Internet Censorship Around The World Part 2: Afghanistan & Burma…

What do Vietnam, Afghanistan, Syria, North Korea, Cuba, Burma, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tunisia, Iran, and Egypt have in common?  They all have large Internet Censorship.


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While only 3.4% of the population of 29,121,286 people have Internet access, there is little they can do with it.  Even though Afghanistan is our ally and a supposed fledgling democracy, this passage reveals the true conditions there. IT concerns the case of Sayed Parwez Kambaksh, a Afghan journalist:

In Afghanistan. In late 2007, he was a student at Balkh University and a journalist forJahan-e-Naw (New World), a daily. On 27 October 2007, police arrested Kambaksh, and accused him of “blasphemy and distribution of texts defamatory of Islam.”  The authorities claimed that Kambaksh distributed writing posted on the Internet by Arash Bikhoda (Arash the atheist). Bikoda’s writing criticizes the treatment of women under Islamic Law. On 22 January 2008, the Primary Court in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif sentenced Kambaksh to death for “blasphemy and distribution of texts defamatory of Islam.” The court’s chief judge said, “He insulted the prophet Mohammed. He called him a murderer and a womanizer.”  The court relied on Kambaksh’s confession. Kambaksh denounced the confession as a product of torture.  On 29 January 2008, the Upper House of Parliament issued a declaration supporting the death sentence but quickly retracted it because of a technical error.  Kambaksh appealed the decision, and the case moved to a Court of Appeals in Kabul. In October 2008, the court upheld the conviction but commuted the sentence to imprisonment for twenty years.  Kambaksh appealed to the Supreme Court. On 11 or 12 February 2009, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Court of Appeals.  In late August 2009, President Hamid Karzai granted “amnesty” to Kambaksh, and Kambaksh left Afghanistan.

In June 2010, The Afghan Ministry of Communications, mandated by Presidential decree, that Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, YouTube and any sites dealing with gambling or pornography be filtered from access by the Afghan people.* **  But the government, apparently does not have the technology to do it as of July 2010.***  There have been reports that the government, did not wish social sites filtered. As of this time as far as we can tell the Internet is fairly unfiltered in Afghanistan.

Burma (Myanmar)

Burma is one the strictest nations in the world when it comes to Internet filtering and censorship.**  Nay Phone Latt, a Burmese blogger, was arrested for taking video of farmlands that farmers were complaining about to the government as well as for running a blog where he urged reforms.

Another Burmese well loved comedian named Zarganar,  was jailed and sentenced to 35 years in prison for making jokes about the military junta there.  If you wish to send a card to the government urging them to free him go here.  We are placing a video explaining his situation:
Here are more oppressive events in Burma from reporters without borders:

In 2007, AHRC highlighted a case where two men were imprisoned for allegedly possessing videos showing the wedding of the daughter of Burma’s most senior army officer, Senior General Than Shwe. They received two years and four and a half years imprisonment respectively for intention to incite public fear and for violations of video censorship regulations for possessing CD videos that showed footage of the lavish, over-the-top, dripping with diamonds wedding of Than Shwe’s daughter, contrasted with the images of poverty and children begging in the streets. By some estimates the wedding cost up to $40 million; in a country where the government spends less than 50c a year on education for its children, and where people struggle to afford to buy basic food staples like rice. These videos had widely circulated in Burma in late 2006 – creating real uproar and laying the ground for the popular protests in 2007; demonstrating why the regime fears the uncontrolled circulation of images.**

In 2008, Ma Hia Hia Win, 25, a journalist, was arrested in Burma.   She was sentenced to 7 years initially on the charge on the trumped up charge of being the owner of a unregistered motorbike.  She did not even own it.  But the report became political for her violation of the infamous Electronic Act:

The local police had directed the investigations and the charges until this point, but when the Special Branch became involved they lodged more politically-styled charges against the accused. The Special Branch claimed that the videotaping was a threat to national security that it and violated a number of laws. At the end of December the two were convicted for a further series of offences. In total Hla Hla Win has received 27 years and Myint Naing, 32. The police themselves have acknowledged that the contents of the video footage were not more than interviews with farmers about a broken artesian bore; an interview with a couple of monks; an interview with a child soldier and footage of the signboard of the local National League for Democracy branch, with an interview with two more persons there. None of the content is illegal, and it even corresponds with state policy on agricultural development and the ending of the recruitment of minors to the armed forces. **

You can go here to write a letter to the Burmese authorities asking them to release her.  The list of crackdowns on “cyber-dissidents” goes on and on.

We shall continue in this series with many more countries.


~ by plusultratech on October 30, 2010.

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