Huffington Post Among Nepal's Banned Websites, Connection to Haiti Cholera Outbreak Possible

One of the banned sites—the Huffington Post—reported yesterday that the source of Haiti's cholera outbreak could be from a Nepalese peacekeeping base.

The Nepalese government has been in discussions about banning particular websites for several months, but the ban was only actualized today. It mostly targets porn sites, but others, such as the punk band The Sex Pistols' Web page, was included in the ban. Among the 60 outlawed destinations is the Huffington Post.

The news comes at a time when the government is largely in flux, as it has been for months, and the Interior Ministry spokesman, Jai Mukunda Khanal, is the representative who broke the news to the public today.

"The websites have been banned because they violate public decency and courtesy," Jai Mukunda Khanal said. The ruling also applies to messages posted on Facebook and Twitter. Anyone displaying, transmitting, and broadcasting materials deemed indecent—or post messages defaming political leaders or other public figures—could be jailed for up to five years and fined as much as $1,420, according to the AP.

So why HuffPo? Yesterday the site published a report, originally published by the Associated Press, that the source of the Haiti cholera outbreak may be from a Nepalese peacekeeping base in the country, a report which in itself is unconfirmed.

Whether local Haitian officials are using the Nepalese presence in the country as a scapegoat (as none of the Nepalese soldiers have been found with the disease) or there is legitimate cause for concern, there may be a connection between that story and today's ban.

But in the end, if the Huffington Post were to publish follow-up reports saying that the Nepalese base was not the source of the outbreak, then the country of Nepal also misses out on the opportunity to read with some relief and vindication that their people are indeed not the cause of the problem.

(Huffington Post, it's worth noting, was still accessible in Kathmandu when this post was published.)

[Bottom image: flick user Remi Kaupp]

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