Berkman Alumni, Friends, and Spinoffs

Keep track of Berkman-related news and conversations by subscribing to this page using your RSS feed reader. This aggregation of blogs relating to the Berkman Center does not necessarily represent the views of the Berkman Center or Harvard University but is provided as a convenient starting point for those who wish to explore the people and projects in Berkman's orbit. As this is a global exercise, times are in UTC.

The list of blogs being aggregated here can be found at the bottom of this page.

June 17, 2019

Global Voices
Demolition of a 150-year-old building highlights government neglect of Bangladesh's heritage sites

The landmark building was demolished despite a High Court Directive

The dilapidated state of “Jahaj Bari” before being demolished. It was the first commercial house in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, built in 1870. Image by Shakil Ahmed. Used with permission.

In Dhaka, a century-old heritage building was demolished clandestinely on the night of Eid-ul-Fitr on June 5, 2019. The ship-like structure, known locally as “Jahaj Bari”, was built around 1870 and considered to be the first commercial building in Bangladesh's capital. Its demolition has caused many to speak out against the neglect of Dhaka's architectural treasures.

Media reports alleged that supporters of the ruling Awami League (AL) party brought three bulldozers to the location and demolished the building. The supporters claim that their leader, local member of parliament (Dhaka-7) Haji Md. Salim, bought the property to build a multi-story building on the site. The AL supporters also claimed that the building was not included on any heritage list.

On August 13, 2018, the Dhaka High Court issued a directive to the government agency responsible for coordinating urban development in Dhaka to not approve or allow the demolition or modification of 2,200 archaeologically significant buildings around the capital city. Jahaj Bari is also part of a Waqf (mortmain) estate that, as part of a charitable donation, could not be sold. According to the administrator of Bangladesh's Waqf Administration, it is mandatory to have permission in order to hand over, sell or develop any Waqf property. Contrary to the claims of the AL activists, no such permission was requested for the sale or demolition of the building in question.

In March 2019, an attempt was made to demolish the building. Urban Study Group, a volunteer-run nonprofit group dedicated to protecting the historical urban fabric of Old Dhaka, filed a complaint to stop the demolition, citing the above mentioned High Court order.

However, according to newspaper reports, some locals are happy that the building was demolished. They felt that it was in a dilapidated state and feared that it would fall down on them—an indication of the lack of awareness of historical preservation and support for the restoration of heritage buildings in Bangladesh.

Heritage history—just empty words

Many expressed their anger on hearing about the destruction of the building. Shuvra Kar wrote on Facebook:

ঐতিহ্য, ইতিহাস, কৃষ্টি এসব এদেশে গাল ভরা কথা!!

Heritage, history, culture these are just empty words in this country!

Writer Tania Kamrun Nahar explained why this heritage building needed to be saved:

তিনতলা ‘জাহাজ বাড়ি’র দোতলায় ছিলো নকশা করা রেলিং, ছাদওয়ালা টানা বারান্দা। আর পুরো অবয়বজুড়ে নানা রকম কারুকাজ। কোণাকৃতির আর্চের সারি, কারুকাজ করা কার্নিশ। কলামে ব্যবহার করা হয়েছিল আয়নিক ও করিন্থিয়ান ক্যাপিটাল। পশ্চিম প্রান্তে আর্চ ও কলামের সাথেও নানারকম অলঙ্করণের ব্যবহার দেখা যায়। সব মিলিয়ে এই ভবনটিতে যে ধরনের অলঙ্করণের ব্যবহার, তা একে এক অনন্য মাত্রা দিয়েছিল। এ ধরনের অলঙ্করণ পুরান ঢাকায় আর কোনো ভবনে দেখা যায় না। সেদিক থেকে এর নান্দনিক গুরুত্বের জন্যই ভবনটি সংরক্ষণ করা প্রয়োজন।

The three-storied “Jahaj Bari” had beautiful motifs on the railings. The long verandah had designed roofs. The whole building had many beautiful designs — pointed arches, decorated cornices. The columns had ionic and Corinthian capital designs. The building had such remarkable designs which were rare to find in other buildings in the old parts of Dhaka. So the building needed to be saved.

Dhaka was established as the capital of Bengal in 1610, more than four centuries ago. During the years of Mughal rule and British colonial rule, many buildings were built that form part of the history and heritage of the city.

But most of these buildings are long gone. The ones that remain are in a dilapidated state and are destined to be grabbed by occupants claiming ownership of the buildings (often by forging documents). One example is Bara Katra, a historical and architectural monument built between 1644 and 1646 AD by Mir Abul Qasim, the Diwan (chief revenue official) of the Mughal prince Shah Shuja. The building is on the verge of collapsee due to the lack of maintenance, preservation efforts, and damage caused by illegal occupants.

Bara Katra. The structure was built according to the traditional pattern of Central Asian caravanserais and is embellished in the style of Mughal architecture. Image by Ragib Hassan via Wikipedia. CC BY 2.5

Muntasir Mamun has written many books on the history and heritage of Dhaka city. He wrote in a local newspaper Bhorer Kagoj:

গত চার দশক বড়কাটরা ছোটকাটরা সংরক্ষণ করার জন্য কতো আবেদন-নিবেদন করলাম, কেউ শুনল না। আজ সেগুলো ধ্বংস করে ফেলা হয়েছে। প্রতœতত্ত্ব দপ্তর যেখানে লালবাগ কেল্লার দেয়াল ভেঙে ফেলে গাড়ি পার্কিংয়ের জন্য তখন আর কী বলা যায়! মূর্খতার বিরুদ্ধে আর কতো লড়াই করা যায়?

I have pleaded to the authorities in the past four decades to save the heritage buildings like Bara Katra and Choto Katra. But nobody listened. When the philatelic department demolished part of the old walls of the famous Lalbagh Fort to make a car park, what can you say? How can you fight against stupidity?

An online news portal has published an in-depth report about government negligence of these heritage buildings and the influential people trying to demolish existing buildings:

ইতিমধ্যেই শাঁখারী বাজারের হেরিটেজভুক্ত ১৪ নম্বর বাড়িটি ভেঙ্গে ফেলা হয়েছে। সুত্রাপুরের বড় বাড়িটির সিংহভাগই ধ্বংস করা হয়েছে। মোগল আমলের স্মৃতিবাহী বংশাল মুকিম বাজার জামে মসজিদ, সিদ্দিক বাজার জামে মসজিদ সংস্কারের নামে ধ্বংস করা হয়েছে। [..] এসব স্থাপনা রক্ষায় সরকারের সুস্পষ্ট নির্দেশনা থাকলেও রাজউক ও ডিসিসির কর্মকর্তারা রহস্যজনক ভূমিকা পালন করেছে। অনেকক্ষেত্রে এদের নীরবতা ঐতিহ্য ধ্বংস সহায়ক শক্তি হিসাবে কাজ করছে।

The no. 14 house in the heritage list has already been taken down. Most parts of the famous big house in Sutrapur has been destroyed. The relics of the Mughal era in Bangshal Mukim Bazar Jam-e Mosque and Siddique Bazar Jam-e Mosque are gone with a new structure in place in the name of renovation. [..] Although there is a government directive to protect heritage buildings, the officials of Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha and Dhaka City Corporation are not doing anything. Their inaction is encouraging greedy parties to grab the old properties and destroy them.

The Urban Study Group has organized rallies and human chains to protest these demolitions. They are also keen to create awareness to protect other endangered heritage buildings.

Here are some more images of Bangladeshi heritage buildings in peril:

An old Zamindar house in Nazira Bazar of Old Dhaka is being demolished. Image by Shakil Ahmed. Used with permission.

Nimtali Palace. It was the residence of the Deputy Governor of Dhaka during the Mughal rule. Only the west gate of the palace still survives. Image by Shakil Ahmed. Used with permission.

ShankhaNidhi House। This is another century-old building in Dhaka. Without preservation, this building is barely surviving. Image by Shakil Ahmed. Used with permission.

Northbrook Hall or Lal Kuthi – photographed in 1904 by Fritz Kapp. This building is barely surviving now. Image via Wikipedia. Public Domain

by Rezwan at June 17, 2019 08:02 AM

June 15, 2019

Global Voices
#JBF2019: Japan's Lego Brick Festival 2019 takes to Twitter
Lego Figurines

Lego Figurines. Image by Nevin Thompson.

Billed as the country's largest international fan-led Lego event, Japan Brickfest 2019 was held in Kobe on June 8 and June 9. More than 270 Lego fans displayed their creations, and the thousands of people who attended Brickfest over the weekend shared photos on Twitter using the hashtag #JBF2019.

I went and took some photos.

I'm not sure who made this, but it's really cool. Using the bullet train Lego in this way is totally awesome.

A micro-scale town on display at JBF 2019. Using satellite photos, everything has been recreated on a 16X16 Lego building sheet.

I was wondering what was in the attache case. I opened it up, and this is what I saw. Very convenient for transporting Lego!

Put on each year since 2016 by Canadian Academy, a private school in Kobe, and KLUG, (the Kansai Lego User Group), Japan Brickfest is a charity event, whereby a portion of the entry fee is donated to various worthy causes.

See many more amazing Lego creations in Kobe at the Twitter hashtag #JBF2019.

by Nevin Thompson at June 15, 2019 06:11 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Indonesia’s post-election riots led to free speech violations

Riot police shields before the start of the election protest. Photo by Pio Kharisma Yongha. Used with permission.

Riots erupted in Jakarta on 22 May 2019 after the country’s election body announced the victory of incumbent President Joko Widodo. The protesters were supporters of defeated presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto who claimed that there was systematic election rigging.

At least eight died during the scuffle with the police and more than 700 were injured.

Aside from these casualties involving protesters, several journalists were also attacked while covering the riots. The government also restricted access to social media for three days to stop the spread of disinformation.

Social media restricted to stop hoaxes

The Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security of Indonesia (Menpolhukam), retired General Wiranto announced on 22 May that social media and mobile messenger apps would be restricted via bandwidth throttling and selective shutdowns of social media accounts to curb the spread of hoaxes. For three days, Indonesian netizens were only able to send videos or images through Virtual Private Networks.

A coalition of human rights groups noted that both supporters of Subianto and Jokowi engaged in online taunting as well as spreading hate speech and misinformation.

Concurring with General Wiranto, the Indonesian Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (Kemenkominfo) asked netizens not to spread unverified content and fake news about the election protest. It shut down some 2,000 social media accounts and websites for spreading ‘negative content.’

Communication and technology minister Rudiantara defended the government's strategies:

Limiting access is the last resort to take in an increasingly dire situation. Other nations have proven its efficiency to stop the spread of chaos.

The minister said the agency reached out to messaging platforms like WhatsApp:

Another way is through a collaboration with platform provider. For example, I've spoken with the chiefs of WA which has closed down 61,000 accounts for conduct violations ahead of the May 22 riot.

But the country's human rights commission said that the government action was an exaggeration.

In its statement, Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) asserted that the Indonesian government “should not implement throttling without well-defined parameters of national emergency”.

