18 January 2018, Thursday, 16:52

Egyptian human rights defender: Attempt to block Charter'97 is regime's defeat


People will find a thousand of ways to read honest news.

Ahmed Samih, an Egyptian human rights defender, writer, political activist and director of the Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies, said it to charter97.org. He thinks the authorities have no chances to stifle the independent media in the present-day world of the Internet and any attempt of blocking plays against the authorities: they only promote the “dangerous” media outlet and admit the force of its message.

– To begin with, you should understand that the blocked access to Charter'97 is a sign of your success, not your defeat. If the state stifles your voice, it means you were able to influence the thinking and developing people so much that the authorities found it too dangerous.

I think if the authorities try to stifle the Belarusian media outlet that works abroad and tries to achieve positive changes in the country, it is not a declaration of war, but a declaration of the defeat of the regime. The authorities cannot use state-owned media to argue against your ideas, because Lukashenka does not believe he can convince the audience that what you are saying is a lie or not important. On the contrary, your policy was such strong and significant that it penetrated deeply into the heads of Belarusians. It made the dictator feel that you pose a serious threat to his political position.

– The website is available now, but it can be blocked again at any moment. It's possible it was, so to say, a trial balloon...

– We know well that there's nothing on the Internet that could be called “total blocking” or a “complete ban”. There is a thousand of ways to bypass blocked access and censorship on the Internet. I am sure your audience is clever enough to find you on the Internet if you are blocked again. They will find ways to read you and hear your voice.

– Do you see any connections between the events in Belarus and the events in Egypt?

– Of course, your political situation is greatly influenced by the events at Maidan, Tahrir and in Tunisia. These dictatorial political forces have direct relations with Russia. These governments try to be together to avoid revolutions in their countries. General Sisi, the current head of Egypt, visited Russia last week. Putin and he had many common topics to discuss. They understand each other well, because they live in the same reality: they know people can rebel at any moment if they don't like something and change their political game.

– What would you advise to independent websites in Belarus?

– The Belarusian dictatorship and this particular case of blocking the popular site is an example of how the shocked authorities are driving themselves into a corner. They don't drive you into a corner, as they think they do. The real weak link is dictator Lukashenka. He needs the blockade and bans to be sure you cannot defeat him.

If I were you, I would continue my work developing and improving its quality. I would continue sending the message about the long overdue changes in the country until these changes come.