Posts Tagged ‘twitter’

How Twitter moved from Arab spring to Arab control

July 29, 2019

Social media platforms were essential in the Arab Spring, but governments soon learned how to counter dissent online”, writes
Twitter played an essential role during the Egyptian Revolution and was used to get info to an international audience [File: Steve Crisp/Reuters]
Twitter played an essential role during the Egyptian Revolution and was used to get info to an international audience [File: Steve Crisp/Reuters]

In a series of articles, Al Jazeera examines how Twitter in the Middle East has changed since the Arab Spring. Government talking points are being magnified through thousands of accounts during politically fraught times and silencing people on Twitter is only part of a large-scale effort by governments to stop human rights activists and opponents of the state from being heard. In the next part of this series, Al Jazeera will look at how Twitter bots influenced online conversation during the GCC crisis on both sides of the issue.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/07/exists-demobilise-opposition-twitter-fails-arabs-190716080010123.html

Saudi Arabia: already bad in 2016 for human rights defenders but continues in 2017

February 3, 2017

 

Nadhir Al-Majid is a well-known 40-year-old writer and teacher who has published many articles in various Arabic newspapers and electronic websites.

On 18 January 2017, the Specialised Criminal Court in Riyadh held its hearing in the presence of Nadhir Al-Majid, who was sentenced to seven years imprisonment followed by seven years of a travel ban in addition to a fine. Reports have confirmed that the writer was alone during the hearing and not accompanied by his family or his lawyer. He was taken immediately after the verdict to Al-Ha’ir prison in Riyadh. There are fears that the authorities will refuse to officially deliver a copy of the verdict to him or his family, which might prevent them from seeking an appeal of the sentence at the Court of Appeal. The Public Prosecutor directed many charges against Al-Majid including failing to obey the ruler, participating in demonstrations, writing articles supporting protests (dating back to the year 2007), in addition to having contact with correspondents of foreign news agencies – namely Reuters, AFP, and CNN.

He was previously jailed on 13 April 2011 after he was arrested and his electronic equipment was confiscated. He was beaten, kicked and ordered to stand for hours and then placed in solitary confinement for five months. He was then placed in a cell with convicted drug dealers and weapons traders. The reason for his arrest is related to his writings, including an article entitled “I protest, I am a human being” which supports the right to demonstrate. He was released on 27 June 2012. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) believes that the prison sentence of Nadhir Al-Majid is solely related to his work in defence of human rights.

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Saudi Arabian human rights defender Essam Koshak has been detained since 8 January 2017 for his online activism.

On 8 January 2017, Essam Koshak received a phone call from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Mecca, summoning him to al-Mansour police station. On arrival, at 5pm the same day, he was interrogated by the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution (BIP) about his Twitter account, which he uses to highlight human rights issues in Saudi Arabia, including the detention of human rights defenders and activists. During the first three days of interrogation, his request to have his lawyer present was denied. On 12 January, Essam Koshak’s detention was extended by four days and his lawyer was finally allowed to be present during his interrogations. He was transferred on the same day to Mecca General Prison where he is currently being held. Essam Koshak is a computer engineer and human rights activist who uses social media to call for reform and respect for human rights in Saudi Arabia.

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In the meantime the organization ALQST – through Samar Badawi [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/01/13/saudi-arabia-arrest-of-human… ] – draws attention to their “Human Rights Situation in Saudi Arabia 2016. Annual review” (for the full report: https://t.co/ACWlRfOFRu – for inquiries, yahya.i.assiri@gmail.com). 

The report contains a chapter on Human Rights Defenders describing several cases in more detail. It states that “Many of the political prisoners in Saudi Arabia are known to be prisoners of conscience. A large number of them have been swept up in the Authorities’ so-called War on Terror, but are in fact being held for their peacefully held and expressed political or religious views. This includes calls for social reform and in defence of human rights. They are tried in the Specialised Criminal Court, which is neither legitimate nor independent of the government, and was set up for the purpose of trying terrorism cases. Most human rights defenders are also charged and found guilty under the 2014 Counter-Terrorism Law. Today the majority of Saudi Arabia’s human rights activists are in prison, on trial, or being subjected to intense harassment.

