Facebook, Websites Blocked in Tajikistan After Publishing Article Critical of the President
March 5, 2012
Freedom House condemns Tajikistan’s state-run communications agency for ordering internet service providers to block access to Facebook and at least three Russian-language websites, including – tjknews.com, maxala.org and zvezda.ru – after the sites published an article critical of President Emonali Rakhmon entitled “Tajikistan on the eve of a revolution.” The government and the Ministry of Communication both refuse to comment on the matter – yet a copy of the official order to shut down the websites has been made public.
Freedom House rates Tajikistan as “Not Free” in Freedom in the World 2011 and in Freedom of the Press 2011. While Tajikistan’s constitution provides for freedom of speech, the media situation remains dire and journalists are often prosecuted for defamation and harassed by the government. Criticism of President Emomali Rahmon, who has been in power since the early 1990s, is considered a criminal offense and carries a prison term of up to five years. The regime has also restricted access to critical websites and in the past year and a half stifled anti-government rhetoric by the media.