Even before Nargis, this was a nation where only 1 percent of the population had private Internet access. Maybe that has something to do with the punitive cost: $1,300 for a broadband connection. The average Burmese household income is $40 a month, reports Soe Myint, the editor of Mizzima News, a news website in India run by Burmese.
Iran, which calls itself a democracy, is staying abreast of the times by creating a special prosecutor’s office for Internet crimes. New legislation will make it a crime to create a blog that’s determined to be promoting “corruption, prostitution, and apostasy.”
The new penalty? Death.
Do they need this law? Iranian blogger Omidreza Mirsayafi, jailed for insulting the country’s religious leaders, died in Evin Prison in March under circumstances that have not been fully explained, reports CPJ.
In Tunisia, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali warned against examining government “mistakes and violations.” That, he added, would be “an activity that is unbecoming of our society and is not an expression of freedom or democracy.”
It’s a relief to know that democracies don’t make mistakes.
For a more detailed look at international Internet access, usage, and restrictions, it’s worth checking out a special report released a month ago by Freedom House. The report covers 15 countries, including 5 of CPJ’s 10 Worst Blogger nations.