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A cyber-dissident is a professional journalist, an activist or citizen journalist who posts news, information, or commentary on the internet that implies criticism of a government or regime.

The practice of cyber-dissidence may have been inaugurated by Dr. Daniel Mengara, a Gabonese scholar and activist living in political exile in New Jersey in the United States. In 1998, he created a website in French whose name Bongo Doit Partir (Bongo Must Go)[1] was clearly indicative of its purpose: it encouraged a revolution against the then 29-year-old regime of Omar Bongo in Gabon. The original URL,,[2] began to redirect to[3] in the year 2000. Inaugurating what was to become common current-day practice in the politically involved blogosphere, this movement's attempt at rallying the Gabonese around revolutionary ideals and actions has ultimately been vindicated by the 2011 Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, where the Internet has proved to be an effective tool for instigating successful critique, opposition and revolution against dictators.

At least two nonprofit organizations are currently working to raise awareness of the contributions of cyber-dissidents and to defend them against the human rights violations to which some of them are subjected: Global Voices Online and Reporters Without Borders. The latter has released a Handbook For Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents[4] and maintains a roster of currently imprisoned cyber-dissidents.[5] The committee to Protect Bloggers[6] has been created.[7]

In regions where print and broadcast media are tightly controlled, anonymous online postings by cyber-dissidents may be the only source of information about the experiences, feelings, and opinions of ordinary citizens. This advantage may be offset by the difficulty in assessing the good faith and accuracy of reports originating from anonymous sources.

Recently, social-media tools have been widely credited with igniting pervasive social upheavals, some of which have even brought down governments.[8]



In July 2003, Amnesty International reported the arrest of five Gabonese known to be members of the cyber-dissident group Bongo Doit Partir. The five members were detained for three months (See: Gabon: Prisoners of Conscience[9] and Gabon: Further information on Prisoners of conscience.[10])


In 2003, Cai Lujun was imprisoned for posting a series of articles online under the pen name "盼民主"("expecting for democracy") criticizing the Chinese government.[11]


In 2006, several bloggers in Egypt were arrested for allegedly defaming the president Hosni Mubarak and expressing critical views about Islam[12]


In 2005, Mohamad Reza Nasab Abdolahi was imprisoned for publishing an open letter to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei; Mohamad's pregnant wife and other bloggers who commented on Mohamad's treatment were also imprisoned.[13]


In October 2019, a Palestinian court blocked access to 59 websites that were identified as critical of the Palestinian Authority. According to the ruling, these websites published material that "threaten national security and civil peace".[14]


When Russian president Vladimir Putin in 2006 called on his nation's women to have more children, journalist Vladimir Rakhmankov published a satiric article on the Internet calling Putin "the nation's phallic symbol". Rakhmankov was found guilty of offending Vladimir Putin, and fined by the court of the region he lived in to the sum equal of US$680. The overall story served as a good adversiting for Rakhmanov's article, that was republished by numerous Russian sources afterwards.[15][16][17][18]

Three Russian bloggers has supposed in 2003, that Russian state security service FSB, the main successor to the KGB, created special teams of people who appear on various blogs to harass and intimidate political bloggers and thus effectively prevent free discussion of undesirable subjects.[19] They referred to such tactics are known as "active measures". A Russian critic of this theory has noted in 2003, that security services have more important tasks than flooding in forums.[20]


The Digital Freedom Network has pointed out cases of imprisoning cyber-dissidents in Vietnam, such as the 2004 case of Pham Que Dong, a former People's Army colonel, military historian who had quit the Communist Party in 1999. For publicly discussing issues related to corruption in the official structures and encouraging democratic reforms, he was charged with "abuse of democratic freedoms" and imprisoned.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bongo Doit Partir | Pour la Construction d'un Gabon nouveau".
  2. ^ "Bongo Doit Partir - Pour la Construction d'un Gabon nouveau".
  3. ^ "Bongo Doit Partir - Pour la Construction d'un Gabon nouveau".
  4. ^ "Reporters sans frontières - Handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents". Archived from the original on 1 October 2005.
  5. ^ "Reporters sans frontières - Cyberdissidents imprisoned". Archived from the original on 6 February 2007.
  6. ^ "Committee to Protect Bloggers". Archived from the original on 16 December 2008.
  7. ^ "Global blogger action day called". BBC News. 22 February 2005.
  8. ^ Wilson, John G. (1 January 2014). "Sartre and Cyber-Dissidence: The Groupe en Fusion and the Putative We-Subject". Sartre Studies International. 20 (1). doi:10.3167/ssi.2014.200102.
  9. ^ "Document".
  10. ^ "Document".
  11. ^ "Cai Lujun, Imprisoned for Posting Internet Articles, Released at End of Sentence | Congressional-Executive Commission on China".
  12. ^ Egypt arrests another blog critic, BBC News, 20 November 2006. Retrieved on 29 November 2006.
  13. ^ Connor, A. (2005), Not just critics, BBC News, 20 June 2005. Retrieved on 29 November 2006.
  14. ^ "Palestinian court blocks 59 websites critical of government". Reading Eagle. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  15. ^ "GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION'S DIGEST No. 298". 27 September 2007. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007.
  16. ^ "'Phallic' Case Threatens Internet Freedom". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. Archived from the original on 11 January 2008.
  17. ^ "U.S. Media Watchdog Criticizes Russia". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty.
  18. ^ "The New York Times - Breaking News, US News, World News and Videos". The New York Times.
  20. ^ " Александр Юсуповский. Теория заговора".
  21. ^ Vietnam's Human Rights Situation by Alicia Burns Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine

Further reading[edit]

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