Burma, Azerbaijan Want Facebook-Powered Revolutions

Citizens of Burma and Azerbaijan are starting to express discontent with their governments through Facebook.

Add a new region to the list of places aspiring to have Facebook-powered revolutions: Southeast Asia.

Molly McHugh at Digital Trends reports that Burmese social activists have created a Facebook page called Just Do It Against Military Dictatorship, to expose the human rights violations that are routine in their country. They hope to establish a larger social media presence and raise international awareness about the oppressive state in their country.

Burma, officially known as the Union of Myanmar, is a small country in Southeast Asia bordered by China, Thailand, India, Banlgadesh, and Laos.

It’s hard to believe that a country as tightly controlled as Burma could pull it off, but if people don’t try, they’ll never know the change they’re capable of achieving. According to Internet World Stats, however, only .2 percent of the Burmese population had access to the Internet in 2010. That’s about 110,000 users out of a population of over 50 million.

So far, Just Do It Against Military Dictatorship has attracted over 1,300 likes. We’ll keep an eye on how that situation develops.

In related news, Onnik Krikorian from Global Voices Advocacy reports that the country of Azerbaijan is also very worried about a possible uprising fueled by social media. Officials have been monitoring Facebook posts, arresting dissident bloggers, and considering cutting Internet access altogether. Like Cuba, the government distrusts the power of the social network.

Krikorian also points out that some people in Azerbaijan are worried that those in friendships and relationships with Armenians might be exposed through Facebook’s friend lists, blog posts, and photos. The two former Soviet Union states turned countries have had a long history of conflict since the Russian Revolution in 1918, and even before that.

Last month, a 20-year-old member of the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan, Jabbar Savalan, was arrested after posting on Facebook that his country needed pro-democracy protests like those going on in Egypt. He had also participated in an anti-government demonstration on January 20. He was arrested on February 5 after returning home from a party meeting, and charged with illegal possession of narcotics. Savalan’s family says the charges are not true.

A tiny group of 48 Facebook users are calling for a “Great Revolution Day” in Azerbaijan for March 11th. About 44 percent of Azerbaijan’s eight million people have access to the Internet, and almost 200,000 of them have Facebook accounts.

Readers, do you have any thoughts about whether there’s a threshold percentage of a nation’s citizenship with Facebook accounts, or even Internet access, for a social-media planned revolution to succeed?