Sunday, October 29, 2006

Call to Bloggers

Amnesty International issued a ‘Call to Bloggers’, asking them to get online and stand up for freedom of expression on the internet. The call comes as the online world prepares to meet at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF, Athens 30/10 – 2/11). Amnesty international is sending a delegation to ensure that human rights are not sidelined and remain at the heart of the forum’s discussions.

Steve Ballinger, part of Amnesty International’s delegation to the IGF, said:
"… some governments have sought to curtail this freedom. People have been locked up just for expressing their views in an email or a website. Sites and blogs have been shut down and firewalls built to prevent access to information."

I had the experience, during Saddam reign, of being blocked out of accessing even email service. A heavy firewall was preventing Iraqi internet users from a wide range of websites. It was like a kind of secret activity to pass information to friends & relatives about newly discovered websites; especially email service. One would change his/her email frequently making it not guaranteed to receive a reply, since one's email could be blocked at any time. Thanks to Arizona State official website which offered me, at that time, an email box for over a year without being discovered by Iraqi watch. So, I can understand the difficulties people are going through to access internet & to pass their words to the world.

Moreover, activists who use the internet to express their thoughts peacefully are being detained in some countries. Chinese journalist Shi Tao was sentenced to 10 years in prison for "illegally providing state secrets to foreign entities." Yahoo! provided information to the government that was used in his prosecution.

"Today, our chance to fight a new hi-tech tyranny" as Kate Allen, UK director of Amnesty International, says in
The Observer:
"The internet is big business, but in the search for profits some companies have encroached on their own principles and those on which the internet was founded: free access to information. The results of searches using China-based search engines run by Yahoo, Microsoft, Google and local firms are censored, limiting the information users can access. Microsoft pulled down the work of one of China's most popular bloggers who had made politically sensitive comments. Yahoo gave information to the authorities that led to people being jailed for sending emails with political content. We do not accept these firms' arguments that it is better to have a censored Google, Yahoo or Microsoft in China than none at all."
Tunisian lawyer and human rights defender Mohammed Abbou is serving a three and a half year prison sentence for publishing articles critical of the Tunisian authorities on the Internet.
Vietnamese political dissident Truong Quoc Huy was first arrested in October 2005 with two other young people after chatting on a democracy and human rights website. On 18 August 2006, he was rearrested in an Internet cafe in Ho Chi Minh City. His whereabouts remain unknown and no charges have been publicized.
Iranian student activist and blogger Kianoosh Sanjari, aged 24, was arrested on 7 October whilst reporting on clashes between security forces and supporters of a Shi'a cleric. Kianoosh Sanjari is being held incommunicado at an unknown location and Amnesty International fears that he may be at risk of torture or ill-treatment.

Steve Ballinger said:
“Freedom of expression online is a right, not a privilege – but it’s a right that needs defending. We’re asking bloggers worldwide to show their solidarity with web users in countries where they can face jail just for criticizing the government."
“The Internet Governance Forum needs to know that the online community is bothered about free expression online and willing to stand up for it.”

If you are concerned about free expression online and willing to stand up for it, try to
sign this pledge on Internet freedom called (Irrepressible.info). Moreover, try to spread the word to others; put a link to the pledge on your website, if you have one.

5 Comments:

Blogger Fayrouz said...

I signed the petition.

I was glad to see thousands of signatures. That's a very good sign.

7:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm the Vietnamese Government
is supresssing dissent !!!

Well why doesn't Amnesty International notify Jane Fonda
and George McGovern and Norman Mailer
and others about this ???

I simply can not believe the government of simple farmers
and factory workers ... which battled American forces
with simple rifles ( Not Advanced
Soviet weapons) and "liberated"
the capitalistic South from
tyranny would regulate internet
activity !!!

8:14 AM  
Blogger Baghdad said...

Thanks for that.

I hope this pledge will be positively effective.

All the best to you.

4:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please visit http://www.iraqnewsworld.com for all the updates on Iraq

5:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who knows where to download XRumer 5.0 Palladium?
Help, please. All recommend this program to effectively advertise on the Internet, this is the best program!

3:42 PM  

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