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Zimbabwe Makes Arrest Over Facebook Comment 100

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the voluntary-registration dept.
inasity_rules writes "It seems using Facebook/Twitter to try overthrowing a corrupt government can backfire a bit, especially if they are expecting it. In Zimbabwe your Facebook posts can get you arrested. Probably for anything up to and including treason."
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Zimbabwe Makes Arrest Over Facebook Comment

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  • In the Facebook age, dissidents have Prime Ministers arrested. I think this PM should be careful.
    • by Wyatt Earp (1029)

      In Zimbabwe the President has a private army of dissidents with whom he causes land and economic reforms.

      Should there be a protest movement, they will be fighting in the streets against ZANU-PF and the ZNLWVA

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZANU-PF [wikipedia.org]
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zimbabwe_National_Liberation_War_Veterans_Association [wikipedia.org]
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_reform_in_Zimbabwe [wikipedia.org]

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      In the Facebook age, dissidents have Prime Ministers arrested. I think this PM should be careful.

      The "facebook age" (seriously, no!) has also made it much easier for oppressive regimes to figure out what dissidents are up to, who they associate with, etc. I'm not terribly amazed that this is happening, nor would I be amazed if this becomes standard procedure for some countries.

      Aside from that, I think that it's all too easy to say that from a few facebook posts governments and dictators will fall. "Every civilization is three meals away from revolution" is perhaps more appropriate, but that doesn't mea

      • by TheLink (130905)

        Yep, it's not Facebook despite the current habit of the media to link Facebook with everything (have they linked it with cancer yet? ;) ). Egypt has to import lots of wheat. Russia and India banned exports. Australia had a bad crop.

        So wheat shortage = expensive bread = lots of hungry unhappy people. But just hungry unhappy people doesn't mean revolution.

        Revolutions happens when the hungry unhappy people think the rulers are to blame for the problem, and then they become hungry very angry people. You can be

      • by rtb61 (674572)

        In the Facebook age, silly naive people will get caught. The more reliant the become on computers finding conspiracies for them, the more subject to misinformation and obfuscation.

        The reality is, you should only use open social networking when you are ready to go. Up until then more direct means of communication are safer.

        If your live in a troubled country use external sources and people to pass on your information to a broader audience. Now it is global activism, so people can act locally via globally

        • This part of the article was particularly troubling, however: "Meanwhile there are signs that the Mugabe regime intends to increase its ability to spy on innocent civilians. As we reported on SW Radio Africa this week, the government is allegedly moving at a ‘very fast pace’ with the construction of a secret electronic eavesdropping complex just outside Harare. A trusted source said that the Chinese, who are building the complex, have a system that enables most security agencies to ‘spy at
    • In Soviet Facebook age...

      oh, nevermind

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday March 04, 2011 @07:04PM (#35385128)

    In Zimbabwe anything can get you arrested, heck nothing can too. Zimbabwe does not exactly have what we call the rule of law.

    • by daitengu (172781) *
      Careful, they're going to try to extradite you for that comment.
    • by bmo (77928)

      So much this.

      Mugabe is up to his nostrils in spilled blood over the past 40 years.

      Here's to hoping "Egypt" happens there. But I suspect it would be more like Libya.

      --
      BMO

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Wyatt Earp (1029)

        And because it's Sub Saharan Africa, there'll be no talk of No Fly Zones, international intervention will come, if it ever came, through an neighbor invading them, like Ethiopia did to Somalia.

        • by bmo (77928)

          Unfortunately the South African government, the only local player strong enough to get the job done, is best buddies with Mugabe's government. Part of this is history, and the larger part is that SA is afraid of millions of refugees streaming across the border looking for help.

          Kind of like how China's relationship with North Korea.

          And forget about getting the US involved. Outside of sanctions there's nothing much that can be done.
          FFS, we can't even get Gbago out of Ivory Coast by offering him a professors

        • And because it's Sub Saharan Africa, there'll be no talk of No Fly Zones, international intervention will come, if it ever came, through an neighbor invading them, like Ethiopia did to Somalia.

          A "No fly zone" isn't practical unless you have the air power to make it so. We don't, really.

          The country is landlocked, so we'd have to get permission from one or more of its neighbors to use carrier-based aircraft to enforce a no-fly zone.

