Today I read with great interest and pride that my home country has granted asylum and given protection to an individual from the country of Bahrain. His alleged crime? Blogging!!
Ali Abdulemam, also known as the “Bahraini blogger” was reportedly critical of the Bahraini Royal families crackdown on freedom of expression and took to the internet to express his disgust. The authorities decided to come down hard and he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Thankfully, with help, he managed to escape and the UK is providing him with a safe place to live.
The Human Rights First group, which advocate for Internet freedoms as part of their overall mission to push for International Human Rights, sum it up well when they say: “the Internet and other communication technologies have created unprecedented opportunities to share information, opening up paths for pro-democracy groups, activists, journalists and individuals around the world to organize, and hold their governments accountable“. We as Western nation citizens should do everything that we can to help ensure that every human has the right to express themselves in a free and open way without fear of reprisal.
The Internet is the best resource available to us and it should not be up to any government to decide what and how we use that resource. There are so many examples that show what a positive effect it can have from Tunisia to Egypt, Libya to Syria – all groups one way or another trying to make a better life for themselves with the aid of technology. Would the Arab Spring uprising have happened without this resource available to them? Doubtful, in my opinion. I hope the Bahraini blogger continues to blog and show that ultimately freedom of expression will win.
Many western governments are looking at passing legislation to potentially limit privacy and freedoms on the Internet and that is something that ACLU and EFF, amongst others are vehemently opposed to and with good reason! This, however ,is a whole other can of worms though that requires its own blog so stay tuned!