The social not work

Discontent is catching, that’s the fear. It seems to be a valid one. As one populace after another looks over at their neighbour, newly freed from the shackles of repressive government, and thinks I want that-  it could be me. 

Authorities in a number of countries are getting twitchy. It’s like the fear that a swine flu epidemic is heading their way, and they are keen to stave it off. We’ve all seen the posters: catch it, bin it, kill it. This seems to be a mantra that resonates, particularly with the Chinese government. 

Today, to the many social media sites which remain blocked including Facebook, Twitter, You-tube and Flickr, the professional networking site Linkedin was added. It appears to be the first victim of China’s increased censorship clampdown in the wake of calls on the internet for pro-democracy demonstrations like those in Tunisia.   

The Chinese authorities are not alone in lashing out in panic. Earlier in the week, we reported on the 45 arrests in Zimbabwe, of people who attended a lecture entitled “Revolt in Egypt and Tunisia. What lessons can be learnt by Zimbabwe and Africa”. Under the treason charges they face, the death penalty could be applied. 

If the title of the lecture in Zimbabwe was deliberately provocative- not that the suppressive reaction was appropriately proportionate-  it was nothing compared to the bare-faced goading from South Korea, to civilians in the North. 

Apparently they have delivered pamphlets from helium balloons to let their neighbours know about the protests in the Middle East, in the hope that they might provoke a similar mutiny. I concede, it seems unlikely, but perhaps as a start at the very least, in one of the most brutally repressed societies in the world, civilians might consider changing their status to “just looking”.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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