Sunday, September 2, 2007

Uncertainty over blocked website

There are claims from within Bhutan that the government is again blocking the Bhutan Times website.

The block was put in place a month ago after claims that the Bhutan Times had been covering ‘controversial issues’. That block appeared to have been lifted earlier this month.

The Bhutan Times is reporting this latest block on its site.

"We are getting reports from readers in Bhutan that the Bhutan Times (BT) has been blocked again and the site statistics seem to confirm this. We aren't sure what exactly is going on but certainly feel this is a highly regrettable action.

"BT has been taking some flak recently on this issue (on the forum and in the news) and at some point we will attempt to get our point of view across. "In the mean time we maintain that our readers will be best placed to judge whether we are deserving of such attention from Bhutan Infocomm and Media Authority (BICMA)."

The Bhutan Chapter of the Third World Media Network (TWMN) has called on the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) to investigate.

"We immediately call on the IFJ to protest in the strongest terms possible so that the Bhutanese government doesn't repeat such a mistake," the TWMN – Bhutan Chapter said in a statement.

The organisation is also calling on other media freedom groups to take action.
"The South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) has recently established its Bhutan Chapter inside the country.

“What is their role when the government is still hoodwinking the international communities," the TWMN - Bhutan Chapter statement continued.

When the IFJ heard about the earlier blocking, the organisation urged the Bhutanese government to reverse the decision.

"We strongly urge the Bhutanese government to overturn this decision, which can only be described as blatant censorship, and allow the Bhutanese people full access to the

"It is a hypocritical move by the government to block local access to this website, particularly after taking so many positive steps towards a freer media, such as allowing the introduction of media privatisation last year."

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