<< NewImc discussion for NewImc process

Why this theme?

There are tens of millions (at least) of people who regularly use internet but who live in places where meeting face-to-face for an Indymedia type discussion is felt too dangerous for activists. However, these activists are in just as much need of independent media as activists in "safe" places. Can the Indymedia model be adapted to "dangerous" places? What can be learnt from "dangerous" places where an IMC already exists? And how can volunteers in the new-imc working group advise collectives from "dangerous" places that ask for help starting an IMC?

mailing list threads


  • What is reasonable to recommend to IMCs which say they are not yet ready for f2f meetings because of the physical danger?
    • recommend open f2f meetings in "safe" countries, if there is an expatriate support group?
    • recommend at least one openly archived mailing list (there may also be a more closed one)?
    • recommend some sort of "transition" plan of how local meetings with grassroots groups could eventually be organised, or how there could be a shift from "slightly open" local meetings to gradually more and more open ones?
    • recommend some sort of sketch of how this IMC will really be used (production+consumption) by grassroots activists and not just the elite?
    • Is having f2f contact with existing IMC collectives in "safe" countries a sufficient condition to judge that the expat+local collective in the "dangerous" country will genuinely be as open as is reasonable and include a diverse range of local grassroots groups?

  • Should the word "recommend" by replaced by "suggest", "request" or "require" ? Given the extremely low number of volunteers on NewImc who do the work of talking to new groups, and our non-authoritarian nature, there's no point writing a strong word which will not be put into practice.

  • Insisting that all of the above be done is of course too much, this is just an attempt to give what seem to be the most useful ideas.

  • Can we accept that IMCs in "dangerous" places are going to start off being dominated by "elites" (in terms of internet access generally, and even more so since there are no open f2f meetings) and that only in the long term will they become directly accessible to grassroots groups?
    • This question is not meant to be insulting to expatriate activists. Most of the so-called "expatriates" who ask about starting up an Indymedia collective were doing grassroot work in their countries before they were forced to go into exile. The reality is that people working on the ground in most of those countries work in hiding. Activists know each other and pass the word around about new political tools. It can give a very horrible feeling to an exiled activist to be seen as an "elite" person who consciously wishes to dominate the activists back at home.

  • "double standards": Is there a danger of having creating two classes of IMCs? Not all "South" regions are that dangerous, and not all "North" regions are that safe.

  • Is there a danger of being involved in supporting armed opposition groups and thereby getting labelled as an international terrorist organisation? If we drop the open f2f meeting requirement, then we become more vulnerable to the "terrorist" claim by governments.


  • What is the experience of existing IMCs or IMC-like groups about the practicality of any or all of the above? Are there other ideas?

useful info on the newimc page

tech support

  • develop some sort of indymedia reader people support + "hotline" software which can be used at a local meeting so that if the authorities attack a meeting, it will instantly get live indymedia coverage and an immediate avalanche of letters/faxes/embassy protests/whatever... - this requires:
    • the software,
    • local hardware/internet cafe/whatever
    • local knowledge of how to use these
    • a global support group of people committed ([fr] engagés) to react quickly (maybe a hotline email list, e.g. imc-dangerouscityname-i-promise-rapid-support at lists.indymedia.org, something like Amnesty International Urgent Actions, only much more targetted??)
  • probably all four of these elements are needed
    • without good software, key information will go missing, be confused, there'll be bad communication, etc.
    • without local hardware/internet access, the information cannot physically get out fast and accurately
    • without local knowledge of the software + hardware before a crisis, things can fail during the crisis
    • without a global support group, a cry for help will just get lost in the sea of indymedia information

bootstrap (meta-) problems in discussing the issue

  • The grassroots people in the "dangerous" places can't actually have f2f meetings to tell us what they think about all of this.

  • The existing IMCs in "dangerous" places
    • generally have higher priorities than process discussions such as these
    • if their members argue in favour of "double standards", then they risk being accused of playing on "white man's (sic) guilt complex".
    • many of them have expensive/slow internet access, so it's difficult for them to participate in the discussion.

  • These are intrinsic problems making it difficult for the people most affected by process decisions to partake in those decisions.
    • These same intrinsic problems also happen, though to a lesser degree, in the "global North" regions.
Topic revision: r4 - 04 Jun 2003, BouD
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