Article submitted by: James on 30-Nov-2011  
=== The verbal and the cyber war ===
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The verbal and the cyber war

Dear readers, unaffected and attacked writers,

It is not my habit to write about myself. But now there is a good
reason to do so in relation to my activities as a human rights
activist (HRA) for Burma. I fight a verbal war on the free, uncensored
internet. I criticise the junta in the electronic, underground
newspaper The Alternative New Light of Myanmar and in the internet
forum soc.culture.burma (SCB) on Google Groups and Usenet. I expose
the junta's cheats, lies, tricks, human rights violations and
humanitarian crimes, making them ridiculous and feeling ashamed and
guilty at least (if they can feel all that at all). I do this only by
writing, not by any other means. I am a pacifist, preferring a
peaceful solution for the Burmese political and social
contradistinctions. The goal is to support the people of Burma in
their opposition against the dictators, in their rightful demand for
democracy. The preferred way for changes in my opinion is
reconciliation with best options for both sides, but I also support
the currently ongoing gradual improvements in the political and social
sense as strived for by Aung San Su Kyi, though without
reconciliation.

The verbal war
As said I write articles that I publish via the uncensored internet
and as a newspaper via email (of which I maintain an archive on the
internet). The email is primarily intended for common Burmese people
as a sort of comfort to let them know that the world is watching them
and the dictators. A secondary goal is to let the dictators know about
the criticism from abroad too by sending the newspaper to many
government intitutions as well. Thirdly it is sent to many other
people and organisations in the world just for their information.

Individual articles (posts, postings, contributions) are published in
the free, uncensored internet forum soc.culture.burma. In that forum
there are passionate junta supporters and opposition supporters,
disagreeing with each other and severely criticising each other, even
sometimes calling each other names, but in any case uncensored, by
free expression. So far so good. Yet I have experienced being attacked
by some unknown power, technically capable of censoring the internet
forum by removing articles at will, which is normally only reserved
for the author in Google Groups and not even possible in Usenet. Many
of my contributions to SCB have been removed within minutes after I
posted them; and those concerned only mine, not those of other
participants. This happened during the autumn of 2009 and in November
2011.

The cyber war, September 2009
- From 5 September 2009 my postings to Google Groups SCB were being
thrown away within minutes after being posted and visible in the
forum. Only some of them made it permanently. This also happened after
resubmitting them from another (new) Google account. Nevertheless all
submissions were mirrorred without loss, hence multiple times, in
Usenet. And submissions to other Google Groups (the Help Forum) were
neither affected. It looked like someone was waiting for my articles
to delete them instantly if they contained more than a few critical
lines of text. It was my impression that the auto-deletion did not
happen automatically, by software directly, but by human intervention
after a quick inspection of the postings, possibly after automatic
notification. It only applied to _my_ postings. The reason might have
been that my posts are/were not desired by one or more people in (or
even outside) the newsgroup. I regard(ed) this a malicious violation
of the freedom of speech on the internet.

More or less neutral postings from another Google account were left
unaffected, so it quite likely had to do with my identity. So, my
questions to the Google Groups Help Forum (since 10 September 2009)
were [1]:
- - who is that [hacking] person or organisation and where is (s)he
located [how could I find that]?
- - in what [technical] way is that person able to manually delete
individual posts from another poster?
- - is there a hole in Google's software somewhere to enable that?
- - if so, I would like that hole closed.

It appeared that many more people in other Google Groups experienced
sudden, unexpected and undesired deletions of their postings. But the
circumstances differed; some people reacted by saying that they
suspected an automatic algorithm deleting their (multiple) posts and
described different situations and interpretations. A lot of
discussing has been going on about this subject during the autumn of
2009 [e.g. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. However, Google representatives remained
silent about this issue during the time.

Only on 9 December 2009 Lisa from Google suddenly reported the bug to
be fixed [7], 3 months after I reported it for the first time. So
there was a bug in Google software involved indeed; it might even have
been an intended backdoor for US security officials that had been
discovered and abused by other people [8]. Whatever it was I did not
test whether the problem had disappeared. I have not awaited a
solution from the side of Google and next to discussing the
disappering posts in the Google Groups Help Forum during the autumn of
2009, in September I already found a working and satisfactory solution
by not submitting my postings via Google Groups anymore, but via
Usenet instead. One of the alternatives was using a local Usenet
client and a (free) Usenet server on the internet, which I have
applied ever since. (Next to that since then I also signed my articles
with a digital signature to prevent someone beforehand to possibly
faking to be me, which might be possible as well and, as a side
effect, to avoid the usual spam to my email address.)

The cyber war, November 2011
On 25 November 2011 I was submitting my previous article "The ultimate
truth revealed" in the regular way via Usenet in two parts, the first
part containing the complete article and the second part containing
the list of references. The first part was submitted fine, it quickly
became visible on Usenet and in Google Groups SCB. The second part
also was submitted without any problem, but after being visible both
on Usenet and in SCB it disappeared within a minute from both. I got a
little bit surprised and submitted it another time with the same
result. After that I sent it a few more times with a slightly changed
title, but it did not last longer than a minute both on Usenet and in
SCB.

