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Press release: MEP calls on EU to defend free speech in wake of Tunisian turmoil


Congratulating the Tunisian people on their persistence in speaking up for opportunities and freedom in the face of violent oppression, ALDE MEP Marietje Schaake (D66,Netherlands) called on the EU to step up its fight for human rights, particularly internet freedom.

ALDE Press release, 18.01.2011

She said: "I learned about the uprising by the citizens' movement in Tunisia through the internet where eyewitness accounts were posted and uploaded, but it took about a month of struggle before mainstream media and political leaders woke up to the realities on the streets of Tunisia.

"The Tunisian Government spared no efforts to repress the freedom of the internet by using advanced filtering and censoring technologies. As such, the confrontation between the Tunisian Government and its people took place on the virtual highways of the internet as much as on the streets.

"The lesson to be learned from this popular uprising in Tunisia, as well as internal EU concerns over the controversial Hungarian media law, is that there is a need and role for the EU to stand up for the fundamental right of free speech - not only with regards to traditional media, but also with regard to the internet.

"Freedom of the media and internet are a prerequisite for the peaceful transformation of the Tunisian regime. The EU should focus its support toTunisiaon making sure that these prerequisites are met ahead of free and fair elections."