The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is fighting for your rights. They fight for your right to stay anonymous if you choose to, and your right to speak your mind, even if what you say could be considered political. They also fight for the principle that “if you engage in journalism, you’re a journalist, with all of the attendant rights, privileges, and protections”.
Most blogs out there are nothing but crude diaries made public, but some of us most certainly commit journalism from time to time. So, according to the EFF, we are journalists. This gives us certain rights and privileges, but it also brings certain duties. The duty to seek and tell the truth, for instance, and the duty to stand up for your brothers in arms.
Paying the price for freedom
Even if the political climate and the so-called war on terror is taking its toll on freedom of expression all over the world today, those of us lucky enough to be blogging in relatively free and open western countries have started to take this freedom for granted.
As demonstrated in my post on World Press Freedom Day, this is not the case in many countries. Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Palestine, the USA and Russia are only some of the many countries where freedom of speech is deteriorating day by day.
As aspiring journalists, bloggers have a special duty to stand up for those who pay the price for freedom of speech all over the world. We must fight for those who fight for the rights we take for granted, be it in Egypt, Palestine or Iran.
In my post on Press Freedom Day, I focused on Egypt and Palestine. Yesterday, the Norwegian newspaper Dagsavisen brought the horrible situation in Iran to my attention. Amnesty International has long been concerned by a rising tide of harassment of journalists and women’s rights activists in Iran. Adnan Hassanpour is one of many Iranian journalists imprisoned and possibly tortured by Iranian security forces. His crimes? Committing journalism and fighting for cultural rights for Iranian Kurds.
Get up, stand up!
As journalists we have a special obligation to stand up for our brothers in arms all over the world. Hassanpour is in prison right now because he dared to stand up for the very same rights we bloggers enjoy every single day. The least we could do in return is to sign Amnesty International’s petition for his release. The petition is found on the web site of the Norwegian branch of Amnesty International, but the letter is in plain English, and the petition is open for anyone concerned about Hassanpour’s well being.
Bloggers of the world unite!
Malaysia is another country where the freedom of expression is under constant attack from the government. Criticism of government policies in the local media is rare and blogs have emerged as a popular alternative. Now, the government is coming down full force on bloggers, law suits being their weapon of choice. So far, rather than discouraging bloggers from exercising their right to freedom of speech, this persecution has united them in their struggle against censorship. Malaysian bloggers have rallied around a petition where they claim freedom of speech and “a space on the blogosphere for free and fair comment, where important national issues and prominent personalities are discussed.”
The Malaysian campaign Bloggers United should serve as an example to bloggers everywhere. We must all rally to protect freedom of expression everywhere in the world. We who already enjoy this freedom must never seize to speak up for those who do not.
My call goes out to all bloggers out there: Support your brothers and sisters in arms! Read all you can find about bloggers and journalists who are imprisoned, tortured, threatened and harassed for doing their job. Sign petitions and campaigns supporting these brave individuals and tell the world about them on your blog!
Photo: Dawn M Turner / Morguefile.com