The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) also doubted the effectivity of enforcing Internet restrictions during crisis situations:

While we understand the government’s intention to stop the distribution of false information and protect the public during violent protests, the decision has also inadvertently restricted public’s access to factual information.

Instead of resorting to social media throttling, AJI has a proposal:

We ask the government to engage with social media providers so they can be actively involved in stopping the spread of false information and hate speeches through transparent mechanism with a stronger legal basis.

Indonesia lifted these restrictions after three days.

The worst attack against journalists since the Suharto-era

AJI reported that an AP correspondent experienced online doxxing while dozens of journalists were physically harassed by protesters and the police. Some blamed Subianto for inciting hate when he called the media the ‘destroyer of democracy’ during his May Day speech. AJI condemned the violence against journalists and has called for a thorough investigation in what many have already described as the worst attack against journalists in the post-Suharto era. Suharto was a strongman who ruled the country for three decades before his fall from power in 1998.

AJI described the intimidation targeting journalists as a blatant act of censorship. Police were accused of using unnecessary force to stop journalists from recording the clashes between state forces and protesters. But there was also violence coming from the side of protesters:

The journalists were also assaulted by protesters. They persecuted the journalists and seized their equipment including their cameras, mobile phones, and recorders. The protesters forced the journalists to delete all photo and video documentation.

Various rights groups are calling the government to probe the attacks against the media by the police and some supporters of Subianto.

by Carolina Rumuat at June 15, 2019 12:34 PM

June 14, 2019

Global Voices
Indonesia’s post-election riots led to free speech violations

Riot police shields before the start of the election protest. Photo by Pio Kharisma Yongha. Used with permission.

Riots erupted in Jakarta on 22 May 2019 after the country’s election body announced the victory of incumbent President Joko Widodo. The protesters were supporters of defeated presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto who claimed that there was systematic election rigging.

At least eight died during the scuffle with the police and more than 700 were injured.

Aside from these casualties involving protesters, several journalists were also attacked while covering the riots. The government also restricted access to social media for three days to stop the spread of disinformation.

Social media restricted to stop hoaxes

The Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security of Indonesia (Menpolhukam), retired General Wiranto announced on 22 May that social media and mobile messenger apps would be restricted via bandwidth throttling and selective shutdowns of social media accounts to curb the spread of hoaxes. For three days, Indonesian netizens were only able to send videos or images through Virtual Private Networks.

A coalition of human rights groups noted that both supporters of Subianto and Jokowi engaged in online taunting as well as spreading hate speech and misinformation.

Concurring with General Wiranto, the Indonesian Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (Kemenkominfo) asked netizens not to spread unverified content and fake news about the election protest. It shut down some 2,000 social media accounts and websites for spreading ‘negative content.’

Communication and technology minister Rudiantara defended the government's strategies:

Limiting access is the last resort to take in an increasingly dire situation. Other nations have proven its efficiency to stop the spread of chaos.

The minister said the agency reached out to messaging platforms like WhatsApp:

Another way is through a collaboration with platform provider. For example, I've spoken with the chiefs of WA which has closed down 61,000 accounts for conduct violations ahead of the May 22 riot.

But the country's human rights commission said that the government action was an exaggeration.

In its statement, Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) asserted that the Indonesian government “should not implement throttling without well-defined parameters of national emergency”.

The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) also doubted the effectivity of enforcing Internet restrictions during crisis situations:

While we understand the government’s intention to stop the distribution of false information and protect the public during violent protests, the decision has also inadvertently restricted public’s access to factual information.

Instead of resorting to social media throttling, AJI has a proposal:

We ask the government to engage with social media providers so they can be actively involved in stopping the spread of false information and hate speeches through transparent mechanism with a stronger legal basis.

Indonesia lifted these restrictions after three days.

The worst attack against journalists since the Suharto-era

AJI reported that an AP correspondent experienced online doxxing while dozens of journalists were physically harassed by protesters and the police. Some blamed Subianto for inciting hate when he called the media the ‘destroyer of democracy’ during his May Day speech. AJI condemned the violence against journalists and has called for a thorough investigation in what many have already described as the worst attack against journalists in the post-Suharto era. Suharto was a strongman who ruled the country for three decades before his fall from power in 1998.

AJI described the intimidation targeting journalists as a blatant act of censorship. Police were accused of using unnecessary force to stop journalists from recording the clashes between state forces and protesters. But there was also violence coming from the side of protesters:

The journalists were also assaulted by protesters. They persecuted the journalists and seized their equipment including their cameras, mobile phones, and recorders. The protesters forced the journalists to delete all photo and video documentation.

Various rights groups are calling the government to probe the attacks against the media by the police and some supporters of Subianto.

by Juke Carolina at June 14, 2019 03:05 PM

Netizen Report: Amid demonstrations for democracy, Sudanese civilians face military violence — and internet shutdowns

Liberia, Ethiopia and Kazakhstan also faced internet shutdowns this week.

A protest in Khartoum, April 2019. Photo by M. Saleh via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Advox Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in technology and human rights around the world. This report covers news and events from June 1-13, 2019.

Uncertainty has dominated Sudan since the military ouster of long-standing president Omar Al-Bashir in April. Although pro-democracy protesters were initially in talks with the Transitional Military Council, negotiations have faltered and protesters have returned to the streets.

Tensions between protesters and authorities have escalated and the Rapid Support Forces, whose members are veterans of the militias responsible for Darfur’s worst massacres, have killed more than 100 protesters and there have been numerous reports of rape and robberies of civilians stopped at military checkpoints. Nevertheless, Sudanese citizens have continued to push for a transition to a civilian government, and launched a mass general strike on June 9.

Since June 3, technical testing by NetBlocks has confirmed that mobile internet connectivity has been shut off, drastically reducing people’s abilities to communicate, share or access information. The shutdown strongly affected Facebook users who were relying on the platform to organize demonstrations and the strike.

While most civilians (who rely on mobile internet connections)  are now cut off from the platform, the Rapid Support Forces are still actively using Facebook, likely through a fixed connection, to promote their own narrative about what is happening in the country. Sudanese activists have organized a petition campaign, demanding Facebook remove these pages in recognition that they promote violence against peaceful protesters in Sudan.

Internet shutdowns in Liberia, Ethiopia

Sudan is not the only African country grappling with internet cuts this June. In Liberia, on June 7, media groups reported that many people were struggling to access major social media services during an anti-government protest in Monrovia, the capital. Technical testing by NetBlocks indicated that major social media and communication services including WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram became inaccessible on the country’s two major telcom networks, owned by Orange and Long Star. Civil society groups are calling on the two telcos to make a public statement explaining what caused the outages.

In Ethiopia, where internet shutdowns are not unusual, NetBlocks observed a total internet shutdown on June 11, believed to have been triggered by education officials seeking to prevent students from cheating on national secondary school exams.

Amid mass protests in Hong Kong, Telegram has become a target

A proposed extradition law in Hong Kong has triggered the largest protests seen since the 2014 Umbrella Movement, bringing hundreds of thousands of people to the streets. As demonstrations continued this week and turned dangerous, with police arresting at least a dozen protesters, the secure mobile messaging service, Telegram, came under attack. Telegram CEO Pavel Durov tweeted on June 12 that the company’s servers had been temporarily compromised by a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, the result of thousands of requests sent to Telegram’s servers, in an effort to overwhelm the system. Durov said the requests came mostly from mainland China.

Meanwhile, the administrator of a massive Telegram messaging group called “International Waters” (公海總谷) was arrested by Hong Kong police for “conspiring to commit a public nuisance.” The group had become an organizing platform for protesters. The police asked the administrator to unlock his cellphone and export the list of the group members, who number in the tens of thousands. The administrator has since been released on bail.

Chinese censors (and Twitter) stifle commemoration of Tiananmen Square massacre

June 4 marked the 30th anniversary of the 1989 massacre of student protesters at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square by the Chinese military. The massacre, which resulted in a still-untold number of deaths of peaceful protesters (evidence-based estimates range between 2,700 and 10,454), has never been publicly acknowledged by the Chinese government.

Terms and images associated with the event have long been closely monitored online — research by the University of Hong Kong and the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab indicates that it is the most censored topic on the Chinese internet.

While plenty of online content linked to the event was censored by Chinese websites and services this year, US-based Twitter also suspended hundreds of accounts critical of the Chinese Communist Party, according to Hong Kong Free Press. Twitter later apologized and reinstated the accounts, saying that they were mistakenly blocked as part of the company’s effort to remove accounts that are promoting spam or engaging in “inauthentic” behavior.

Kazakhstan blocks internet amid post-election protests

Kazakhstan held snap presidential elections on June 9, a date also marred with a widespread internet shutdown, which was confirmed by technical tests and reported by pro-government news agency Tengri news.

The elections follow the historic resignation of Nursultan Nazarbayev, who maintained an undisputed rule of the autocratic Central Asian state from the 1989 fall of the Soviet Union until March 2019, when he announced his resignation. In accordance with the Kazakhstani constitution, Senate speaker Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, a Nazarbayev loyalist, officially took power on March 20 and was then elected president on June 9.

In rarely seen street demonstrations, activists and citizens have been demanding free elections and pointing to evidence of rigged voting. At least 500 people have been detained, including journalists, and mobile internet is still blocked in the center of Almaty, the country’s former capital.

Russian journalist arrested on dubious charges

Ivan Golunov, a leading investigative journalist, was detained on June 6 in Moscow on what appear to be trumped-up charges of drug dealing and possession. A judge initially released Golunov to house arrest, and then dismissed charges against him, following widespread public condemnation of the case.

Golunov works for Meduza, one of the few remaining independent Russian-language online media platforms. He has led and published several investigations pointing at cases of corruption involving high-ranking officials. In an opinion piece for The Guardian, Golunov’s editor, Alexey Kovalev, also an editor at Global Voices, described the systemic nature of media repression in Russia:

“I’m sure Putin would have stopped it if he could, but you can’t arbitrarily free one victim of this system without admitting that many top-ranking officials were involved in a plan to frame an innocent man for his pursuit of truth.”

Iran launches ‘moral crimes’ reporting app

Iran’s judiciary branch announced its plan to launch a mobile phone app that will enable Iranians to report violations of “crimes against morality and public chastity” that could cover things like women removing their headscarves or anyone posting “immoral” messages on social media. Speaking with The Independent, Iran technology expert Mahsa Alimardani, who is also a Global Voices contributor, said the app “signals a fear that the Islamic Republic of Iran’s ‘morality’ norms have indeed failed to entrench themselves in society.” She also noted that the app would likely violate constitutional privacy protections.

New research

 

Subscribe to the Netizen Report

 

 

by Advox at June 14, 2019 02:12 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Netizen Report: Amid demonstrations for democracy, Sudanese civilians face military violence — and internet shutdowns

Liberia, Ethiopia and Kazakhstan also faced internet shutdowns this week.

A protest in Khartoum, April 2019. Photo by M. Saleh via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Advox Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in technology and human rights around the world. This report covers news and events from June 1-13, 2019.