          There are no convenient airbases in a neighboring country to fly planes out

        • Actually a Zimbabwe no-fly zone is easy to implement, all you need is a good old chap with a shotgun and some birdshot to take care of their 4 carrier pigeons. Zim needs a no-drive zone, which won't happen for the reasons given both above and below.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      Zimbabwe does not exactly have what we call the rule of law.

      Reading today's Wall Street Journal, it appears that "what we call rule of law" is pretty goddamn rare. I think it was seen briefly in Finland but that might just be a rumor. I don't think it's been seen in an English-speaking country for at least 30 years.

      But at least we have Zimbabwe to look down on. And they get to look down on Somalia.

      By the way, considering Somalia doesn't seem to have any government, I guess that'll be the place John Galt

      • i'm glad that you've determined from on yonder ivory tower that there is no rule of law as you see fit to call it

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          i'm glad that you've determined from on yonder ivory tower that there is no rule of law as you see fit to call it

          As I see fit? Was I the first to use the term?

          And I didn't say there was "no rule of law", I said it was rare. Remember, the "rule of law" means that the rulers obey the law, too.

          And you know something, you get a pretty good view from up in a tower, ivory or not. You can see far.

      • poofter

        The 1970's called, they wan't their homophobic slur back.

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          The 1970's called, they wan't their homophobic slur back.

          I don't use "poofter" in the good gay way. I use it the same way as "fag" and does not refer to sexual orientation.

          If you look in the Dictionary of Slang, you'll find the second definition to be "2. A soft, feeble person. Derog."

          You can fairly accuse me of a lot of things, but homophobia is not one of them.

      • by feepness (543479)

        By the way, considering Somalia doesn't seem to have any government, I guess that'll be the place John Galt moves to. I wish that poofter luck.

        Somalia's problem isn't lack of government, so much as several competing governments with a healthy dose of external meddling. [wikipedia.org]

    • Would it be any better if he was arrested under rule of law? Laws can be pretty nasty at times.

      In fact, it may well be that there was a law - TFA says that the crime in question is "subverting a constitutional government" and "advocating or attempting to take-over government by unconstitutional means" (as an aside, have you noticed how dictatorial regimes love the word "constitution" almost as much as "people's"? Soviets also did that). I wouldn't be surprised if there is indeed a law in Zimbabwe that bans

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Friday March 04, 2011 @07:06PM (#35385142)

    etc, etc, etc... "that the government of the Facebook, by the Facebook, for the Facebook, shall not perish from the earth."

  • by edjs (1043612)
    What, they still need an excuse to arrest you in Zimbabwe?
    • Yes, the excuse is useful for consumption by foreign news media.
      • by jamesh (87723)

        How is the excuse "because he posted anti-government sentiment on facebook" better than "to tell you the reason would compromise national security" (eg no real excuse at all)???

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      No. But it sure does make for some serious kick-ass propaganda about the evil whites trying to kill the blacks, and make them sterile.

      I'm sure it'll be woven into something close to if not that soon.

  • Go make some crazy-ass threats to some public figure on your facebook and see what happens. Facebook posts are no different than any other forum for speech - if you post shit that's illegal in your country, they can arrest you.
    • Do you believe that not enough speech is illegal in your country?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Wyatt Earp (1029)

      If I post "Obama should be over thrown, lets have a protest over X Saturday", the Secret Service won't come, they won't arrest me.

      If I live in Zimbabwe and post "Overthrow ZANU-PF, lets have a protest Saturday!" I'll be arrested or killed.

      • Right. If you post "let's go kill so and so, we'll do it by such and such on such and such a date!" someone will come find you. As I said, saying something illegal (in your country) will get you into trouble. I guess I'm saying "yeah, and...?".
        • Oppression codified as law does not stop being oppressive. Dissidents in Soviet Union were also imprisoned and otherwise suppressed by the letter of the law; but it was still evil. So is this.

          • Absolutely it is. But again, what does facebook have to do with it?

            Patent: Oppressing your citizens. Oops, that's taken.

            Patent: Oppressing your citzens...using the Internet!

          • According to Richard Posner [slate.com]

            "The rule of law means that judges decide cases 'without respect of persons,' that is, without considering the social status, attractiveness, etc. of the parties or their lawyers."

            In some states, the laws are so many and, and so contradictory, and so onerous that "every citizen is guilty of something." Dissidents are selected for prosecution, and convicted according the law. But because the arrest and indictment are contingent upon the social and political status of the accused, the process does not fit within Posner's conception.

