Guest Column: Fighting tyranny worldwide
In recent history, countries have filtered Web sites or Web logs that undermine their authority or challenge their government.
In September, thousands of Buddhist monks in Myanmar began protesting against its oppressive military government despite the consequences that they would encounter. A few bloggers from Myanmar posted photos of the violence as well as entries describing the oppressive environment. After the government found out about the blogs, they soon took down the sites, for fear of word getting out.
In early October, thousands of people took part in a pro-democracy march at a large park in Hong Kong where they hoisted matching yellow
umbrellas to form "2012," the date that they want democratic elections to be held. China is also a country that uses strict Internet regulations as a form of control by blocking hundreds of thousands of Web sites.
A few days following the rally in Hong Kong, about 100 students staged a protest at Tehran University against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, where he was giving a speech. Much like China, Iran has a sophisticated state-mandated Internet filter system to prevent expression of dissident opinions.
With video-sharing Web sites such as YouTube and blogging Web sites such as MySpace, the Internet world has become an important part of communication between people of different cultures and walks of life, giving them hope and inspiration.
It has even given people who were too afraid to protest in public, an alternative means of protest. It is different to read a news article about current events happening thousands of miles away than it is to actually see footage of it or read about it from a perspective of someone who actually lives in the affected region. It becomes more personal and more immediate. Perhaps
it was just a coincidence that the rallies in Hong Kong and Iran
occurred just a few days after the Myanmar protest, but one fact
remains: An oppressive government can try to control its people, but the people will find a way to fight back.
Pham, an English post-baccalaureate and co-founder of STAND UH, can be reached via [email protected]