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Internet and its enemies: 36 out of 65 assessed countries show decline in internet freedom, 41 passed or proposed new laws to curb It. #Ethiopia. #Africa January 6, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in 10 best Youtube videos, 25 killer Websites that make you cleverer, Africa, African Internet Censorship, Ethiopia & World Press Index 2014, Facebook and Africa, Internet Freedom.
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mapofinternetfreedom

January 6, 2015 (Dazeinfo) — Amid all those talks of an overwhelmingly large majority of people (83%) wanting to make the right to access the internet at affordable prices a basic human right, most of us do not bother to look beyond getting connected to the net. Without undermining the importance of being connected to the internet, there is no doubting the need to ensure freedom over the internet.

Sadly enough, internet freedom has fallen for the fourth consecutive year in wake of more and more countries introducing belligerent and often offensive online censorship measures while others tightened the noose and made their existing measures in regard to the same more rigorous.

The fifth annual Freedom on the Net 2014 report released by Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization, tracks the developments between May 2013 and May 2014 and observed that out of the 65 assessed countries, 36 have shown a negative trajectory in 2014.

Key Findings of the Freedom on the Net 2014 Report

It has been observed that an increasing number of countries are now giving legal sanction to laws that curb internet freedom, in total contrast with the previous government policy of controlling the internet using invisible strings.

Expressing dissent with the government policy or not toeing their line in the online space can invite legal action now, due to which more and more individuals and media outlets are under pressure to either censor their online behavior or face legal action and, in extreme cases, even arrest.

That is in addition to blocking and filtering of content which are among the most common means of online censorship. Imprisoning those who put up ‘undesirable’ content is being seen by governments as a deterrent and, according to them, encourages self-censorship.

 

wherenointernetfreedom

At the same time, the use of physical violence against internet users ‘appears to have decreased in scope,’ says the report.

Of the 65 countries being assessed, 36 showed a decline in the degree of Internet freedom since May 2013.
Five countries with the most and least internet freedom were depicted in the form of a chart by the online statistics portal, Statista:

Iran, Syria and China were confirmed as the worst abusers of internet freedom in the world- a dubious honor for them! Countries wishing to impose more restrictions (like Iran, Belarus and Uzbekistan) often cite China as an example!
Iceland was ranked as the country with the highest degree of internet freedom. Five more countries which were appreciated in this regard are Estonia, Canada, Australia, Germany and the United States.
41 countries passed or proposed new laws to penalize expressing of views over the internet, to increase the surveillance capabilities of the governments or to increase the powers of the government to control the content which get published online.
Very few countries recorded an improvement in the degree of freedom over the internet.
India and Brazil were among those few nations where some curbs were taken off. Belarus also eased some restrictions.
Concern was shown over both democratic and authoritarian governments seeking to curb the freedom of the internet.
Penalty for online expression in some countries is worse than for similar expression off the internet.
19 countries passed new laws to increase surveillance or to restrict user anonymity.
The number of people detained or prosecuted for their online behavior touched a record high, surpassing all previous figures.
Among those prosecuted, online journalists and bloggers covering anti-government demonstrations were among the prime targets.
Women all over the world “face immense cultural and socio-economic barriers to ICT access, resulting in significant gender gap in ICT use.
The LGBTI community also faces great threats and harassment over the internet.
With more and more internet users beginning to guard their online privacy, “malware attacks against government critics and human rights organizations have evolved to take on a more personalized character.”
Shocking Instances of Curbs on Internet Freedom across the World!

There have been many instances of internet freedom being curbed all over the world. And it is not only surprising but also shocking that even the so-called ‘democratic’ countries have not been liberal with their internet access policy. Some incidents which sent shock waves across everyone’s spines during the period covered by the report are:

The Russian government enacted a law to crack down on all online media which criticized the Vladimir Putin’s policy toward Kremlin without any judicial oversight. Three major news sites were blocked within six weeks as a result of this law.
One of the worst offenders, Iran, does not allow its citizens to access social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. Those promoting Sufism online were made to serve long prison sentences. Six Iranians who recorded a video of them dancing to Pharrell’s song “Happy” and posted it on YouTube (the video later went viral) were punished with 91 lashes each and six months of imprisonment. The director was ‘awarded’ a full year.
A new law in Ethiopia allows the government to snoop into computers, networks, internet sites, social media platforms, television and radio stations “for any possible damage to the country’s social, economic, political and psychological well-being”, citing that blogs, social media sites and other digital media have the potential to “instigate war, to damage the country’s image and create havoc in the economic atmosphere of the country.”
Governments in Turkey, Thailand, Russia, Kazakhstan and Italy allow agencies controlled by them to block content with no judicial oversight and with little or no transparency at all.
Uzbekistan passed a law requiring owners of cybercafés to record browsing history of customers for three months.
The draconian ‘bloggers law’ passed by the Russian government in May 2014 increased government surveillance of social media users by making it mandatory for anyone having sites or pages which draw more than 3,000 daily views to register with the telecommunications regulator.
A blogger in Ethiopia was sentenced to an 18 year term while six more await a trial for expressing dissent over government policies or actions over the internet.
News site editors in Azerbaijan were arrested and implicated under charges of hooliganism or drug possession.
Kavita Krishnan, a women’s rights activist in India, was harassed online by someone using the handle @RAPIST.
Mukhlif al-Shammari who posted a YouTube video about mistreatment of females in Saudi Arabia was jailed for five years.
Egyptian government used an application called Grindr to track and prosecute men belonging to the homosexual community. Russian and Ugandan governments also usedonline tools and malware to lure people belonging to this community and then harassed them.
In June 2013, a woman in Pakistan was stoned to death by local men after she was found guilty of possessing a mobile phone by the tribal court!
Iceland, which boasts of a 97% internet access, has no restrictions over the use of social sites and the government does not block any content was presented as a noteworthy example.

Sanja Kelly, Freedom House’s project director for Freedom on the Net, explained that governments are finding new and less detectable manners to control free speech online

“As authoritarian rulers see that blocked websites and high-profile arrests draw local and international condemnation, they are turning to murkier – but no less dangerous – methods for controlling online conversations”, says Sanjay.

Though it is important to ensure that the internet becomes accessible for a larger number of people, mere access to it will be no good if the government makes it an additional channel for snooping over its citizens or the users are threatened, harassed, discredited, punished or imprisoned for not bowing to the rulers’ diktats.

Read more @ http://ayyaantuu.com/horn-of-africa-news/36-out-of-65-assessed-countries-show-decline-in-internet-freedom-41-passed-or-proposed-new-laws-to-curb-it/

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Ethiopia: The Indigenous People Are Pushed Out of Their Fertile Lands. #Mursi #Africa January 6, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Ethnic Cleansing, Land Grabs in Africa, Mursi.
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The people pushed out of Ethiopia’s fertile farmland

By Matthew Newsome

_80069557_omolip624January 6, 2015 (BBC) — The construction of a huge dam in Ethiopia and the introduction of large-scale agricultural businesses has been controversial – finding out what local people think can be hard, but with the help of a bottle of rum nothing is impossible.

After waiting several weeks for letters of permission from various Ethiopian ministries, I begin my road trip into the country’s southern lowlands.

I want to investigate the government’s controversial plan to take over vast swathes of ancestral land, home to around 100,000 indigenous pastoralists, and turn it into a major centre for commercial agriculture, where foreign agribusinesses and government plantations would raise cash crops such as sugar and palm oil.

After driving 800km (497 miles) over two days through Ethiopia’s lush highlands I begin my descent into the lower Omo valley. Here, where palaeontologists have discovered some of the oldest human remains on earth, some ancient ways of life cling on.

Some tourists can be found here seeking a glimpse of an Africa that lives in their imagination. But the government’s plan to “modernise” this so-called “backward” area has made it inaccessible for journalists.

