The plane ride was as all plane rides become after awhile, uncomfortable and far too long. Once getting off, there were large posters everywhere advertising WSIS, especially about the IT 4 All exhibition, where the tagline — complete with pictures of multi-gendered and ‘raced’ children smiling at a computer screen — promises to forefront the human dimension of information communications technologies development. I think I snorted audibly.
En route to the promised global village, the information superhighway is plagued by poor access and high fares that the bulk of this planet simply cannot afford. Reducing international internet costs is an important priority, underlined in a set of recommendations from the APC made to the WSIS stresses.
Under the incredulous eyes of the participants at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), journalists and human rights defenders were manhandled, insulted, and then violently beaten.
Under the incredulous eyes of the participants at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), journalists and human rights defenders were manhandled, insulted, and then violently beaten. APCNews reports from Tunis.
Today, the website of the Citizens’ summit on the information society (CSIS) was effectively off-line for all web users in Tunisia. It appears that Tunisian authorities have started to intensify their crackdown on legitimate initiatives related to the World Summit on the information Society (WSIS). Blocking the access to the www.citizens-summit.org is the latest in a series of measures introduced to silence voices critical of the government and its human right record.
Late on Sunday night, November 13, 2005, an assembly of about 100 people agreed to a series of minimal points of common ground related to internet governance in Tunis. These points were then to be reported back to the general plenary of what is called the resumed PrepCom 3 meeting of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) for definitive negotiation and implementation.
Some figures, and hard facts, from a Highway Africa article, titled ICT4 All expo to attract 40,000 participants: “According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the 942 million people living in the world’s developed economies enjoy five times better access to fixed and mobile phone services, nine times better access to Internet services, and own 13 times more personal computers than the 85 per cent of the world’s population living in low and lower-middle income countries. ITU also estimates that 800,000 villages still lack connection by telephone line, the Internet or any other modern ICT.”
Maxigas — a friend from Hungary — and myself had the opportunity to go to the Tunis City Centre last afternoon, just to have a feel of the city and get to know a little more about Tunis. The atmosphere seemed quite festive, and preparations for the WSIS are in full swing. Green plants are being transported in numbers and transplanted on roadsides and important squares, large pictures of the Tunisian President are installed everywhere, and even most of the banners also carry his pictures welcoming the WSIS delegates ;) But questions remain….
How’s the world comprehending Tunis? From disinterest to unheard voices, bewilderment, hidden agendas and nationalistic positions… all these seem to be the trends emerging from the media conference on November 2005’s World Summit on the Information Society at Tunisia. More so, if one looks at the media from a Southern perspective.
Yesterday me and Shahzad had a chance to see Tunis in all its WSIS splendour. Tunis as a city has been completely appropriated by the WSIS campaign. Public spaces where people lead their daily lives are heavily marked by a campaign about an event that they have no meaningful way to experience, and that will perhaps not bring any lasting good for their country.