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Reporters Without Borders: Bahrain, Belarus added to the 'Enemies of the Internet' List

Common Dreams staff

Reporters without Borders, the Paris-based organization devoted to media freedom,  released its annual "Enemies of the Internet" report today. The report is released to commemorate the World Day Against Cyber Censorship. 

Reporters without Borders added Belarus and Bahrain to the list of enemies, which also includes Burma, China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. These countries, according to the report, "combine often drastic content filtering with access restrictions, tracking of cyber-dissidents and online propaganda."

From the report:

Bahrain offers an example of an effective news blackout based on a remarkable array of repressive measures: keeping the international media away, harassing human rights activists, arresting bloggers and netizens (one of whom died in detention), smearing and prosecuting free speech activists, and disrupting communications, especially during the major demonstrations.

In Belarus, President Lukashenko’s regime has increased his grip on the Web as the country sinks further into political isolation and economic stagnation. The Internet, a space used for circulating information and mobilizing protests, has been hit hard as the authorities have reacted to “revolution via the social media.” The list of blocked websites has grown longer and the Internet was partially blocked during the “silent protests.” Some Belarusian Internet users and bloggers have been arrested while others have been invited to “preventive conversations” with the police in a bid to get them to stop demonstrating or covering demonstrations.

In addition to the 12 countries on the enemies list, 14 nations are considered "under surveillance" by the organization.  Venezuela and Libya were both removed entirely from the report this year.

The United States is not listed in the report, but Reporters Without Borders did express concern about the country's handling of Wikileaks and Bradley Manning.

The report says:

Speeches by U.S. officials on the importance of the fight against online censorship and their financial support for anti-censorship tools is belied by the treatment of WikiLeaks. Using Visa and MasterCard to cut off its access to funds has hampered the site’s operations. Bradley Manning, suspected of being one of WikiLeaks’ informers, has been detained for several months in dreadful conditions. The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, is the subject of a “secret indictment” which Reporters Without Borders urges the U.S. authorities to clarify.


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