PARIS, March 13 (UPI) — Reporters Without Borders says it has added Bahrain and Belarus to 10 other nations on its annual list of “enemies of the Internet.”
The two nations have been moved onto the press freedom advocacy group’s list of countries that restrict Internet access, filter content and imprison bloggers, the BBC reported Tuesday.
India and Kazakhstan have also joined a list of “countries under surveillance” because of concerns that they are becoming more repressive, the French-based group said.
It said 2011 was the “deadliest year” yet for netizens, noting at least 199 arrests of Internet campaigners were recorded over the year, an increase of 31 percent compared with 2010.
China, followed by Vietnam and Iran, currently hold the largest number of netizens in jail, it said.
Bahrain was added to the list after the death of Zakariya Rashid Hassan, a Web forum moderator charged with disseminating false news and calling for the overthrow of his country’s government before he died six days after being arrested in April 2010, Reporters Without Borders said.
In Belarus, the group said, President Alexander Lukashenko’s government has increased the number of blocked Web sites and arrested some bloggers while inviting others to “preventative conversations” with the police during which they are pressured not to cover protests.
The countries currently on the group’s “enemies of the Internet” list are Bahrain, Belarus, Burma, China, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.