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A story behind AsiaSource 2005
This page gathers documentation about what happened to ["Jaromil"] in the AsiaSource2005 gathering.
The events are briefed in this article and following comments http://www.tacticaltech.org/node/228 of the event's Blog by Frederick Noronha who was present.
The following mail, which is a broken link in the above article, is jaromil's report about the happenings written the day after and therefore quite emotionally involved, but still referring facts.
[Asiasource-l] Denied to attend the Asiasource FLOSS gathering by three infiltrates From: jaromil jaromil at dyne.org - Tue Feb 1 11:20:02 CET 2005 -----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE----- Hash: SHA1
what happened here in Bangalore is that i was interdicted to held sessions together with participants of the Asiasource initiative and intimated to leave by USA infiltrates in a free software event organized for asian NGO operators.
I autonomously offered my help for the workshop sessions of Asiasource since i was traveling thru India within the peroid it has been happening. My contribution was agreed together with Stephanie Hackney of the TacticalTech collective of organizers, it was voluntary and not retributed.
The infiltrates who usurped the program of the conference are not mentioned on the program nor they are involved in any way with free and open source software topics or practices, they had the purpose to blackmail me following an hidden agenda.
The context of this story is an Indian society which culturally stands fierce against the continuous USA subtile colonialist attacks, see the most recent case of the Benny Hinn preacher and the extended property and commerce owned by foreign massonic and closed societies in Bangalore.
Allen Gunn, who comes from his beloved California and calls himself Gunner, was the sheriff denying me to enter, with phisical interdiction when it has been necessary, inside the Audio/Video lab of the AsiaSource camp.
The other two connationals old friends of Gunner, namely Greg from California and the israelian Ronit Avni, founder & director of "Just Visions" apparently a video service company with expertise in evidence video shooting and based in New York, are not at all involved with free and open source software nor are mentioned anywhere in the online and paper documentation of the Asiasource event.
In fact, me as well other participants from the "Open Content" track of the event, we had the chance to verify that both Greg and Ronit are not proficient at all in usage nor ethics of free and open source software.
Most incredibly, the sherif Gunner and his two fellows Greg and Ronit are not named at all amongst the participants on the event website you find on http://www.tacticaltech.org/asiasource
Each day of the Asiasource I was interdicted to keep training sessions with the participants, with the laconic goodmorning given by Ronit "this is your day off" for the only two days i was able to attend the meeting.
The strategy of the infiltrated clan has been of keeping minimum comunication with me about the situation, leaving me in an emotional state because of their insults and the high injustice i have been witnessing. No mediation about their intentions to take over the audio/video lab had success, despite my attempts and those of the local organizers of the camp, no chances were given to clear and tame the issue by the three infiltrates.
Several people witnessed the happenings in Visthar, a gorgeus gathering place not far from Bangalore, where it was held the free and open source meeting Asiasource, which collected the partecipations of more than a 100 NGO operators from all Asia.
Their actions reached to usurp the event by denying my partecipation, which was widely expected, plus removing from the whole program a course on independent radio making, which was interesting for a wide number of participants: the freedom of radio trasmission is currently an hot topic in Asia.
- - Chronicle of events in detail:
This is the day in which i arrived to Visthar, the location hosting the Asiasource gathering, late in the morning. After a very short pre-meeting between me Greg and Ronit we agreed to share the audio/video lab space to conduct our different programs, keeping an eye on points of contact and participants requests. In exchanging presentations i acknowledge that Ronit and Greg have nothing to do with FLOSS. It was also mentioned that there was no available program from TT regarding the audio/video track and i was told that my communication was poor regarding my activities. Indeed i had run workshops in the Summersource meeting 2 years ago in Vis (Croatia) also organized by the TacticalTech NGO, so i presumed that my activity was well clear to them. We had a small session that day with participants, in which me Marcell and another free software programmer from South Africa showed to the participants the GNU/Linux desktop in order to make them familiar with it.
In the opening circle, 100 and more persons present, Gunner introduces the agenda inviting facilitators to adapt carefully their programs to participants needs. Right after the circle i ask Ronit about her program for the morning getting in response that i "have a day off".
Curious to follow the activity of the lab i attend her theoretical talk: during that the computer classroom is kept unused, the talk is held in the tea space mantained by Patrice Riemens. There is no pertinence with any free and open source issue in this first session held by Ronit. At the end of the session, following a couple of requests i received from participants, i ask anyone interested to follow me in the computer room wich was free, to have a look to commandline usage and audio/video manipulation from text consoles (namely Sox and ImageMagick software). This parallel session overlapped the session that Greg held in the tea space, introducing people to basic video camera handling.
During the afternoon i receive the visit of Gunner warning me about a little problem lamented by Ronit, claiming that i should have not been operating the computers.
