Thursday, February 07, 2008

The dangers of blogging

The world of blogging is becoming increasingly dangerous as the state clamps down on dissenting voices. China is the latest to censor one writer who used his blog to highlight human rights in his country. Hu Jia was arrested on 27th December 2006 and remains under house arrest [BBC]. While Mr Hu remains at home, unable to communicate to the outside world, journalist Ching Cheong was released in a ‘goodwill gesture’ ahead of the Beijing Olympic Games [BBC / The Times]. In Saudi Arabia the future of another blogger remains uncertain after he was detained by authorities last month [BBC]. Fouad al-Farhan, whose blog deals with corruption and the plight of political prisoners, has himself become a political cause for other bloggers around the world. His case has even been highlighted on international news outlets such as CNN. In another part of the Middle East blogger Wael Abbas, an Egyptian, received threats for writing about police brutality. At one point, Abbas had both his accounts at YouTube and Yahoo suspended.
Afghanistan is now safe place for bloggers as Parwez Kambakhsh found out earlier this year after distributing material which ‘questioned the Koran’ [New Statesman / BBC]. However after much international pressure his death sentence has been put on hold, though he still remains confined to a prison cell in northern Afghanistan [CNN].

A few years ago blogging was practically unheard of in mainstream journalism, but it has proved itself to be a powerful force in countries such as Burma as a means, not only of freedom of expression, but also often the only way news in those countries can transcend borders.
These days, the Committee to Protect Journalists has taken up the cause of many bloggers struggling to be heard against various authoritarian regimes.

Of course the consequences of blogging can affect one’s personal life or even employment status. Bloggers have been sacked and even sued for their commentary [Blogging consequences]. But it is the political censorship that worries many [BBC] especially if it translates into harsh or even capital sentences [Reporters sans Frontieres].

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