Just after I finished my previous post about the value or otherwise of blogging in politics, I saw this fascinating story from the BBC on the vital role bloggers are playing in letting the world know about the huge protests in Burma against the country’s military dictatorship.
Burma’s bloggers are using the internet to beat censorship, and tell the world what is happening under the military junta’s veil of secrecy.
I’ve written before about this crucial role that blogging and the internet in general can play. It’s no surprise that dictatorships try every way possible to control and suppress the internet. Getting information to the outside world about oppression and brutality is a pivotal way to bring pressure to bear on thugs and despots. It is fair to say that the pressure on Indonesia about their brutality in East Timor would not have been nearly as powerful had it not been for the film footage available of the Dili massacre (which was smuggled out at great personal risk to some people). The Chinese government is notorious for their ‘great firewall of China’, and even Fiji tried to shut down websites after the coup earlier this year.
The Burmese regime is probably the worst human rights abuser between here and China, and the Australian government has been spectacularly lame, even by their ‘standards’, in putting any sort public or diplomatic pressure on them. Even other ASEAN countries, who are obsessive about staying out of each other’s internal affairs, have done more to bring pressure. The military regime has managed to hang on for a very long time, and one can only hope that this latest very brave display of defiance and demands for freedom by many thousands of Burmese finally and quickly bears fruit.
(link to BBC story found through this comment)
UPDATES: It looks like things are getting nastier very quickly in Burma. Click here to sign a global petition aimed at pressuring the international community (particularly China) to take real action to stop the bloodshed and oppression.
The link to the main blog referred to in the BBC story – Ho Htike – is here.
Some people are organising a ‘wear a red shirt for Burma’ solidarity action for tomorrow (Friday). For those on Facebook, here’s a link.
Some insights from Tim Dunlop at Blogocracy.
(3/10) – An excellent piece by George Monbiot in The Guardian.