Later on Marcell, a friend from Zagreb whom i knew well before, approaches me mentioning he had a talk with Greg and Ronit: he understood they are advocating Apple computers to use in audio/video tasks and they are not concerned about the issues of the camp, furthermore he asks me the personal favour of "sacrifice" my position in case of confrontation because he predicts an escalation of the problem to a situation pretty close to the present one i'm documenting. By his words I presume they must have been pretty harsh in commenting about my presence there.
Until that moment i wasn't concerned at all about the possibility of such an absurd flow of events and i was surprised to see Marcell's great preocupation after he had a talk to them. He also mentioned that after that warning he would have to stop acting as my friend and start acting in representance of his NGO; which he did, indeed.
During the whole day i couldn't find an oportunity to talk directly to Greg and Ronit, only once i met Ronit asking her to talk, but she refused mentioning she was having an interesting discussion elsewhere, then she went.
As usual the day starts with the morning circle, where with my surprise Gunner announces that my session is moved in the afternoon. While i kept silent, a participant objected that it would have been overlapping with the other 4 sessions happening that afternoon. After that i mentioned that the session was probably not going to happen since we would have needed to discuss that (and i had agreed previously with Lawrence Liang that i would had taken part to his talk).
After the morning circle and a short before the start of the morning sessions (which are supposed to start immediately) i was finally able to talk to Greg and Ronit, in presence of Gunner and Marcell. I started offering my apologies to Greg and Ronit for having called participants in the computer room the day before: my point was that i was asked by them, still i was recognizing my fault in not having agreed with the program of the day that was dictated to me by Ronit: "have a day off" (see day 1). In response to my apologies i got insulted from Ronit: she called me egoist. I briefly interrupted to ask why i should be insulted when offering apologies.
Gunner insisted that i should have a session in the afternoon, then I explained that I agreed before the convention to participate to Lawrence Liang's session. I also specified that, in case they would prevent me to held a session that day the time i could use wasn't enough to complete my program.
At that point Marcell stepped into the discussion saying that i am a difficult person and that i was manipulating the situation, where i felt insulted the second time as i remarked to them. To conclude the pityful discussion i just asked if i was aloud to have a morning session that morning or should i have taken "another day off": they confirmed me the second option saying that yes, i should have another day off.
At that point, on the waves of my emotions, i sayd "I leave" and turned my back to them, going for a glass of water. Patrice Riemens took care of me during the small emotional breakdown i had right after this discussion, while Ronit and Greg started the session.
In a short walk I acquired back my peace of mind, i came back to the camp and tried to reach the audio/video lab. From that moment on i was followed by the sheriff Gunner who was closely monitoring my movements. In front of the audio/video lab he verbally denied me the access to it; i replied that it was my intention to follow the session of Greg and Ronit and continued my steps to the lab, but at that point he runned in front of me and pushed me back, phisically interdicting my access to it. Since i'm a peaceful person i opposed no resistance and walked back in the other direction.
During the morning i talked with Sunil from the Mahiti NGO whom, having known the situation, kindly offered me to mediate. I was glad to accept his help and i told him i was available to stay since i care more for the event and the partecipants requesting me practical sessions instead of following such stupid soap operas. We also agreed that the insults i received and the aggression i was facing wouldn't have been a proper context for a peaceful collaboration, so we decided to ask simply to let me have a session in the next morning, then i would go away. Sunil mediation couldn't obtain anything, he noticed to me after talking to Gunner that he couldn't reply and that he needed time to think about.
Amazingly enough, while i was kept away of the classroom, most of the partecipants repetedly requested me to held them training sessions on specific topics: after all, during Greg's and Ronit's "lessons", the computers of the lab weren't used at all, leaving a classroom of 6 PCs capable of multimedia operations just as a sandbox for the breaks. I was asked to held sessions on radio making and video streaming which are two principal topics for the training i offer. While listening to their requests my eyes got wet.
After the morning sessions, the lunch and a dance course which greatly contributed to tame down my worries, people gathered in the afternoon circle at 16:00. Before the start of the circle i found Gunner and ask him about his intentions regarding the mediation that Sunil proposed. First he refused to talk with me because of being busy, then he promptly said that i should leave that day.
I took part to the circle and announced that i was told to leave because the facilitators of my track were not tolerating my presence there: a deep silence followed my announcement.
After that i asked Greg and Ronit to talk, which they initially refused to do, but since i was praying them and asking it as a favour, Greg stood up and came to talk to me. I asked him if he was aware of the meaning of what was happening and that by missing i couldn't carry on in doing what i was committed to do there, also by requests of participants and he replyed that he didn't really wanted me to leave.
After that i've been surrounded of people asking what was happening, i reached Gunner and shouted at him that "I am sorry that i exist", then accompained by Patrice and Sunil i went preparing my backpack. Right before leaving i received a warm goodbye by the participants of my track, making photos with them and exchanging contacts in order to be able in future to get in touch about the issues we missed to talk about.
At about 18:00 o'clock I took a car to Bangalore together with Sunil, who gracefully took care of me and heard my stories about the happenings for the whole night.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- - Why do you talk about infiltrates?
