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Date: Tue, 6 Oct 98 22:06:30 CDT
From: Norbert BRAumann <N.BRAumann@tu-bs.de>
Organization: Technical University Braunschweig (Germany)
Subject: [BougI-xL IHT] Radical Politics Embrace the Internet
Article: 44705
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.15388.19981007061632@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>


Radical Politics Embrace the Internet

By Karine Granier-Deferre, International Herald Tribune - TribTech
28 September 1998

PARIS - The Internet is transforming the way radical movements try to change the world.

The early example of use of the Internet by Latin American guerrilla movements such as Mexico's Zapatistas and Peru's Tupac Amaru has spread rapidly to radical groups in Europe, the Middle East and Asia that are taking to cyberspace to spread their message.

But though they may have mastered the Internet to bypass government control over traditional media and reach a larger audience, most of these groups have not yet adapted their messages to their new medium, some experts say. The Internet may be flexible and have global reach, but the message is still doctrinaire and locally oriented.

The Internet is especially fit for underground organizations because a Web site can easily be moved from one country to another. Most radical groups also avoid censorship by operating through sympathizers based in other countries who have access to the Internet. Low cost is also one of the great advantages of the Internet, according to Mike Godwin, a lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a California organization assisting advocacy groups with privacy and free-speech issues on the Internet.

"Except for the initial cost, building a Web site is less expensive than running a newspaper, and it reaches a newspaper-size audience," he said.

The Bougainville Freedom Movement Webpage publicizes the bid for autonomy of Bougainville Island, which fought a secessionist rebellion against the government of Papua New Guinea before a truce was signed last October.

"With the Internet, we have broken a barrier and gone out to the world, and the world is listening, watching and waiting," said Vikki John, the movement's national coordinator in Australia. She uses the site and an e-mail list to put out news reports, communiqu‚s from the Bougainville interim government and pictures of victims of the fighting.

Using a satellite telephone and fax machine, Ms. John collects her information from the interim government and its military wing, the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, based on the Solomon Islands, and keeps up with the situation of the refugees there.

Cyberspace is also becoming a place for disparate groups to unite.

"Many groups now demand solidarity with one another," said Jesse Hirsh, who directs a research program on new media at the University of Toronto. "They realize they are not only sharing the same space but also the same struggle."

He described a Nigerian group, the Ogoni, calling for solidarity with East Timorese groups on the Internet. A supporter of the Ogoni based in Britain and a representative of the East Timorese based in Canada were participating in a "progressive social movements" e-mail list when they realized they should work together over the Internet to promote their goals, he said.

Information spread on the Internet usually has rapid repercussions in the international community, said Josh Hehner, director of the Information Topology Unit at the University of Toronto.

After 45 Indian villagers were killed in December in Acteal, a village in Chiapas state in Mexico, support groups all over the world sent hundreds of e-mail messages and posted communiqu‚s on the Internet to denounce the attack and call for action. This helped foster two weeks of demonstrations targeting U.S. and Mexican consulates, oil companies with interests in Chiapas and the stock exchange in Mexico.

An explosion of dissident information in China is not far away, according to Francois Gere, scientific director of the Foundation for Defense Studies in Paris. "Authorities will soon be overwhelmed by the flow of information on the Internet," Mr. Gere said.

For more information on the following groups, visit their Web sites at:

Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement: http://burn.ucsd.edu/~ats/mrta.htm

Shining Path: http://www.blythe.org/peru-pcp/

Committee to Support the Revolution in Peru: http://www.csrp.org/

National Zapatista Liberation Front: http://spin.com.mx./~floresu/FZLN/ and http://www.ezln.org/

Bougainville Freedom Movement:

NOT VALID ANY MORE!!! (((http://www.magna.com.au/~sashab/BFM.htm)))
------------------------->8 snip 8<-------------------------
Vikki said:
"LET PEOPLE KNOW THAT THE BFM WEBSITE WILL HOPEFULLY RUN AGAIN IN THE FUTURE AND THAT THE OTHER WEBSITES TO CHECK OUT ABOUT BOUGAINVILLE ARE AT http://www.k2net.co.uk/ef/efhtmls/bvupdate.html and http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/24/index-w.html "
-------------------------8< snap >8-------------------------

Internet address: CyberScape@iht.com

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