Uncertainty has dominated Sudan since the military ouster of long-standing president Omar Al-Bashir in April. Although pro-democracy protesters were initially in talks with the Transitional Military Council, negotiations have faltered and protesters have returned to the streets.

Tensions between protesters and authorities have escalated and the Rapid Support Forces, whose members are veterans of the militias responsible for Darfur’s worst massacres, have killed more than 100 protesters and there have been numerous reports of rape and robberies of civilians stopped at military checkpoints. Nevertheless, Sudanese citizens have continued to push for a transition to a civilian government, and launched a mass general strike on June 9.

Since June 3, technical testing by NetBlocks has confirmed that mobile internet connectivity has been shut off, drastically reducing people’s abilities to communicate, share or access information. The shutdown strongly affected Facebook users who were relying on the platform to organize demonstrations and the strike.

While most civilians (who rely on mobile internet connections)  are now cut off from the platform, the Rapid Support Forces are still actively using Facebook, likely through a fixed connection, to promote their own narrative about what is happening in the country. Sudanese activists have organized a petition campaign, demanding Facebook remove these pages in recognition that they promote violence against peaceful protesters in Sudan.

Internet shutdowns in Liberia, Ethiopia

Sudan is not the only African country grappling with internet cuts this June. In Liberia, on June 7, media groups reported that many people were struggling to access major social media services during an anti-government protest in Monrovia, the capital. Technical testing by NetBlocks indicated that major social media and communication services including WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram became inaccessible on the country’s two major telcom networks, owned by Orange and Long Star. Civil society groups are calling on the two telcos to make a public statement explaining what caused the outages.

In Ethiopia, where internet shutdowns are not unusual, NetBlocks observed a total internet shutdown on June 11, believed to have been triggered by education officials seeking to prevent students from cheating on national secondary school exams.

Amid mass protests in Hong Kong, Telegram has become a target

A proposed extradition law in Hong Kong has triggered the largest protests seen since the 2014 Umbrella Movement, bringing hundreds of thousands of people to the streets. As demonstrations continued this week and turned dangerous, with police arresting at least a dozen protesters, the secure mobile messaging service, Telegram, came under attack. Telegram CEO Pavel Durov tweeted on June 12 that the company’s servers had been temporarily compromised by a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, the result of thousands of requests sent to Telegram’s servers, in an effort to overwhelm the system. Durov said the requests came mostly from mainland China.

Meanwhile, the administrator of a massive Telegram messaging group called “International Waters” (公海總谷) was arrested by Hong Kong police for “conspiring to commit a public nuisance.” The group had become an organizing platform for protesters. The police asked the administrator to unlock his cellphone and export the list of the group members, who number in the tens of thousands. The administrator has since been released on bail.

Chinese censors (and Twitter) stifle commemoration of Tiananmen Square massacre

June 4 marked the 30th anniversary of the 1989 massacre of student protesters at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square by the Chinese military. The massacre, which resulted in a still-untold number of deaths of peaceful protesters (evidence-based estimates range between 2,700 and 10,454), has never been publicly acknowledged by the Chinese government.

Terms and images associated with the event have long been closely monitored online — research by the University of Hong Kong and the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab indicates that it is the most censored topic on the Chinese internet.

While plenty of online content linked to the event was censored by Chinese websites and services this year, US-based Twitter also suspended hundreds of accounts critical of the Chinese Communist Party, according to Hong Kong Free Press. Twitter later apologized and reinstated the accounts, saying that they were mistakenly blocked as part of the company’s effort to remove accounts that are promoting spam or engaging in “inauthentic” behavior.

Kazakhstan blocks internet amid post-election protests

Kazakhstan held snap presidential elections on June 9, a date also marred with a widespread internet shutdown, which was confirmed by technical tests and reported by pro-government news agency Tengri news.

The elections follow the historic resignation of Nursultan Nazarbayev, who maintained an undisputed rule of the autocratic Central Asian state from the 1989 fall of the Soviet Union until March 2019, when he announced his resignation. In accordance with the Kazakhstani constitution, Senate speaker Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, a Nazarbayev loyalist, officially took power on March 20 and was then elected president on June 9.

In rarely seen street demonstrations, activists and citizens have been demanding free elections and pointing to evidence of rigged voting. At least 500 people have been detained, including journalists, and mobile internet is still blocked in the center of Almaty, the country’s former capital.

Russian journalist arrested on dubious charges

Ivan Golunov, a leading investigative journalist, was detained on June 6 in Moscow on what appear to be trumped-up charges of drug dealing and possession. A judge initially released Golunov to house arrest, and then dismissed charges against him, following widespread public condemnation of the case.

Golunov works for Meduza, one of the few remaining independent Russian-language online media platforms. He has led and published several investigations pointing at cases of corruption involving high-ranking officials. In an opinion piece for The Guardian, Golunov’s editor, Alexey Kovalev, also an editor at Global Voices, described the systemic nature of media repression in Russia:

“I’m sure Putin would have stopped it if he could, but you can’t arbitrarily free one victim of this system without admitting that many top-ranking officials were involved in a plan to frame an innocent man for his pursuit of truth.”

Iran launches ‘moral crimes’ reporting app

Iran’s judiciary branch announced its plan to launch a mobile phone app that will enable Iranians to report violations of “crimes against morality and public chastity” that could cover things like women removing their headscarves or anyone posting “immoral” messages on social media. Speaking with The Independent, Iran technology expert Mahsa Alimardani, who is also a Global Voices contributor, said the app “signals a fear that the Islamic Republic of Iran’s ‘morality’ norms have indeed failed to entrench themselves in society.” She also noted that the app would likely violate constitutional privacy protections.

New research

 

Subscribe to the Netizen Report

 

 

by Netizen Report Team at June 14, 2019 02:08 PM

Global Voices
In Hong Kong, authorities arrest the administrator of a Telegram protest group—and force him to hand over a list of its members

Police crackdown has also taken place on social media

The police record of Ivan Ip’s interrogation in the police station, which says: “You are arrested under the charge of ‘conspiring to commit a public nuisance’. Following an investigation, the police believe that you have set up a public group called ‘International waters: help, discussion, intelligence on June 11 second reading’ and conspire to stage a break-in at the Legislative Council as well as blocking of major roads from June 11 to June 12.” Image by The Stand News, used with permission.

This story was originally published in Chinese by the Stand News on June 12, 2019. It was translated to English by Global Voices’ Chinese Lingua team and published under a content-sharing agreement.

Hong Kong's anti-China extradition protests, which took place from June 9 to June 12, were met tear gas, rubber bullets and bean bags, but police crackdown didn't take place just in the streets — social media also came under attack.

On June 11, authorities arrested an administrator of a Telegram group called “International Waters” (公海總谷) and charged him with “conspiring to commit a public nuisance,” the police has confirmed to The Stand News.

The administrator is Ivan Ip, a 22-year-old student who has agreed to speak with The Stand News over the telephone. He said that while he was in custody police forced him to unlock his cellphone and export the list of the group's members — which numbers between 20,000 and 30,000 people.

Mr. Ip was released on bail the following day and is scheduled to report back to the police in early September.

“International Waters: assistance, discussion, intelligence on 611 second reading” was one of the many secure group chats Hong Kongers have used to organize protests against a bill that could potentially make it easier for mainland China to arrest and extradite critics, dissidents, and even journalists from Hong Kong.

The “Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill” was scheduled to be presented at the Legislative Council on June 9, but that has since been deferred until further notice following the mass rallies.

Group members’ identities exposed

Mr. Ip said that police showed up at his apartment around 8 P.M. on June 11 with a search warrant. He was later taken to the Sheung Shui Police Division, where officials demanded him to hand over the group's member list. He says he was also questioned about the identities of the group's founders and of the other administrators, as well as about protest plans.

Mr. Ip has confirmed that the whole list of the group's members, as well as all the messages exchanged in the secure chat, have been exposed to the police. After his arrest, the administrators of “International Waters” have decided to shut down the group out of security concerns.

The 22-year-old student has told The Stand News that he hasn't attended any of the recent protests and that he was shocked that the police would arrest him for merely sharing information.

Mr. Ip said that all he did was merely summarize and forward information to the group, such as the list of school strikes and of people who have been arrested, and that this is all public information available to anyone on the internet.

The Stand News obtained a copy of Mr. Ip’s oral statement to the police. This document shows that following an investigation by Hong Kong’s Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau (CSTCB), authorities believe that Mr. Ip conspired with other group members to break into Hong Kong’s Legislative Council and block major roads surrounding government headquarters on June 11 and 12.

The Stand News has asked the police to comment on the case, but they have not yet responded.

 

by The Stand News at June 14, 2019 11:53 AM

Why are Hong Kong authorities labelling the anti-extradition demonstrations as “riots”?

Clashes between protesters and police on June 12, 2019. Photo from inmediahk.net. Used with permission.

On June 12, thousands of protesters blocked major roads in central Hong Kong around government headquarters to stop officials from presenting a controversial extradition bill to the lawmakers in the Legislative Council.

After the police labelled the protests as a “riot” at around 4 p.m. on the same day, they deployed around 150 rounds of tear gas, and fired 20 bean bags and several rubber bullets. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor slammed the protest as “a blatant and organized riot” in an evening video address on the same day.

By 5 p.m. on the next day, the Hospital Authority stated that a local hospital received about 81 injured reports. Among the injured, there were 57 males and 24 females, aged between 15 and 66. Two of them are in serious condition. Hong Kong Police Commissioner Stephen Lo later stated that the police had arrested 11 people, and stressed that the police officers were “very restrained” when carrying out their duty.

A large number of civic groups slammed the “riot” label as “ludicrous”, claiming that the majority of the protesters were peaceful and had not engaged in violent acts.

Two doctor organizations were among the first to condemn the police measures. In an open statement, Hong Kong Public Doctors’ Association and Frontline Doctors’ Union condemned the police’s excessive violence:

We express our grave concern and condemn the use of excessive violence in the handling of the protests, including unrestrained use of tear gas against protestors in the early stage. We denounce the inordinate employment of weapons against unarmed protestors, such as bean bag rounds and rubber bullets, aimed at the heads of protestors and journalists. These reckless actions are not aimed at dispersing or controlling crowds. Many citizens, medical workers, and journalists have been injured by the police’s excessive use of violence.

Other abusive cases involved a teacher shot by a rubber bullet in his right eye and a Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) driver whose heart stopped beating after he was hit by tear gas round.

Below is a compilation of police violence on June 12:

During the clashes, several journalists were injured by pepper spray and tear gas. Journalist watchdog organizations Hong Kong Journalists Association and Reporters Without Borders condemned the police for harassing and attacking reporters.

Twitter user @sethchiu posted a video clip showing how a number of riot police officers beat up an unarmed citizen and chased the reporters away.

Witnesses from the “riot” scene

According to various reports from local media outlets, the June 12 roadblock protests had been non-violent until around 3:30 p.m, when a few dozen protesters, a few armed with bricks and iron sticks, attempted to break in the Legislative Council protest area.