I address Greg and Ronit in particular as infiltrates for two main reasons: 1- their presence is not stated anywhere in the paper and website
- documentation of the event
2- their activity doesn't involves free and open source sofware in any
- way, nor they have experience with GNU/Linux systems.
Gunner the sheriff is operating with the TacticalTech NGO collective since years and leading various free and open source conferences, still without his full involvement in the strategies played by infiltrators things would have been going way different. In fact a peculiarity of the way he leads camps is his total and dictatorial control of the events.
- - Are you sure about their identity?
Allen Gunn is running a large number of free software oriented camps around the world, as he declares himself, he is originally from his beloved California.
Ronit's identity is known to me only thanks to a chunk of mail forwarded on the Asiasource mailinglist by Mohammed Sameer on the 25 january, who kept Ronit's signature in his reply. Curiously enough, his reply is in response to an offline mail.
Greg's real identity is unkown to me, i could only catch that he is familiar with Goa and he is a californian good friend of Gunner. He has long straight and brown hair and often wears sunglasses.
I identify them as USA infiltrates because they are a group of friends sharing the same nationality among more than 100 persons attending to the meeting. They shared an hidden agenda since the actions they took were absolutely against the interest of camp participants.
- - Why do you talk about hidden agenda? do you have any proof of them
- being connected to any USA intelligence service in India?
I suppose they have an hidden agenda. I'm only sure that their way of disrupting the Asiasource event and spoiling it of its original contents is done by purpose and has been likely carefully planned.
Furthermore I deliberately received insults in response to my attempts of mediating, my availability to mediate can be witnessed by Sunil (Mahiti NGO) and Stephanie Hackney (TT NGO). The insults i received were deliberately targeted to spawn a violent reaction in me. Other subtle tactics were used in order to find more reasons to exclude me.
Since the first day the provocative motto "you have your day off today" was being told to me every morning, which is not a good starting point for communication among facilitators who are supposed to operate together, indeed.
When i had to carry enough provocations i emotionally declared that "I leave" because i've been already denied to operate with participants for the first two days of the event, which makes the time available for my training unsufficient. Since then i had the impression they reached their objective and just took care to remember me to leave soon enough.
Their overall behaviour clearly shows me an underlying tactic in their actions which has been surely premeditated at least among the circle of infiltrates i'm addressing.
- - Why the participants and the other organizers didn't reacted?
I'm convinced that oeace must be kept within the grounds of such a large conference, so I just left the ground when i was told to do so. After the morning meeting of the second day it was already clear to me that i was going to be excluded by them from Asiasource, unless i would have kept carrying such a subtle boycotting on me for the whole time of the gathering.
My last mediation attempt was facilitated by Sunil of Mahiti, asking to have at least one morning session with the participants, but this opportunity was strictly denied by Gunner and later explained with the motivation of having already restructured the program without my presence.
Since the whole process of the meeting is firmly controlled by Gunner, quoting it to indians as "the american way", noone really reacted over his voice. I was told by Sunil that Mahiti would be intentioned to invite me back to Bangalore in the future.
Many Participants warmly greated me and wanted to make photos before i leave, many of them explicited their concerns for not having a possibility to sit together and see how an internet radio station can be easily setted up using free and open source software.
No further action that i know of was taken by organizers and participants.
The Asiasource program hasn't been fulfilled, my partecipation which was widely announced has been obstacled since the first day i arrived and the flow of events made me and others around me concerned about my safe staying in the camp.
Participants couldn't access the sessions i've been offering: three modules including the usage of the GNU/Linux distribution dyne:bolic liveCD for multimedia production, a course on how to setup a radio studio and an online audio stream using free software and a course on video compression, streaming and format conversion.
I spent a total of four and a half days, first struggling to have some time disposable to fullfill my intentions and in second place, after i left the camp, to complete this report since no participant to the Summersource had the chance to listen to facts i hereby documented.
In the hope that someone is able to further investigate and react to what happened, i ask you to forward this mail to anyone interested.
thanks for your interest and concern. ciao
jaromil, dyne.org rasta coder, http://rastasoft.org
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The full names of the infiltrators are:
- Greg Bernstein
- Ronit Avni
both friends introduced by the leader facilitator Allen "Gunner" Gunn
Trustful withnesses of what happened:
- Sunil Abraham of Mahiti.org
- all subscribed partecipants to the multimedia workshop
The Free Software Foundation India confirmed its concerns about the contents of AsiaSource and, even before acknowledging the facts hereby reported, had developed mistrust towards the initiative for a previous episode (unspecified by now).
Out of emotions, jaromil claims are concerns about the coherence of content and presentation in such an initiative which draws itself as a FLOSS camp for NGOs, but fails to provide what it is funded for, while putting in danger the facilitators volunteering for it.
for comments or inquiries please contact jaromil \at\ dyne.org