Blogging is a very popular online activity. Some bloggers blog for fun and cover a wide number of categories while others do it for a living. In some countries however bloggers are unable to blog freely and below we will be listing some countries that perhaps can be classified as “worst country for bloggers to be in” based on internet restrictions and censorship. Our VPN services allow you to protect yourself by encrypting internet traffic between you and our servers and keeps you anonymous on the web.
Blogging in Burma
Topping the list of worst places on earth to blog in is Burma, and they are off the charts on the opression scale. A number of other countries within the Middle East and Asia make the list for their harsh Internet laws, but today we will be focusing on Burma. Government repression is at an all time high in Burma, and escalating into more drastic governmental involvement.
Internet censorship, access restrictions, and personal data logs are just some of the ways the government is getting involved in restricting freedom of speech. From detentions, regulations, and intimidation to long term prison sentences, these governments aren’t joking around. Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt have the highest level of oppressive legislation in the Middle East. China and Vietnam are also aware of these developing blog cultures and set similar regulatory ordinances. We will now look at Burma exclusively.
Burma is notorious for censoring their print and broadcast media. When the internet started posing the same risk, new censorship regulations were introduced. As far as home internet usage is concerned, only 1% of all internet activity is accessed from private residences in Burma. The other 99% access the internet via cyber cafes.
These cafes are under heavy surveillence, and military guards are posted at many of the them. Censorship laws must be obeyed or arrests get made for defamation. Once, during an uprising in 2007, the country shut down access to the entire internet infrastructure. With governmental capability to monitor and suppress all internet communications, Burma Web users are routinely blocked from viewing political opposition groups and sites with similar content.
Two bloggers have even received prison sentences. More bloggers and online journalists were imprisoned than any other group in 2008! Using the internet as a method of publishing anything a user desires is dangerous, and the government’s iron fist is an ever present reminder of the consequence.
Bloggers who defame religious or political representatitves and/or the religion of Islam are the most frequently detained and harassed. The purpose of these harsh punishments are to serve as a warning to the mainstream public. Burma’s authorities have made it clear that people who slander their religion and politics on the Internet are breaking the law.
Repression is a threat to press freedom worldwide, not just in Burma. The Internet has made it much easier for everyday people to become published authors with a suprisingly large number of followers. This represents a threat to any authoritarian government. That’s the reason authorities are tightening up on bloggers, they want everyone to know the consequences of misusing power. Furthermore, authoritarian governments want blog writers with large followings to realize they can pose no real threat to a government that has the power to crush them in their palm.
Information opression and control has been deemed a necessary authoritarian precaution in Burma. Meaning, the censorship laws are not there to make life more difficult, they are simply in place to keep the countries stability and laws intact. A revolutionary uprising can easily be organized on the internet, so Burma must stay in complete control of anything that could cause a destructive event or damage their religious way of life.
Blogging in Iran
Following a similar freedom of speech regulation as Burma, Iran follows a close second in terms of blogging dangers. What you learn will leave you in a state of disbelief.
Iran is famous for harassing and detaining bloggers who accuse religious and political figures of wrongdoing, as well as any form of slander directed towards the religion of Islam. The people of Iran take their way of life seriously, holding religious beliefs and social morality sacred to their lives. Blogs give ordinary people in Iran the ability to cause political unrest, social uprising, and organize rebellious events. Everything about Iran’s beloved way of life is put at risk. The freedom of the Internet can be used to promote various forms of vile conduct, outlawed in Iran, which are not included in a God fearing way of life.
In Iran, all bloggers must register their Web sites with the Ministry of Art and Culture and wait on the decision to allow or deny its accessibility. With millions of sites already blocked, more get added to the list all the time using very explicit guidelines. (Unblock blocked sites) A special prosecutor’s office has also been created in Iran, focusing solely on Internet issues through the aid of government intelligence services. Organized crime can easily be organized into real life events by means of the Internet, and Iran is merciless when it comes to the breaking of their clearly defined laws.
Iran has often been described as “the biggest prison for journalists in the Middle East”, and for good reason. 20-30 bloggers have already been imprisoned, not taking into account the total number of journalism arrests from other means of publication, such as magazines.
Despite the harsh punishments associated with defamation through blogging, it remains a consistently popular means of communication, especially in Iranian youth. According to a October 2005 research study, there are approximately 700,000 blogs in Iran, with 40,000-110,000 of these active at any given moment.
