Posts Tagged ‘Beirut’

Lebanon: human rights defenders use graffiti to express hope

January 24, 2020

The blue graffiti reads: “Oh, my wonderful country.” Photo by Nohad Elhajj.

Since the 17th of October 2019, Lebanon has been in the grips of widespread public protests against the social, economic, and political conditions of the country. The protesters are holding the government accountable for degrading living conditions and demanding serious and drastic changes. ….. But something, equally alive, captivates the place: graffiti. Building walls, stone barriers, wooden panels, even the asphalt ground are all covered with graffiti. With their diverse slogans, creative motifs, and direct, uncensored political and social messages, the graffiti artists collectively illustrate the people’s discourse demanding a full-fledged social and political reform.

On 23 January 2020 Nohad Elhajj – a development practitioner and independent researcher – wrote an interesting piece on this aspect in Global Rights, with rich illustrations:

….. reflecting on the present status of human rights and the human rights movement is of utmost need. More importantly, we need to consider questions about the future of those rights and this movement. In his 2019 article, Thomas Coombes offers a new way to address the future of Human Rights with “hope-based communication” [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/05/30/positive-communication-is-the-only-way-forward-for-effective-human-rights-work/]….

Graffiti is defined as “a form of visual communication, usually illegal, involving the unauthorized marking of public space by an individual or group”. The definition by itself poses a duality; would unauthorized marking of public space become positive communication? Would it possibly shift perspectives? Maybe not all, but some graffiti certainly does convey political messages. The question here is not about authority per se but the disruption of this authority. The act itself is intrinsically disruptive and political whether graffiti is acceptable or not. Starting from this understanding, graffiti, as a visual act, then can be leveraged as a participatory and accessible medium to shift public perspectives on human rights issues. Yet, the human rights movement does not only need to shift the public opinion but also to shift the current governance structures, which is beyond the impact of graffiti. The graffiti in Riyad El Soloh Square is a good illustration of this.

Graffiti is not new to the Lebanese society, but revolution graffiti is particular and powerful because of its relevance, the messages it conveys, and the places it occupies to convey these messages. The graffiti artists practiced their right to freedom of expression, of peaceful assembly and association, while communicating, directly and clearly, human rights demands from women rights, LGBTQ rights, economic and social rights to civil and political rights. (Shown in Pictures below).

……
The Lebanese graffiti artists have pushed and merged both boundaries of political participation and art. The graffiti imposes itself on the observer and on the spaces it occupies with wit and audacity. It overwhelms the observer with emotions of anger, despair, longing and revolt but also with hope. Much of this street art offers a thought-provoking mosaic of entangled messages and images. The graffiti above shows a white pigeon (a recurring image) combined with a strong slogan about workers’ rights; this combination conveys that those rights, and other demands, will be achieved in the future.

Similar to that, the graffiti at the beginning of this article offers another perplexing combination. The whole piece can be read as: “Oh my wonderful country, sectarianism burned us”. As much as it articulates a cry of despair with hurt and agony, it also retains the image of a wonderful country before civil war and a political system that has crippled it for the past 45 years. The generation who lived the war is still lamenting it and the following generations were still living in the resulting divisions and sectarianism—up until the 17th of October 2019. Akin to the protests, the graffiti captured a future hope of a country that will regain its glory after necessary social and political change.

The artists’ urge to mark every visible surface around Riad El Soloh square with spray paint and brushes placed them right in the middle of an already contested political and social scene, and it placed the rights discourse in the middle and around this scene. This graffiti proved to be a strong visual expression of all the protesters’ demands and a way to engage the public with it, both inside and outside Lebanon. Through their paint, these graffiti artists created a distinctive, unprecedented, and positive narrative about human rights in Lebanon: a narrative that more and more organizations and activists are now hanging onto.

https://www.openglobalrights.org/graffiti-creates-positive-human-rights-narratives-in-lebanon/

 

Iran — Can Human Rights Defenders start thinking about a safe return?

November 19, 2013

#Iran-can-activists-return

Things are clearly changing in Iran. It is too early to think that human rights defenders can all safely go back, but the fact that Arseh Sevom – a moderate and informative blog voice on Iran –  devotes a part of today’s post by Peyman Majidzadeh to this question is telling. Here are some excerpts: Read the rest of this entry »

Job opportunity in Beirut for Communication Officer, deadline 7 October

October 2, 2013

Justice without Frontiers (JWF) a secular, nonprofit, NGO in Lebanon seeks a (part-time) Communication Officer whose key responsibilities are:

● To develop and implement an integrated media strategy

● To document the process of preparation of JWF activities

● Deliver high quality local, national (and in some instances international) media coverage for JWF projects.

● Responsible for delivering accurate, timely and compelling information and stories that illustrate and raise the profile of projects implemented by JWF.

● Write & produce content – for the website and external media outlets such as Facebook sub-pages, e-actions, emails, and web pages.

● Monitor and evaluate media coverage generated and to draw lessons to improve coverage.

● Build and maintain excellent relationships with key media players, journalists and broadcasters in Lebanon and regionally and internationally.

● Develop and regularly maintain a national database of media contacts.

● Coordinate the production of IEC materials related to the project: billboard-posters-pamphlets-newsletter-song&hellipetc

● Review and assist in the development of proposals, progress reports, and final reports as per donor requirements

Among the Qualifications and Competencies:

● A Bachelor’s degree in journalism or related field.

● Knowledge of local, national and international media (including press, internet, print)

● Native Arabic and excellent English skills (writing, reading, and correspondence).

● IT skills (Word, Excel, power point&hellip)

To Apply:  submit a cover letter describing your experience what you would bring to the organization, and your salary requirements; along with a CV and contact information for three professional references; and send to: jwficc@yahoo.com; jwf@jwf.org.lb by October 7, 2013.

http://www.jwf.org.lb/about/