            Of course, others define "rule of law" more loosely and elide over concepts of justice and fairness. These people are shallow.

            • In some states, the laws are so many and, and so contradictory, and so onerous that "every citizen is guilty of something." Dissidents are selected for prosecution, and convicted according the law. But because the arrest and indictment are contingent upon the social and political status of the accused, the process does not fit within Posner's conception.

              This is a valid point when dissidents are convicted or otherwise oppressed according to law that does not directly relate to their activity as dissidents. E.g. in late USSR, they would often be charged with economic crimes, and where that was unfeasible, simply declared insane ("Surely we live in the best country in the world, as everyone knows; and yet this man says this is not true - who but insane would say so?"). That, indeed, is not rule of law.

              On the other hand, there are situations where dissidents a

      • But that's his point.

        The Obama comment is okay, because it is not illegal. The Zimbabwe comment is out of bounds, because it is illegal. Respect the rule of law, and if you don't like the rules, work within the existing legal structure to change them.

        • by maxume (22995) on Friday March 04, 2011 @07:29PM (#35385328)

          Or just be prepared to face the consequences of your actions.

          I mean, working within the system hasn't exactly always been a meaningful option.

        • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday March 04, 2011 @07:36PM (#35385384)

          What existing legal structure? You do realize Mugabe did not win the recent elections but will not step down, right?

          • He had to give way on a few things in the end and the former opposition is running a chunk of his government. What you guys STILL haven't woken up to despite all the bloodshed elsewhere, it that Mugabe is not yet entirely the sort of monster running half a dozen other places in Africa where it was not politically expedient to criticise them.
            He'll probably lose more and more support from his government and police until he is gone. All those others in Libya etc are not being moved without a lot of bloodshed.
        • by Wyatt Earp (1029)

          Legality has nothing to do with Zimbabwe, Mugabe lost the election but remains in power because of the mob.

          Before that, he effected "land reform" with the mob.

          The poster said this can happen anywhere, the fact is it won't happen "anywhere", because in many places the mob doesn't rule.

        • by bmo (77928)

          What rule of law is there in Zimbabwe?

          There hasn't been the rule of law since it was Rhodesia and even then it was pretty piss-poor (Mugabe learned from his masters).

          --
          BMO

        • The Zimbabwe comment is out of bounds, because it is illegal. Respect the rule of law

          Zimbabwe is ruled by whim not by law.

        • how, pray tell, do you suggest someone with no power "work within the legal structure" of zimbabwe to challenge a despot with all the power, and who respects no legal structure?

          please tell me you are joking and that you are not a complete dimwit

          • Why? Why must I make you comfortable? Why is important that you leave this thread with your illusions intact, while I am left with two disturbing insights?

            1. Some people lack empathy, and consequently any appreciation for human rights
            2. Some people don't understand my humor.

            Yes. Yes. I was joking. Is it really so hard to tell?

            • if an airport security guy asks me if i have any bombs and i go "yeah, in my underwear," i'm joking. but no one is going to laugh

              context my friend, learn the value of context

              in another context, you'd be the height of dry wit. here, there are no clues to tell if you are joking or not, and there are a LOT of dumb, serious posts

      • by Locke2005 (849178)
        No, you have the same right to say "Obama sucks!" in Zimbabwe as you do in the US!
      • No but if you post like a few secret documents, or are in the wrong place at the wrong time you get flown to a foreign country, stuck into a hole of a cell, get tortured, with virtually no contact to the outside world, you barely get a lawyer if you are US-citizen. And you get charged for treason with the perspective of death penalty, or you don't get a charged with anything if you are not an US-citizen.*
        There is definitely something wrong in the US too (namely the right to a fair trial), and saying it's no

    • He didn't make "crazy ass threats", though. He basically told "dictators should remember what happened in Egypt and Tunisia" to a government official. It seems that, in recognizing that comment is somehow threatening to them, the government has implicitly recognized that it is dictatorial.

    • by Unkyjar (1148699)

      âoeI am overwhelmed, I donâ(TM)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.â ....yeah, he used some really "crazy-ass threats".

