Saturday, September 24, 2005

New Heralds of Free Expression

Freedom of Expression is not to be taken for granted. Dissidents in some countries have struggled with it. Journalists have been thrown into jails, to never see their families again. In our fight for this fundemental human right and to end tyranny against humanity, please spread this news to your fellow bloggers and dissidents.

PARIS (Reuters) - A Paris-based media watchdog released a handbook on Thursday to help cyber-dissidents and bloggers avoid political censorship in countries as far apart as China, Iran, Vietnam and Cuba.

The guide, published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) with the backing of the French government, identifies bloggers as the "new heralds of free expression" and offers advice on how to set up a blog and run it anonymously.

"Bloggers are often the only real journalists in countries where the mainstream media is censored or under pressure," wrote Julien Pain, head of RSF's Internet Freedom Desk.

"Only they provide independent news, at the risk of displeasing the government and sometimes courting arrest."

Blogs are personal Web sites that are easy to set up and are often written in the form of an online diary. The name is a shortened form of personal "Web log".

The "Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents" can be downloaded from the RSF website (, and the media organization says it is available in English, French, Chinese, Arabic and Farsi.

The guide is based on technical advice from experienced bloggers and experts, and provides personal accounts by bloggers such as Arash Sigarchi, who received a 14-year-jail sentence in Iran last February but is free pending an appeal.

"Internet journalism could advance freedom of expression and wider view points," wrote Sigarchi, who faced charges ranging from spying to insulting the country's leaders.

"Although I have been convicted by Iranian courts, I have not lost hope and I am sure that in coming years the rulers of my country will have to respect the flow of information and freedom of expression."


"Blogs get people excited. Or else they disturb and worry them. Some people distrust them. Others see them as the vanguard of a new information revolution," RSF said on its Web site

"Because they allow and encourage ordinary people to speak up, they're tremendous tools of freedom of expression."

The handbook offers advice on how to establish credibility by observing basic ethical and journalistic principles.

One chapter offers advice on technical ways to get around censorship. Others feature bloggers' experiences from such countries as Nepal, Iran, Bahrain and Hong Kong.

Publication of the handbook follows moves in some countries to crack down on Internet use.

RSF said countries which were trying to control what their citizens read and do online included China, Vietnam, Iran, Iran, Cuba, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) defends imprisoned journalists and press freedom throughout the world, as well as the right to inform the public and to be informed, in accordance with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Reporters Without Borders has nine national sections (in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom), representatives in Abidjan, Bangkok, Istanbul, Montreal, Moscow, New York, Tokyo and Washington and more than a hundred correspondents worldwide.

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