Free speech sees limitations amid international protests
Protests have escalated in various parts of the world as citizens wish to see greater democracy and have their governments act in their best interests.
When it comes to successful political discourse, citizens need to be able to freely express their opinions. With the continuing emergence of the Internet, the avenues in which these opinions can be expressed are growing, however, so too are government attempts to limit them. Blogs are becoming go to sources for news, especially in parts of the world with government controlled media, and the Internet has allowed the average citizens to become a reporter.
This is the cause of concern for some governments, especially as evidences by their attempts to silence these reporters. These issues have been coming to the forefront in a number of countries throughout the world as protests heighten.
Ukraine protests escalating
Dissent in Ukraine's capital have been escalating as police and protestors have met in a number of violent clashes recently. The movement started after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and the ruling party decided to not join the European Union. There have been allegations about corruption within the government, which have added to the Ukrainian people's frustrations with the government.
CNN reported that the country's opposition leader and former boxer, Vitali Klitschko, has urged outside mediators to help with the escalating violence. Following news of the Ukrainian decision to not join the E.U., citizens gathered in protest, however, this has led to police violence in an effort to break them up.
On top of the violence, a number of journalists have been the target of violence and torture. For instance, the news source noted that a 17-year-old photographer who was documenting the events was the subject of particularly violent torture.
"They beat me on my legs and ankles, they sprayed my whole body with pepper spray and made me lie naked and sing the national anthem," he told the news source.
Egypt government detaining activists
The Index on Censorship reported that the Egyptian interim government, which took power from then President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, has been detaining numerous bloggers and activists who have been speaking out against the regime.
One such instance can be found with Alaa Abd El Fattah, a political activist and blogger, who was detained and imprisoned by the government in November 2013. Security forces broke into his house, took him into detention and brought him to an unknown location. The news source noted that he is now held in Tora Prison, a maximum security facility that has been used to hold terrorists in the past.
He has been a major advocate of free speech in the past. He launched a collaborative blog project that won recognition from Reporters Without Borders in 2005 because of the issues it discussed and the voice that it gave to writers throughout that region of the world.
The Index on Censorship has called for Alaa to be released, not only because of the important work that he has been doing for the country, but because it could set a negative precedent for the country. With more activists becoming the subject of this kind of suppression.
In both the case of Ukraine and Egypt, the political discussions that need to be had are certainly sensitive ones. However, this does not mean that the government should be turning to tactics that silence the voices of citizens and even lead to violence against them. In both instances, many people want there to be a more open discussion for the future of the country, and this treatment of journalists and activists is sure to have negative effects in the pursuit of this endeavor.