      • That wasn't my point. My point was more of a "so what?". Zimbabwe is a shithole, who didn't know that. If you post anything the government doesn't like, be it on facebook, in spraypaint on your house, or just talking to 50 of your best buddies the government will come after you. Facebook is a form of speech, and speech has consequences, even righteous or sometimes even inoffensive seeming speech. If your government doesn't like your speech (threats in the US, hate speech in Europe, ...anything anti-gov
  • by flaming error (1041742) on Friday March 04, 2011 @07:10PM (#35385192) Journal

    I think that publicly trying to overthrow your government might have consequences, whatever the forum.

  • I'm pretty sure you can be arrested in America as well for posting illegal things on your Facebook page. Try posting a threat to the President of the United States on your Facebook page and you'll probably get arrested in the USA.

    There's nothing sacred about Facebook. Even high school students have gotten into trouble for Facebook postings about school staff.

    • by medv4380 (1604309)
      Aside from threatening to harm people, you can actually say a lot in the US that you can't in other countries. Heck, John Galliano wouldn't have been charged with a thing for all the crazy pro nazi and anti semetic things he said but he had to say them in France where it's illegal. Heck most Libertarians say worst things about taking down the government and rioting then what this Zimbabwe guy did.
    • by bmo (77928)

      We're full of false equivalence here today, aren't we?

      There was no direct threat to Mugabe. There was a mention of an "egypt" happening to Zimbabwe. If you posted the exact same thing on your facebook in the US and just substituted, you'd not raise a single eyebrow.

      Free Republic is full of people like this. When is the last time a freeper was arrested for what he said?

      Never. Because political speech is the most protected speech in the US.

      Posting a valid, direct, threat to assassinate Obama *will* get yo

  • Isn't there any way of defacing the PM's facebook page anonymously?
  • Where are the fools who always pop up under a story like this to explain to us, with great indignation, why it is no better in the West, that the West does the same thing? Whenever China, Iran, North Korea, Egypt, Zimbabwe, etc., does anything vile with human rights, I need the solace of my false equivalency fools who are always there to tell me why in the West it is exactly the same, and no better.

    Of course, these brave false equivalency fools are always so critical of the West... from within the West. What I want to see is their "bravery" and lazy iconoclasm, from within another country. Let's see how brave they are to post criticism of China, from within China, to post criticism of Iran, from within Iran, of Zimbabwe, from within Zimbabwe.

    Any takers?

    (crickets)

    Don't seem so brave and counterculture now, do they? And maybe that means more about the true relationship between your rights and freedoms in the West versus those in countries that genuinely grant you no rights to expression or other simple aspects of human dignity, whatsoever.

    The West does plenty wrong, and the West can improve, of course. But if you understand how good you have it RELATIVELY SPEAKING (never mind that we can do better), only then you can begin to say something intelligent about the world you live in. But if you think you are saying something intelligent by equating human rights in the West versus Zimbabwe, or China, or Iran, you're just announcing how sheltered and ignorant you are.

    • by Bob9113 (14996) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @12:49AM (#35386794) Homepage

      > The West does plenty wrong, and the West can improve, of course. But if you understand how good you have it RELATIVELY SPEAKING

      Screw relatively speaking. What kind of American wants to be a little better than China or any other nation? I'm a pretty hard-core patriot. I want to be better than everyone. I want to be better today than we were yesterday, and better tomorrow than we are today. I've seriously considered the alternatives, and I wouldn't want to live anywhere else on the planet -- and I still want us to do better.

      I think we're the best as a result of all the time we have spent striving to be the best. America Right or Wrong! When wrong to be put right, when right to be kept right.

      What kind of defeatist propaganda are you trying to spread by telling people not to reflect on our opportunities for improvement? The most important thing we can all do as patriots is constantly ask ourselves how we can be better. Even though we are the best, I want to be more best. I want to be ten times as good as the next best, not twice as good. Did Johnny Bench play it soft in the All Star game? No. Why? Because he wanted to win.

      And here's your false equivalency for you (though I won't call it equivalency, because it is not, we are much better than Zimbabwe):

      A guy exposed a bunch of documents that led or is leading to the downfall of five different brutal dictatorships, to be replaced with democracy. Something the entire Neo-Con army has just barely sort of managed to do in one (Iraq). He is being held in military prison, and (apparently against the advise of military psychologists) being held in the harsh (absolutely, not relatively, Zimbabwe is worse) conditions of self-harm prevention. Despite his lawyer saying he is at no risk. A very reasonable hypothesis is that they are trying to get him to break and testify that Julian Assange assisted him, so they can go after Assange on espionage charges.

