Is internet access a human right? Baku again on a tightrope.

November 6, 2012

Radio Netherlands reports today, 6 November, that a three-day UN-sponsored internet talking shop has kicked off in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) brings together 1,500 delegates from around the world to discuss issues such as identity protection online, how content can be controlled and the role of governments in managing the internet. At the same time, Azeri activists and human rights organisations are using  the gathering to draw attention to the lack of freedom in the host country itself. 

Dutch Europarliamentarian Marietje Schaake, who has been awarded the title of ‘Most Wired’ MEP, said at a preparatory event: “An open and free internet is an enormous chance for everyone in the world. “We shouldn’t look at internet freedom in terms of nations, but in terms of values.”

………..


Azeri journalists jailed
Just as they did in May of this year during the Eurovision Song Contest, Azeri activists are seizing on increased international media attention to point out human rights breaches in their home country. In a report issued last week, Human Rights Watch stated that “the government of Azerbaijan has a poor and worsening record on freedom of expression, online and offline”.

Several political activists, human rights defenders and journalists have been jailed, and last week the Azeri parliament adopted amendments increasing fines up to thousands of euros for ‘unsanctioned public gatherings’.  In an open letter to the Azerbaijani government published in British newspaper The Independent, activist Emin Milli says, “you once suggested in a speech that the internet is free in Azerbaijan. I am sure you will repeat this message at this global forum. It is true that people in Azerbaijan are free to use the internet, but it is also a fact that they can be severely punished afterwards for doing so.”

Uncensored internet: a human right? | Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

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