An interesting, and sometimes terrifying, thing to do is to visit websites of nations that are isolated from the world community, or doing bad things, or simply otherwise troubled.
First stop, The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, otherwise known as North Korea. Don’t forget to check out the section on becoming a member of the Korean Friendship Organization. In this section you can also watch the video (with lyrics) of the Song of National Defence (sic).
Next stop, Uzbekistan. The site is still being worked on and is less exciting than the North Korea site. Still, one can learn a thing or two. The section on the Status of the President can provide, at least, an Orwellian chill down the spine. Read the account on the website first, then check this report from Human Rights Watch. Most charming Karimov quote? Perhaps its “I’m prepared to rip off the heads of 200 people, to sacrifice their lives, in order to save peace and calm in the republic…If my child chose such a path, I myself would rip off his head.” How nice that the US counts such proud allies in the War on Terror.
Moving from the brutal to the outright bizarre, we would be remiss not to include Turkmenistan on the tour. There is no official government website, though the Embassy of Turkmenistan in DC has a rather extensive site. The message from President Niyazov Turkmenbashy includes the claim,
“Turkmenistan has undertaken the first and, therefore, most difficult steps on its way of revival, virtually re-formation of its own sovereign history and state system. It is ancient and event-wise exuberant. But today given the past, we continue it from the scratch.”
Niyazov’s cult of personality has become legendary especially with his recent re-naming of the months of the year in homage to himself. He is also fond of publishing his own works. Here’s what the State Information Agency of Turkmenistan has to say about his Great Book, the Ruhmana.
Next stop, Albania, one of the most isolated countries in the world during the dictatorship of Enver Hoxa. So far, it has been a difficult legacy to emerge from with any great stability. There is an official website here.
This Photographer’s Diary by David Brauchli is worth looking at.
Finally, for now, a look into Africa. The Zimbabwe official site is here. Not much there, really. An admirable piece by Samantha Power on the disaster of Mugabe’s regime is here.
And a brief glance at Sudan, about which there have been many posts in recent weeks here at 3quarksdaily. The restructuring of Sudan Airways seems to figure more prominently on the site than Darfur.
Probably this little tour would have the wrong ‘mood’, as it were, without the inclusion of this site. While no fan of moral equivalency, it is difficult to stomach the following.