Armenian president elect Serzh Sargsyan has started taking questions from internet users on his blog. The questions will be taken all day today and tomorrow. Serzh Sargsyan has promised to answer all questions. This is a unique chance and a welcome attempt, to address some pressing issues under conditions of information blockade and internet censorship, forged by the running president Robert Kocharyan. The post, under which users can put their questions, reads:
Dear Internet users, I’m happy to welcome you in my personal blog. Please note, that questions with insult and rhetoric speech will not be accepted. All questions will get responces within few days. The most interesting questions will be included in the broadcast version of the interview.
Still, one has to wonder, whether internet users will not shy away from asking really tough questions under the current state of emergency situation and the possibility to trace down the IP address and other informtion about the users asking the question, even if the questions are asked anonymously?
At any rate, I would strongly urge and encourage everyone reading and commenting on this blog to go and ask their qeustions. This is a rare opportunity, and one, we cannot afford to miss!
Given that various media sites as well as YouTube have been blocked in Armenia since the declaration of a state of emergency in the country last weekend, Reporters Sans Frontieres’ first International Online Free Expression Day comes at an appropriate time. On 12 March its second 24-hour online demo against internet censorship will be held. Perhaps Armenia will take its place alongside countries such as China, North Korea and Turkmenistan.
To denounce government censorship of the Internet and to demand more online freedom, Reporters Without Borders is calling on Internet users to come and protest in online versions of the nine countries that are “Internet enemies” during the 24 hours from 11 a.m. on 12 March to 11 a.m. on 13 March (Paris time). Anyone with Internet access will be able to create an avatar, choose a message for their banner and take part in one of the nine cyber-demos (Burma, China, North Korea, Cyba, Egypt, Erithrea, Tunisia, Turkmenistan and Viêt-nam).
Reporters Without Borders will release its latest list of “Internet enemies” together with a new version of its Handbook for Cyber-Dissidents.
When the first “24 hours against Internet censorship” was held last year, some 40,000 Internet users came and clicked on an inter-active map of the world to help make the “Internet black holes” disappear. This time we can do even more to make this new protest a success and to put pressure on the governments that try to muzzle what should be space where people can express their views freely.
Starting from today, people in Armenia won’t have access to Radio Liberty even via internet. Having previously blocked some of its domain names, now the Armenia State Security Services have blocked (illegally), also all the .eu, .org and other domain names of Radio Liberty, along with IP addresses of RFE/RLs servers outside of Armenia, so even direct links to its FTP servers with recorded audio files won’t be possible to download. Apparently, the Armenian Security Services have gone completely mad, if they’re trying to control the uncontrollable! Anyway – here’s a link to a web resource, which republishes Radio Liberty materials – http://azathayastan.googlepages.com/.
Also in an attempt, to provide some freedom of speech and opportunity to overcome the state of emergency situation, ArmeniaNow.com have launched a blog, where posts from Armenian bloggers are welcomed – it is available at this address: http://www.armenianow.com/blogs/.
I can’t be too sure, but it seems like Hetq of Investigative Journalists of Armenia and E-channel.am of Internews Armenia seem to ramain, however, coverage on these resources is limited to official information, which is one-sided, to say the least.
In the evening of March 2, the Internet Society of Armenia (ISOC) has ILLEGALLY stopped the maintenance of several domains, including A1+ – www.a1plus.am, Haykakan Zhamanak – www.azatutyun.am, E-channel – www.echannel.am. In the database of ISOC- https://www.amnic.net/whois/ , they are registered as “on hold.”
With that step, A1+ has been deprived not only of his site but also if its mail service.
The domains have been “frozen” without the decision of the ISOC board – either by the instruction on behalf of the presidential office, or the National Security Service.
In the decree of president Kocharyan, there was nothing about freezing the domains, closing web sites and the media.
We would like to provide some help to those, who still want to access the above mentioned websites. Firstly, Echannel.am and Azatutyun.am have their backup DNS records. You can access Echannel.am also at E-channel.am (e-channel with a -) and Azatutyun.am at armenialiberty.am. At the moment we are negotiating with the ISOC board to urge them to stop this illegal blocking of our domain names. However, there is a possibility, that the backup domain names (E-channel.am and armenialiberty.am) will also be blocked. For that case, I will be posting a list of IP names for the servers, where these and other blocked information websites are located, and you can access them by clicking the links in the list below (I’ll update the list as soon as colleagues let me know the relevant IP addresses):
Let me remind everybody, that A1plus YouTube channel and Asplus blog are still functional. There is also an Armenian Newspaper Electronic Archive, where you can find Archived publications from some of the blocked newspaper websites.
As for bloggers – I would strongly recommend, that all of you access your email addresses and blog accounts using one of the anonymous web browsing suggestions, and change your email and blog account passwords. Make sure they’re strong, contain figures and letters.