An open letter to the WordPress Community: Are you willing to honor bloggers who have died or are in jail for exercising free speech?
Today throughout America and all her diverse geopolitical climes, there will be a discernible sadness in the air. November 12th is the day where the nation as a whole takes a moment to not only honor but thank all military people who served in all war especially those veterans still alive today. There will be tears for some and somber reflections for others. At some point idealistically thinking, each of us will be inspired by the sacrifices of these men and women to live more fully.
This year I wanted to do much more than give the generic bullshit lip-service I have done in the past. I figured that the best way to honor those sacrifices no matter if I agree with the causes of the war would be to shine a light on those who suffer because they cannot benefit from the same rights as I do. As the world grows into a more integrated global community: financially, economically, technologically it has become clear to me that the right to free speech without being able to engage the rest of the world in a conversation is in the long run a major impediment to progress in every sense of the word.
A few days ago I came out of character (in this post) to share with my readers, the story of Sattar Beheshti the Iranian factory worker and Blogger allegedly tortured and killed for blogging about the right for everyone to enjoy free speech on the Internet. But it is sad to report Mr Beheshti was not the first blogger killed for expressing his opinion. let me introduce you to three other men you should know about
Zakariya Rashid Hassan al-Ashir – was a forty-year-old Bahraini blogger and journalist, worked as an editor and writer for a local blog news website in Al Dair, Bahrain. He was killed on April 9, 2011 while in custody of the Bahraini Government
Omid Reza Mir Sayaf a 29-year old Iranian blogger and journalist died in Evin Prison in Tehran on March 18, 2009. Mir Sayafi was the first blogger to have died while in prison for his publication.
Edinaldo Filgueira a Brazilian blogger and journalist, editor, and owner of the newspaper and online Jornal o Serrano in Serra do Mel, Brazil, was assassinated by gunmen as he left work. Filgueira was also active in party politics. He was believed to have been killed for a blog post critical of local government
All these persons paid with their lives to do what many of use in the WordPress Community take for granted. But thats not the full story, There are many bloggers who have been jailed for exercising their right to free speech.
- On Sept 25th it was report 3 Vietnamese bloggers were handed out harsh prison sentences for speaking on social issues : http://rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/25/harsh-prison-sentences-for-3-vietnamese-bloggers/
- Dec 22. 2011 Popular Korean Podcast host was sentenced to one year in Jail. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_now/2011/12/political-criticism-in-south-korea-im-a-weasal-podcast-president-lee-myung-bak.html
- 15 June 2012 – Moroccan Blogger gets two-year jail sentence on trumped-up drug charges: http://en.rsf.org/morocco-blogger-gets-two-year-jail-15-06-2012,42803.html
- So. Korea Tiptoeing Toward Fascism: Will Sentence Blogger ‘Minerva’ Who Predicted Lehman Bros. Collapse http://epicanthus.net/2009/04/13/so-korea-tiptoeing-toward-fascism-will-sentence-blogger-who-predicted-lehman-bros-collapse/
Calling on WordPress & the WordPress Community
There are many more bloggers jailed than just this cursory list I threw together like such as the youth blogger arrested in Azerbaijan. I’m writing this post because I want to ask all of you on WordPress:
Is it possible as a blogging community to do something tho honor those who suffer for exercising a right we take for granted?
I’m not talking a We Are the world album or benefit concert. I am not asking that we wear brightly colored bracelets with trite phrases written on them in bold. Nothing involving money or donations of course. What I’m thinking is can there be a day where we all collective post something on our blogs to honor these individuals.
I remember many websites that went black to protest SOPA earlier this year, it was a simple sincere act that spoke volumes. I think something done in this fashion could prove to be very inspiring to those who cannot exercise freedom of speech online. It’s the feeling of being isolated, that no one else cares that adds salt to the wounds. It’s bad enough to not feel free to say what you feel. It must feel worse when the rest of the world seems to carry on without recognizing your plight.
The WordPress community is huge and I feel with a little coordinated effort we could do something impactful. I am going to go on record and say:
I would be willing to
- Spend my time
- Spend my effort
- Even use whatever other pertinent skills I got if need be ( programming, research, project management etc)
to make this a reality. I however, will NOT be willing to
- work with anything involving money, music, celebrities, dancing, etc
- waste my time or anyone else’s with drama or bullshit
I’m willing to work with anyone who has an idea or who is remotely interested in doing something. If interest just leave a comment or send me an email (subject title: Honoring Bloggers) or a tweet
I have always been in life a bit presumptuous. I think that as bloggers it would be fitting to honor those who died or are in jail for speaking their minds. I am presumptuous enough to think that if I asked you whoever you are reading this to let one other blogger or as many as you think will be interested, know about this you will. I am not a popular blogger by any stretch of the word. If you are please consider re-blogging this to your readers or maybe we can work together on this. I will be updating you all on what happens stay tuned