Be careful of what you post on Facebook. At least in the countries where freedom of expression is non-existent and dictatorship reigns, and the issue of human rights is nothing but a myth.
Seven citizens of Saudi Arabia are currently serving jail time for allegedly ‘inciting protests and harming public order’, largely by using Facebook, Human Rights Watch reported last week.
The sentences range from five to 10 years, and they were also barred from travelling abroad for additional periods.
All seven were also convicted of violating article Six of the Anti-Cyber Crime Law, which prohibits producing, sending, or storing any material via an information network that ‘harms public order’, HRW said.
“Sending people off to years in prison for peaceful Facebook posts sends a strong message that there’s no safe way to speak out in Saudi Arabia, even on online social networks,” Joe Stork, HRW deputy Middle East director, said.
The court found them guilty of joining Facebook pages to ‘incite protests, illegal gathering, and breaking allegiance with the king’, and of “assisting and encouraging these calls and corresponding with the [Facebook pages’] followers and concealing them, according to a charge sheet obtained by HRW.
It is not the first time that Facebook claims victims of freedom of expression in the world.
In the Southern African nation of Zimbabwe, Facebook is apparently closely monitored by the notorious Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), and any wayward behaviour is severely punished.
On 24 February 2011, Zimbabwe cops arrested a man, Vikas Mavhudzi, for posting what they called an ‘offending’ statement that threatened the country’s security.
Mavhudzi posted a comment on the Egyptian uprising that was occuring at the time to overthrew the regime of Hosni Mubarak. Here is the comment: “I am overwhelmed, I don’t want to say Mr or PM what happened in Egypt is sending shockwaves to dictators around the world. No weapon but unity of purpose worth emulating, hey. ”
Prosecutor Jeremiah Mutsindikwa then accused Mavhudzi of ‘advocating or attempting to take-over government by unconstitutional means’, local news reports said. He stayed in jail after the state opposed bail.
Most judges, magistrates and prosecutors in Zimbabwe are believed to be active members of the ruling ZANU-PF, and reportedly receive financial and materials benefits from the government of Robert Mugabe to rule in favour of all cases involving the government.
Mugabe (89), one of Africa’s dangerous and deadly dictators, is his party’s presidential candidate in the controversial elections set to take place on 31 July 2013. He has ruled Zimbabwe for 33 years.