Dissidents Issue Call for Internet Freedom

Fiance of Slain Iranian Icon Neda Urges UN: “Electing Iran to Rights Council will legitimize its crimes”

GENEVA, Mar. 9, 2010 – A group of prominent dissidents and human rights organizations from Iran, Cuba, North Korea, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Burma, Vietnam and Sudan, concluded a 2-day Geneva summit with the adoption of a declaration for Internet freedom (click here for text), while the fiance of slain Iranian icon Neda Agha-Soltan implored the UN to deny Iran a seat on its Human Rights Council.

The statement by former political prisoners and activists expressed “alarm” that “the situation of Internet freedom in many regions of the world is increasingly perilous and under assault.” The declaration condemned authoritarian states such as Belarus, Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam, who “censor the internet by blocking websites and filtering search results, and intimidate internet users through cyber police.”

The assembly declared that “Everyone has the right to equal access to the Internet, regardless of race, religion, ethnic or geographical origin,” and “the right to the free flow of information and freedom of expression without fear of discrimination.” The declaration urged the UN Human Rights Council and other international organizations and rights groups to adopt similar declarations and resolutions.

Some 500 human rights defenders and activists, from 67 different countries, gathered for the past two days at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy, to share personal experiences of human rights abuse and plan advocacy strategies.

“If the Iranian regime became a member [of the UN Human Rights Council], then that would legitimize the regime and its inhuman and cruel acts,” said Caspian Makan, the fiance of Neda. “Giving it legitimacy would encourage it to go further still.” Click here for the full transcript and video.

Internet giant Google was represented at the conference by Bob Boorstin, a senior spokesman from Washington. He defended the company in regard to recent controversies in China and Italy. Click here.

1 Response to “Dissidents Issue Call for Internet Freedom”

  • I agree. Access to internet is a fundamental right. The Internet is a tool through which people can exercise freedom of speech and expression. Each and every person has the right to access an open Internet, which is neither censored nor filtered by government or business. The internet creates transparency and a more open society.

    That said, governments who seek to censor information and the media are undermining the Internet’s potential. For instance, in countries like China, Iran, and Russia, governments habitually censor information and persecute bloggers and other online activists who they see as a threat to the status quo. On this note, on Sunday, The New York Times published an article on ‘U.S. Hopes Exports Will Help Open Closed Societies’, stating that the Obama Administration is seeking to exploit the Internet’s potential for prying open closed societies by permitting technology companies to export online services like instant messaging, chat and photo sharing to Iran, Cuba and Sudan. “The more people have access to a range of Internet technology and services, the harder it’s going to be for the Iranian government to clamp down on their speech and free expression,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement had not been made yet.

    BBC also published an article on ‘Internet access is a fundamental right’ on Monday.

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