In response, police officers retreated to a corner of the protest area, while other peaceful protesters moved in and occupied the space.

At around 3:45 p.m., the police started firing tear gas and rubber bullets at them, later claiming that they had been cornered by protesters.

Below is a news report from Now TV showing the clashes outside the Legislative Council protest area that triggered the “riot”:

However, the clashes were confined to a small area. Twenty Christian pastors who witnessed the events stressed that the majority of the protesters were peaceful in a press conference on June 13.

Pastor Wong Sui Yong told the press that he had been staying with other Christians at the civic square outside the government building near the Legislative Council since 7:30 a.m. on June 12, and that he saw no violent protesters. According to the story by Citizen News:

當日下午3時,警方施放催淚彈,年輕人惶恐走避,更有人哭泣,但警方進一步向多個方向推進。他反駁警方稱示威者是「暴徒」:「我親眼看見速龍小隊在天橋上手持警棍,追逐手無寸鐵的示威者。」

At around 3 p.m., the police deployed tear gas, young people were dispersed, some were crying on their ways. But the police kept pushing forward. He stressed the protesters were not rioters, “what I saw was that the riot police was waving their batons at unarmed protesters on the pedestrian crossover.”

Another Christian pastor, Wu Chi Wai, criticized mainstream media for their bias in the way they reported the news. Citizen News says:

「報道經過剪輯後,不合理地放大某些衝突場面。」他重申,前線的示威者只有雨傘作防衛工具,只有在混亂間有鐵馬被推倒,令人意外受傷。他反駁,若警方要作個人保護,武力亦應適可而止,但警方卻手持警棍追打手無寸鐵的示威者,不能接受。

“Edited reports exaggerated the clashes,” [the pastor said]. He stressed the protesters in the front line only used umbrellas to defend themselves. People got injured when the iron barricade was pushed down. If the police officers had to protect themselves, they could use appropriate forces. But they used batons to beat up unarmed protesters. This is unacceptable.

Wu said the retreat of the police to the corner of the Legco protest area had created more chaos, “it was like inviting the protesters to occupy the space and create a pretext for deploying tear gas,” he said in the press conference.

Similar police strategies of “retreat” and “attack” was seen at other protest sites. Another example was recorded by reporters from initium.net at the conjunction of Tin Wa Avenue and Harcourt Road:

15點42分,前線的速龍小隊突然被後方指令退至添華道較後位置,放棄了原本阻隔警察和示威者之間、各自擺放的鐵馬,這時候示威者一片歡呼,部分示威者跨過鐵馬,進入添華道。

At 3:42 p.m., the riot police in the front line received order and retreated from the buffer area of Tin Wa Avenue where there were iron barricades set by both the police officers and the protesters for preventing clashes. The protesters cheered at the retreat of the riot police, crossed the barricades and moved into Tin Wa Avenue.

Five minutes later, the riot police at the Avenue deployed tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters. At around 4:00 p.m. the police authority labelled the protests as “riot” in a press conference.

@newbloommag reported on the clashes from Harcourt road:

Thousands of dispersed protesters had taken refuge at the Pacific Place, a high-end shopping mall at Admiralty in the evening of June 12. Facebook user Pak Chai shared the following photo he took outside Pacific Place, which made the audience wonder who in fact were the rioters:

Photo taken by Pak Chai outside the Pacific Place at Admiralty. Used with permission.

The secretary of the Legislative Council announced on June 13 that the scheduled second reading of the extradition bill will not take place this week.

The road block protests on June 12 were triggered by the Hong Kong government's decision to proceed with the reading of a controversial extradition bill. The bill consists of a set of amendments to the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation.

On June 9, more than a million Hong Kong people rallied against the government's proposal. The majority of the protesters believe that the amendments, which empower the Chief Executive and local courts to handle case-by-case extradition requests from authorities in mainland China, Taiwan and Macau, would make it easier for mainland China to arrest critics, dissidents, and even journalists in Hong Kong.

by Oiwan Lam at June 14, 2019 10:49 AM

June 13, 2019

Creative Commons
Creative Commons CEO Ryan Merkley named as Harvard Berkman Klein Center affiliate

bkc-logo

We’re happy to announce that Creative Commons CEO Ryan Merkley has been named as a Harvard Berkman Klein Center affiliate for the 2019-2020 academic year. His research and writing will focus on models for sustainability and growth that support the digital commons, and will explore communities working in the gallery, library, archive, and museum space; those working in, and advocating for, access to knowledge and education; and individual artists and content creators.

The Berkman Klein fellowship program aims to “create a protocol, a culture, a spirit that puts the emphasis on being open, being kind, being good listeners, being engaged, being willing to learn from one another.” The program is made up of a diverse community of members working across an array of university, government, private, and nonprofit institutions. For more information about the program and for the full list of new and returning fellows, affiliates, and faculty associates, visit the center’s website.

Additionally, CC community member Julia Reda, Member of European Parliament with a focus on Digital Rights, will be joining the Berkman Klein Center this year as a fellow. With a joint project at Berkman and the MIT Media Lab, Julia will advance research on how to modernize the academic publishing system to enhance equitable access to knowledge.

Please join us in congratulating Ryan and Julia!

The post Creative Commons CEO Ryan Merkley named as Harvard Berkman Klein Center affiliate appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Eric Steuer at June 13, 2019 02:03 PM

Global Voices
DRC Ebola outbreak spreads to neighboring Uganda, activating rapid preparedness response

A boy and his grandmother from DRC are confirmed dead

Several Ebola cases were treated here at Kagadi Hospital in Kibaale District, Uganda, in August 4, 2012. Three new cases have been identified in people who entered Uganda from the DRC border. Photo by CDC via Flickr: CC BY 2.0.

On June 12, Ugandan officials from the Ministry of Health released a press statement confirming two Ebola cases. A 5-year-old boy and his grandmother, 50, tested positive for Ebola on June 10 and died two days later, on June 12. A younger brother, 3, is being kept in isolation, along with a 23-year-old man unrelated to the family, at a hospital in Bwera, on the DRC-Uganda border district of Kasese, western Uganda.

The family of three were traveling to Uganda from the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo:

NTV Uganda later confirmed the grandmother's death:

Ebola is a rare, often fatal virus that spreads through close human contact with fluids like blood, feces, vomit. According to the Center for Disease Control, the disease gets its name from the first case discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, with outbreaks in several African countries as well as England, Italy, Russia and the Philippines. Symptoms include high fever, severe headache, muscle pain and unexplained hemorrhaging.

Neighboring DRC has been battling an Ebola outbreak in North Kivu Province since August 2018, that has been difficult contain due to armed conflict, disinformation and mistrust. The latest figures from DRC's Ministry of Health show that nearly 1,400 people have died in DRC of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) since August 2018, but the World Health Organization (WHO) has hesitated to declare it a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern,” or “PHEIC” — until now.

With close proximity to Uganda, these cases have confirmed fears over the likelihood of Ebola cases appearing at some point, due to frequent, informal and porous cross-border migration. In August 2018, when the Ebola virus broke out in North Kivu, Uganda kickstarted Ebola preparedness and surveillance activities in 22 districts bordering DRC to prevent the disease from crossing into Uganda.

The Ministry of Health set up Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs) at Bundibugyo General Hospital, Bwera Hospital in Kasese, where the boy and his grandmother were treated and died, and Rwebisengo Health Center in Ntoroko district.

This is not the first time Uganda has confronted Ebola, but these are the first reported cases in Uganda carried into the country via DRC's current Ebola crisis.

Now that Ebola has spread to Uganda and potentially other countries like neighboring Rwanda and South Sudan, WHO is calling an emergency meeting on June 14 in Geneva to discuss the potential designation of the crisis as a PHEIC:

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO, commended the Ugandan health ministry for recognizing the need for nationwide action to prevent the spread of Ebola. He says that Ugandan officials vaccinated nearly 4,700 health workers in 165 health centers, including the hospital where the infected boy and grandmother were treated before they died:

According to a WHO report from 2018, Uganda's Ministry of Health began to strengthen its Ebola response system. Activities include “strengthening surveillance, capacity-building in contact tracing, laboratory diagnostics, infection prevention, and control, [and] clinical management of patients including psychosocial care, safe and dignified burials, enhanced risk communication and community engagement.”

According to the report, Mpondwe border point registers over 20,000 people during the market days. Border officials screen for body temperature for those crossing into Uganda from DRC is screened for body temperature, and those with high fevers are further screened for Ebola-like symptoms:

Uganda has called on communities to halt border markets in the wake of its confirmed Ebola cases.

Since last year, health educators have gone door-to-door to make visits and educate people and Ebola messages also run on TV and radio.

Local phone numbers listed as Ebola hotline in Kagadi Hospital, Kibaale District, 2012, when an Ebola outbreak occurred. Photo by CDC via Flickr: CC BY 2.0.

Ugandan netizens have expressed fear about the new cases but also praise for the Ugandan government's quick response and proven commitment to detection and prevention:

This is not the first time Uganda has faced Ebola and managed to contain it, though the strain is different this time:

In 2012 alone, Uganda dealt with two Ebola outbreaks that left 21 people dead. Uganda's record in responding to epidemic viral diseases is starkly different from many countries in the region because of its heavy investment in the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) and its standing as a “world leader in virus surveillance.”

Uganda now faces a unique threat because the outbreak has spread from neighboring DRC, with its long borderline and an unrelenting Ebola outbreak.

Uganda has banned public gatherings in Kasese district. WHO reassured, however, that movement across the DRC-Uganda borders has not been restricted at this time.

by Amanda Lichtenstein at June 13, 2019 01:10 PM

Paraguay's road to democracy is slowed down by its political ghosts

“The democratic process in Paraguay was built on […] impunity.”

Illustration by Kurtural. Used with permission.

This story by Jazmín Acuña was originally published by Kurtural as part of larger series on Stroessner's dictatorship (1954-1989). It was edited by Global Voices for length and context, and published with permission.

Since the end of Paraguay's dictatorship, only a handful of policemen and civilians have received sentences for the human rights violations that took place during Alfredo Stroessner's regime. A veil of impunity still covers the most notorious figures from that time who, far from going to jail, have continued on in positions of power within the Paraguayan government. Most notable among these are Paraguay's former Defense Minister, Foreign Minister, and Adviser to the Presidency.

Ghosts of the dictatorship continue to haunt Paraguay’s power circles

In 1954, Stroessner took the presidency in a coup after a period of deep economic instability and conflict within the ruling party. Stroessner took office through a special election in which he was the only candidate; he would go on to be re-elected seven times in the years that followed with questionably high margins. His 35-year rule received heavy support from the United States government and was a participating member of Operation Condor.

Although Paraguay transitioned to a democracy in the years after the dictatorship ended, subsequent elections saw circles close to Stroessner stay in power. This was true during Horacio Cartes’ administration from 2013-2018 and continues to be true for Mario Abdo Benítez’s current administration, as President Benítez’s family remains close to the Stroessner-era.

