Blogging and Human Rights

I was reading a wonderful AP story on human rights in the middle east and how bloggers are potentially transforming countries from the inside out. The problem of course is some middle eastern countries are jailing bloggers and blocking their blogs form being accessed in their county.
Reporters Without Borders has five Mideast countries — Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Syria — on its list of the globe’s 13 worst Internet freedom enemies that block web sites and detain bloggers. Most of us are likely not surprised by the strong middle east showing in this statistic.

According to the article, governments defend their Web regulations, saying they are protecting citizens from "immoral" and "defamatory" content. But rights groups and bloggers say officials are really trying to retain their media control.

"Five years ago, authorities didn’t care about bloggers because the Internet’s reach was less," said Julien Pain, head of Reporters Without Borders’ Internet Freedom Desk. "Now, what is most interesting is the Weblogs in the local languages. You look at what the authorities censor — they censor content in local languages."

Rights groups have been especially critical of Iran, where there have been some arrests of bloggers. Iran has also blocked some Web sites critical of the government — even shutting down access to the video-sharing forum, where Iranian opposition groups abroad have posted videos.

I just can’t imagine blogging about controversial issues in a country that could jail me at a moments notice because my comments offended someone. I admire these brave bloggers who risk their lives to further democracy in their countries.
Of course I may be stretching the issue here by saying these bloggers are furthering democracy but the base of democracy in these countries will have to come from a large group of well informed citizens who learn more about how to the change their situation for the better. To some degree there is safety in numbers and as bloggers expose government problems, larger groups of people will hopefully rally around a common cause which will eventually become freely electing their own leaders.

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