Yet I managed to submit two other messages in the same, regular way,
telling about the unsuccessful attempts to submit the second part of
the article. These messages did not disappear. I also included the
notification:
equivalent Usenet newsgroup, may know that I am being thwarted and
inhibited from sending my contributions to the internet forums [by
opposing forces].>

After an hour attempting to get the article posted I gave up for the
time being (it only concerned a reference list). Later I found that
the removed (duplicate) postings actually are visible with other
Usenet servers, so they have only been removed from a specific server
and from Google Groups only. It was my impression that the removal
this time was done automatically (no human intervention), possibly by
way of a flaw and a hack in the Usenet server that I regularly use. In
any case the hack must contain some way of recognising my posts as
mine, but I have no idea which criteria have been used to positively
and exclusively recognise them as such (an why other posts of mine
were left unaffected). If I would know that, it might be easily
possible to cicumvent that deliberate deletion process.

Annoyances
What were my initial feelings when I noticed that my contributions
were deleted just after being submitted? At first I was just
surprised: what possibly technical problem might have occurred that
caused the deletion of my contribution? So I submitted the post
another time and noticed it was removed instantly again. I began to
feel annoyed, what invisible, obscure powers were at work behind the
scenes and how and why did they do that? After the third and
subsequent attempts and observed disappearances I got rather irritated
and feeling attacked. Now I experienced myself what it is and how it
feels to be forcedly prohibited to speak freely, like it occurs in
Burma. I concluded that this wouldn't work and I realised that I had
to find alternatives if I wanted to keep submitting my articles, now
and in the future.

As the 2009 deletions only concerned problems with Google Groups I did
not await any solution by Google and found a good alternative in
submitting my contributions directly to Usenet (with which Google
Groups would synchronise). That way my articles were visible in both
Google Groups and Usenet without being deleted. (As a side-effect this
was a better way to prevent the usual spam to my email address.) I
have used this method since, even after Google had repaired the flaw.
I was very satisfied with it. I also was satisfied about having
conquered the unknown, invisible (assumed human) powers that were
responsible for destroying my contributions.

The 2011 deletions until now only concerned one post that I have been
unsuccessfully trying to submit several times via Usenet. It appeared
that it was also deleted from the used Usenet server immediately and
possibly automatically, so this was a different case from the one in
2009. It only concerned a reference list belonging to an article that
already was successfully submitted, it wasn't really relevant to force
the references to be published; I also already submitted the whole
article to http:///www.asiaobserver.com and
http://www.voiceofgoldenland.com and plan to publish in the upcoming
edition of The Alternative New Light of Myanmar as well. So I stopped
attempting to resubmit it and did not yet try any alternative ways to
get through.

I felt rather harrased and troubled again after the first 2011
blockings that (partially) silenced me, because these probably are
technically different from those of 2009, although two small, recent
postings briefly reporting about these events did make it to Google
Groups and Usenet without being removed. Yet I still have various
alternatives to experiment with, but I decided to postpone that to a
next article (e.g. this one) that I want to get through anyway. So,
now I am somewhere in between being blocked and finding a temporary or
permanent detour. The next move (at the time of this writing) in this
cyber war is to me and I still don't know whether that will be
successful. However the alternative(s) to try that will work and the
other one(s) that won't may shed light on the criteria that the
hackers have used to delete my postings. We'll see and we'll see who
wins this cyber war.

Positive feedback
I did not only have negative feelings when noticing the inhibition
from telling what I want, the truth, I also see some positive sides of
being selected as a victim of freedom of press. First of all in the
forum soc.culture.burma I was (in 2009) and am (in 2011) the only
victim of the unvoluntary silencing activities of the unknown cyber
enemy. Why is that? Several participants in SCB want each other dead,
some junta supporters want Aung San Suu Kyi and more NLD-ers dead,
some opposition supporters want Than Shwe and more junta/government
members dead. I do not want (and never have wanted) anyone dead, the
worst that I may want is justice for the human rights violaters,
prosecution and fair trials with fair convictions. The best and most
preferred that I want is reconciliation with which prosecution of the
junta might be excluded. What's wrong with that?

I don't know the hacker's motives for silencing me of course, so I can
only guess. Apparently there is something in my writings (that other
authors of both camps may not have) that is worth attempting to
prevent from being made public. What might that be? The truth? The way
I bring the truth, sharp and cynical? Is the unknown enemy (or its
superiors) afraid of the truth or of revealing it? Am I leaking
sensitive and secret information? No, it may be sensitive and
undesired to the Burmese junta, but it is not at all secret,
everything I publish about has been published already; I regularly
complete an article with a list of public references.

