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Thu, 6 Oct 2005 00:56:47 +0900
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Context on the World Summit of the Information Society (WSIS)

Brief Intro: http://www.wsis-cs.org/wsis-intro.html
Updates and documents : http://www.worldsummit2005.org/
Civil Society Self-organized structures:

Hello OURMedia Friends,

The oppression of civil society in the WSIS host country may be disturbing
(see "Letter Annan" postings), but what is worse, the UN allows this
government to sabotage the barely emerging global governance structures.
This summit was supposed to be a new step in UN-civil society relations. It
has been turned into a farce. At the recent preparatory meeting (prepcom3)
in Geneva, civil society groups faced surveillance and disruption by people
sponsored by the summit host government. Most civil society groups continue
their work privately and informally, but this is not the democratic,
participatory and transparent process we worked so hard towords in the last
2 years. If prepcom3 is any indication, 'global civil society' is slipping
back into social Darwinism- only the very toughest, best-funded and most
experienced NGO people can survive. We can only hope they transport a bit of
the grassroots voices.

The struggle of the host government against its critics has basically taken
over this ³world² summit (at least the civil society space). It has brought
its authoritarian surveillance and disruption techniques to the Palace des
Nations in Geneva. This situation is an embarrassment for the UN (asif they
needed any more!). Unfortunately, the UN is the only place a lot of us can
turn to for support of our rights and claims. The WSIS should have been an
opportunity to create better structures to bring our issues there. We came
to create alternatives -- but seems many of us (at CRIS, community media
working group, etc.) got so busy protesting and resisting, we could not move
forward much.

But maybe we can at least learn some lessons from this. E.g. don¹t be
naively open and inclusive to un=civil society people, don¹t offer
democratic spaces for undemocratic practices, no microphones for people who
shout, no-one should speak who can't listen and: we should keep working on
our own agenda (instead of putting most of our energy into critizing

Sorry to sound so glum. If anyone has better news/views, please share them.
And I hope you are faring better in your work.

