Virtual Uprising

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    This is Burma

    Images by Rowan Weinneger Used with Permission 2007

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    2007/2008 UN Human

    Development ReportPopulation

    Life expectancy at birth, annual estimates (years), 2005 60.8

    Adult literacy rate (% aged 15 and older), 1995-2005 89.9

    Population, total (thousands), 2004 47,967

    Fertility rate, total (births per woman), 2000-05 2.2

    Under-five mortality rate (per 1,000 live births), 2005 105

    Technology: diffusion and creation

    Telephone mainlines (per 1,000 people), 1990 2

    Telephone mainlines (per 1,000 people), 2005 9

    Cellular subscribers (per 1,000 people), 1990 0

    Cellular subscribers (per 1,000 people), 2005 4Internet users (per 1,000 people), 1990 0

    Internet users (per 1,000 people), 2005 2

    Population without electricity (millions) 45.1
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    Virtual Uprising: Burmese

    Bloggers and the Rights

    Movement in Myanmar

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    Telecommunications use severely limited in


    Networking between those computers and theoutside world is still forbidden. A 1996 lawimposes a 7- to 15-year jail term for the

    unauthorized ownership of a modem."

    In 1996, an American diplomat, was arrestedand later died in prison because of illegal useof a fax machine.

    The Impact of the Internet on Myanmar by Viola Krebs

    First Monday, volume 6, number 5 (May 2001),


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    Open Net Initiative. 2005. Internet Filtering in Burma in 2005: A Country Study

    Burma, also known as Myanmar, implements one of the world's most restrictive

    regimes of Internet control. These on-line restrictions buttress off-line regulation of

    speech implemented by the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), a

    group of military officials who maintain authoritarian rule over the state. Burma's

    system combines broad, vague laws of long standing with harsh penalties. Internetaccess is costly and the state uses software-based filtering techniques to limit

    significantly the materials Burma's citizens can access on-line. Most dial-up Internet

    accounts provide access only to the limited Myanmar Internet, not to the global

    network that most people around the world can access. The state maintains the

    capability to conduct surveillance of communication methods such as e-mail, and to

    block users from viewing Web sites of political opposition groups, organizations

    working for democratic change in Burma, and pornographic material. As comparedto states elsewhere around the world, Burma's censorship regime is among the

    most extensive.

    By 2000, the Internet was allowed,

    but severely restricted

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    Beginning in the 1990s, dissidents in

    exile (some from the 8-8-88 student

    uprising), began to use the web from

    outside Burma to raise awareness and

    encourage international pressure on

    the government

    The Impact of the Internet on Myanmar by Viola Krebs

    First Monday, volume 6, number 5 (May 2001),URL:

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    Brahm, Eric. "Social Movements." Beyond Intractability. Eds. Guy Burgess and

    Heidi Burgess. Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder.

    Posted: July 2006


    By the mid to late 1990s the internet was

    becoming a tool for protesters to launch

    campaigns targeting social institutions, industries,and governments.

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    "cyber empowerment" + "virtual

    democracy = "virtual uprisings"

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    A few key terms

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    Goodwin, J. and Jasper, J. 2003. The Social Movements Reader: Cases and Concepts. Blackwell.


    the act of challenging, resisting, or

    making demands upon

    authorities, powerholders, and/orcultural beliefs and practices by

    some individual or group

    Social movement

    a collective, organized, sustainedand noninstitutional challenge to

    authorities, powerholders, or

    cultural beliefs and practices.

    Revolutionary movement

    a social movement that seeks, ata minimum, to overthrow the

    government or state

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    Social movements challengeauthorities, power-holders,even cultural beliefs and

    practices. They are collective

    actions that are organized andsustained, yet call on non-institutionalized segments ofthe society to unite.

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    Basic building blocks of a

    successful social movement Discontented people who share the perception that they have common grievances; Powerful ideological vision linked to strategies and tactics that have some

    reasonable chance of success; Recruitment of people through pre-existing social, political, and cultural networks; Core group ofleaders and activists who mobilize, organize, educate, and

    communicate with the politicized mass base; The efficient mobilization of resources that are available, or can be developed, to

    assist the movement to meet its goals; Institutional infrastructure integrating political coordination, research and policy

    think tanks, training centers, conferences, and alternative media. Opportunities in the larger political and social scene that can be exploited by

    movement leaders and activists; Skillful framing of ideas and slogans (marketing) for multiple audiences such as

    leaders, members, potential recruits, policymakers, and the general public.

    Attractive movement culture that creates a sense of community through massrituals, celebrations, music, drama, poetry, art, and narrative stories about pastvictories, current struggles, and future successes.

    Ability of recruits to craft a coherent and functional identity as a movementparticipant.

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    Blogging a movement

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    Bloggers within Myanmar and around the world havestaged virtual protests, online rallies, international

    petition drives and educational campaigns to createpressure on the local government. The governmentreaction has been to monitor, suppress, and imprisonbloggers. It has even engaged in technological warfareattacking anti-government websites hosted in othercountries and finallyshutting down internet connectivity entirely from Sept 28to Oct 6 2007.

    An image of a fleeing monk that made its way out of Myanmar before the ruling junta closed down Internet service there.

    The Irrawady, via Agence France-Presse Getty Images
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    Activities of the

    Free Burma Bloggers Disseminate information Raise awareness within the

    country as well as among those inthe west

    Mobilize expats, dissidents, andsupporters Create an ideological vision of a

    Free Burma Raise funds

    Build infrastructure Create a sense of community Pressure Junta through

    international attention

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    Example - Mizzima News

    Mizzima News was established in August 1998 by a group of Burmesejournalists in exile with the aim of promoting awareness about the ongoingsituation in Burma and promoting democracy and freedom of expression inBurma by improving the flow of information in and out of the country andthrough advocacy and lobbying.

    Mizzima started from humble beginnings: An online news service run bythree Burmese in exile with a laptop and no telephone.

    In the past eight years, Mizzima News Agency has matured into a widely-read and reliable source of news, information and analysis on Burma forreaders in and outside the country.

    Mizzima has become awindow through which the international community can peer into news-starv . We also strive to play an active role in uniting democratic forces working

    for change in Burma to secure national reconciliation and the restoration ofdemocracy and human rights in Burma. Over the years, Mizzima has expanded and has, through the use of its

    websites, email-updates, meetings, discussions, seminars and print andelectronic news services, covered more issues for more people.
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    Virtual SolidarityOctober 5th, 2007 -

    Over 5.500 bloggers from over45 different countriesparticipated in a cyberprotestagainst the military regime inBurma by placing a 'Free Burma'

    banner on t