Human rights groups and bloggers are trying to help out individual situations by shedding additional light on them. With worldwide recognition, unjust imprisonments and convictions stand less of a chance of going unnoticed. These human rights groups, such as Reporters Without Borders, have an immense following of people. Situations they look upon are usually dealt with fairly, not allowed to be misconstrued, and most importantly, seen by the eyes of the mainstream world
Iran may set strict laws regarding freedom of information and publication, but they are also under the watchful eye of international human rights law as well. It is truly a benefit to have human rights organizations that come to the aid of potentially unlawful arrests.
Blogging in Syria
Syria makes number three on the list of worst places on earth to blog. Authorities have detained bloggers for posting content in violation of their ordinances. Any posts that are recognized as false or detrimental to national unity are blocked or removed from view by public eyes. Self censorship seems to be common practice in Syria. An order from the Ministry of Communication demanded all Internet café owners recover customer details, including names and times of all computer usage. Regularly, these details must be submitted to authorites so they can keep a record of events and people. If deemed necessary, authorities harass and detain bloggers who are seen as antigovernment or slanderous individuals.
To show an example of how extremely sensitive government regulations are in regards to blog posting, here is an example. Waed al-Mhana is an advocate for endangered archaeological sites who made a post criticizing the demolition of a market shop in Old Damascus. The man is now on trial for violating the country’s press code on the premise of abasement. So it would be a smart idea for anybody within Syria to check the rules and regulations related to blogging. Better safe than sorry, use a VPN and conceal you real IP when posting!
But it’s not all bad, blogging helps young Syrians get actively involved in politics in a positive way. Praising their country’s prowess and allowing them a productive method of self expression is looked upon as a good thing in Syria. Blogging is also helping many ordinary Syrians reawaken their interest in politics after many years of authoritarian Ba’ath party rulership. Blogging allows people to savor the true virtue of anonymity. Never having to reveal a name or identity to carry on a conversation can be beneficial to both sides of a subject oriented conversation. With no formalities involved, discussions can get broken down to core elements, solving problems in less time. Syrian authorities recognize this fact and have far from given up hope on blogging as a legitimate means of problem solving and communication.
The future of blogging in Syria looks to be a two-sided coin. On one hand the punishments given to slanderous and antigovernment troublemakers are going to get worse, and more frequent. On the flip side, you have the bloggers who are beneficial to the country with their blogging posts. Work related posts, school teachings, and posts of a productive nature will shine brighter in the eyes of Syrian governmental authorities, and allow the expansion of current and future businesses and schools. Productivity is the true nature of blogs, as well as the internet in general. The quicker some truly noteable blog related benefits are experienced by Syria, the quicker things will start to move in a much more positive direction.
Blogging in Cuba
Cuba is highly patriotic and very selective with who they allow Internet access to. Only high ranking government officials and people with links to the Communist Party have home Internet access. The rest of the population accesses the Internet through hotels or Internet cafés monitored by the government. These cafés utilize expensive voucher cards that provide timed periods of Internet access.
A small portion of independent bloggers have the amount of Internet access time required to detail everyday details of their life and the state of Cuba’s regime. They host these blogs outside of the country, and the majority of the island is blocked from accessing them. Some of these independent bloggers are continually harassed by the government authorities for posting their conflicting government views. Cuban authority figures demand that only pro-government information praising Cuba and positive views in relation to the authoritative regulations be allowed.
Even the subject of Internet access in Communist Cuba is a touchy issue. Less than two percent of their population have Word Wide Web access. The reason for this is pure and simple economics. U.S. trade embargoes and the overall financial state of Cuba make Internet access for the vast majority of Cuba an impossibility. .
In 2002, dozens of journalists who blatantly called themselves dissidents, published slanderous material about the regime, and consequently imprisoned. Many of them are still in prison, and this reminder keeps the majority complacent to Cuban laws.
Yoani Sánchez is one of the only well known Cuban bloggers, and posts to a blog called Generación Y. She routinely documents the daily life in Cuba, complete with descriptions of her surroundings and how average Cuban lives are lived. Communism is the way of life, and most people are not legally allowed to access the Internet., let alone blog. Yoani is a blogging pioneer, well known in the United States for her depictions of the circumstances surrounding life in Cuba.
As sort of a punishment, she says, she is not allowed to leave the country. She has requested to travel abroad three times, and each of those requests was met with a denial. Because she is a public figure, a sort of celebrity in Cuba, she is watched by Cuban officials. Officials dictate what she is allowed and not allowed to do, with traveling being one of the primary dictations. Yoani is a special case because of the publicity she generates. Denying someone the ability to travel abroad without providing valid reasoning displays a classic representation of authoritarian force Communist Cuba is capable of. This does not mean Cuba always treats their citizens this way, they simply reserve their right to exercise their power..
At this time, not recomended to use our services if you are in Cuba.
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