Today, 12 March, is World Day Against Cyber-Censorship. Launched by our colleagues at Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in 2008, the day aims to rally everyone in support of a single Internet without restrictions and accessible to all.
The issue of online freedom – and the struggle to defend it – is as important now as it has ever been. In the first two months of 2012, we have already seen writers across the globe being targeted for freely expressing their views online, including Chinese poet Zhu Yufu, sentenced to seven years in prison for sending a poem via Skype, and young journalist Hamza Kashgari, who remains detained in Saudi Arabia for messages sent on Twitter.
However, there are also longer term cases of concern to PEN who are similarly detained for their online activity. Our Honorary Member Chinese journalist and poet Shi Tao was sentenced to ten years in prison in 2005 for ‘revealing state secrets’ in an email sent to an overseas website, whilst Syrian poet Tal al-Mallouhi, the youngest female blogger behind bars, continues to serve a five year sentence on charges believed to be connected to poems and comments posted on her blog.
This year, to mark World Day Against Cyber-Censorship, we are asking our members and supporters to use your online presence – on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and email – to take action for writers around the world that have been persecuted as a result of their online activity. Please do spare a few moments of your day to take online action for those suffering for theirs.
SHOW YOUR SUPPORT ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER: To show your support and help raise awareness, change your Facebook profile picture and your Twitter avatar to one of the World Day Against Cyber-Censorship logos, available for download here: http://march12.rsf.org/en/
BLOG FOR A BLOGGER: To help raise awareness of Syrian poet and blogger Tal al Mallouhi’s case, please publish her poem, ‘You Will Remain An Example’ on your blogs. More details here: http://www.englishpen.org/you-will-remain-an-example-by-tal-al-mallouhi/
SEND AN EMAIL APPEAL: Please email the Chinese authorities calling for the immediate and unconditional release of journalist and poet Shi Tao who was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2005 for sending an email. [email protected] For more details, see http://www.englishpen.org/shi-tao-p-r-china/
World Day Against Cyber-Censorship, launched in 2008 by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), aims to rally everyone in support of a single Internet without restrictions and accessible to all.
Today, RSF have published their annual report The Enemies of the Internet, detailing which countries are the worst violators of online free speech. The list is almost identical to last year’s – Burma, China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan – but with two new additions: Bahrain and Belarus. http://march12.rsf.org/en/
Later today, RSF will also be awarding the annual Netizen Prize to a blogger, online journalist or cyber-dissident who has helped to promote freedom of expression on the Internet, in association with Google. This year’s nominees include PEN case of concern Egyptian blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad.