Free Oiwan Lam

The day before yesterday I wrote a post over at Lost Laowai called “Porno links rubbing HK the wrong way“. The post outlined the situation one HK resident, Oiwan Lam, has found herself in.

Oiwan is a writer/media activist who founded and also heads up the North-East Asia desk at Global Voices Online.

A couple months back a HK guy was charged for having posted links to adult content in an adult content-themed message board — just links mind you. Under some stiff new rules in the Special Administrative Region, this ended up costing him $5,000 and no small amount of dignity, as he had his house ransacked and his name run through the mud (aka HK tabloids).

In protest to this and in an effort to display some of the hypocrisy involved in this archaic-like legislation, Oiwan linked to a picture of a naked girl on Flickr:

“The flickr photo was carefully chosen that it goes against the mechanical guideline but not against the law, as the photo is artistic, from a global website that is not pornographic in nature and has their internal guideline. Moreover, there was no complaint against the photo since it has been uploaded and all the discussions were about photographic effects.” – Oiwan Lam.

In response, the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority (TELA) took it all quite seriously, and with the Obscene Articles Tribunal deciding that the photograph is “Class II: Indecent”, Oiwan faces a maximum fine of HK$400,000 and up to a year in prison.

As Oiwan has said, this is indeed a slippery slope for those of us that value Internet freedoms. Even for us not in HK, it’s not hard to see how these ignorant and overly-puritanical views could spread and start affecting us all directly. So, please help shed light on this cause, and show your support to Oiwan.

If you are able to blog/write about this, please display one of the following badges on your site. And whatever the perks of being a grass-roots freelance journalist are, money isn’t one of them, so if you can donate a bit of cash, Oiwan’s surely going to need it.


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