Ivo Skoric on Tue, 22 Dec 1998 16:27:53 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> (Fwd) Serbian University Censors Internet

Operation Bypass Slobo:

Hopelessly outdated Serbian repression system is trying to show us its new
technical prowess - but while they got the grasp of the grammar, they are
still missing the concept: it is not as easy to ban a web page, as it is
to shut down the newspaper. Please, read the following and consider
establishing a mirror site for Belgrade's Radio B92 at your server (or
even easier a link-page that would be accessible by users at Belgrade
University and that would lead to OpenNet's B92 page in a way BU computers
don't realize that). 


Serbian Staterun University Censors Internet
Continued Attack on Academic Freedom and the Independent Media

(New York, December 21, 1998) Human Rights Watch today condemned a new
clampdown on the Internet in Serbia, part of a concerted effort by
President Slobodan Milosevic to stifle free expression and academic
freedom.  The university administration's order prevents students,
professors, and researchers throughout Serbia from accessing a website
fromOpenNet, the Internet branch of Belgrade's independent Radio B92. 

On December 10, the new governmentappointed dean of the School of
Electrical Engineering, Vlada Teodosic, ordered "filters" to prevent users
of the Yugoslav academic Internet network from accessing the OpenNet
website, a major source of independent news and information.  The measure
also affects the independent media and nongovernmental organizations in
the country, many of which access OpenNet through the university. 

"OpenNet has played a central role in breaking the government's
information blockade," said Human Rights Watch academic freedom specialist
Joseph Saunders.  "President Milosevic and his allies are spearheading a
direct assault on the free flow of information." 

The act of censorship comes as the latest step in an ongoing attack on the
universities by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.  In May 1998, a new
university law stripped Serbian universities of their autonomy and
required all professors to sign new contracts within sixty days regardless
of the terms of existing contracts and guarantees of tenure.  Professors
who refused to sign the new contracts, viewed by many as loyalty oaths to
the government, have been harassed, suspended, and fired. 

Teodosic, who has authority over the computing center at the University of
Belgrade, has been a central figure in academic repression. In October, he
suspended twelve engineering professors who refused to sign the new
"contracts," including professors such as Branko Popovic, with nearly 150
publications to his name and awards from several international scientific
societies.  Teodosic hired private security guards to forcibly remove any
of the twelve professors who attempted to return to their classrooms. 

The attack on the Internet also comes amidst increased government
harassment of the independent media in Serbia.  A new Law on Information,
passed on October 20, established a system of prior censorship and imposes
prohibitively high fines on journalists, editors, and publishers; three
newspapers have been shut down thus far. 

The immediate motive for blocking OpenNet access appears to have been a
link on the website to a political cartoon that showed Teodosic in a Nazi
uniform giving a Nazi salute.  The cartoon also portrayed another
newlyappointed administrator, Milos Laban, as a monkey.  The OpenNet site
also hosts detailed, regularly updated information on the conflict between
academics and the government, and includes letters of support for Serbian
academic freedom from academics and universities around the world
(see:www.hrw.org/hrw/press98/aug/serltr810.htm). For more information,
visit the OpenNet website at www.opennet.org For further information

Joe Saunders (212) 2161207 Fred Abrahams (212) 2161270

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