Best to all of you,

On 9/30/05 10:23, "Sean O Siochru" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Thanks John
> Will include you name as:
> John D.H. Downing, Director, Global Media Research Center (Southern
> Illinois University)
> Sean
> At 18:10 29/09/2005, jdowning wrote:
>> I whole-heartedly endorse the statement below. It always struck me as a
>> cruel irony that the meeting would be held in Tunisia under the current
>> regime there.
>> John
>> John D.H. Downing
>> Interim Chair
>> Radio-Television Department, and
>> Director, Global Media Research Center
>> College of Mass Communication and Media Arts
>> Southern Illinois University
>> Carbondale, IL 62901-6606, USA
>> Department: 618-536-7555, -453-6950 (Chair)
>> Center: 618-453-6876 (voice), -6874 (fax), -6905 (Director)
>> From: This listserv will be used to facilitate communication among
>> alternative media academics [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of
>> Rodriguez, Clemencia
>> Sent: Thursday, September 29, 2005 11:55 AM
>> To: [log in to unmask]
>> Subject: Letter Annan - English
>> Español en mensaje aparte.
>> English :
>> Dear OURMedia :
>> Sean O Siochru has circulated the following letter addressed to Kofi Annan
>> through CRIS. He asks: Please indicate to me if your organisation can
>> endorse this.  CRIS Campaign, WACC, AMARC, APC already have.
>> I think OURMedia should endorse also.  If you disagree, please let me know
>> at <mailto:[log in to unmask]>[log in to unmask] If I don’t receive any
>> negatives I will let Sean know tomorrow afternoon.
>> ***
>> October 1, 2005
>> Dear Secretary General,
>> We civil society organizations participating at the Prepcom 3 of the World
>> Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva (17 – 30 September
>> 2005) express our deep concern about the conditions in which the WSIS is
>> about to take place in Tunis from 16 – 18 November 2005. Since we learned
>> that the second phase of the Summit would take place in Tunisia, we have
>> expressed serious concerns over at the violations of human rights and
>> fundamental freedoms by the Tunisian authorities. Today, shortly before
>> the holding of the Summit, we unfortunately must note that there has been
>> no improvement and that we have recently even witnessed a serious
>> deterioration of fundamental freedoms as follows:
>> The harassment of the Association of Tunisian Judges and the disciplinary
>> sanctions taken against its active members on 1st August; the prohibition
>> of the holding of the founding congress of the Union of Tunisian
>> Journalists on September 7th and the harassment of its members; the
>> prohibition of the holding of the 6th congress of the Tunisian Human
>> Rights League on September 9th and the police blocks of its local sections.
>> These new attacks come in an already alarming context regarding such
>> threats to fundamental freedoms as:
>> 1       Assaults on the Tunisian Bar that have included physical
>> aggressions of lawyers at the law court and the sentencing of lawyer
>> Mohamed Abbou in June 2005 to three years imprisonment - after an unfair
>> trial – after he published on the Internet an article criticizing
>> conditions in Tunisian prisons;
>> 2       Denial of the right to legal accreditation of independent civil
>> society associations;
>> 3       Threats against freedom of assembly;
>> 4       Police blocking of the approaches to association headquarters and
>> homes of their leaders;
>> 5       Verbal and physical aggressions of human rights defenders and
>> public defamation campaigns against them;
>> 6       Retaliations against publicly independent university professors;
>> 7       Systematic censorship of newspapers and books;
>> 8       Blocking of Internet sites, systematic surveillance of e-mails and
>> telephones;
>> 9       Arbitrary denial of authorizations to publish new newspapers and
>> magazines and to create independent broadcasting outlets;
>> 10    Lack of a published and transparent system of broadcast licensing;
>> 11    Systematic use of torture by police to obtain confessions;
>> 12    Use of the pretext of the fight against terrorism to sentence
>> without proof young people following trials international observers have
>> deemed unfair;
>> 13    Keeping in jail of more than 600 prisoners of opinion, inhumane and
>> degrading conditions and harassment of those who have finished their
>> prison terms by imposing  administrative controls, including banishment to
>> distant locations.
>> These systematic violations of fundamental freedoms, coupled with the
>> serious dysfunctioning of the judicial system have undermined the rule of
>> law in Tunisia. It is shocking for the Summit to take place in a country
>> with such a deplorable record.
>> We recall that the participants in the first phase of the WSIS have
>> reaffirmed in their Geneva Declaration of December 2003 the centrality of
>> human rights for the Information Society, most particularly:
>> 1       “The universality, indivisibility and interdependence and
>> interrelation of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the
>> right to development as enshrined in the Vienna Declaration, as well as
>> tight links between them. We reaffirm also that democracy, sustainable
>> development and the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as
>> well as good governance at all levels are interdependent and mutually
>> reinforcing” (§3)
>> 2       “That as the essential foundation of the information society and
>> as outlined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
>> everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; that this
>> right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek,
>> receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless
>> of frontiers” (§4)
>> We regret that the Tunisian government has not respected its commitments
>> to these  Declaration in its capacity of host country of the second phase
>> of the WSIS and that it is jeopardizing the chances of success of this
>> Summit by a deliberate policy of massive human rights violations.
>> We hence consider that the minimal conditions for the holding of this
>> Summit are not met and that the credibility of the United Nations is at
>> stake, as well as that of the international community, not to legitimize
>> practices and policies contrary to its international commitments.
>> We regret to inform you that if there are no significant improvements in
>> the human rights situation in Tunisia before November 16, we would then
>> need to reconsider the modalities and level of our participation at this
>> Summit.
>> We, therefore, respectfully request you to dispatch a high representative
>> to Tunisia to review the state of affairs in the host country and for you
>> subsequently to seek Tunisian official conformity with its international
>> human rights commitments.
>> We look forward to your early reply.
>> Steve Buckley, President, World Association of Community Radio
>> Broadcasting (AMARC)
>> E. Markham Bench, Executive Director, World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC)
>> Eric Sottas, Directeur Organisation mondiale contre la torture (OMCT)
>> Chantal Peyer et Ludwig Wolf, Comunica.ch
>> Ludwig Wolf, Comedia
>> Seán Ó Siochrú, Communication Rights in the Information Society (CRIS)
>> Campaign
>> Karen Banks, Association for progressive communication (APC)
>> Luckson Chipare, director Media Institute of Southern Africa  (MISA)
>> Fatou Senghor, Article 19
>> Sidiki Kaba, President of the International Federation for Human Rights
>> (FIDH)
>> Kamel Jendoubi, président Réseau euroméditerranéen des droits de l'homme
>> (REMDH)
>> Alain Ambrosi, CMIC Canada
>> Roberto Bissio (Social Watch)
>> Ziad Abdelsamad, president Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND)
>> Tunisian signatures below:
>> Association Tunisienne des femmes démocrates (ATFD)
>> Amicale Nationale des Anciens Résistants (ANAR)
>> Association des Ecrivains Libres (AEL)
>> Association Internationale pour le soutien aux prisonniers politiques (AISPP)
>> Association de Lutte contre la Torture en Tunisie (ALTT)
>> Conseil National pour les Libertés en Tunisie (CNLT)
>> Ligue Tunisienne pour la défense des droits de l'Homme (LTDH)
>> Observatoire pour la Liberté de Presse, d'Edition et de Création (OLPEC)
>> Rassemblement pour une Alternative Internationale de Développement
>> (RAID-Attac)
>> Syndicat des journalistes tunisiens (SJT)
>> Vérité-Action (VA)
>> Clemencia Rodriguez
>> Associate Professor
>> Department of Communication
>> University of Oklahoma
>> 610 Elm Ave Room 101
>> Norman OK 73019
>> [log in to unmask]
>> Phone 405 325 1570
>> Fax 405 325 7625
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> ___________________________________________________
> Seán Ó Siochrú  Tel: +353 1 272 0739
> NEXUS Research  Mobile: +353 87 20 48 150
> 14 Eaton Brae   Fax: +353 1 473 0597
> Shankill
> Co. Dublin              e-mail: [log in to unmask]
> Ireland                 Web site: http://www.iol.ie/nexus
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