Tajikistan blocks access to Facebook and news sites

Published: March 4, 2012

"This morning, we carried out the instruction of the communications service and blocked the sites facebook.com, tjknews.com and zvezda.ru," said one of the providers. "We could not refuse to carry out this instruction."

DUSHANBE, TAJIKISTAN: Tajikistan blocked local access to Facebook and two Russian-language sites that published an article critical of its long-serving president on Saturday, representatives of two Internet providers said.

The shutdown was ordered by the state-run communications service, the local Internet providers told Reuters, requesting anonymity. Users who tried to access Facebook or the two websites, which published a story critical of President Imomali Rakhmon, were automatically re-directed to the home page of their provider.

Tighter Internet controls echo measures taken by other ex-Soviet, Central Asian republics, where authoritarian rulers are wary of the role social media played in revolutions in the Arab world and mass protests in Russia.

Government opponents in Tunisia and Egypt used Twitter, Facebook and other platforms to run rings around censors and organize protests that eventually toppled their leaders.

“This morning, we carried out the instruction of the communications service and blocked the sites facebook.com, tjknews.com and zvezda.ru,” said one of the providers. “We could not refuse to carry out this instruction.”

The communications service was not available for comment. Government officials directed all questions about the shutdown to the service.

Rakhmon has ruled Tajikistan, a mountainous country of 7.5 million people bordering Afghanistan and China, for two decades. Though media operate with less restrictions than in neighboring Uzbekistan, journalists have been detained in recent months.

Authorities have also launched a crackdown on religious groups and imprisoned more than 150 people in the last two years on charges of extremism and attempting to subvert the constitution.

Facebook’s popularity has soared in Tajikistan. Membership of the social networking website doubled there last year to 26,000 people. Several Facebook groups openly discuss politics and some users have been critical of the authorities.

Russia-based zvezda.ru had published an article on Friday entitled: ‘Tajikistan on the eve of a revolution’. Local news site tjknews.com republished the article.

Access to microblogging site Twitter appeared unaffected.

Tajikistan is the most impoverished of 15 former Soviet republics. Its economy relies heavily on exports of aluminum and cotton, as well as remittances from around 1 million migrant laborers, most of them young men living in Russia.

Rakhmon must stand again for election by November 2013. Victory would secure seven more years as president of the mainly Muslim country.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • Mj
    Mar 4, 2012 - 1:17AM

    Censorship is a tool of the oppressors.

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  • William Melton
    Mar 4, 2012 - 3:54AM

    Gas prices are nothing compared to the loss of FREEDOM !!!!!!!!!!!!! U.S.A. is by far the GREATEST PLACE ON EARTH.!!!!!!!!

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  • Joveed
    Mar 4, 2012 - 11:17PM

    The Rahmon Clan are going nuts! They are incompetent liars who are simply depriving the Tajik people not only of their freedom but also of their bread…

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  • Joyhny boy
    Mar 5, 2012 - 9:30AM

    It was such a shocking news for me to find out yesterday that F/B is about to be blocked…i did not believe it until now… f/b is the best way for me to keep in touch with my friends….most of them live away from TJK…now making international calls and saying just: HI..how are you? would cost me so much… anyways i am really sad and hope that very soon people who put restrictions on f/b would change their decision and would unblock it soon./
    p.s.
    miss u my dear f/b friends…

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  • LA
    Mar 7, 2012 - 5:37PM

    Congratulations, we are after North Korea

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  • fr.n
    Mar 8, 2012 - 2:52AM

    the government can’t block whole internet sites!!!!!!

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  • Awais Ch
    Mar 9, 2012 - 1:54AM

    Congratulations Pakistan! LOL

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