“I know you’re out there. I can feel you now. I know that you’re afraid… you’re afraid of us. You’re afraid of change. I don’t know the future. I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it’s going to begin…” No, I have no misconceptions of be … Read More
Dear Sir or Madam,We write to you worried about the police and paramilitary harassment denounced from Banes ―a small town in the Cuban province of Holguín― by Reina Luisa Tamayo. She is the mother of Orlando Zapata Tamayo the prisoner of conscience who died on 23 February after a prolonged hunger strike that up to its tragic and fatal outcome had little coverage in the international press.
Every Sunday, we receive, mostly through phone interviews broadcast by the US-based Radio Martí, the same report from Reina Luisa describing how she is beaten, insulted and how [the government directed mob] prevents her from going to the town’s church to pray for her son and the health of all Cuban political prisoners still in jail. The repressive organs of the Cuban regime also impede her to visit her son’s tomb.
It is surprising to us that despite the wide coverage dedicated to Cuban topics, your organization has not reported on this. We know of the limitations to movement within Cuba, but we also understand that any foreign reporter has the means and resources to travel to the Eastern part of the island and give an eyewitness report of what happens there, in front of Reina Luisa Tamayo’s home.
We do not wish to tell the media what they should do, but to share with you our concern for the life of a woman who has lost her son in unjust circumstances and is clamoring for the world’s help to avoid more deaths.
We, the promoters of the #OZT: I accuse the Cuban government Campaign that demands the unconditional and immediate release of all peaceful political prisoners in Cuba and the respect of all Cubans’ human rights; write to you because we know that the international press in Cuba not only bears witness to what happens there, but can also help prevent and stop harassment incidents like those suffered by the Ladies in White in March of this year.
We would also like to know if there is any kind of legal hindrance or of any other sort that prevents your reporter in La Habana from traveling to other regions of Cuba.
We thank you in advance for your reply.
A reminder from Amnesty International:
World Press Freedom Day (May 3) provides an opportunity for people around the world to celebrate the fundamental human right to freedom of expression, defend the media from attacks on their independence and honor the memory of journalists who have lost their lives because of the peaceful exercise of their right to speak and write freely.
Amnesty International works to protect journalists from harassment and death threats, free them from arbitrary detention and guarantee them their right to freedom of expression. TAKE ACTION now on behalf of these journalists around the world.
The “Enemies of the Internet” list drawn up again this year by Reporters Without Borders presents the worst violators of freedom of expression on the Net: Saudi Arabia, Burma, China, North Korea, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Uzbekistan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam.
Some of these countries are determined to use any means necessary to prevent their citizens from having access to the Internet: Burma, North Korea, Cuba, and Turkmenistan – countries in which technical and financial obstacles are coupled with harsh crackdowns and the existence of a very limited Intranet. Internet shutdowns or major slowdowns are commonplace in periods of unrest. The Internet’s potential as a portal open to the world directly contradicts the propensity of these regimes to isolate themselves from other countries. Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan have opted for such massive filtering that their Internet users have chosen to practice self-censorship. For economic purposes, China, Egypt, Tunisia and Vietnam have wagered on a infrastructure development strategy while keeping a tight control over the Web’s political and social content (Chinese and Tunisian filtering systems are becoming increasingly sophisticated), and they are demonstrating a deep intolerance for critical opinions. The serious domestic crisis that Iran has been experiencing for months now has caught netizens and the new media in its net; they have become enemies of the regime.
Read the rest of the report (PDF File) from Reporters Without Borders HERE
Conference image © 2010 by Gregory Engels
UPDATE: The audio of the conference is now available HERE (Please repost freely)
The Greens/European Free Alliance, a European parliamentary group, held an online conference in Brussels today titled “Blogging for Democracy – Cuba, the European Union and the influence of Web 2.0”
It featured Cuban bloggers Yoani Sánchez (Blog: Generacion Y), Claudia Cadelo (Blog: Octavo Cerco), Luis Pardo (Blog: Lunes de Post-Revolución), Miriam Celaya (Blog: Sin EVAsion), Reynaldo Escobar (Blog: Desde Aquí) and others.
The Cuban bloggers took turns addressing the conference. The discussion focused on the need for:
an open debate about the situation in Cuba and the Blogger Movement as a possibility to raise one’s voice regardless of the media censorship in Cuba. The conference also challenges how EU policy on Cuba is seen on the island and what future role the EU should play.
I followed the proceedings through the live-blogging of Henrik Alexandersson on The Embedded Citizen. He did a great job transcribing the conversation — even with multiple telephone line disconnects — taking place at the European Parliament building.
His blog’s comments section also served as a platform for discussion and a conduit to forward questions to the speakers and the Cuban bloggers on the phone — apparently 20 of them in a room somewhere in Havana.
Here is a portion of his great reporting:
– Phone lines working.
– Franziska Brantner, German Greens, greats everyone welcome and says hallo to Cuban bloggers. She states that it is important that we face the difficult Cuba issue.
– Cristian Engström, Swedish Pirate Party, talks about how the internet (web sites, blogs, forums, Twitter etc.) helps people in oppressed parts of the world to organise in opposition. He also underlines that the Internet also is important for transparency and openness in our part of the world.
– Manuel Desdin is talking about how Cuban bloggers have taken citizens journalism to a new level – and that this really is changing the Cuban society.
– Benoît Hervieu, Reporters sans frontièrs, tells us how bloggers in Cuba often must try to use the hotels wireless networks. He tells us how the regime bullies bloggers and filter the Internet. Even “ordinary” journalists have the same problem. He is afraid that this will get worst the next few months.
– He continues by telling us that the Cuban Regime are going more nervous and aggressive. But he thinks that contacts between Cuba oppositionals and people in the outside world might hold back this development.
– Susan Dennisson, Amnesty, touches on several aspects of Cuban oppression. When it comes to the technical aspects of Internet in Cuba, she would like to know if the EU can help in any way.
– SD also tells us that Cuban Post Offices have started to provide (limited) Internet access.
– Phone line down. Redialing in progress.
I was told that an audio recording of the event will be available soon. I’ll post it as soon as it becomes available. The hashtag to follow on Twitter for this event is #cubanbloggers. There are more photo’s of the conference on Gregory Engel’s Flickr page. He has a post of the event on his blog as well.
The conference ended in a hopeful note:
– All 20 bloggers around the phone in Cuba says hallo to you all – and hope that we will stay connected. With better connections.
to state sponsored brutality. The filming of the death of 26-year old Iranian music student Neda Agha Soltan wins major journalism prize.
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Long Island University has announced the winners of 13 George Polk Awards for 2009, including a reporter kidnapped and held by the Taliban for more than seven months and journalists who demanded transparency from the Federal Reserve Board, changed the way professional and youth football leagues deal with head injuries and exposed a state child-care program plagued by fraud and deceit. For the first time in the 61-year history of the Awards, judges have honored work that was produced anonymously. The panel acknowledged the bravery of those responsible for videotaping — and then broadcasting on the Internet — the horrific images of a young woman dying from a gunshot wound during a protest in Iran.“This video footage was seen by millions and became an iconic image of the Iranian resistance. We don’t know who took it or who uploaded it, but we know it has news value,” said John Darnton, curator of the George Polk Awards. “This award celebrates the fact that, in today’s world, a brave bystander with a cell-phone camera can use video-sharing and social networking sites to deliver news.”
I link because I read the guy’s On Language column regularly and because she mentions my hometown.