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Tunisian authorities have tried to censor photos just like this one, which shows civil unrest in Tunis. (AFP/Fethi Belaid) The Tunisian government has been a notorious censor for many years, for journalists online and off.
Viewing cable 08TUNIS679, CORRUPTION IN TUNISIA: WHAT'S YOURS IS MINE Understanding cables Every cable message consists of three parts: The top box shows each cables unique reference number, when and by whom it originally was sent, and what its initial classification was. The middle box contains the header information that is associated with the cable.
It appears that Anonymous, the vigilante internet freedom-fighting group that rose to fame with their WikiLeaks-defending DDoS attacks , are still busy gathering support for their latest missions despite increasing legal issues involving the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and international law enforcement agencies. Anonymous members and supporters are currently rallying support for two new missions: Operation Bling and Operation Tunisia. For Operation Tunisia, the group gathered over 9,000 people online Sunday to protest government censorship of websites, including WikiLeaks, and the mission, which has resulted in a “near blackout” of the nation’s government sites, appears to be ongoing . “This is a warning to the Tunisian government: attacks at the freedom of speech and information of its citizens will not be tolerated.
Anti-government protests over soaring unemployment and poor living conditions erupted across Tunisia after Mohammed Bouazizia, young unemployed university graduate, set himself on fire in frustration on December 17. He died while being treated in a hospital near Tunis, the capital, on January 5, according to family members. This act of self-immolation ignited simmering anger at policies that the government's critics say favour an elite minority. Demonstrations across the country have continued unabated since December 17. Most video-sharing sites face blanket censorship in Tunisia, as do news websites like Nawaat , Al Jazeera Arabic , and, most recently, Al Jazeera English . Yet many Tunisians share videos on Facebook, via email or use proxies to break through the media blackout.
The Tunisian government has said it will listen to protesters, after weeks of unrest over high unemployment and the cost of living left dozens of people dead and raised the tensions. Samir al-Obaidy, the country's communications minister, told Al Jazeera that the government was responding to the unrest. "The message has been received by the government and all political channels," he said. "With the backing of the president, we have already put in place urgent measures and allocated $5bn for the development of various areas." Government officials reported that 14 people were killed since Saturday in clashes between the security forces and protesters in the towns of Thala, Kasserine and Regueb.
Reporters Without Borders condemns the reinforcement of online censorship amid a wave of protests and rioting in Tunisia that began two weeks when a young man set himself on fire outside a police station in the provincial town of Sidi Bouzid. “Online social networks have played a key role in transmitting news and information about the situation in Sidi Bouzid and other regions while the government-controlled traditional media have mostly ignored the story,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The international media took some time to get interested in the subject but then found themselves barred from the sensitive areas. “Sensitive social and political topics were already heavily censored on the Internet but the authorities, who are clearly disturbed by this wave of unrest, have responded by trying to impose even tighter and faster controls over the online flow of information about it.
Reporters Without Borders condemned the arrests and disappearances yesterday of bloggers and online activists across a number of Tunisian cities. The worldwide press freedom organization has monitored at least five such cases but the list could well be longer. Police arrested the bloggers to question them about hacking into government websites by the militant group Anonymous, several sources told the organisation. Reporters Without Borders urged the authorities to release them as soon as possible. “These arrests, intended to intimidate Tunisian Internet-users and their international backers, are likely to prove counter-productive, by stoking up tension. Arresting several bloggers is not the way to get images of demonstrations deleted from the web or for cyber-attacks to be halted”, Reporters Without Borders said.
Violent protests in Tunisia have turned into a cyberwar between government forces and the Anonymous hacker group, after Gmail, Facebook, Yahoo and Hotmail accounts of perceived dissidents were censored. On Dec. 18, a group of youths gathered in Sidi Bouzid in Tunisia, protesting against unemployment and poor living conditions. The government cracked down, forcing discussion to move online through social networking forums. "The authorities appear to have turned to even more repressive tactics to silence reporting.
EU leads international condemnation of Tunisia (AFP) – Jan 10, 2011 BRUSSELS — The European Union led international condemnation on Monday of Tunisia's weekend crackdown on a wave of food protests which killed 14 people, and urged Tunis to restrain its security forces. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she was "concerned about events that have been taking place in Tunisia in the past days" and called for the release of detained protesters. "We deplore the violence and the loss of lives and express sympathy to families of the victims," Ashton's spokeswoman said. "We call for restraint in the use of force and for respect of fundamental freedoms."
On December 17, a 26 year old Tunisian man named Mohamed Bouazizi reached the end of his rope. An unemployed university graduate, Bouazizi had become a seller of fruits and vegetables in the southern Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid. When authorities confiscated his wares to punish him for selling without a license, Bouazizi set himself on fire. He died in hospital on January 4, 2011. Video of protests in Sidi Bouzid on YouTube Bouazizi’s suicide struck a chord with other frustrated Tunisians.
On Tunisia: SECRETARY CLINTON : Well, we are worried, in general, about the unrest and the instability, and what seems to be the underlying concerns of the people who are protesting — it seems to be a combination of economic and political demonstrations — and the government’s reaction, which has been, unfortunately, leading to the deaths of some of the protestors . So we are not taking sides in it, we just hope there can be a peaceful resolution of it…we have got a lot of very positive aspects of our relationship with Tunisia. And what the Ambassador and what the State Department back in Washington did was just express concern that this is a protest that has, unfortunately, provoked such a reaction from the government, leading to the deaths of mostly young people who were protesting.
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Von Gero von Randow, Tunis (gvr), Wolfgang Blau (wb), Karin Geil (kg) und Christian Bangel (cb) 20.20 Liebe Leser, hiermit beenden wir unser Live-Blog. Nach 23 Jahren hat das Volk in Tunesien Präsident Ben Ali von der Macht vertrieben. Wie es weitergehen wird im Land, ist noch nicht gewiss. Auch nachdem bekannt geworden war, dass der Diktator das Land verlassen hat, waren im Zentrum von Tunis noch Schüsse zu hören.