Ethical internet service provider hit by cyberattack aimed at silencing human rights defenders

10 December 2019

Between 22 and 23 November, APC experienced significant downtime in all our websites and email services, which have been hosted since APC’s foundation by one of the oldest internet service providers in the UK, the not-for-profit collective GreenNet. The websites of most of GreenNet’s other customers were also affected. A few hours into the shutdown, it became clear that the outage was caused by a deliberate attack meant to silence one of GreenNet’s customers in particular, Papuans Behind Bars, which was releasing new research that weekend. 

What was the goal of the attack?

GreenNet, established in 1985 and one of the founding members of APC, was among the earliest providers of internet services, web design and hosting to supporters of peace, the environment and human rights. During the weekend of 22 November, as its team worked to bring services back, they shared updates on the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack they were facing. A DDoS attack is carried out by targeting servers with millions of requests until they run out of capacity and become unavailable. 

Examinations by the GreenNet team revealed that the ultimate target of the attack was Papuans Behind Bars, a collective project defending human rights in Papua. The collective, which represents a broad collaboration between lawyers, human rights groups, activists, journalists and individuals in West Papua, as well as Jakarta-based NGOs and international solidarity groups, was about to launch its most recent research that weekend.

Such shutdowns affect the ability of human rights defenders to do their work. We want to share Papuans Behind Bars’ newly launched report, which we hope will get all the coverage it deserves, in the face of the attempts to silence them. 

Some highlights on advocacy for political prisoners in West Papua:
  • Limited legal aid resources

  • Limited judicial transparency and accountability

  • Lack of freedom for human rights defenders/lawyers to carry out their roles 

  • Lack of independence of judges in ruling on West Papuan political cases 

  • Criminalisation of activists who work on civil and political rights advocacy. 

More information
  • Follow updates on the Papuans Behind Bars' website and help us amplify the message through the #KeepItOn hashtag.

  • Access our press section to stay updated on pressing news and other resources.

  • For interviews, coverage and other press inquiries, contact Leila Nachawati, APC’s media outreach lead: leila@apc.org.  

Media publication date: 
Tuesday, December 10, 2019
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