JUBA – The Sudans Post website which was blocked in South Sudan’s capital Juba for two months since June has won the protection of a non-profit Swedish organization that has now deployed a mirror, a system designed to circumvent government blocking, on the website.
Sudans Post website was blocked in South Sudan’s capital Juba in June. Until dawn Monday, the website remained blocked.
Access was limited to a handful number of locations in Juba including, but not limited to, the presidency, National Security Service (NSS) headquarters (also known as the Blue House), and the ministries complex.
Readers complained in several emails to Sudans Post management in June that they were facing issues accessing the website, after which the Sudans Post management discovered that access to the website had been restricted – since June 12 – to a few areas in Juba by the Media Authority upon the orders of the NSS.
A Chinese company implemented the blocking, two sources at the media authority said at the time said.
In a statement, the Sudans Post management welcomed the offer of protection from the Swedish organization and said the move would help protect the right of South Sudan readership to access information.
“As good news to our readership, today, August 17, 2020, we have the honor to announce to our readership that Qurium media which is based in Sweden has offered a mirror to our website which is a mechanism to circumvent the unlawful government blocking,” the statement said.
The management further said the hosting of the website has been moved to the Qurium Media Foundation and said as of Monday afternoon, the website was accessible in areas of the capital Juba where it was previously accessible including Jebel and Gudele.
“As of this afternoon, our website can be accessed in all parts of Juba and South Sudan where it has previously been inaccessible, according to some of our readers. Because of the continued threats we faced and which are faced by our host from the National Security Service (NSS) and influential government officials and security personnel, we have decided to also move our hosting to the Qurium in Sweden,” it said.
The statement further thanked the Swedish organization “for coming into our aid and we are looking forward to working with them to better improve the information dissemination in South Sudan.”
‘Silent Blocking’ of Websites
For its part, the Qurium Media Foundation said the blocking of Sudans Post is a part of a wider government campaign implemented silently by external providers to manipulate information dissemination in the world’s youngest country, something the Qurium is fighting elsewhere in the world.
It said that the blocking by South Sudanese authorities is being carried on without the obvious and prior judicial process.
“Qurium sees a worrying trend of blocking media websites in South Sudan. The blocking is done with no transparency or accountability, no measures to appeal, no legal process and implemented silently by the upstream providers,” the non-profit organization said in the statement extended to Sudans Post on Monday morning.
The organization said Sudans Post was joining an existing list of two South Sudanese websites. The two websites – Nyamilepedia and PaanLuel Wel – are among four websites blocked by South Sudan government in July 2017.
“To circumvent the blocking of South Sudanese news sites and to prevent digital attacks against them, Qurium is hosting and providing mirrors to no less than three blocked media organizations: Sudans Post, Nyamilepedia, and PaanLuel Wel,” it said.
“Qurium believes that access to information is a key element for critical thinking and public education. The government of South Sudan is depriving its population of information, which is the reason why Qurium supports blocked media with circumvention capabilities,” it added.
The organization said the website – before the deployment of the mirror – was “only reachable from IP addresses belonging to the ministries, the presidential palace, the National Security Service, and a few large international NGOs.”