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Writers Against the Protection of Information Bill - Media Tribunal in South Africa - by Nadine Gordimer and André Brink

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Writers (and Readers) Against the Protection of Information Bill - Media Tribunal. A petition in defence of Freedom of the Press in South Africa on the initiative of Nadine Gordimer and André Brink:


Freedom of expression along with the vote - universal suffrage - is the basis of democracy.

Muzzling this freedom affects directly print and other media in the responsibility and necessity of their function, which is to keep citizens informed of all aspects that affect life in the country, whether by government edict, economic practice, or the ethical standards of individual behaviour. Denial of freedom of expression makes a mockery of the profession of journalism - the print press and the media in general. This does not imply freedom should be granted for hate speech in any form, including advocation of violence: our Constituition deals with that: "Bill of Rights. Freedom of Expression. The right does not extend to a)propaganda for war b)incitement of imminent violence; c)advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm."

As writers - whether novelists, poets, playwrights, essayists, historians, biographers or others - we too are threatened by denial of freedom of the word, our form of expression of the lives of the people of South Africa at the level of deep complexity, within the forces of government, the financial and personal codes of the powerful in relation to the ideal of equality and of human dignity, to which the new South Africa subscribes."

Among the signatures below are those of writers whose work was banned under the apartheid regime. We are threatened again, now with a gag over the word-processor if we penetrate the \"transparency\" promsied in the new South Africa, which a Media Tribunal will replace with the descent of a shutter over the dialogue of the arts in the attempt of understanding who and what we are, where we come from and what we may yet become.

The press and all writers who use the word professionally are threatened by censorship, which is the reality lurking behind the euphemism of "Media Tribunal". But we do not protest against the institution of "Media Tribunal - Word Police" merely on our own behalf. Writing presupposes an interaction with readers. And so, if the work and freedom of the writer are in jeopardy, the freedom of every reader in South Africa is in danger. Our protest is an action undertaken by South Africans for all South Africans, committing ourselves to a demand for a free country: freedom of thought expressed, freedom of dialogue, freedom from fear of the truth about ourselves, all South Africans.

Note: This petition has been organised on the initiative of Nadine Gordimer and André Brink. Writers and readers from all countries are welcome to sign the petition. Many people have already signed the petition elsewhere and all the signatures gathered on this website will be forwarded to Nadine Gordimer.


On behalf of Nadine Gordimer.


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