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Amnesty International is calling on the bloggers of the world to unite to defend the freedoms of their brother bloggers in countries such as China, Iran, and Tunisia.

The group says freedoms are under threat and the blog community should "get online and stand up for freedom of expression on the internet".

Ahead of next week's Internet Governance Forum (IGF) the lobby group is asking the forum to put human rights at the centre of discussions. Amnesty issued a statement calling on governments worldwide to release anyone imprisoned for expressing a peaceful opinion online, stop restricting internet access, respect privacy, and get domestic laws in line with international human rights law.

Amnesty calls on technology companies to:

  • publicly commit to honoring human rights
  • be transparent about any words, phrases or concepts they are filtering or censoring...
  • to exhaust all judicial...remedies when faced with requests that would deny a person's right to privacy or free expression
  • to exercise leadership in promoting human rights to governments and to participate with civil society in efforts to promote people's fundamental rights."

Amnesty spokesman Steve Ballinger said: "We are looking forward to participating in the IGF and being part of a process that will protect human rights on the internet. Amnesty's job in Athens will be to ensure that human rights are not sidelined."

Ballinger said Amnesty's campaign has had some success - almost 50,000 people have signed the online petition and Amnesty has talked to the Chinese embassy in London as well as several technology companies.

The irrepressible.info website includes access to Amnesty's database of censored material - the idea is that bloggers include snippets of censored information and so "undermine censorship".

The site includes a Technorati page with a collection of the campaign's most recent mentions on blogs.

Amnesty has also issued an urgent appeal for the release of Iranian blogger Kianoosh Sanjari who was arrested earlier this month for reporting on clashes between government security forces and supporters of a Shi'a cleric.

We'll have full coverage of the Internet Governance Forum next week. ®

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