Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Internet Censorship Around The World Part 9 Turkmenistan & Uzbekistan

Both of these former Soviet Republics have a predominant Muslim population.  Freedom of the Press is not sanctioned.  Internet Censorship is rampant in both countries.

This country was a Soviet Republic until 1991.  It is one of the six independent Turkic states bordering Afghanistan.  It has a single political party system.  The first president was appointed for life until he died suddenly in 2006.  89% of the population is Muslim while 9% are Eastern Orthodox Christian.  In case you are not sure where this country is located we have supplied a map of both countries.

Internet Censorship
Turkmen soliders guard an Internet Cafe
In 2007, the government opened two Internet Cafes in the capital city of Ashgabat.  Before this, the people had received their news through satellite television, until 2008 when the government got rid of it.  This left the Internet as the only source where information could be gathered.  The government has total control over the Internet with human rights and news agency websites blocked.  There are about 127,000 Internet users as of 2009.  There are no private Internet Service Providers with only one government Internet agency.  Some call this country "Europe's North Korea."  There is some Wi-Fi access in the three cities Ashgabat, Balkanabat and Turkmenbashi.  During a visit by European Union delegates in 2007, the government permitted for the first time, comments to be left at their official website.  There have been no messaging accounts permitted since 2002.  Turkmenistan has been included in the 10 Worst Countries to be a Blogger.
click to enlarge

Uzbekistan was also a former Soviet Republic which gained in its independence in 1991.  The situation in regards to Internet Censorship is much better in Uzbekistan.  7,740,000 people have Internet access.  There are 447 private Internet Service Providers.  The government has complete control over the Internet now however, blocking access to independent sites that offer any dissension.  In February of 2009, the government blocked the Russian blog platform Livejournal.  When attention was brought to this outside the country, the government backed down and unblocked the site.

Djamshid Karinov
Djamshid Karimov
Karimov, the nephew to the president of the country, Islam Karimov was forcibly admitted to a psychiatric hospital after posting a series of articles critical or corruption in the country.  This forcible admission was done despite the doctor's opinion that Karimov was a "...well-balanced man in good health, intelligent and educated."

The government does not have the technical ability to block all access to the Internet as of yet, but it does its best to restrict the better known websites that offer "destructive news."  In 2003, a law was passed titled, Law on Media Freedom which restricted circulation of news online with an excerpt stating in Article 4 that:
...the freedom to inform the public can be limited in the name of the protection (...) of the community's moral values, national security and the country's spiritual, cultural and scientific potential.
As of January 2010, Karinov is still detained in the mental hospital.

Here is a list of Uzbek journalists who have been prosecuted for exercising non-violent dissension.  These reporters have been imprisoned except for one Umida Akhmedova, who was found guilty, but released because of public pressure emanating especially from France.  The government denies that there extensive filtering of websites, saying that the only filtering that is done is for "national security."  The editor of one of the major newspapers in Uzbekistan agreed with muzzling "unacceptable criticism" and suggested that the country imitate what he called the "Electronic Great Wall of China."

See These Pages:

In our next post in this series, we will discuss Vietnam.

1 comment:

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