      So -- Zimbabwe is worse. But when our own people do what they genuinely believe is best for Our Nation, and the results are *exactly* what the Neo-Cons claim they are after (spreading democracy in place of dictatorships), we treat him better than Zimbabwe treats their dissidents. That's not a high bar to get over. We can do a helluva lot better.

      I want us to be better than that. I want us to be able to say, "We don't like this stuff being exposed, and we will do everything in our power to increase security. And Pfc Manning is a patriot who was doing his duty to his nation to the best of his ability, despite the fact that we strenuously disagree with his approach. The reason we don't have to make some kind of example of him is this: Look at the evidence that was revealed -- we *are* better than everyone else, and now those brutal dictators are getting exactly what they deserve. Sometimes the truth comes out, and hinders our diplomatic agenda in the short run. And we will do everything we can to prevent such events in the future. However, when it does happen, like this time, the truth will show that we are not just better than the despots -- but that we are the best -- even while we handle far more than our share of the world's problems. Because we are that good."

      • hold on a sec, let me get "battle hymn of the republic" playing and i'll read again...

        (smirk)

        in all seriousness, no battle to improve the usa will be made by anyone who doesn't even understand our problems. which is aptly demonstrated when someone thinks our problems are the same as china, zimbabe, iran, etc. THAT'S MY POINT

        feel me now?

        do you think anyone who thinks our condition is the same as china iran or zimbabwe is any sort of aid to your noble cause? no: there is no aid for the virtuous fight you cite

        • by Bob9113 (14996)

          > hold on a sec, let me get "battle hymn of the republic" playing and i'll read again...

          > (smirk)

          Yeah -- truth is I do see your point. Though I felt that the counterpoint was over-the-top passion for nation (which is actually what I feel too -- though I rarely express it so viscerally).

          I think my post would have been better if, instead of the "defeatist propaganda" line, I had said something like "I agree that many make false equivalencies, and that those things are as damaging to the vital self-refle

          • nothing wrong with that. i respect you sir, because you have heart. anyone with passion is someone i respect. cynicism about one's country is easy and cheap. if the usa is ever going to improve, it will start with heart like yours, not with the easy cynics. in fact, the same cynics whining here will probably be whining about whatever genuine heartfelt effort you try to improve your world. because that's all they do

      • You forgot your smiley. If you still don't understand, check out my sig.
    • by thaig (415462)

      If I could mod you up I would. This is insightful. I suppose I think it's insightful because I have also noticed it often and it is frustrating.

      The battle is about elites vs the rest. Countries that have a small middle class have a kind of power vacuum in which the elite dominates a powerless landless group. They have 100 excuses from "culture" to socialism but it is none of that - it's straightforward, medieval kings and barons and peasants and it's universal to humankind.

      The developed world's best way o

    • Where are the fools who always pop up under a story like this to explain to us, with great indignation, why it is no better in the West, that the West does the same thing? Whenever China, Iran, North Korea, Egypt, Zimbabwe, etc., does anything vile with human rights, I need the solace of my false equivalency fools who are always there to tell me why in the West it is exactly the same, and no better.

      It's not only the absolute amount of freedom that's important, you also have to consider the time derivative. While I obviously appreciate the relatively large amount of freedom we currently enjoy, the way "the west" generally seems to be headed now, I'm not sure it will still be a place I want to live in in 10 or 20 years.

    • Or, you know, we could just sit around on our laurels and watch silently as the government takes a few more, and then a few more of our rights away. The USA isn't Zimbabwe because of a the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which is constantly under assault and has been under massive assault under Bush and now, sadly, Obama. Drawing equivalencies between regimes that are generally understood to be repressive and our own regimes when they act in a sinister and repressive manner against the citizens who the
  • I'm sure glad things like that don't happen here in the West!

  • Social networking and blogging tools and sites were strong contributors to the organizatin of the Tunisan and Egyptian revolutions - to the point that the Egyptian revolution might be characterized as a revolution run by "flash mob" events. With these tools conspiracies could grow so fast they stayed far ahead of the governments' efforts to identify, infiltrate, and shut them down.

    But the FACT of the revolutions' success has created a "Schelling Point" (AKA "focus point") - a game theoretical situation whe

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