As my jeep bounces down into the valley, I watch as people decorated in white body paint and clad in elaborate jewellery made from feathers and cow horn herd their cows down the dusty track.

I arrive late in the afternoon at a village I won’t name, hoping to speak to some Mursi people – a group of around 7,000 famous for wearing huge ornamental clay lip plates.

The Mursi way of life is in jeopardy. They are being resettled to make way for a major sugar plantation on their ancestral land – so ending their tradition of cattle herding.

Meanwhile, a massive new dam upstream will reduce the Omo River, ending its seasonal flood – and the food crops they grow on its banks.

It is without doubt one of the most sensitive stories in Ethiopia and one the government is keen to suppress.

Human rights groups have repeatedly criticised schemes like this, alleging that locals are being abused and coerced into compliance.

I’d spoken to local senior officials in the provincial capital of Jinka, before travelling into the remote savannah.

The suspicion is palpable as the chief of the south Omo zone lectures me. Local people and the area’s reputation have been greatly harmed by the negative reports by foreigners, he says.

Eventually a frank exchange takes place and I secure verbal permission to report on the changes taking place in the valley.

The Gibe III Dam on Omo River

  • Situated approximately 300km south-west of the capital Addis Ababa, the dam is 246m high
  • Work started in July 2006 and was estimated to take 118 months (nearly 10 years)
  • The government says it will provide much needed-power and help develop the country’s economy
  • Authorities say no-one has been forced from their home
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It seems prudent to let the Mursi tribe and attendant police warm to my presence before I start asking questions. After all, I have the whole evening.

But a brief chat with the tribe ends abruptly with the entrance of a police officer, wearing a replica Manchester United football shirt, vehemently waving a dog-eared copy of the country’s constitution.

I am prohibited from talking to anyone and must immediately climb back into my jeep, drive back up the mountain and return to Jinka, he says.

As often in Ethiopia, he doesn’t explain exactly why.

I object to driving through the wilderness at dusk on safety grounds and so a compromise is reached: I will pitch my hammock outside the police station, a short stroll away from the village, with armed guards watching my every move.

The political boss of the zone comes on the two-way radio. “This is house arrest,” I protest. “No, just a misunderstanding,” he replies.

_80069556_omoface624The prospect of returning home without interviews is unthinkable. My ruse is to distract my captors.

I sit them down for a meal of pasta and vegetables – and brimming beakers of spiced rum – in front of my laptop, which is playing an Ethiopian comedy.

After saying good night I strike out through the scrubland.

I run without sense of direction through bush and bog, crawl under fences, and negotiate large herds of noisy cattle. I have to find a village elder I met earlier, and interview him before policemen and their flashlights turn up.

So I am relieved to stumble on two boys milking their cows in the moonlight. They lead me to the elder’s hut. The sound of so many rudely-awakened animals in our wake fills me with dread that searchlights are heading our way.

The moment arrives. I squat in front of the elder inside his mud dwelling, surrounded by his sleeping companions: several cows, a goat and a cat. My dictaphone is poised to record truths heard by few journalists in this media-muzzled region.

I ask him in broken Amharic what is going on. He tells me: “The government is telling us to sell our cattle and modernise like townspeople – they say our land is the property of the sugar corporation. We have not been asked what we want or need.

“If we do not accept the resettlement plans, we’ll be taken to jail. How can we survive if we have no access to land, cattle or water?”

I promptly thank the elder for his time, apologise for disrupting his evening and head back to my open-air jail.

On reaching my hammock I find several dozing policemen and an empty bottle of rum. Mission accomplished.

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The Mursi people

  • About 10,000 Mursi people live in Ethiopia
  • Traditionally insert pottery plates known as debhinya in the lower lips of young women
  • They live in an area surrounded by the rivers Mara, Omo and Mago, which flow into Lake Turkana
  • Mursi territory was incorporated into Ethiopia during the reign of King Menelik II in the 19th Century

 

Read @ http://www.mursi.org/