Magazine article New Internationalist

Robo-Liberators

Magazine article New Internationalist

Robo-Liberators

Article excerpt

Global diaspora group Eritrean Youth Solidarity for Change (EYSC) is finding new ways to call for democracy and bypass the government's strict censorship regime.

One of its information tools goes by the name of 'robocall'. A technique loved by telemarketers, robocall allows the dissidents to record antigovernment messages, which are then auto-dialled by a private company to thousands of phones in Eritrea.

EYSC's 'Freedom Friday' chapter programmed a robocall to 10,000 homes five days before Eritrea's Independence Day in May 2012. The message called on people to stage an act of peaceful defiance by staying at home.

Since winning independence from Ethiopia in 1993, single-party state Eritrea has developed a reputation as one of the most repressive regimes on earth. Earlier this year, Paris-based advocacy group Reporters Without Borders ranked it bottom out of 179 countries on freedom of expression.

EYSC has also set up a radio station to broadcast opposition opinion on the Eritrean airwaves. …

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