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Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Syrian Baath block dissident websites

Syria : Government blocks access to two Kurdish websites
The Internet under surveillance

29 March 2004 (en français à la suite)


Government blocks access to two Kurdish websites

Reporters Without Borders today deplored Syria's blocking of two Kurdish-language news websites - and - which had carried news, pictures and video clips of demonstrations by the country's Kurdish minority.

It said it was "disgusted by the regime's authoritarian attitude and flagrant contempt for freedom of expression" by censoring websites and noted that a journalism student, arrested last July for posting photos on, was still in prison. "The authorities have now gone a step further," it said.

The two websites, run from Germany and blocked for Syrian Internet users in mid-March, are a major source of information for Kurds abroad and for foreign media, which regularly use their photos and videos.

Syrian users now get an "access denied" message when they try to go to the sites. manager Siruan Hadsch-Hossein (whose pseudonym is Sirwan Heci Berko) said the authorities filter websites and block their domain name, so the material was initially still available at another address,, which had now been blocked.

The state-run Syrian Telecommunications Establishment (STE) filters hundreds of websites it deems pornographic, pro-Israeli or critical of the regime. Syria has only two Internet service providers (ISPs), both government-controlled - one operated by the post office and the other by the Syrian Computer Society. Much evidence suggests that e-mail, like phone conversations, are extensively monitored by the authorities.

Two Internet users are in prison for posting allegedly "offensive" material online.

One is Kurdish journalism student Massud Hamid, 29, who was arrested on 24 July last year while sitting an exam at Damascus University. He has since been held in secret at Adra prison, near Damascus, and reportedly ill-treated. He was picked up a month after photos were posted on of a peaceful Kurdish demonstration in Damascus.

The other cyber-dissident in jail is Abdel Rahman Shaguri, arrested on 23 February last year after e-mailing Levant News, the newsletter of the banned website He too is being held in secret, at Saidnaya prison, near Damascus, pending trial by the state security court.

posted at 11:39 PM by Oubai

Islamic World vs. Homosexual Rights

This piece from the Washington Times discusses how unenlightened Egypt and Pakistan are on gay rights:

The Brazilian government, bowing to economic and political pressure from the Islamic world, yesterday withdrew its effort to protect the civil rights of homosexuals.
Brazil had introduced a resolution before the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Commission to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation.

posted at 1:02 AM by Jonathan

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