Rights group con­demns Egypt’s me­dia law as ‘ex­tor­tion’

The Myanmar Times - - World -

An in­ter­na­tional press free­dom group says new reg­u­la­tions in Egypt amount to “ex­tor­tion” and aim to si­lence the coun­try’s last re­main­ing in­de­pen­dent me­dia.

Re­porters With­out Borders said Mon­day that the new law, which went into ef­fect last month, re­quires on­line news­pa­pers to de­posit large sums to se­cure per­mits.

It says web­sites would need more than $30,000 to reg­is­ter, and would pay up to five times that amount for non-com­pli­ance.

The group’s So­phie An­muth says the “law is tan­ta­mount to ex­tor­tion be­cause jour­nal­ists now have to pay if they want to work.”

The gov­ern­ment has al­ready blocked hun­dreds of web­sites, in­clud­ing those of sev­eral in­de­pen­dent me­dia out­lets, as part of a sweep­ing crack­down on dis­sent.

All ma­jor me­dia out­lets in Egypt sup­port the gov­ern­ment. – AP CHINA and In­dia are closely watch­ing the con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis in Sri Lanka, which has been a bat­tle­ground in their strug­gle for geopo­lit­i­cal supremacy in South Asia.

Chi­nese and In­dian diplo­mats have been care­ful not to overtly take sides in the po­lit­i­cal tur­moil, which has seen Pres­i­dent Maithri­pala Sirisena oust Prime Min­is­ter Ranil Wick­remesinghe, re­place him with for­mer strong­man Mahinda Ra­japaksa, and sus­pend Par­lia­ment.

Wick­remesinghe, mean­while, has holed up at the prime min­is­ter’s res­i­dence and in­sisted he is Sri Lanka’s right­ful leader.

The cau­tion ex­er­cised by the Asian gi­ants stands in con­trast to calls from West­ern diplo­mats for Par­lia­ment to im­me­di­ately be sum­moned for a floor vote on Ra­japaksa’s ap­point­ment and un­der­scores the eco­nomic and mil­i­tary im­por­tance the coun­tries place on the In­dian Ocean is­land na­tion.

“They’re hedg­ing their bets,” said Bharath Gopalaswamy, di­rec­tor of the At­lantic Coun­cil’s South Asia Cen­ter. In­dia and China “both have stakes in the global sys­tem and want to play a big­ger role, so they have to sig­nal they’ll work with whomever.”

For China, Sri Lanka is a crit­i­cal link in its mas­sive Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, which aims to use in­fra­struc­ture projects to ex­pand trade across a vast arc of 65 coun­tries from the South Pa­cific through Asia to Africa and Europe. It has handed out bil­lions of dol­lars in loans for Sri Lankan projects over the past decade.

Lo­cated just 23 kilo­me­ters (14 miles) off its south­east coast, In­dia sees Sri Lanka as a bul­wark in its mil­i­tary de­fenses to ward off po­ten­tial Chi­nese in­cur­sions and also sees the is­land as a key part­ner for re­gional trade. – AP

Photo: AP

In this Satur­day photo, a Chi­nese man walks along a street while speak­ing on his mo­bile phone in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

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