Monday, May 21, 2007

New Zealand Bloggers Offer Support For Freedom Of Speech In Fiji

New Zealand bloggers from across the political spectrum are offering material support for Fijian blogs in the face of violence and censorship by the country's military regime. They are also calling on the New Zealand government to condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the regime's acts of violence and censorship against this nonviolent, grassroots blogging movement.

The Fijian military regime has declared anonymous pro-democracy bloggers to be a "threat to national security", and have attempted to block Fijian access to common hosting sites such as Suspected blogger, Ulaiasi Taoi, was recently subjected to beatings, verbal abuse, and humiliation during a 24-hour questioning, according to The Fiji Times and Fijian news sites. The military regime now claims to have identified 20 more people responsible for pro-democracy blogs who will also be threatened with "questioning".

In support of the right to freedom of expression, a group of New Zealand bloggers are now offering access to their own websites for Fijian residents. The group is composed of prominent New Zealand bloggers from across the political spectrum, including writers of Just Left, Kiwiblog, No Right Turn, NZBC, Public Address, and Spanblather. They have agreed to publish guest articles by Fijian bloggers, and where possible will provide hosting on their servers for Fijian blogs.

The group are also calling upon other members of the New Zealand online community with an interest of freedom of speech (such as Scoop,, and Stuff) to make a similar offer of material support for Fijian bloggers.

Blogs are one of the few news sources outside of the control of the military regime in Fiji, representing a vital channel of uncensored information for both Fijians and the international community.

Any Fijian bloggers wishing to make use of this offer should make contact through one of the above-listed websites.

Scoop has subsequently offered to help as well. Meanwhile, we're not the only group - according to this morning's Fiji Times, internet free-speech network Global Voices have also offered their support:

"We're really trying to do two things about the Fijian bloggers right now," Mr Zuckerman said.

"One, we're trying to call attention to their situation, we're promoting it on our site. The second thing we're trying to do is network them with activist bloggers in other parts of the world who have dealt with the same problem, of a government trying to control free speech online."

So, how else can we help?

Update: This has attracted some coverage in the Fiji Times; it will be interesting to see if there is any response from the government.


More media coverage:

Radio NZ International
Fiji Village

And Reporters Without Borders has spoken up as well.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 5/22/2007 09:27:00 AM

Thank you for helping give our situation more international exposure. Your efforts are greatly appreciated. But how exactly can you help us?

Posted by hyde.n.ceek : 5/22/2007 11:01:00 AM

Hyde.n.creek: Essentially by helping you play whack-a-mole if the military blocks your blogs.

We're also willing to help you get your message out by hosting guest posts on our blogs, and Scoop has offered support on that as well - though this is obviously better for talking to the world rather than your primary audiance of Fijians.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 5/22/2007 11:24:00 AM

Thanks for the assist. Need all the help we can get. BTW contrary to media reports, the military is still looking for pro-democracy blogger. They're just doing it more quietly now.

Posted by hyde.n.ceek : 5/22/2007 01:04:00 PM

That should be "bloggers". There is no such person as "pro-democracy blogger". Sorry.

Posted by hyde.n.ceek : 5/22/2007 01:05:00 PM