leaders, and asked why Pakistan’s foreign and economies ministries were left out of these meetings.

Each item — such as a meme, a tweet, or a Facebook video — in the Observatory's data is analyzed and ranked according to our scorecard to evaluate its impact on civic discourse.


A Georgian neo-Nazi group finds a home on YouTube

YouTube has failed to take action thus far

Banned from Facebook and bereft of their leader after 2018, Georgian National Unity resorted to YouTube and Telegram to recruit members and issue anti-semitic and racist statements. In recent months, the National Unity leader has been able to do that twice a week through his YouTube show “Fascist Talks.” In his show, Chelidze has called Marxism and liberalism “viruses of the international Jewry,” whom he accused of starting the war in Ukraine.

The National Unity leader is known to engage in debates with listeners of YouTube Q&A sessions about how “race mixing is wrong.” “Yes, I am a racist. I love my race,” he claimed.

Google, YouTube’s parent company, has yet to respond to Georgian news outlets’ request for comment on the Georgian National Unity’s activities on their platform.

Family Purity Day is a holiday created by the Georgian Orthodox Church in 2014. It coincides with the International Day Against Homophobia on 17 May.

Chelidze, a former self-professed supporter of the ruling Georgian Dream Party, registered the Nationalist Socialist Movement — Georgian National Unity as a non-profit organization in 2016.

Initially, the group was mostly involved in translating fascist literature into Georgian. Their first public campaign was an online petition demanding a ban on George Soros’s Open Society Georgia Foundation — a part of the Open Society Foundations, which offers support to civil society groups.

However, unlike other extreme right groups in Georgia, Georgian National Unity has always openly positioned itself as fascist and used neo-Nazi symbols and gestures.

The far-right group explicitly banned its members from smoking, alcohol abuse, homosexuality, and “race mixing.”


Nepal's Citizenship Bill attracts renewed controversy

Citizenship has been a long-standing controversial issue in Nepal

A Twitter user Suzal Bajracharya shared:

A Twitter user Bibek Shrestha writes:

President of Nepal with you I stand.

The Citizenship amendment bill hasn’t perceived men and women of Nepal to be equal in terms of providing lineage citizenship.
The local election on horizon, this new bill provides free citizenship to any person affiliated to party agenda. NO!

Journalist Saloni Murarka reports that some quarters are supporting the stance of the president:

Nepali Canadian author Manjushree Thapa says:

The 1st woman President of Nepal has refused to fulfil her constitutional duty to endorse a twice-tabled bill on citizenship rights. Her objection is not that it grants too few rights to women as compared to men—which it does—but because it grants women too many rights.

The [amendment to] citizenship act was only ever going to compliment the discrimination already laid down in that document. While there are immediate forms of relief for many of Nepal’s stateless youth, the battle to repeal gender discrimination in the constitution’s citizenship provisions is the next great feat for Nepal’s citizenship-equality activists.


‘Where’s the President?’ trends as super typhoon batters the Philippines

Marcos posted a vlog post about his trip to the United States

Typhoon Karding flooded farming villages in Central Luzon. Photo from the Twitter post of Philippine President Bongbong Marcos

Marcos was not present in the agency briefings. But at 9 pm, he posted on Twitter his video discussing his visit to the United States. The video drew swift backlash as citizens accused Marcos of being insensitive to the plight of his constituents reeling from the devastating impact of Karding.

BBM Vlog 226: New York, New York

Matagumpay ang ating biyahe sa New York!

Mula sa pagdalo sa UN General Assembly, mga business roundtable meetings at ang pakikipagkita sa Filipino community dito, ako ay nagpapasalamat sa mainit na pagtanggap sa ating delegasyon.

BBM (Bongbong Marcos) Vlog 226: New York, New York

Our trip to New York was successful!

From attending the UN General Assembly, to business roundtable meetings and meeting with the Filipino community, I am grateful for the warm welcome to our delegation.

This reaction from a journalist echoes the public sentiment:

Another journalist added on to the criticism:

Marcos has not commented on the viral hashtag, but seemed to take the criticism to heart, because all his recent social media posts have been about the government's disaster response efforts. On Monday morning, he tweeted about the damage caused by Karding:

After our aerial inspection today, we found some areas that are still inundated with water.

Harvest season is set to begin in the coming weeks, which makes the latest round of flooding and destruction especially devastating for farmers. Experts predict the food supply in some towns may be threatened as many rice paddies have been flooded.

A peasant advocate group is demanding urgent action to assist farmers:

The hashtag #SalamatSierraMadre is “Thank you Sierra Madre” in the Filipino language.

The Sierra Madre is trending because people are being reminded anew of its service as natural barrier against typhoons for our people.

The mountain range is protecting us, but what are we doing to protect it?


Iran's most recent protests are unprecedented — here is why

Women in Iran are leading the change movement

Using images and videos from Iran, we can clearly identify three reasons why what is happening in Iran is unique and why many believe the nation has reached a turning point.

Two of the most glaring differences between earlier protests and the current uprising are the incredible bravery demonstrated by protestors and the fury they are unleashing against the regime.

Many videos demonstrate how the protesters are advancing while the authorities are fleeing in terror. Young people — the majority of whom were born after the 1979 revolution — are demanding their rights and are unafraid of the repression of the regime.

The protesters in the following video from the city of Rasht are being chased by security personnel and being struck with tasers and clubs before one protester turns to face his attacker. Other protesters surround and attack the member of the security force.

