Monday, September 06, 2004

Routing Around Darfur

"The Internet treats censorship as damage, and routes around it," John Perry Barlow once famously remarked. Quoted to ad nauseam, it does not answer to the question: what if there is nothing to route around...with. No technology to beat the non-virtual suppression of speech. I realize that Barlow focused on the realities of online speech censorship. But the promises the internet brings as a router around regular (government-controlled) media and suppression seem idle when nobody actually has access to it.

A small snippet from an Amnesty International report on the massive attacks on the freedom of expression in Darfur and the media silence surrounding it:
    "One problem is the lack of information in Khartoum about the conflict. People in Khartoum do not know what is happening in Darfur. On the television and the radio the government says that everything is all right in Darfur, that people receive aid and that the situation is under control. Only if you get to other sources on the Internet or on satellite television will you see the reality".
Hardly anyone in Sudan has access to the internet, or satellite TV. Not much reality to see.

The intimidation of local dissent and press the report describes, is bad. The initial lack of coverage in the Western media of the widespread rape and murder, and the current dead lock in the international community, is very frustrating. Even if you can comfortably google for the latest sickening news from behind your buzzing laptop through WiFi. Let's google this: Will there be any reality left to shock?


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