May 11, 2007

Military bid to block blogs makes it onto news

The military's attempts to cut off access to blogs including Intelligentsiya has made it on the news.

The Fiji Times is reporting the story on its website here. Fijilive also has a report here. And Scoop (NZ) has also published our media alert here.

It has also been published on the Australian Associated Press news service. The AAP story is also carried on The Age here:

By Xavier La Canna

AUCKLAND, May 11 AAP - The military in Fiji is moving to shut down access to anti-government weblogs after unsuccessful attempts to find those responsible for the sites.

Senior military commander Colonel Pita Driti has told Pacific Radio that access to the sites would be closed down this afternoon.

Internet technology in Fiji is provided through only one provider, Fiji International Telecommunications Limited (FINTEL).

A FINTEL spokesman confirmed he had met with members of the the interim administration this morning and been asked to shut off access to the weblogs.

He said they asked that access be cut off to the blog for "national security" reasons.

"They asked us to address a few things. We have given them some options to consider, because we can't just go into the web and stop access. It would be unfair to the general public," the spokesman said.

"We will address the blog sites, but they need to direct us about what we are to do. We can't just go in and stop anything and everything. It must be specific," he said.

Asked whether FINTEL would block access to the website, where most of the anti-government sites are hosted, he said the company may have little choice.

"If the directive is to block, then we have no other option but to comply. ... we are seeking authorisation on that from our administration," he said.

He said any moves to cut-off access to the blogspot website would not happen by this afternoon.

Weblogs in Fiji have become a popular way for people to speak out about the government led by military chief Frank Bainimarama, who seized power on December 5 last year in a coup.

Sites including Intelligentsiya, Resist Frank's Coup and Discombobulated Bubu, have broken stories that have embarrassed the interim government.

In March Fiji military spokesman Neumi Leweni said efforts were underway to establish exactly who was producing material for Intelligentsiya.

The military has since said it could not determine who was publishing the information.

The United States has accused interim government in Fiji of trying to censor television news broadcasts and said the military had "detained, interrogated, and abused" people who wrote letters to the media opposing the coup.

"On a radio talk show on December 22, Bainimarama stated that if pro-democracy activists did not shut their mouth, the military would shut it for them," the US report said.

Major Leweni did not immediately respond to phone calls this afternoon.

AAP xlc/goc/bwl


Anonymous said...

The Military's present actions in attempting to coerce FINTEL to shut down the current blog sites smacks of intimidation and a breach of a person's right to access information in whatever form and whatever medium. Further, it is also a breach of the rights of those playing host to the site because they have either received payment for hosting the same on its server and vice versa (re: normal conditions of buying and selling).

For whatever reason, the Military must accept that taking over the leadership of a country by force comes with its hurdles and these include criticism both personal and inter-personal. The Military can either rise above it or become dictators and bullies trying to seek out those that are the supposed perpetrators of stories they deem "distubs the peace".

If they really want to prove all the blog sites wrong, they simply have to work towards returning the country to democracy and ensuring that the next general elections is held soonest with the whole process being fair and free (like they keep saying!). No use chasing those hosting the site or those printing malicious stories about them because those are stories until proven otherwise.

Chasing them leads credence to the stories and the international community is observing keenly because this is another step in the wrong direction for the Military. So to the Military, leave the bloggers alone BUT work at returning the country to full democracy asap.

fijibati said...

somehow i have a feeling something very nasty is going to happen soon.

Raho said...

Was this the embarrasing story on Bubu's site that the news article was referring to?

GQ. said...

Chief Intelligensiya says they don't regret what they've done and will
continue to expose abuse where they can.

read more

Anonymous said...

Some more press coverage.

Anonymous said...

Xavier, you call this freedon of speech. This is misuse of freedom of speech. This blog was becoming a nuisance, castagating people in an immoral way, unprofessional journalism.