According to Mario Melanio Medina, president of Paraguay's Truth and Justice Commission, the governments that came after the dictatorship are fearful of being linked to or found responsible for human rights violations and have little interest in supporting investigations or trials for the more than 400 people that were forcibly disappeared and the more than 20,000 people that suffered from torture.  

“The highest-ranking officials, the main political actors of these mass atrocities, were never prosecuted”, says Hugo Valiente, a lawyer and author of various investigations on human rights. Valiente alludes to the authorities, the heads of State and cronies in these crimes against humanity and says they should be brought to trial regardless of the lapse of time.

However, three such political actors — Diógenes Martinez, Eladio Loizaga, and Dario Filartiga — have had, and continue to have, a strong influence in the government in Paraguay.

Diógenes Martínez: A judge made for a dictator's needs

The Paraguayan legal system didn’t escape the broadening web of corruption. Judges like Diogenes Martinez sided with oppressors of the Stroessner era, turning a blind eye to rape, forced disappearances, and arbitrary detentions.

“They played a part in false rulings. They validated oaths taken under torture”, says Valiente.

For Rogelio Goiburu, Head of the Direction of Historical Memory and Reparations (in Spanish, DMHR), and whose father disappeared during Stroessner’s regime, there’s no doubt that these people must stand trial.

The practices of the past don't seem completely forgotten for Martínez, and this is precisely what worries human rights defenders. In March 2017, under the previous Cartes administration, Martínez warned demonstrators that the army was ready to go out to the streets to stop protesters who stormed Congress after then-President Cartes tried to change the constitution and seek re-election. He did admit that an internal military intervention would be unlawful but still ensured that the army should move ‘pre-emptively’.

Eladio Loizaga: The foreign minister of the Cold War

Eladio Loizaga began his career as a diplomat during the Stroessner years. In August 1981, he was appointed Director of the Department of Agencies for Treaties and International Acts of the Foreign Ministry. In 1983, he was promoted to General Director for this department. During his tenure, Operation Condor was in full swing. The operation was a secret plan between Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia, and Paraguay, which was responsible for kidnappings, forced disappearances, and murders of political enemies. The operation was backed by the United States’ government who provided planning, coordination and training, as well as technical, financial and military assistance.

There is no crime without a carefully penned script that justifies the terror. The threat of communism was the narrative that fueled repression in Latin America. These ideas were promoted and defended in meetings and conferences through organizations like the Anti-Communist International League.

Stroessner was a member of this league and Paraguay served as a host country for one of their preparatory conferences towards its world conference. Eladio Loizaga was among those responsible for coordinating it.

“Loizaga was a partner of the State corruption. He masterminded, arranged, and financially backed the plans of vast executions”, said Rogelio Goiburu whose father was kidnapped by Paraguayan and Argentinian authorities. From 2013 to 2018, Loizaga was Minister of Foreign Affairs during the Cartes administration. In Goiburu's opinion, Loizaga should not have been part of a Government cabinet that considers itself a democratic as part of a State. But this is not the case in Paraguay.

Darío Filartiga: An Allegiance to power

Just like they did during the Stroessner era, these men have the privileges of those in power. Filartiga Ruiz Diaz's loyalty to the Stroessner was evidenced when he traveled to Brazil, to pay honor to the dictator in his funeral in 2006. Stroessner died in Brasilia, where he had been forcibly exiled after the coup that removed him from power in 1989.

Under then-President Cartes he emulated this same political scheme of unremitting adulation and support. For example, when Congress was weighing in the need to increase taxes on tobacco, Filartiga Ruiz Diaz erupted as a zealous advocate for Cartes’ interests, who was one of the main players of this industry.

How can a process of accountability be possible when the dictator’s lackeys are still immune from the justice system?

The more towering the post in the hierarchy of the State, the greater the responsibility and thus the punishment for crimes against humanity. Valiente thinks this is very unlikely, however: “The democratic process in Paraguay was built on a pact of impunity.”

by Flavia Minaya at June 13, 2019 12:22 PM

#KuToo: Japan petition against high heels in the workplace gains worldwide support
kutoo ishikawa

“Shoes + Pain + MeToo = #KuToo. Let's abolish the expectation that heels are a part of business attire.” Image widely shared on social media, author unknown.

A complaint on Twitter by a Japanese writer has snowballed into a globally-recognized hashtag, an online petition and, most recently, a parliamentary debate in Japan, all while shining a light on gender discrimination women must endure in the workplace.

One day in late 2018 while working at a part-time job as an usher at a funeral home, Ishikawa Yumi, a former model and actress who is now a freelance writer, noticed that her male colleague was wearing comfortable flat shoes. As Ishikawa explains in the online petition she would go on to launch, wearing those shoes would make her job a lot easier.

However, like any other company in Japan, Ishikawa's employer was legally entitled to demand she wears uncomfortable high heels or pumps. Women who wear high heels regularly report experiencing significant pain and discomfort, with some even requiring surgery to fix problems caused by inappropriate footwear.

In January, 2019, Ishikawa tweeted how unfair it was that a new hotel job she was applying for required heels as well. Her tweet about the disparity in workplace dress code for men and women was quickly shared tens of thousands of times, sparking an online conversation.

Encouraged by the replies, Ishikawa created the hashtag #KuToo where working women in Japan and then all over the world shared their stories about being forced to wear high heels to work.

Although Japan's Equal Employment Opportunity Law prohibits discrimination based on sex in employment, regulations do not prevent employers from dictating differences in work attire for men and women.

In a recent survey of women in Japan, more than 60 per cent of respondents reported being compelled to wear high heels or pumps at work or for job hunting.

As to what the hashtag means and where it came from, Ishikawa says:

「#KuToo」とは、「靴(くつ)」・「苦痛(くつう)」・「#MeToo(みーとぅ)」を合わせて、センスの良い同じ思いを持った方が作ってくださったものです。

Someone (on Twitter) who feels the same way as I do, and with a great sense for words came up with the hashtag “#kuToo”, which is a combination of “shoes” (kutsu), “agony” (kutsuu) and “MeToo”.

Following the success of the #KuToo hashtag at the end of January, in February Ishikawa decided to launch a petition on Change.org, asking Japan's Ministry of Labour to prevent employers from forcing female employees from wearing high heels at work.

By late February, the petition had attracted at least ten thousand signatures.

We've broken 10,000! All you need to do is include your email address and your name.

The problem:

1. It is wrong to have workplace dress codes that differ depending on gender.
2. Why should “business attire” by harmful to one's health?

Caption: Support this campaign! #KuToo: outlaw rules requiring high heels in the workplace!

Another theme of #KuToo discussions and Ishikawa's petition is that requiring women to wear high heels to work constitutes “power harassment,” or workplace bullying.

At the beginning of June, Ishikawa and her supporters presented the petition to Japan's Ministry of Labour, requesting that the country's labour laws be amended to ban employers from forcing footwear on female employees.

Ishikawa's petition was taken up by Otsuji Kanako, an LGBTQ+ rights activist and member of Japan's national House of Representatives for the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.

In a Diet committee meeting on June 5 discussing the petition, Otsuji sparred with Labour Minister Nemoto Takumi, in an exchange that made international headlines (the committee discussion has been translated into English).

While the labour minister agreed that high heels were not necessary for every job, he declined to consider banning employers from forcing female employees to wear certain kinds of footwear, stating:

それぞれの業務の特性があるので、社会通念に照らして、業務上必要、かつ相当な範囲でということなんだろうと思う。パワハラにあたるかどうかは、その範囲を超えているかどうかがポイントだ。

Every job has unique requirements, so I think (permitting employers to require high heels) should be kept within the scope (of labour regulations), if (high heels) are necessary and appropriate to do the work.

Whether (requiring female employees wear high heels) constitutes workplace bullying (“power harassment”) depends on whether (wearing high heels) exceeds the scope (of a particular job).

Following the committee meeting on June 5, in an interview with Huffington Post Japan, Ishikawa reported that she has encountered some online abuse, or “bashing” (バッシング) for her past as a pinup model since submitting the petition. However, in an interview with Huffington Post, she feels there many others who support the aims #KuToo:

どうしてもバッシングの方に目がいってしまって、怖かったんですけど、これだけ集まってくれる人もいる。同じ思いの人がたくさんいてくれるということがわかるので、こういう集会を開いてくださってありがたいです。みんなで協力しあってやっていけたら嬉しいです

While I've experienced some online abuse and it's scary, (the petition) has also gained a lot of supporters. I know that there is a lot of people who understand the issue, and it's great that there is now a forum to discuss it. I would be very happy if we could all work together.

 

by Nevin Thompson at June 13, 2019 12:18 PM

Rising Voices
Meet G̓vu̓í (Rory Housty), the host of the @NativeLangsTech Twitter account for June 13-19

Photo provided by G̓vu̓í (Rory Housty).

In 2019 as part of a social media campaign to celebrate linguistic diversity online, Native American and First Nations language activists and advocates will be taking turns managing the @NativeLangsTech Twitter account to share their experiences with the revitalization and promotion of Native American and First Nations languages. This profile post is about G̓vu̓í (Rory Housty) (@rhousty) and what he plans to discuss during his week as host.

Rising Voices: Please tell us about yourself.

Ǧvu̓íxƛanúgva. Haíɫzaqvq̓amnúgva. gáyáqḷanúgva la tx̌as N̓úlú gṇugva N̓úláw̓itx̌v. Gvúkvḷánúgva la tx̌as Wágḷísḷa. P̓álanúgva la Haíɫzaqv College-ax̌i gṇugva Q̓áq̓úƛ̓a Haíɫzaqvḷa. W̓úgvaqanúgva q̓áq̓úƛ̓amas qi la qs gvúkvláutax̌i.

My name is G̓vu̓í (Raven). My English name is Rory Housty. I'm Haíɫzaqv and I come from N̓úlú. I live in Wágḷísḷa and work at the Heiltsuk College. I learn to Haiɫzaqvḷa and teach my fellow villagers to Haíɫzaqvḷa.

I graduated from Vancouver Island University with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology & First Nations Studies in 2012. When I returned home I made it a passion of mine to learn the first language of my great grandparents, Haíɫzaqvḷa. I've been learning and teaching Haíɫzaqvḷa ever since. I'm grateful to all my elders, past and present that have gifted me with Haíɫzaqvḷa.

RV: What is the current status of your language on the internet and offline?

The Haíɫzaqv have been very proactive in language revitalization. In the 1970's our Tribal Council hired a linguist to help us preserve and document our language. A two volume dictionary with grammatical instructions and many more documents have been created. Our elders were also recorded on cassette tapes and those tapes are now being digitized by the Heiltsuk Cultural Educational Centre. This is a project I participated in while I worked at the centre.We are currently working with our elders to record for the First Voices language archive & will be launching our app soon. Many generations of Elders have devoted their time and lives to the revitalization of our language. We are grateful for them all!

