The 3rd Arab Bloggers Meeting, being held in Tunis from 3 October until 6 October, is a chance for activists from around the world to join together for a chance to share ideas, stories, successes, troubles, and build a solidarity network. The uprisings that have swept across the Arab world were propelled by social media tools that provided a voice to the voiceless. These tools have proven exceedingly useful against tyrants.
A number of years ago when Gayatri Spivak asked “Can the Subaltern Speak?” she decided the answer was still NO. The forces of oppression still held too tight the vocal cords and pens of the world’s oppressed. What chances did they have to speak for themselves, outside of the forums of global power?
When Spivak wrote this essay there was no Twitter, now banned in many repressive countries; there was no facebook, now banned in many repressive countries; there was no Vimeo, Youtube, or any such tools that have become mainstays in the innovative repertoires of resistance. These provided the means for free expression. They proceeded to challenge Spivak’s conclusion. With blogging, with twitter, with such means the subaltern began to speak. The 3rd Arab Bloggers Meeting was called to bring the myriad activists of the Arab world together to engage with each other in order to build new ideas and strategies for maintaining the momentum toward freedom that has been growing. However, one problem. One group was left out. One group was left silent from the physical space.
The interim Tunisian government did not grant travel visas to the Palestinian bloggers who had been invited by the event’s organizers. While the Tunisian government did not appear to issue any concrete reasoning for this decision speculations have mounted. The organizers of the event, co-sponsered by Nawaat.org, Heinrich Boll Stiftung, and Global Voices issued this statement:
“The Heinrich Boell Foundation, Global Voices Online and Nawaat Association strongly condemn the decision by the Tunisian Embassy in Ramallah to deny 11 Palestinian bloggers and journalists visas to enter Tunisia in order to attend the Third Arab Bloggers Meeting from October 3rd until 6th 2011. Participants from more than fifteen Arab countries, as well as participants from countries such as Trinidad and Tobago, and Ghana, were granted visas to Tunisia.”
To read the rest of the statement visit the event’s page.
A petition has been drafted to criticize the government’s decision. By signing the petition, by increasing the number of individuals from different countries who speak out against this silencing of voice, those who have a voice may continue pressuring the existing global power structures to ensure that Spivak’s conclusion is a thing of the past.
Click here to sign the petition.