Syria is reportedly set to unblock facebook, youtube and twitter today. Syria’s state-owned fixed line operator ISP, the Syrian Telecommunications Establishment (STE) requested its licensed distributors to permit access. Syrian censorship of the internet has been seen as among the worst in the world, and it has targeted social media in particular. The relaxing of access appears to be a part of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s commitment to progress and communication with the Syrian people.
As reviewed earlier on WL Central, that commitment has been primarily verbal in a country that has a long way to go to meet standards requested by such authorities as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watchand the Committee to Protect Journalists. Syria escaped a scheduled protest on February 5 through a combination of suppression, threats and bribes to the Syrian people, and it was hoped at that point that the promised reforms would be substantial enough to reward the Syrian people’s restraint. In a country with a reported 10,000 political prisoners, where bloggers are routinely jailed, tortured, and ‘disappeared’, more substantial reforms are required.