Heiltsuk Cultural Educational Centre

Haíɫzaqvḷa resources

RV: On what topics do you plan to focus during the week that you’ll manage the @NativeLangsTech Twitter account?

Language Revitalization
Language & Social Media

RV: What are the main motivations for your digital activism for your language? What are your hopes and dreams for your language?

My dream is for my people to be able to Haíɫzaqvḷa and for another generation to again be born into Haíɫzaqvḷa. Being active on social media has made it easier to reach our people that want to learn Haíɫzaqvḷa.

by Rising Voices at June 13, 2019 01:24 AM

June 12, 2019

Global Voices
Thousands of anti-extradition protesters block roads surrounding Hong Kong government headquarters

Protesters block roads surrounding government headquarters to stop the passing of extradition bill. Image from inmediahk.net. Used with permission.

On June 12, thousands of protesters blocked major roads surrounding Hong Kong's government headquarters and legislature in the Admiralty district to prevent government officials from presenting amendments to a controversial extradition bill. The secretary of the Legislative Council announced that the scheduled session at 11:00 am would be deferred until further notice after lawmakers were unable to reach the Legislative Council Complex.

The roadblock protests followed a June 9 rally where over a million people took to the streets against proposed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment)  Bill. The proposed bill would provide legal grounds for the Chief Executive and local courts to handle case-by-case extradition requests from authorities in mainland China, Taiwan and Macau. Protesters believe that the amendments would make it easier for mainland China to arrest critics, dissidents, and even journalists in Hong Kong.

Soon after the rally, the government issued a statement stressing that the administration will continue to proceed with the second reading of the bill on June 12. The government's hard-line stance triggered a round of violent clashes between the police and hundreds of young protesters who gathered outside the Legislative Council on June 10.

Confrontation after midnight on June 10. Image from Stand News. Used with permission.

The police arrested 31 protesters and took records of the identity of 358 protesters who stayed overnight after the rally. About 80 percent of them are between 16 to 25-years-old.

On June 10, Chief Executive Carrie Lam continued defending the bill and stressed Hong Kong is “duty-bound to address that deficiency”. The president of the Legislature, Andrew Leung, decided that Hong Kong lawmakers would have to vote on the controversial bill by June 20.

The organizer of the Sunday rally, Civil Human Rights Front, called for another round of protests outside the government headquarters to paralyze the government starting on June 12. Student unions from seven Hong Kong tertiary institutions, including Chinese University and Baptist University, have called for students to boycott classes and join the rally. Over a hundred Hong Kong employers from across industry sectors have pledged to either suspend business or support employees who choose to strike.

About 2,000 protesters gathered overnight outside the Legislative Council on June 11 and more protesters joined them the next morning. At around 8:00 am, thousands of protesters occupied major roads (namely Lung Wo Road and Harcourt Road) surrounding the Legislative Council Building. Jerome Taylor, Hong Kong/Taiwan/Macau bureau chief for AFP, reported on Twitter:

Although the protester's blockade was able to push back the scheduled session on the morning of June 12, house rules allow the Legislative Council president to resume the meeting with only one hour's notice.

by Oiwan Lam at June 12, 2019 04:35 AM

June 11, 2019

Rising Voices
Meet Tochi Precious, the host of the @DigiAfricanLang Twitter account for June 12-18

Photo provided by Tochi Precious.

In 2019 as part of a social media campaign to celebrate linguistic diversity online, African language activists and advocates will be taking turns managing the @DigiAfricanLang Twitter account to share their experiences with the revitalization and promotion of African languages. This profile post is about Tochi Precious (@Tochiprecious3) and what she plans to discuss during her week as host.

Rising Voices: Please tell us about yourself.

My name is Tochi Precious Friday (Adaugo), a multi-linguist, founder of Smarter Languages Academy, one of the founding members of Igbo Wikimedians User Group and a German language teacher.

RV: What is the current status of your language on the internet and offline?

According to UNESCO, the Igbo Language has been marked out as one of the languages that would go extinct. Also, on the internet, there's not much activity in Igbo Language aside the conscious efforts of a few persons like: @IgboFactsandHistory, @Igboproverbs and the others on Twitter, as well as Google Translate, so we need more efforts.

RV: On what topics do you plan to focus during the week that you’ll manage the @DigiAfricanLang Twitter account?

My number 1 goal is to share why it's important to localize our tools and content in Igbo Language.I also will share a number of Igbo proverbs, discuss and outline how Igbos can begin contributing on Igbo Wikipedia, Igbo Wiktionary, join a Wiki Igbo Hub near them and also the kind of content that can be shared.
I also will discuss how the Igbo Language can be revived.

RV: What are the main motivations for your digital activism for your language? What are your hopes and dreams for your language?

To promote Igbo Language, digitize content in Igbo Language, and make it available to everyone. To also get anyone who is literate in Igbo Language to contribute to the different Igbo Language Wikimedia projects.

by Rising Voices at June 11, 2019 10:02 PM

Global Voices
In Tanzania, advocates pressure police to investigate ‘teleza’ rapes and robberies

At least 43 women have come forward with testimonies

Left: Getrude Dyabere, the Women and Children's Desk officer with the Legal Human Rights Center, speaks on the legal issues regarding “teleza,” armed men who allegedly rape and terrorize women in Kigoma, Tanzania. Right: Ramla Issa, a resident of Kigoma, calls on the government and police for intervention, May 8, 2019, screenshot via StarTV Youtube.

On May 27, 2019, Tanzanian police announced the launch of an operation to investigate and prosecute “teleza” — armed men who have allegedly raped and terrorized women in the Mwanga Kusini Ward of Kigoma in western Tanzania since 2016. 

The men reportedly grease their faces and bodies with oil before breaking into female-majority households to rape and rob women throughout the Mwanga Kusini area. Teleza means “slippery” in Swahili and the term has been used to describe these types of attacks. 

The District Commissioner of Kigoma, Samson Anga, made the announcement to investigate the allegations following multiple media reports and a May 7 press release by a coalition of civil society organizations including the Legal and Human Rights Center, Tamasha, Twaweza, Jamii Forums, the Centre for Strategic Litigation and Change Tanzania, urging the police to investigate the women's testimonies of rape and torture. 

Uncovering ‘teleza’ testimonies in Kigoma

I have spoken via WhatsApp with Annagrace Rwehumbiza, program coordinator with the youth-focused civil society organization (CSO) Tamasha, about teleza occurrences in Kigoma.

In early March 2019, Tamasha staff members were in Kigoma to conduct fieldwork on participatory community engagement focused on women, youth and girls. During her interactions with Kigoma community members, Rwehumbiza says, several women mentioned their concerns about teleza.

Rwehumbiza says she went to the Kigoma-Ujiji municipal office to inquire. She says one official acknowledged that they were aware of at least 20 women who had experienced violent break-ins, but no formal charges had been made.

Rwehumbiza says the official asked her to bring the women forward to discuss the allegations, but only two were willing to show up, who said that teleza started to terrorize the community in 2016. That's when she decided to go house-to-house to inquire about teleza. 

I just wanted to hear from [the women], what kind of counseling were they receiving? The way the stories were being told, the way we were seeing the pictures, it's like those women were being tormented, and we wanted to know what kind of services did they get in terms of … security, counseling, and things like this.

Over a three-day period in March, Rwehumbiza and her colleagues interviewed at least 43 girls and women who shared similar testimonies about teleza. Rwehumbiza recorded video testimonies and photographed survivors’ wounds allegedly suffered during teleza attacks. She shared the stories with her colleagues and strategized with other CSOs throughout April to call attention to the issue, eventually releasing the press statement as a coalition on May 7.

It snowballed. The more you go to one house, they'll show you another one, another person, another house. … So we went from house to house to hear these women's stories and we got close to 45. These are their stories. … Each described what happened to them. … One says she was broken into more than five times. … Some were raped in front of their children…

Rwehumbiza says it's unclear how many men are involved in these attacks and to what extent they operate as an organized crime network. On Twitter, she insisted an urgent investigation is necessary to find out more. 

#Teleza What we are asking from the government is a comprehensive investigation to identify the extent of this issue so that deliberate and quick action can be taken and to help these women.

Jamii Forums, a popular online discussion forum in Tanzania, agreed to post and circulate the women's testimonies in the forum as well as a series of tweets to raise awareness. All of the witnesses and survivors shared their testimonies anonymously, fearing reprisal. 

One witness describes how a man referred to as teleza entered her home while she and her siblings were sleeping:

TESTIMONY OF A YOUNG WOMAN IN FORM 3: When I was in Form 2, #Teleza came to our home in the night and [saw] my young male sibling sleeping in the living room. He took off his clothes to rape him but when he discovered he was male, he left him and entered the rooms where us girls were sleeping.

These women need us,” Rwehumbiza said. “Their stories have not gotten the communal outcry they deserve.”

We continue to amplify voices concerning this question of #Teleza for the government to hear these voices and to see that this question needs swift and intentional steps taken.

What took so long?

Rwehumbiza says that the legal process is a major challenge in effectively reporting teleza cases. According to a witness, one survivor recognized her perpetrator in the community but police failed to hold him in jail after his initial arrest:

Witness 1: There's a young woman who was broken into by #teleza three days in a row. She knew the young man and pressed charges with the police but this young man has not been arrested up to now.

This exact person was recognized in another area and charged and the police arrested him but after one day, he was released.

Rwehumbiza says women who did go to the police to report these cases were belittled and disbelieved. 

The CSO coalition's press release reiterates that survivors were the targets of disapproval and humiliation by male law enforcement officers and the community-at-large stigmatized and ridiculed them — when survivors sought help, they were met with victim-blaming. One survivor said that when she sought care, the doctor blamed her and said it was her fault for playing “hard to get,” according to a tweet from Jamii Forums. 

On May 20, Member of Parliament Zitto Kabwe, who represents the Kigoma-Ujiji municipality, tweeted his concern about teleza:

The next day, he brought the issue before parliament, referring to the public outcry and need for police accountability. In response, the Minister of Home Affairs, Kangi Lugola, said that Kigoma police records do not reflect any reports related to teleza incidents and that the issue is not as severe as MP Kabwe claims:

#Teleza Response by Minister Kangi Kugola

#ObliterateTeleza

The #Teleza and #TokomezaTelezaKigoma (#ObliterateTelezaKigoma) hashtags have made the rounds on Twitter. Netizens from East Africa are calling for action against the violence inflicted upon the women in Mwanga Kusini. 

Tanzanian lawyer and activist Anna Henga wrote that Kigoma's image has been tarnished by teleza and the lack of urgency in response:

Rebecca Gyumi called on netizens to “re-politicize” violence against girls and women:

by Susie Berya at June 11, 2019 04:15 PM

Creative Commons
Progress Soars on Official Translations of 4.0 and CC0!

european-commission

Creative Commons welcomes progress on official language translations of both 4.0 and CC0 due to our dedicated network of volunteers and a commitment by the European Commission (EC) to ensure the legal code for each is available in all official languages of the European Union. We expect a significant increase in the number of official translations to 36 languages total and the number of users who can read them to more than 3 billion in the next 3-5 months. With the European Commission’s decision to adopt CC BY 4.0 International and CC0 for all content and data it produces comes a firm commitment to collaborate with Creative Commons and its community to complete the remaining official translations of 4.0 and CC0 so that all 24 official languages of the EU are completed.

