Monday, May 4, 2009
Worst Places to Blog From
There were no surprises for me when I first saw the list of Top Ten Worst Countries to be a Blogger to find countries such as Iran, Myanmar and Cuba included in the infamous list.
At number 2 Iran has a fairly large blogger population and most of them aren’t afraid of the things they say, I know that I follow a few Persian blogs and most of these people don’t mince words. However, the Iranian government has been holding an Iranian-Canadian blogger known as the Blogfather since October on charges of being an Israeli spy or something along those lines. The government there apparently isn’t afraid to stick bogus charges and throw due process out the door to silence offensive bloggers.
Myanmar (Burma) is a scary place if you’re a blogger... Right up there on the list at number 1 it has handed down ridiculously long prison sentences to blogger ranging in the 40-50 years behind bars (and please remember that these are not the nice Canadian jails with cable and a gym and 3 meals per day). But they forge on, the Burmese in exile publish blogs and write and get the news that even the international press can’t get. I’m fortunate enough to know one of these bloggers, Ashin Mettacara, who has a blog, a news site and has helped launch a social network called Smile Club to help Burmese and people from all around the world connect.
Cuba is the place that I’m most familiar with on this list. It sits at number 4 only because bloggers haven’t yet been given lengthy prison terms. Access to the internet is restricted in Cuba, especially for locals who can mostly only access it from government run “internet cafes” at the ridiculous price of 5 or 6 Cucs per month when the average wage is 18-20 Cucs per month. The government there has blocked access to all the blogs hosted on desdecuba.com (among others) and has forced the sites to be hosted outside the island with the help of friends living abroad.
Again, I wasn’t surprised by any of the members of the list and I’m glad to say that I live in a country where I’m free to say whatever I want whenever I want to whomever I want. I can safely have the internet at my house without worrying that a team of special ops soldiers will kidnap me in the night for what I’ve said or simply for being online. As much as I complain about our politics and our justice system, I’m eternally thankful to be living here.