State Department: Human Rights Exist in Digital Realm

State and the U.S. Mission to Geneva combine for the Internet Freedom Fellows program.

With the Arab Spring's aftermath being felt around the world, the State Department is continuing to emphasize the importance of Internet freedom, both home and abroad.

Building off Secretary Hillary Clinton's ongoing speeches of the last two years, Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe -- currently serving as the U.S. Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council -- writes that "human rights and fundamental freedoms are not eroded simply because they are being exercised in the digital realm."

To help foster this, Donahoe writes, State and the U.S. Mission in Geneva are combining forces to promote the Internet Freedom Fellows program. Donahoe describes it as an effort to promote human rights via the Internet in the developing world.

The Internet Freedom Fellows (IFF) program is funded by the State Department's Innovation Fund and the U.S. Mission in Geneva, and was designed to follow up on Secretary Clinton's pledge to find innovative ways to promote the use of the Internet in support of human rights. The 2012 Fellows are: Dlshad Othman (Syria), Pranesh Prakash (India), Koundjoro Gabriel Kambou (Burkina Faso), Sopheap Chak (Cambodia), Andres Azpurua (Venezuela), and Emin Milli (Azerbaijan).

In her blog post, Donahoe features Othman in the wake of Syria's current crisis. Othman, in his role as a Internet Freedom Fellow, tells Donahoe that he is working on making sure the Syrian people can tell their stories and fight for human rights.

"This is actually the only way that we have at this time, since there isn't any media on the ground," Othman says.