The website of the Tunisian government was defaced Tuesday with an open letter critical of the nation’s censorship of the web by those participating in “Anonymous.”
“We will use this brief span of attention we’ve captured to deliver a clear and present message which we hope shall never be forgot,” the open letter stated.
“Remember, remember, that the tighter you squeeze the more your citizens shall rebel against your rule. Like a fistful of sand in the palm of your grip, the more you squeeze your citizens the more that they will flow right out of your hand. The more you censor your own citizens the more they shall know about you and what you are doing.”
The Tunisian Republic has one of the most developed telecommunications infrastructures in North Africa, with roughly 1.7 million of its 10.2 million inhabitants having Internet access. The government maintains authoritative control of the country’s web services through the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI), which leases bandwidth to Internet service providers (ISPs).
“The State controls the contents and circulation of information via the Internet by keeping control over telephone lines, Internet accounts and sites, and this by using high-performance screening software,” The Tunisian Organization for the Defense of Human Rights stated in a 2004 report.
“The outbound Internet network is subjected to an increased surveillance and several sites are constantly blocked, of which not only those of CNLT (National Council for Freedoms in Tunisia), LTDH (Tunisian Organisation for the Defence of Human Rights), RAIDAttac Tunisie (Rally for an International Alternative to Development), but also those of political parties or information organs”
A report by the OpenNet Initiative found that the websites for Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, the Islamic Human Rights Commission, Global Voices, along with YouTube and websites with pornographic content were blocked in Tunisia.
Secrets outlet WikiLeaks was also recently blocked.
Tunisians are subject to having their email messages intercepted and read by Tunisian authorities. A vague press code that bans offending the president, disturbing order, and publishing “false news” has been used to prosecute online journalists and bloggers.
“This is a warning to the Tunisian Government: violation of the freedom of speech and information of its citizens will not be tolerated,” the open letter continued. “Cyber Attacks will persist until the Tunisian Government respects all Tunisian citizens right to Free Speech and Information and ceases the censoring of the internet.”
“It’s in the hands of the Tunisian government to stop this situation,” they continued. “Free the net and attacks will cease. Continue your oppression and this will just be the beginning.”
Last week, the Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu-PF) website, Zimbabwean government website and Zimbabwean Finance Ministry website were targeted by “Anonymous” after Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace Mugabe, sued a newspaper for publishing a WikiLeaks cable that alleged she was connected with illicit diamond trade.
All three websites targeted by “Anonymous” were knocked offline. Additionally, the Finance Ministry website was also defaced with messages saying “We are Anonymous” and “The world hates us, we kill our own people, we have no control of the economy, we repress free speech, we kill and rape for fun, we are Zanu-PF.”