Saturday, December 15, 2007

Update on latest attack on freedom of speech in Ukraine

The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group sent out this press release yesterday. This group works so hard to save lives. Please do what you can to help save their voice.

Ukrainian civic and human rights activists under virtual attack

Since around 17:30 on December 9, 2007 the server supporting the civic network “Maidan” website and the sites of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group and the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union have been facing a sustained and intensive DDOS (distributed denial-of-service) attack. The attackers are inundating the server with a continual barrage of requests in order to paralyze it and thus block access to the websites.

Why attack human rights workers?

We believe we pose a threat to anti-democratic forces because we are often the only sites publishing material in English on human rights abuses in Ukraine and its close neighbours. Two of the targeted sites have recently published a number of hard-hitting articles and reports on human rights issues in neighbouring countries.

During the week which ended with the attack, articles were posted in Russian and English regarding the illegal expulsion of an Uzbek, Abdugani Kamaliyev (Tursinov) from Russia to Uzbekistan, some 24 hours after the European Court of Human Rights had applied Rule 39 halting the expulsion.

The article “Worth Their Weight in Questions” was published in Russian on Saturday December 8.

What or who is next?

This attack comes just over a month after an almost identical onslaught against the main Russian human rights website HRO.org. In Russia there have also been attacks on other sites, often organizations which cover human rights issues (for example, “Memorial”).

This present attack is the first in Ukraine and affects two sites which regularly report on human rights issues in Russia, Belarus and some other former Soviet republics.

We believe therefore that the question of “who is next” is one that transcends all borders.

What you can do to help

Add your voice to ours! Please help us and other human rights activists resist the powerful forces trying to silence us.

1. Support our publishing efforts. If you have access to any websites and/or blogs, particularly civic or human rights ones, please post our articles there.
Attempt to Silence Human Rights Defenders (Russian and English)
So Who is Silence Golden For? (English)
Worth Their Weight in Questions (English)
«Потому что молчание – золото» (Russian)
Russian Authorities flout the European Court of Human Rights (English)

2. Spread the word. Pass this information around, to family, friends, co-workers and human rights activists in your personal networks. As well, forward it to your electoral representatives. Although we cannot say with certainty who is behind the attacks, governments need to be made aware of them – and the human rights abusers the attackers are trying to protect.

3. Join our network. Our experience in helping our Russian human rights colleagues, and their enormous support over the last few days, has made us acutely aware of the need for a wide emergency network of people around the world who can help when urgent action is required. Even simply forwarding email messages and URLs is a tremendous help. If you are willing to join our network, please contact Halya immediately.

For more information please contact:

In English: Halya Coynash at halyapuff@gmail.com or Tel: 0048-58-710-7401
In Ukrainian: Yevhen Zakharov on 8-050-402-40-64

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