These kinds of confrontations were rare and infrequent in previous years, but they are beginning to increase as a show of support and self-defense.

Therapy? No, I just saw the people of Rasht clobber the agents of Khamenei.

The following tweet is from the city of Amol. Journalist Farzad Seifikaran observes that demonstrators are pushing back security forces, but he also notes that the source who shared the video allegedly stated that several protesters were shot, hurt, or killed during the altercation. 

“I just received this video from #Amol now, see how people push the security forces back. This was from September 22.
Last night, there was no mention of Amol joining the protests against the death of #Mahsa_Amini in the news.
The source who sent the video says that after this, people were shot and many were injured and killed.” 

A video from the northern city of Babol shows a large crowd gathering and charging security forces, who appear to be firing live ammunition. The crowd does not disperse; it sticks together and charges forward.

Given how recently this brutal repression occurred, we should be in awe of the recent acts of defiance in Iran.

In the following video that may go down in history as the definitive depiction of these demonstrations, an Iranian woman dances in the middle of the crowd before throwing her veil into a nearby fire.

In another scene, a woman is seen standing on a public bench while being harassed by what appear to be female security agents. The anger and defiance in her voice are palpable as she cites Mahsa Amini as the reason why she is there. 

“You can not catch me”
“I am not moving from here”
“Don’t touch me”
[The female security officers took her down] “Don’t touch me”
[She jumped back up] “It’s not only for the headscarf, I’m here because you killed Mahsa”

Women protesting while holding their scarves in their hands can be seen in numerous videos and pictures.

Although Iranian women have historically been politically active, this is the first time they have openly and forcefully represented a change movement. Many people view their leadership as a sign of a contemporary and democratic future and as a clear contrast to Iran's dominant clergy. It is possible now that the events unfolding in Iran may lead to the first modern feminist revolution in the Middle East, and perhaps the world.

While it is difficult to predict exactly what may happen in Iran over the next few days or weeks, it is safe to say that we are seeing previously unheard-of scenes come out of the country.

In these scenes, young people can be seen demanding gender equality, basic political and civil rights, and freedom of speech. It also involves being prepared to advocate for these demands and to fight for them. It could also be a sign of things to come for Iran and its people.


Croatia’s push for controversial electoral reform undermines democratic development of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Proposed electoral reform ‘discriminatory’ and ‘disfranchising’

In the last year or so, the Balkans have seen an unprecedented diplomatic offensive by Croatia and Croat ultranationalists in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and abroad. The ultimate goal is to make sure that a highly controversial and discriminatory electoral reform is passed.

According to most Bosnians knowledgeable on the subject, as well as a range of Balkan specialists, these reforms would cement the hold of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ-BiH) on power in Bosnia and Herzegovina, further dividing the country and disenfranchising a large number of its population, most notably the country's Roma and Jewish minorities.

“Yair Lapid who serves both as Israeli Prime Minister and Foreign Minister called the Ambassador’s actions a “new nadir for Israeli diplomacy,” and ordered that he be censured.”

The irony of the Israeli ambassador's actions in favor of forces that often celebrate the legacy of perpetrators of the Holocaust during World War II and the cynicism of those involved in this endeavor is simply breathtaking.

Partisan graveyard in Mostar has been desecrated again. The damage is the biggest so far, over 700 memorial plaques commemorating fallen Second World War fighters had been destroyed. Photos by Dragan Markovina (©)


Unfreedom Monitor Report: Egypt

An excerpt from Advox research on digital authoritarianism in Egypt

Image courtesy Ameya Nagarajan

The Airtable analysis undertaken in this project attempts to reflect the situation around monitoring technology through online content over the past few years. We can see a repeated goal of restricting the freedom of online spaces and banning any narrative parallel to the official one. This can be seen in the Attorney General's orders to establish a unit to monitor and monitor social media platforms and activities, contrary to constitutional articles that protect people's privacy and their right to freedom of expression.

By monitoring social media, the authorities target activists or opponents and any activities that could attract public attention or be considered outside the traditional framework of Egypt, such as what happened with TikTok influencers. Almost everything could fit into “national security” and “family values,” from prosecuting a victim of sexual violence who used social media as a way to tell her story rather than protecting her, to blocking Shia websites, and calling out YouTubers who talk about Bitcoin in their channels.

It is difficult to estimate the Egyptian government's expenditure on importing and deploying surveillance technology. Even as the government announced the installation of CCTV cameras and facial recognition technology, this statement and news came without explanation of any measure of privacy or regulation of their use. One of the reports in the analysis stated that, after an official source announced the use of facial recognition cameras in streets and metro stations, they backed down and refused to comment. This measure can be explained in light of the concern that this statement could alarm the global human rights community about the Egyptian use of this technology.

There is no point in the international community criticising the Egyptian administration for violating people's rights without taking severe measures to stop these practices. Countries such as Germany and the United States have denounced Egypt's record on human rights several times. However, on the other hand, they continued to provide the same system with advanced surveillance technology under the rubric of “border protection.” France has strong ties to the security services and provides them with smart technology used to track dissent, spy and arrest LGBTQ+ people. Although the security forces killed one of its citizens in Egypt, Italy did not withdraw its arms contract with Egypt until after pressure from the national and international community. There is no blame on countries like China, Russia, or Israel for exporting this technology to Egypt. The real blame should be placed on states that promote themselves as pioneers of freedom and protectors of human rights. At the same time, they cannot stop exporting the dual use of surveillance technology to authoritarian states for their economic benefit.


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