Botswana blamed for cyber attacks

Jacob Nthoiwa
By Jacob Nthoiwa, ITWeb journalist.
Johannesburg, 29 Oct 2010

Survival International, a human rights organisation focusing on indigenous tribal people, says it has experienced a “massive” cyber attack, which knocked its Web site offline.

The organisation believes the attack is likely to originate from the Botswana or Indonesian authorities, or their allies, reacting to its campaign work.

According to Survival International's director, Stephen Corry: “This isn't a couple of geeks in a shed; it's an expensive and sophisticated attack amounting to cyber terrorism.” The damage to Survival International may be substantial, but is nothing compared to that inflicted on West Papuan tribes or Botswana's Bushmen, he adds.

“This attack comes one week after Survival International reported on a video of Indonesian soldiers torturing Papuan tribal people, and four weeks after calling for tourists to boycott Botswana over the long-running persecution of the Kalahari Bushmen,” it said in a statement yesterday.


Survival International says the attacks started on Wednesday with a test attack at around 5pm (London time).

“This brewed to a very sophisticated 'distributed denial-of-service' onslaught that evening, [in which] many thousands of PCs around the world simultaneously bombarded Survival's Web site, knocking it offline.”

The organisation also says it suspects the two countries to be culprits of the attacks, which affected Friends of People Close To Nature, West Papua Media Alerts, West Papua Unite, Asian Human Rights Commission, Free West Papua Campaign, and West Papua Unite.

Other organisations that hosted the Indonesian torture video have also had their Web sites attacked. Similar attacks occurred during Survival's campaign against the Botswana government, after the Bushmen were evicted from their traditional lands.

False allegations

The government of Botswana has refuted these accusations. It says this is another plot by Survival International to tarnish its image.

The permanent secretary of the Botswana Government Communication and Information System, Dr Jeff Ramsay, told ITWeb this morning, that as a developing country Botswana do not have the capacity to launch such attacks.

“This is ludicrous; if we wanted to do such thing we could have done so a long time ago. Survival International has been attacking Botswana for years now,” he said. This accusations show that Survival International is desperate to bring Botswana into disrepute, he added.

Survival International and the government of Botswana have been in and out of court in the case where Survival International was fighting the government for the return of the Bushmen to Central Kalahari Game Reserve, from where they were evicted. The Bushmen won the case and they have since then been allowed to return.