Actually I regard it a good sign to be attacked this way. There is
something worth attacking and it means that I am on the right track
(the truth, that the dictators or their supporters cannot bear or
won't admit). This is the best feedback on my articles that I can get,
an implicit acknowledgement of the value of what I write. I regard it
an encouragement to continue along this line (given that I am able to
get my writings published despite the cyber attacks). Of course I only
can do this from outside Burma; if I would be inside Burma I would
have been arrested and jailed a long time ago already. So, let me
accept the challenge to continue to play this cat and mouse game. The
opponent (the unknown, invisible power, whoever that actually is/are)
clearly shows his true, bad intentions by continuing to attack a
pacifist, peaceful HRA with a good sense of what freedom and democracy
means, what human rights violations are and how the Burmese people
still are cheated and suppressed by the Burmese government.

The near future
Despite the currently ongoing slight improvements in the internal
policy of Burma regarding the participation of the NLD and Aung San Su
Kyi in the upcoming by-elections [9, 10, 11] and the relaxation of the
prohibition to protest and demonstrate [12, 13] there still is a long
way to go before one can speak of freedom and democracy in Burma [14].

I will keep you informed. The verbal and cyber war is going on.

(To be continued)

References

1. thread "MALICIOUS ABUSE: Someone else removes my postings
affecting my freedom of speech!", Google Groups Help Forum
(archive), 10 September 2009; http://groups.google.com/group/is-
something-broken/browse_frm/thread/8350b47351e8b301?hl=en#

2. thread "Posts Disappearing After a Minute", Google Groups Help
Forum (archive), 13 to 23 September 2009;
http://groups.google.com/group/is-something-
broken/browse_frm/thread/8c0af6e1a5dea9f3?hl=en#

3. thread "rec.arts.tv Posts Disappearing", Google Groups Help Forum
(archive), 7 to 29 November 2009;
http://groups.google.com/group/is-something-
broken/browse_frm/thread/3303c01c7affab74?hl=en#

4. thread "Disappearing posts", Google Groups Help Forum (archive),
32 to 30 November 2009; http://groups.google.com/group/is-
something-broken/browse_frm/thread/3f08b429eebd0656?hl=en#

5. thread "Security hole being exploited: posts being deleted from
Usenet archive.", Google Groups Help Forum (archive), 25 November
to 7 December 2009; http://groups.google.com/group/is-something-
broken/browse_frm/thread/8bc6cd015684b537?hl=en#

6. thread "Postings to rec.arts.tv disappearing", Google Groups Help
Forum (archive), 3 December 2009;
http://groups.google.com/group/is-something-
broken/browse_frm/thread/bf68df2aaaa70362?hl=en#

7. thread "rec.arts.tv posts", Google Groups Help Forum (archive), 6
to 10 December 2009; http://groups.google.com/group/is-something-
broken/browse_frm/thread/4bb39bdcf6f741b1?hl=en#

8. "U.S. enables Chinese hacking of Google", Bruce Schneier, CNN, 23
January 2010;
http://edition.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/01/23/schneier.google.hacking/

9. "Burma's new democracy needs support", Catherine M. Renshaw, The
Australian, 29 November 2011;
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/burmas-new-democracy-
needs-support/story-e6frg6ux-1226208541175

10. "Suu Kyis NLD Forms Election Campaign Committee", Wai Moe,
Irrawaddy, 28 November 2011;
http://www.irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=22549

11. "NLD close to deciding on registration", Joseph Allchin,
Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), 5 November 2011;
http://www.dvb.no/news/nld-close-to-decide-on-registration/18561

12. "Parliament Guarantees Right to Protest in Burma", The Associated
Press, Irrawaddy, 25 November 2011;
http://www.irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=22535

13. "Peaceful protest bill meets stiff opposition", Joseph Allchin,
Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), 26 October 2011;
http://www.dvb.no/news/peaceful-protest-bill-meets-stiff-
opposition/18408

14. ""Serious abuses" in Myanmar despite reforms: group", Robert
Birsel, Reuters, 28 November 2011;
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/28/us-myanmar-kachin-
idUSTRE7AR0B520111128

Regards,
JRB

James Russell Brownwood
James.Russell.Brownwood@Gmail.com
Justice Reforms Burma
http://jrburma.int.tf (@NLM archives, PGP public key)

Disclaimer: these views are entirely my own and unrelated to my
nationality, my home country and its political stances and they are
independent of and not contrary to my views on other similar events
and human rights violations elsewhere in the world.

The junta in 1990 appeared to fear prosecution and conviction for
humanitarian crimes. The junta obviously has been lying about the 1990
elections purpose. To avoid prosecution for crimes the junta increased
and intensified its humanitarian crimes. The junta implicitly has
admitted the NLD's victory in the 1990 elections. The NLD was right in
claiming its victory in 1990. The junta unjustly and treacherously
kept the NLD from taking over in 1990. What good can be expected from
the junta? By revealing the real truth Tin Aye stopped all
misunderstanding about the junta's real, bad intentions.

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