As of 2019, CC’s community has produced official translations of 4.0 in 23 languages (including English), and as of June 2019 has published CC0 in 13 languages (also including English). These numbers on their own own reflect an impressive and sizeable effort by our community, thanks also in part to travel grants from the Ford Foundation to bring together volunteer translators, and funding by others. As of June 2019, the total number of users able to access and understand the 4.0 licenses and CC0 in their first language totaled approximately 2.25 billion.

The assistance of the EC in developing first drafts of these legal documents is made possible through its impressive translation team. That team is working with CC’s translation processes to ensure drafts are reviewed publicly and that all interested members of the CC community in countries where those languages are officially recognized have the opportunity and are encouraged to contribute to the review and editing of drafts.

Additionally, CC is seeing a number of other complicated and sometimes multi-jurisdictional translations cross the finish line through the hard work of our community. Just last week, the official translation of CC0 into Spanish was completed and published, and shortly we will push live 4.0 translations of Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Czech, Korean and Slovene.

This push doesn’t end with these excellent efforts by our community, however. CC remains committed to ensuring that everyone understands the 4.0 licenses and CC0 in their language of choice, however widespread (or not) the language. So it was with delight that only a few weeks ago, UNESCO adopted its 2019 UNESCO OER Recommendation that, as amended at its recent meeting with the support and input of Creative Commons, recommends member states support the linguistic translation of open licenses, which includes CC BY and CC0. While not yet formally adopted, it is expected to be accepted later this year by the UNESCO General Conference. Once in place, Creative Commons will work to secure funding to expand its translation work for 4.0 and CC0 into languages that may not be as predominantly used as those already translated, but that are equally important to ensuring that users of Open Educational Resources (OER) and CC-licensed works everywhere, especially in remote, rural, migratory and other similarly underserved communities, are able to understand the license terms in their language of choice.

We thank the CC community and the European Commission for its dedication of resources, especially the efforts of Pedro Malaquias. We look forward to ongoing work with our community and funders to make full access to CC licenses and legal tools for everyone a reality.

Please contribute your input on pending translation drafts of 4.0 licenses and CC0, which are available for public comment through June 21, 2019.

Bulgarian (4.0 and CC0)
Croatian (CC0)
Czech (CC0)
Danish (4.0)
Estonian (4.0 and CC0)
Greek (CC0)
Hungarian (4.0 and CC0)
Irish (4.0 and CC0)
Maltese (4.0 and CC0)
Romanian (4.0 and CC0)

The post Progress Soars on Official Translations of 4.0 and CC0! appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Diane Peters at June 11, 2019 01:53 PM

Global Voices
A decree by President Bolsonaro could threaten civil society group investigating deaths under Brazil’s military dictatorship

The play “Common”, performed by the Group Pandora, addresses the topic. Photo: Luh Silva, used with permission.

This story was authored by Jéssica Moreira and originally appeared in the website of Agência Mural, a non-profit newsroom covering São Paulo's suburbs. An edited version is published below under a content partnership with Global Voices.

When Antônio Eustáquio, now 73, became the administrator of the Dom Bosco cemetery in Perus, a district of the Brazilian city of São Paulo, in the late 1970s, he helped discover a clandestine mass grave at the site.

Years later, in 1990, the Brazilian government made the existence of the mass grave public: It was built in 1976 and contained exactly 1,049 skeletons of both indigents and political prisoners of Brazil's US-backed military dictatorship (1964-1985).

In May 2019, the grave became a point of discussion in the national news with the publication of a federal decree by President Jair Bolsonaro that determined the end of civil society councils and committees. The measure could threaten the Working Group of Perus, known by the Portuguese acronym GTP, that since 2014 has investigated the human remains found at the Dom Bosco mass grave.

The federal government denied the GTP would be ended. Sought for comment by Agência Mural, the Ministry for Women, Family and Human Rights said that it supported the Special Commission on Political Deaths and Disappeared [People], with which the GTP is affiliated: “The Ministry reaffirms the importance of the work undertaken by the Working Group, attending to humanitarian and legal obligations so that the families can exercise their right to burial and mourning,” the Ministry said in a statement.

However, the GTP depends on a cooperation agreement signed with the Union and renewal is pending. The current agreement, which also involves the Federal University of São Paulo and the São Paulo city council, expired in March 2019 and a new agreement is now in the approval process.

Visit of people from Perus to the Forensic Institute. Photo: Carla Borges, used with permission.

So far, the GTP has identified the remains 14 people, some of them killed by agents of Brazil's military dictatorship.

The GTP also arranges visits to the São Paulo's Forensics Institute, where it's basedand has organized a collaboration with 100 local artists to make the largest graffiti display in the neighbourhood: a mural on the walls of the cemetery depicting the various human rights abuses committed in the military period.

Carla Borges, a former officer at the Office of Human Rights and Citizenship in the city of São Paulo who collaborated with the GTP, says the presidential decree has caused apprehension. “For me, these are direct attacks on the few and already fragile spaces for social participation that we had before, and on research facilities, which have been working to confirm the facts and the violations of human rights committed by the Brazilian State during the military dictatorship”, she told Agência Mural.

According to GTP-member Marina Di Giusto, the Brazilian president does not have the power to dismantle the working group, as it is in an agreement of cooperation. She highlighted, though, that it depends on the government to renew the agreement and the rehiring of the experts to continue the work. “Although not having the power to end the GTP, the government can make the work difficult”, she said.

When the mass grave was publicized in the 1990s, Rogério Tretin, 40, was a young student living three kilometres away from the cemetery. He still remembers the bustle at the cemetery upon finding the remains. “I saw the press coming. I saw fathers and mothers who went to the site, thinking about their disappeared [children] during the dictatorship”.

Now a history teacher, Rogério says he believes “[they] are trying to hide yet another [set of] remains” with the possible end of the GTP. At work, the educator says he is committed to presenting narratives that go beyond the official one, with the aim of connecting the students to the reality of the neighbourhood's history. “Addressing these facts in class allows the student to broaden their knowledge, break one-sided paradigms and have a participatory view on the neighbourhood,” he said.

The effort to address the mass grave’s history also takes place in the streets and the neighbourhood’s cultural spaces, with the work of  local groups such as Pandora Theatre Group, the Quilombaque Cultural Community, and the Alberto Pazzini Centre for Human Rights.

Since 2018, the Pandora Theatre Group has performed the show “Comum” (“common,” in English), which tells the story of the grave from different perspectives – the gravediggers, activists, and families of the disappeared.

“A memory that stayed hidden for so many years cannot go back to being buried”, says the actor Caroline Alves, 19, who grew up hearing about the memories of the grave. “The GTP must continue so as to attain the right of the families to bury their relatives with dignity and prevent other graves from opening”.

Quilombaque people take the “Dictatorship Never Again” trail, on a route that passes by the Dom Bosco cemetery. Photo: Karen Siqueira, used with permission.

The crimes she referred to are also mentioned by Cleiton Ferreira, 35, founder of the Quilombaque Cultural Community. “As well as the political prisoners, it is important to highlight the genocidal system that they supported in that period and which persists to today. The majority of the skeletons are from youths executed by a shot from above, in the era of the extermination squad”.

The youths of the Quilombaque regularly walk the memory trail “Dictatorship Never Again”, organized by the Agência Queixadas initiative, which begins with a visit to the cemetery, followed by the Museum of Resistance, in the centre of São Paulo, and also to the Forensics Institute.

“It is a trail for the residents to gain an understanding of what is happening and what the grave was. For us, [the possible end of the GTP] is sad, because we have been following the work of the experts, learning about the context in which the people died or the illnesses that affected them”, explained Cleiton.

It is estimated that 49 skeletons are of disappeared political victims and the rest are probably of youths executed or victims of meningitis, commented the law student Amanda Vitorino, a member of the Alberto Pazzini Centre for Defense of Human Rights.

The concealment of the deaths by disease is highlighted by some as also being part of the military regime’s crimes. “Even today, black youths are executed on a daily basis, victims of structural racism and institutional violence. What are the threads that link the deaths of yesterday and those of today?” Amanda questioned. “We need to understand the deeds of the period of dictatorship and the roots that they planted in our present.”

by Liam Anderson at June 11, 2019 12:58 PM

Vietnamese victims of 2016 marine disaster have filed a landmark lawsuit against Formosa Plastics Group in Taiwan

The press conference for the first transnational litigation in Taiwan. Photo credit: Nikole Nguyen.

By the Global Voices Chinese Lingua team

In a landmark move, victims of the 2016 marine disaster that affected the coastal communities in central Vietnam filed a transnational lawsuit against the Taiwanese corporation responsible for the environmental damage, Formosa Plastics Group (FPG), on Jun 11, 2019. If successful, this case could pave the way for new norms related to Taiwanese corporate responsibility for environmental protection in third-party countries.

With the assistance of environmental and human rights organizations in Taiwan, Vietnam, US, France and Canada, the legal representatives of the Vietnamese plaintiffs, a group composed of 7,875 victims of the marine disaster, presented the lawsuit against FPG at the Taipei district court on June 11.

The marine disaster, which took place on 6 April 2016, is seen as the most serious environmental disaster in Vietnamese history. The incident, caused by the discharge of toxic waste into the sea by FPG subsidiary Ha Tinh Steel Corporation, led to the death of massive amounts of fish and marine life in central Vietnam.

FPG accepted responsibility for the disaster on 30 June 2016 and agreed to give 500 million USD in compensation to the Vietnamese government for disaster relief work. However, the Vietnamese authorities have not released any information about the number of victims who have received any compensation. And for those who were compensated, they only received around US$ 2,430 dollars per household — an amount that can only support a person's expenses for one year, based on GDP per capital in Vietnam. Many affected community members have been forced to work in other cities or other countries. Other community members claim to have never received any compensation at all.

The victims tried to bring the case to local courts in Vietnam but were rejected, and many activists who reported on the pollution were arrested and jailed. In a recent case, 39-year-old shrimp farmer Nguyen Ngoc Anh was given a 6-year jail sentence for “making, storing, releasing, and circulating information and documents against the state.” Nguyen is one of the activists protesting against FPG over the 2016 marine disaster.

For the past three years, Taiwanese lawyers (with the help of Christian churches in Vietnam) have identified 7,875 plaintiffs and gathered evidence to prepare for this transnational litigation. Even though the number of victims is thought to be far more than 7,875, a civil liability case must be filed within three years after the liable party (in this case FPG) admits its negligence. The Taiwanese lawyers have to present the case in court before June 30, 2019, if they want it to be admissible. The lawyers are asking the judges to apply Vietnamese civil and environmental laws in the transnational lawsuit, and are asking for 4 million USD in compensation on behalf of their plaintiffs.