sources:

http://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/1479

http://www.satprnews.com/2017/01/31/urgent-action-human-rights-defender-jailed-for-online-activism-saudi-arabia-ua-2517/

Tweeting is not a crime: the RETWEET FOR FREEDOM campaign for Nabeel Rajab

December 15, 2016

TWEETING IS NOT A CRIME – RETWEET FOR FREEDOM

Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and many other countries have no respect for freedom of speech: they imprison activists who tweet their support for human rights. Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) is being tried for tweeting in March 2015 ‘Save the Children, Women & civilian from the war in Yemen – war brings hatred, miseries & blood but not solutions’. For this tweet, and another one denouncing torture in the Jaw prison of Bahrain, he faces up to 15 years in jail. Read the rest of this entry »

How on-line platforms could be used for good and bad: Colin Crowell in Oslo

June 2, 2015

At the 2015 Oslo Freedom Forum on 26 May there was a clarifying talk by Twitter vice-president Colin Crowell about how online platforms, like Twitter, play a key role in connecting people and spreading ideas. Crowell describes how Twitter, which allows for anonymity through the use of pseudonyms, encourages freedom of expression. He cautions that governments also try to limit this expression and control the flow of information by requesting that certain tweets be removed – or even by blocking Twitter completely. Crowell highlights how Twitter has been used to start various online social movements, citing several successful case studies from around the world.

In spite of all the protests: still six month sentence for Nabeel Rajab in Bahrain

January 20, 2015

Nabeel Rajab, has been sentenced to six months in prison for posting comments online which were considered insulting to the Ministries of Interior and Defence.

© Private.
Further to my post of this morning [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/video-statement-of-troublemaker-nabeel-rajab-who-is-on-trial-today/], Nabeel Rajab was  unjustly punished and got – simply for posting tweets deemed insulting to the authorities – six months prison. “His conviction is a blow to freedom of expression – it must be quashed. He should be released immediately and unconditionally” said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

Bahrain: Six month sentence for Nabeel Rajab blow to freedom of expression | Amnesty International.

Video statement of ‘troublemaker’ Nabeel Rajab who is on trial today

January 20, 2015

Today, 20 January, a verdict is expected in the trial of Nabeel Rajab, an internationally recognized human rights defender in Bahrain. President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Deputy Secretary General of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and a member of Human Rights Watch’s Advisory Board, Rajab is charged with insulting public institutions via Twitter. A huge number of NGOs (see below) strongly condemn the politically motivated prosecution of Nabeel Rajab and call on the Government of Bahrain to drop all charges against the peaceful human rights defender. The video statement was prepared by True Heroes Films (THF).

On 1 October 2014, Rajab was arrested after hours of interrogation regarding one of his tweets. Rajab had just returned to Bahrain from a months-long advocacy tour, which included appearances at the 27th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and the European Parliament in Brussels, as well as meetings with foreign ministries throughout Europe. Charged with insulting public institutions under article 216 of Bahrain’s penal code, Rajab was granted bail on 2 November 2014, but was banned from leaving the country.

[Rajab is one of many Bahrainis who have been victimized by the government’s intensified campaign to silence dissent: On 28 December, Sheikh Ali Salman, General-Secretary of Bahrain’s largest opposition party Al-Wefaq, was arrested for his political and human rights activism. Earlier in December, human rights defender Zainab al-Khawaja was sentenced to four years in prison for insulting the king and ripping up his picture, while her sister Maryam al-Khawaja, Director of Advocacy of the Gulf Center for Human Rights, was sentenced to one year in prison for allegedly assaulting a police officer during her arrest in August 2014. – https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/09/12/bahrain-travails-of-a-family-of-human-rights-defenders/

Signatories:

Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
Association for Civil Rights
Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Bytes for All
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Cartoonists Rights Network International
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility 
Centre for Independent Journalism – Malaysia
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Freedom Forum
Freedom House
Globe International Center
Independent Journalism Center – Moldova
International Press Institute 
Maharat Foundation
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
Media Watch
National Union of Somali Journalists
Pakistan Press Foundation
Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms – MADA
PEN American Center
PEN International
World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters – AMARC
Activists Organisation For Development And Human Rights
American for Democracy and Human rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
Africa Freedom Of Information Centre
Albadeel Center For Studies And Research
Alliance For Tunisia’s Women
Aman Network For Rehabilitation & Defending Human Rights
Bahrain 19
Bahrain Press Association
Bahrain Salam For Human Rights
Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)
Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR)
Chokri Belaid Foundation To Combat Violence
European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR)
European Saudi Organisation For Human Rights
Gulf Center For Human Rights (GCHR)
Initiative For Freedom Of Expression – Turkey
International Centre For Supporting Rights And Freedom
Jordanian Commission For Culture And Democracy
Khiam Rehabilitation Center For Victims Of Torture
Kuwait Human Right Institute
Kuwait Human Right Society
Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC)
MENA Monitoring Group
Nidal Tagheer Organisation For Defending Rights (Yemen)
No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ – Italy)
Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational And Transparty (NRPTT – Italy)
Réseau Avocats Sans Frontières
Shia Right Watch
Sudanese Development Imitative
Syrian Nonviolence Movement
Tunisian Association For The Rehabilitation Of Prisoners
Tunisian Centre For Transitional Justice
Tunisian National Council For Liberties
UN Ponte Per (Italy) 

Europe’s Sakharov Prize in trouble with regard to Arab nominees

October 11, 2014

Under provocative title “Can Arabs be Human Rights Defenders?”  the on-line newspapers Mada Masr and Jadaliyya published a piece setting out how 3 Arab nominees were suddenly dropped by their nominators in the European Parliament  over a few Israeli-bashing tweets that were indeed on the verge of acceptability (even in the context of rough twitter talk) especially when calling for or condoning killing of Zionist civilians.

I referred to the nominations in my post: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/09/22/nominees-for-sakharov-prize-2014-announced/.

I consider the post’s title  provocative (or perhaps ironic) as even a cursory glance of human rights documentation – including this blog – shows that there are hundreds of human rights defenders in the Arab world whose credentials are not disputed or totally defensible.

Please read the whole piece for yourself as this is both a complicated and sensitive matter.

Read the rest of this entry »

Erykah Badu unapologetic about her human rights performance and plans to repeat in the Gambia

May 2, 2014

SXSW Film-Interactive-Music - Day 9

(Erykah Badu performs onstage 15 March 2014 in Austin; Roger Kisby—Getty Images)

The misuse of star power by Erykah Badu referred to in an earlier post got a nice follow up according to the opinion piece posted by Thor Halvorssen and Alex Gladstein in TIME of 2 May 2014. After recalling in detail her singing for the Swazi absolute monarch [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/04/30/another-case-of-misused-star-power-erykah-badu-performs-for-swaziland-dictator/], the authors describe Badu’s defensive and sometimes offensive comments in the social media: Read the rest of this entry »

Six Members of Blogging Collective “Zone 9” Arrested in Ethiopia

April 29, 2014

zonenine

On April 25, six members of the Zone Nine blogging collective were arrested in Ethiopia. They are now reported to being held at Maekelawi, a detention center in Addis Ababa. News of the arrests first broke on Twitter, where fellow bloggers and social media users voiced support for those arrested and expressed their own fears about what may be to come. Writer Bisrat Teshome, who lives in Addis Ababa, tweeted: “Terrified with the rant of EPRDF on journalists & bloggers. I almost fainted when my door was knocked at about 7pm. #Ethiopia — Bisrat Teshome (@_Bisre)“. As of this evening, no charges had been issued to the members of our group.

[Formed in 2012, the Zone Nine group has leveraged significant critiques of ruling government policy and practice through online campaigns in an effort to raise awareness about political repression in the country. Translating international news for local audiences — through partnership with Global Voices, launched Global Voices in Amharic two years ago. Have been a surveillance target of the Ethiopian government.]

[Kality prison is divided into eight different zones, the last of which — Zone Eight — is dedicated to journalists, human right activists and dissidents. Thus the name of the blog for the proverbial prison in which all Ethiopians live: Zone Nine]

via Six Members of Blogging Collective Arrested in Ethiopia – Global Voices Advocacy.

Take a minute to make this social media campaign a success!

April 15, 2014

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) has started a most interesting campaign using social media to free human rights defenders. I strongly advise readers of this blog to take action by subscribing to the idea and retweeting or reblogging it on their own platforms. Let us see what can be achieved by 27 April when the campaign finishes!

https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/9969-forfreedom

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