In some parts of the world bloggers face tremendous risks just for speaking their truth.
Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez reported that on Friday she and another blogger, Orlando Luis Pardo, were beaten up by state security police in Havana while walking to a peaceful demonstration, according to a story in the Miami Herald.
`No blood, but black and blues, punches, pulled hairs, blows to the head, kidneys, knee and chest,'' Sánchez told El Nuevo Herald shortly after she and Pardo were freed. ``In sum, professional violence.''
Sanchez is considered the most respected blogger in Cuba and she has received international acclaim for her blog called Generation Y.
This year she was awarded the Maria Moors Cabot Prize, the oldest international award in journalism given by Columbia University. But the Cuban government would not let her leave the country, according to a story in the Columbia Journalism Review. Last year, she also was denied permission to fly to Madrid to accept the Ortega y Gasset Prize in digital journalism and she delivered an acceptance speech to her friends and family in Cuba. Time magazine listed her as one of the world's 100 most influential persons in the world in 2008.
Sanchez gets an estimated 1 million hits a month on her blog and described in more detail how she was detained and roughed up on Friday. To avoid government censors she uses a server hosted in Germany and she emails her posts to people outside Cuba.
One put his knee in my chest and the other, from the front seat, hit me in my kidneys and punched me in the head so I would open my mouth and spit out the paper. At one point I felt I would never leave that car. "This is as far as you're going, Yoani," "I've had enough of your antics," said the one sitting beside the driver who was pulling my hair. In the back seat a rare spectacle was taking place: my legs were pointing up, my face reddened by the pressure and my aching body, on the other side Orlando brought down by a professional at beating people up. I just managed to grab, through his trousers, one's testicles, in an act of desperation. I dug my nails in, thinking he was going to crush my chest until the last breath. "Kill me now," I screamed, with the last inhalation I had left in me, and the one in front warned the younger one, "Let her breathe."
I was listening to Orlando panting and the blows continued to rain down on us, I planned to open the door and throw myself out but there was no handle on the inside. We were at their mercy and hearing Orlando's voice encouraged me. Later he told me it was the same for him hearing my choking words... they let him know, "Yoani is still alive." We were left aching, lying in a street in Timba, a woman approached, "What has happened?"... "A kidnapping," I managed to say.
Reading about Sanchez's ordeal should give all of us in the United States an appreciation for the freedom we have to write and speak our truth. We should collectively use our voices to support bloggers like Sanchez.