21 March 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Free Speech Union is concerned that the Chief Censor has delayed the screening of The Kashmir Files in New Zealand and may prevent it from screening at all in our country. The Film is undoubtedly a controversial presentation of a complex issue, but the Censor's role is not to protect Kiwis from controversy, says Jonathan Ayling, Spokesperson for the Free Speech Union.
"Our understanding is that the Film has already been classified as R16 and that it has shown in cinemas in other liberal democratic countries with a similar classification. It appears as if the decision to delay (and possibly prevent) the film being screened in New Zealand has been driven by political activism.
"It is crucial that any decision made by the Censor is done within his remit as outlined in the Films, Videos, and Publication Classification Act 1993, and not as a result of advocacy or to protect the political sensibilities of any community.
"Speculation that this film could foster hate and, more importantly, violence must be taken into consideration. But the response of audiences in India should not determine the ability for Kiwi audiences to engage with this content.
"We are grateful for Act and National MPs for raising concerns about this and we have written to Labour, Green, and Maori Party MPs to make sure they are aware of the serious issues and able to comment if they wish.
"We have also written to the Chief Censor to ensure that the information we have is correct and to share our deep concerns about the possibility that his office is being politicised or bullied. We remain committed to our mission to fight for, protect and expand New Zealanders’ rights to freedom of speech."
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