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Cyber Demos Protest Online Censorship

Cyber Demos Protest Online CensorshipChina, North Korea, Burma…they’re places where protest has been crushed. But yesterday people demonstrated against Net censorship in virtual locations from those countries.  Organized by the group Reporters Without Borders, the first Online Free Expression Day invited people to create avatars and take part in demonstrations in virtuallocations where protest would not be allowed in the real world.   In a statement RWB said, “From now on, we will organize activities every 12 March to condemn cyber-censorship throughoutthe world. A response of this kind is needed to the growing tendency to crack down on bloggers and to close websites." “Today, the first time this day is being marked, we are giving allInternet users the opportunity to demonstrate in places were protests are not normally possible. We hope many will come and protest in virtual versions of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square,Cuba’s Revolution Square or on the streets of Rangoon, in Burma. At least 62 cyber-dissidents are currently imprisoned worldwide, while more than 2,600 websites, blogs or discussions forumswere closed or made inaccessible in 2007.” UNESCO had originally supported the demonstration, but later withdrew its support.   RWB lists 15 countriesas Internet Enemies (Belarus, Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zimbabwe) which censor Net use and imprisondissenting voices. Another 11 – Bahrain, Eritrea, Gambia, Jordan, Libya, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Yemen – are classed as “countries underwatch.”

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