Wednesday, December 13, 2006

We are irrepressible

_ by Raluca Enescu

Last month, in November, Burma Digest's main page has got 367346 pagehits; what do you think?
Reading the statistics, I can't help but wonder: who are all those people who take time to check upon our work, to read the articles that we're doing our best to write, why do they choose us? Actually, the more we progress in our work for the Burma Digest, the more I feel that we have a stronger responsibility towards our readers.
Some time ago, we have decided to publish a campaign journal that would be able to make a strong statement; for freedom, for justice, for democracy. As we have grown, ever since, as a public forum and as a voice to be heard, the most important thing we had in mind along the way was: we have to be IRREPRESSIBLE!
IRREPRESSIBLE = impossible to repress or control. Maybe you've seen before, on some websites, Amnesty International irrepressible logo. It is part of a global campaign concerning freedom of expression on the internet.
Chat rooms monitored. Blogs deleted. Websites blocked. Search engines restricted. People imprisoned for simply posting and sharing information; is this situation familiar to you? If you dare to speak up against it, then you are irrepressible, just like us. Amnesty International, with the support of The Observer UK newspaper, is launching a campaign to show that online or offline the human voice and human rights are impossible to repress. Also, they are working with the Open Net Initiative (ONI) to help raise awareness of internet censorship around the world.
Together with Amnesty's Irrepressible campaign, the ONI has published a detailed report concerning censorship of the internet in Burma; According to them, "Myanmar's Internet Service Providers (ISPs) block access to web sites of political opposition groups, human rights-oriented sites, and organizations working for democratic change in Myanmar. Until recently Myanmar used Dans Guardian, an open source filtering software, but has switched to a filtering product made by the U.S.-based vender Fortinet. The state also maintains the capability to conduct surveillance of e-mail as individual users are only allowed access to local email providers - free e-mail sites such as Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail are blocked. Myanmar filters Internet access using Fortinet's Fortiguard Web filtering software. Users receive block pages when attempting to access banned content. Earlier tests revealed that Internet access was filtered by Dans Guardian filtering software. Internet connectivity is prohibitively expensive so users are also largely limited to the country's intranet. In 2000 Myanmar imposed new Web Regulations:
* Any writings detrimental to the interests of the Union of Myanmar are not to be posted
* Any writings directly or indirectly detrimental to the current policies and secret security affairs of the government of the Union of Myanmar are not to be posted
* Writings related to politics are not to be posted
* Internet users are to inform MPT of any threat on the Internet
* Internet users are to obtain prior permission from the organization designated by the state to create Web pages
Violations of the 2000 regulations are punishable by revocation of access and "legal action".
In another words, anyone who accesses internet pages that would be in any way linked to the democracy movement can be arrested. Anyone who would try to post a political manifesto on the internet can be arrested. Anyone who would use the internet to criticize the current regime can be arrested. What impression does this make to you?
For all those people, who are denied the access to accurate information, which are living under a repression, who may risk their lives for freedom of speech, for all of them. We at the Burma Digest are and have the duty to remain IREPRESSIBLE.

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