The use of SMS against torture in Egypt highlighted

December 10, 2013

In the context of 10 December, Human Rights DayCurt Goering of the Centre for Victims of Torture posts in the Huffington Post a piece on the value of information technology to prevent torture. ..….Human rights challenges, such as those confronting the Middle East and North Africa often receive media attention, but less publicized are the human rights defenders who are using nonviolence to promote positive change in their countries. Among the non-violent tactics Goering refers to the Front to Defend Egypt Protesters [FDEP] which uses Short Message Service [SMS], to facilitate communication between detainees and human rights groups in order to provide medical help and legal assistance. FDEP was established in 2008 at time when activists were commonly targeted during protests and demonstrations by authorities. FDEP is made up of volunteer medical, legal, communications teams and others who use SMS communications to collect information from activists on their arrests, detentions, injuries, and need for legal counsel. Detainees requiring assistance will text FDEP their name, age, health status, and the location of their detention. As soon as the teams are made aware of an arrest at a demonstration or protest, they mobilize a coordinated response to provide help and support to those individuals facing human rights violations. Additionally, FDEP often makes available lists of detainees after verification and updates on their status. This has allowed families to receive information on the condition of their relatives held in detention. It is encouraging to learn that since it began, FDEP has provided vital medical and legal aid to hundreds of protesters. New Tactics has documented hundreds of tactics to help defenders be more effective. New methods from the Middle East illustrate creative nonviolent approaches, including a tactic by an LGBT group in Lebanon that provides confidentiality for those who could be at risk if linked to an LGBT advocacy group, and an Egyptian group that is bringing transparency to the military influence in state institutions. Lastly, as we recognize and honor human rights defenders on Human Rights Day, let us never forget about those individuals struggling, and sometimes suffering and dying, for their human rights, their freedom, and their dignity.

via Human Rights Day: Nonviolent Tactics Promote Positive Change in the Middle East | Curt Goering.


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