Fiji Time: 3:05 PM on Monday 22 December

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Overseas help for bloggers

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

BLOGGERS in New Zealand have offered to host Fiji bloggers on their sites to help the Fiji groups continue to exercise free speech.

In a statement yesterday, the spokesman for New Zealand bloggers, David Haywood, said bloggers from across the political arena would offer material support to Fiji's webloggers.

Mr Haywood also called on the New Zealand Government to condemn, in the strongest possible terms, "the interim regime's acts of violence and censorship against this nonviolent, grassroots blogging movement".

"The Fijian military regime has declared anonymous pro-democracy bloggers to be a "threat to national security", and have attempted to block Fijian access to common hosting sites such as www.blogspot.com," said Mr Haywood.

He said the members of the group were concerned that people who were speaking their mind as was their right were being victimised by the military.

"The military regime now claims to have identified 20 more people responsible for pro-democracy blogs, who will also be threatened with "questioning," he said.

"In support of the right to freedom of expression, a group of New Zealand bloggers are now offering access to their own websites for Fijian residents," he said.

The group is made up of prominent New Zealand bloggers from across the political spectrum, including writers of Just Left, Kiwiblog, No Right Turn, NZBC, Public Address, and Spanblather.

Mr Haywood said New Zealand bloggers had agreed to publish guest articles by Fijian bloggers.

He said where possible, they would provide hosting on their servers for Fijian blogs.

"The group is also calling upon other members of the New Zealand online community with an interest in freedom of speech (such as Scoop, nzherald.co.nz, and Stuff) to make a similar offer of material support for Fijian bloggers," he said.

"Blogs are one of the few news sources outside of the control of the military regime in Fiji, representing a vital channel of uncensored information for both Fijians and the international community." Military spokesperson Major Neumi Leweni refused to comment.

Earlier, the Director of the Fiji Human Rights Commission, Doctor Shaista Shameem said postings on the Fijian blogs amounted to "hate speech".

She said such statements were not protected in the provisions of freedom of expression and speech in the Constitution.





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