"We remind passengers travelling to Cuba, Tunisia and Turkey that news is censored in these countries"
"Cuba, Tunisia and Turkey... Three countries that tourists dream about. This summer, Reporters Without Borders invites you to look on the other side of the picture postcard, to see the hidden face of these countries, where censorship is ever-present. You won’t hear any interviews with opposition figures on the radio in Havana. Tunisian TV never fails to sing the praises of the country’s president. In Turkey, you won’t hear any Kurdish music on the air waves. All the product of well-oiled systems of clamping down on dissident voices. So fasten your seatbelts and let’s go see..."
The graphics of the media campaign show the inside of a plane and the warning icons for passengers - the seatbelt sign, no smoking and... one of a censored newspaper with a red line through it. A caption reads: "We remind passengers travelling to Cuba, Tunisia and Turkey that news is censored in these countries." This is followed by a reference to the function of Reporters Without Borders: "Don’t wait to be deprived of news to stand up and fight for it." The French publications Le Monde, Métro, Courrier International, Marianne and Le Nouvel Observateur have already published it or are about to.
The awareness campaign also includes a television ad, where a tourist is shown passing through a security gate and setting off a warning beep several times, even though he has apparently already emptied his pockets of anything that would set off the alarm. The security officer then notices that a newspaper in his coat pocket and takes it away from him. He goes through the gate once more and this time no alarm sounds. The newspaper is thrown in the rubbish bin and a voice says "We remind passengers travelling to Cuba, Tunisia and Turkey that news is censored in these countries."
The French TV stations Canal +, I> Télévision and LCI have already broadcast the advert and Match TV, MCM and RTL 9 have said they will do so. The 35-second ad is available in Beta SP and VHS.
A 16 K website banner is also available (top of the page) in Gif or Flash, showing a plane flying through a blue sky, followed by the names of the three countries, then the campaign slogan and the word "news" with a red line through it. It can be seen on www.lemonde.fr every weekend until the beginning of September.
The campaign is being conducted free of charge by the Saatchi & Saatchi agency, its creative team led by Benoît Schmider, the producers of Movie Box, the producer Alain Lambert and photographer Jo Magrean. It is available in English, French and Spanish.
Reporters Without Borders points out that in Cuba, the local press contains no criticism whatsoever of the government. Apart from international TV stations that can only be seen in major tourist hotels, the entire written press and radio and television only put out propaganda - articles and reports chosen in accordance with the regime’s ideological line by the Communist Party central committee.
About 100 independent journalists, grouped into about 20 independent news agencies the authorities refuse to recognise, do their best to exercise their right to inform the public. Banned from publishing in their own country, they send their news and articles to Internet websites or Cuban exile radio stations abroad.
Although the broadcasts of these stations are jammed by the regime and ordinary Cubans do not have access to the Internet, the government still does everything it can to obstruct independent journalists in their work - systematically harassing them, confiscating their equipment, intimidating their families, summoning them to police stations for questioning, arresting them and sometimes throwing them in jail for many years. Four are currently imprisoned, including Bernardo Arévalo Padron, founder of the independent news agency Linea Sur Press, who was jailed for six years in 1997.
News in Cuba? Propaganda here we come!
Consult the Cuban special report
If you read the Tunisian press during your stay, remember that every article printed is checked by the regime. Censorship is a key weapon in the police state built by President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. The media, whether government or privately-owned, is given over to official propaganda and the foreign press is closely watched. Those who denounce human rights violations are harassed, arrested or tortured and their families and friends persecuted.
The Tunisian regime is now targeting the Internet, blocking access to websites, intercepting people’s e-mail, taking over Internet service providers (ISPs) and closely monitoring cybercafés.
Cyber-dissident Zouhair Yahyaoui was jailed for two years in July for the "crime" of putting the views of Tunisian democrats on his website and daring to criticise the regime. Hamadi Jebali, publisher of the weekly newspaper Al-Fajr, has been in prison for 10 years now, serving a 16-year sentence for alleged subversion.
News in Tunisia? Repression next stop!
Consult the Tunisian special report
Turkey has lots of media and there is plenty of news to read. Except for some news, which gives you a better idea of what the regime is like. The missing news is about the Kurdish minority and anything about the army’s major role in national institutions. These are taboo subjects and unofficially banned.
Several dozen journalists of all opinions are hauled into court every year for defying this censorship. The announcement of democratic reforms as part of Turkey’s effort to join the European Union has not yet changed anything. Media and freedom of expression offences are still just as harshly punished with the help of an arsenal of repressive laws to protect the state against the demands of the Kurds, Islamic fundamentalists and the far left. At least five journalists are still in prison for publishing news and opinions that are nothing more than plain freedom of expression.
News in Turkey? Censorship is all you’ll get!
Consult the Turkish special report