*Re: prisoners on line (attachment text)

Peace through Reason (prop1@prop1.org)
Tue, 12 May 1998 09:50:21 -0400


>Here's an article about prisoners who are online.  The website it describes
>is http://www.dfn.org

Ellen, here's the text of your attachment.  If you repost it to
<HPN@aspin.asu.edu> and can cite a URL, please do.

World without borders!  World without war!--Tom
__________
http://www.dfn.org


DISSIDENT WRITERS FIND A HOME ONLINE

The site will include speeches, newspaper articles,
essays, poetry and letters written from prison.


Main Story

The banned or censored words of
five dissidents from China, Kenya, Algeria, Cuba and Cameroon
were the first to be posted on Tuesday on a new Web site
displaying the works of political activists.
The site www.dfn.org is published by the Digital
Freedom Network (DFN), an international partnership founded in
the New York area to fight censorship and protect human rights.

    "By putting banned or restricted material on our site, we
give dissidents a powerful, effective way to communicate with
people around the world," the group's executive director, Bobson
Wong, told a news conference in New York to announce the
network.

    He said the collection of speeches, newspaper articles,
essays, poetry and letters written from prison would include
material from 17 countries.<BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;

    While it was not unique to have dissident writings
published on the worldwide web, the DFN was drawing on a host
of sources to put them on one site, Wong said. Material comes
from organizations such as the Committee to Protect
Journalists, Index on Censorship, Reporters sans Frontieres, and
Network for the Defense of Independent Media in Africa.

    Dissidents featured on the site include Bao Ge of China,
Koigi wa Wamwere of Kenya, Salima Ghezali, editor of weekly
French-language "La Nation" private newspaper in Algeria, Pius
Njawe, editor of independent newspaper "Le Messager" in Cameroon
and independent Cuba Press news agency head Raul Rivero.

    Bao and wa Wamwere attended the news conference to announce
the site, which is the brainchild of Howard Jonas, CEO and
founder of IDT Corp., a supplier of low-cost
international communication services based in Hackensack, N.J.

    Jonas, who has so far provided about $1 million through a
personal unrestricted grant, said he was "ashamed" his company
could not back the project because it did business in so many
countries. He also said he was "ashamed as an American" and
expected the U.S. government to do better in its dealings with
countries considered abusive by human rights groups.

    "I feel embarrassed talking in front of guys who are real
heroes, but I hope the fact that this site is up may eventually
embarrass them (the U.S. government) into taking some sort of
action," Jonas said.

    Wa Wamwere, a writer and human rights activist who has been
jailed four times in Kenya, said the Web site would be
instrumental even though few people in his country and other
developing countries could afford computers.

    "Although our people have no access to the Internet and few
have computers, the struggle is being fought on two fronts; one
on this end and the other in our part of the world," he
said. "If a western government has access to this information
and sees countries they are dealing with are being treated as
dictatorships, they will be forced to stop that relationship."

     Bao, one of many pro-democracy dissidents forced into
exile by the Chinese government in recent years, said Beijing
could not stop the flow of information through the Internet.

    "It is estimated that by the year 2000, there will be around
20 million computers in use in China," he said. "Even though it
does not like ideas it doesn't approve of to penetrate China,
as long as it wants to get into the world market it cannot
disallow the spread of computers and the Internet."