Monday, December 22, 2003

Day- 1, Dec 9.
I woke up late, having this headache from last night …and its just like everybody in the world was knocking on my head, in a while I realized there are people knocking, but on the door… it was my trainer, Jo. So I got dressed up quickly and we all –three Iranian feminists, Jo and I- went out of the hotel, and walked to the bus station where bus No. 5 picked all media people to the ‘Palexpo’, a huge building that all exhibitions in Geneva took place. We reached the bus station and it was just a randomized media collectivity from ALL over the world, it was funny to see all these people gathered, but in the same time, it was something propitious indeed. The bus arrived and we all got inside it.

We reached the Palexpo in 10 minutes and I went to the registration office, the chick employee at the desk asked me for my passport and my invitation, but I was rather paralyzed when she was speaking to me, so all what I said was uh, umm, I don’t have. She didn’t look very happy with my convincing reply, so she murmured for a little bit and then she took me a picture with her digital camera and in 10 seconds she gave me my ID and a bag almost full of books and brochures and a piece of chocolate (?).

So, I waited for my comrades to register and then we all went to the main hall where the summit took place, security men and women were everywhere, we got our bags checked with x-ray machine and went to walk in a long cold tunnel. Eventually I entered the Palexpo, and I was huge, more than necessarily big, people were going in every direction, and all of them seemed seriously busy. It was the day before the official opening day for the World Summit for information Society (WSIS). So I went inside the media center area and grabbed a schedule about the next coming days, found a space for us to reserve for next days, I put my laptop on the desk, aside to a laser printer and a network hub where 6 LAN wires were coming out of it.

I found an instruction paper about how to connect to the Internet there, and I noticed that it is a proxy server set up there. Anyway, I connected my laptop to the Internet via the fastest connection I’ve ever seen in my life… later on I sat thinking of what subject shall I focus on during the Summit. Therefore, I chose to investigate about the Internet development, its technical benefits and political aspects.

I was concerned, having a proxy server in such a center for freedom of expression; I could not make myself optimistic about the future of this Summit.

Poly Media Lab
I went out of the WSIS, went back to the hotel… I found out that the other two Iraqi journalists arrived to the hotel finally, I dropped my bag at my room, and went out again with Jo and one of the two Iraqi journalists, Israa, Chief-in-Editor of the Iraqi newspaper Iraq Today, to check this story we heard about Police breaking in the place of the Poly Media Lab.

I had no clue about what Poly Media is, but when we got to the place and I read the sign ‘the police had shut down this place’ at the external wall of the building, I was curious to know what was there inside. So, we got inside… I found this map drawn on the door leading to the ‘alternative’ place of Poly Media, probably it was drawn after the police left… so the three of us went there and entered this lousy bar, Jo asked the landlord in French about Poly Media, he locked at us, and then showed us the place.

Once I entered this hall that had a stage on one of its sides, and people were all sitting and listening to one of them who was holding a mic and talking in English about a ‘situation’ they are facing, I smelled friendliness in that room and felt that those people are related in somehow to Indymedia, but soon people saw us and the atmosphere started to change. I noticed one of the walls had this data projector on it, and it showed text of people chatting among each other inside that hall, and all writings started to become like “stop the conversation, press are here” and “don’t continue your speech until the media is gone”. I tried to look for that friendliness I smelled, but I couldn’t smell nothing but silence. And that guy holding the mic, who was obviously facilitating this meeting or whatever, looked at us and ordered us to leave… I was not able at that moment to smell at all.
I had no other choice, I stood up and introduced myself as apart of Indymedia Baghdad, and they all began to laugh and make jokes on me, just like they were trying to give me a hard time, but in a friendly way.

So I met those guys, talked with them… and knew what the situation was…
The police broke into their place, allegedly saying that that was by request of the owner of the place… and they had to shut the place down because Indymedia people were using that place for work and accommodation, the thing that the owner didn’t accept. The police promised Indymedia people to give them a place where they can stay at, but instead, they closed that place and forgot/ignored their promises.

I understood that Indymedia people got upset and so they were deciding to threaten the city to give them a place where they can make their meetings in. People got bored of the meeting and decided to continue it later, then some of them invited me to free dinner, which was consisted of white beans burned to black, and cold half cooked rice, and gas-less cola.

We had fun, I made friendship with couple of them, and went back to the hotel with Jo and Israa and two other techies from IMC-Spain, who had no place to stay the night in after their place was closed. I was so tired when I got to my room so I just dived onto my bed and fell to sleep in a heartbeat.

(For more information about ploy media lab actions, please check the link

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