Vietnamese victims of the marine disaster filed the civil complaint against Formosa Plastics Group in Taiwan. Photo credit: Nikole Nguyen

This is the first transnational litigation case regarding environmental harm in Taiwan. If successful, it has major implications for setting up new norms regarding environmental protections in global investments. Taiwan is a home-state to multinational corporations which invest in industries that cause environmental harm in other third-party countries. This current case reinstates the liability of corporations, such as FPG, for the environmental damage caused in those third-party countries.

FPG's subsidiary, Ha Tinh Steel Corporation, is the largest foreign investor in Vietnam. Even after the marine disaster, FPG has continued to expand its steel mill investment in Vietnam. In May 2017, the first furnace of the steel mill in Ha Tinh started to operate and one year later the second furnace started to operate. Very soon the third furnace will start operating, according to an FPG press release.

Although the Vietnam Environment Administration claimed that the pollution from the steel mill in Ha Tinh has been carefully monitored after the disaster, there hasn't been any monitoring data released to the public yet. On the other hand, there were reports about how the fishery industry in the affected areas has declined dramatically after the marine disaster. In 2018, a report published by the BBC stated that fish were found dead in Ha Tinh again.

Apart from fisheries, local industries related to seafood like fish sauce factories or restaurants have also been seriously affected.

After the marine disaster in 2016, Mr. Chou Chun Fan from FPG said Vietnamese should choose between catching fish and shrimp or hosting a modern steel industry. Nevertheless, when the people chose “fish and shrimp” and protested against this steel mill, they were arrested and jailed.

For the Vietnamese plaintiffs, this lawsuit is not only about monetary compensation, but about justice, truth, democracy, and freedom of speech. It is about the relationship between humans and their environment.

After the marine disaster, the poem written by a non-professional poet Trần Thị Lam was widely downloaded in Vietnam because it touches many Vietnamese:

Đất nước mình buồn quá phải không anh
Biển bạc, rừng xanh, cánh đồng lúa biếc
Rừng đã hết và biển thì đang chết
Những con thuyền nằm nhớ sóng khơi xa…

My country is so sad, isn't it?
Silver sea, green forest, blue rice fields
The forest is gone and the sea is dead
The boats remember the distant waves…

by Guest Contributor at June 11, 2019 09:01 AM

Beyond Beijing: What China's 1989 Democracy Movement was like in Changsha

Interview with China expert Andréa Worden about a different Tian'anmen 1989

Changsha, May 19, 1989: Students on hunger strike at the provincial government headquarters. Photograph by Andréa Worden.

Changsha, May 19, 1989: Students on hunger strike at the provincial government headquarters. Photograph by Andréa Worden.

This interview by Filip Jirouš originally appeared on Sinopsis.cz as part of a series on the 30th anniversary of the Tian'anmen massacre. An edited version is published below as part of a content-sharing agreement.

The democracy movement in 1989 was a nationwide student movement that spread across more than 60 major cities (and more than 300 including town and county-level cities) all over China. The protests and crackdown in Beijing Tian'anmen were widely reported, but the situation outside of the capital rarely received media attention.

While the original student demonstrations, which began in 1986, were fueled by concerns over an increased cost of living and perceptions about government corruption, they gained nationwide traction after the death of former communist party leader Hu Yaobang, whose reforms aimed to make the Chinese government more accountable. The protests in Changsha (in Hunan province near Hu's hometown Liu Yang) were rather radical. Not only was there a hunger strike, but according to Lu Siqing, founder of the Hong Kong-based Information Centre of Human Rights & Democratic Movement in China, on April 22 1989 a few hundred protesters broke into the Hunan provincial government building in Changsha.

Andréa Worden's profile picture. Used with permission.

Quickly spotted by the central authorities, this protest action in the revolutionary city was mentioned in the April 26 editorial of the People's Daily, which defined the student movement as “a destabilizing anti-party revolt that should be resolutely opposed at all levels of society”. In Beijing, students protested against the editorial and demanded that it be retracted.

Andréa Worden is a researcher, translator and consultant whose work focuses on human rights and rule of law in China, and China’s interactions with the UN human rights mechanisms. Currently a scholar at the East Asian Studies Program of Johns Hopkins University, she was teaching at the time at Hunan Medical University and bore witness to the student protests. In this interview, Worden remembers 1989 as she experienced it in Changsha.

Sinopsis (S): You were in China during the spring of 1989; why and where were you exactly?

Andréa Worden (AW): I went to China with the Yale-China Association after graduating from Yale with a double major in East Asian Studies and history. I was in Changsha, the capital of Hunan, on a two-year English teaching fellowship at the Hunan Medical University (HMU). The student protests began just a few months before the end of my fellowship.

S: Was it hard for you to adjust to China back then? Did you make a lot of friends?

AW: Yes and no. I had taken some time off during college in 1984 and spent several months in Taiwan studying Chinese and then traveled for about two months on my own in the mainland. I found it endlessly fascinating, and was encouraged that I could actually communicate effectively in Chinese.

So when I got to China in 1987 I had a pretty clear idea of what to expect, but being part of a work unit provided a new set of bureaucratic challenges and nonsensical things I had to adjust to. I tried my best to go with the flow, accept uncertainty, and maintain a good sense of humor.

I did make quite a few friends in China.  Some of my students became good friends over time, as well as my Chinese English teacher colleagues, and other teachers at the school. I also became friends with some of the young tennis crowd in Changsha.

Demonstration in Changsha, May 18, 1989. Photograph by Andréa Worden.

Demonstration in Changsha, May 18, 1989. Photograph by Andréa Worden.

S: What was the local reaction when martial law was imposed on May 20? Did it scare the locals or incite them to participate in larger numbers?

AW: Martial law was declared only in Beijing, but things took a more serious and solemn turn in Changsha after the martial law declaration. People were angry and dismayed, and protested against martial law the next day. One student from another university who was marching in the demonstration […] saw me on the sidewalk observing, and called out in English: ‘How can our government be so cruel?’

S: What was the atmosphere like before June 4?

AW: Many students had returned to class by May 30. There was a sense that the movement was over; the Changsha students had heard that students in Beijing were going to leave Tian'anmen Square –- this was before the Goddess of Democracy appeared. I recall that my students expressed concern about the ‘settling of accounts’ [秋后算账] during this time; in other words, they were worried about how they might be punished.

S: Could you tell us what happened immediately after the massacre in Beijing? What were the first reactions? What was the atmosphere like?

AW: Early in the morning of June 4, a Sunday, some students came rushing over to the house where the Yale-China Association teachers lived. They had learned the news from VOA, and banged on the door to wake us up (the American teachers were still asleep at 6:00 or 6:30 am on Sunday). They were distraught and angry. Some were crying. I was in shock.

S: Do you believe another similar protest is possible today? Is there any hope for change?

AW: Because China today is now a high-tech police state with near total surveillance, a nationwide popular movement on the scale of 1989 is impossible. It could only happen with a collapse of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). But smaller protests happen frequently in China. They are usually quite specific in terms of the issue and demand, such as the recent protests by parents whose children were given expired polio vaccines.

Change is always possible.

S: What do you think the West should do, if anything, about the current human rights situation in China?

AW: Rights-respecting governments and people should do whatever they can to support human rights defenders and victims of human rights abuses in China and elsewhere, including in our own countries. Specifically with respect to China, we need to be taking much stronger measures; one obvious example where a more robust intervention is needed urgently is the mass internment by the CCP of over 1 million Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

by Sinopsis at June 11, 2019 01:55 AM

June 10, 2019

Rising Voices
RV Newsletter: Exploring digital inclusion at RightsCon 2019

RightsCon photo by Victoria Heath and used under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license.

Rising Voices note: Our biweekly newsletter provides a summary of our recent blog posts about all aspects of digital inclusion including access and adoption of digital tools, as well as different ways and opporunities for communities to fully participate online. Read here for previous editions of this newsletter.

RightsCon 2019 will be held June 11-14 in Tunis, Tunisia. The annual event offers an opportunity to explore the intersection of human rights in the digital age. This year’s program offers an especially strong focus on digital inclusion-related topics, which is a primary interest of Rising Voices. For example, the track “Intersectionality on the Internet: Diversity and Representation” contains a number of inclusion-related topics, including several that examines the importance of linguistic diversity in the protection of human rights online. The track “Turn It On and #KeepItOn: Connectivity and Shutdowns” includes sessions devoted to community networks and DIY approaches to connectivity.

See the RightsCon website for the entire schedule.

MORE FROM THE RISING VOICES BLOG

For this issue, we’d like you to meet three recent hosts of our rotating Twitter project on African language digital activism (@DigiAfricanLang)!  We would like to thank Denver Toroxa Breda for sharing with us his work on the Khoe languages (Khoekhoe and N|uu), Blossom Ozurumba for her work on the Igbo language, and Doaa for her work on the Nubian language.  Please read the Q&A posts to learn more about them and their work!

Also in this issue, we’d like to introduce you to a recent guest-host of @ActLenguas — indigenous language digital activists Margot Camones Maguiña (Quechua from Aija, Ancash, Peru).  In her profile post, you’ll get to know more about her and her work in revitalizing/promoting of her native language.

If you are curious about how Native American and First Nations language revitalization efforts are being aided by the internet and technology, you should check out what our recent hosts of @NativeLangsTech have to say about their work in digital activism for these languages.  We present you the Q&A blog posts with recent hosts Ian McCallum (for the Lunaape language of the Munsee-Delaware Nation in Southwestern Ontario, Canada), Jacey Firth-Hagen (for the Gwich’in language spoken in Northwest Territories, Canada), and Susan Gehr (for the Karuk language spoken in Happy Camp, California, United States).

And Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún, our first host of @DigiAfricanLang, shared stories over Twitter in regards to how large segments of Nigerian society are digitally excluded because some everyday technologies have not been made available in local languages.  Through the use of the Thread Reader App, these tweets were curated and adapted into a Global Voices Bridge story. This story explores this real digital divide and what everyday Nigerians are doing to help bridge that gap.

OPPORTUNITIES | SCHOLARSHIPS & FELLOWSHIPS

Are you familiar with the idea of “digital identity”?  Do you ever wonder what issues, challenges, and opportunities it might bring in a local context?  Yoti, a London-based technology company, is inviting you to join them in exploring the potential of digital identities by taking advantage of their newly launched Yoti Fellowship Programme.  Please visit their site for details.  Application due: June 15, 2019

You might have heard of the Youth@IGF Program and the IGF Ambassadors program — two fellowship programs that were created to empower and increase youth participation in Internet Governance and its related issues.  This year, the Internet Society is merging these two programs into one: IGF Youth Ambassadors Program. Please visit their site for eligibility and other details.  Application due: June 25, 2019

TRAININGS

The African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) is extending an invitation to all African women writers, journalists, and activists to take part in a 10-day long African women’s writers workshop 2019.  Interested? Please visit their site for details.  Application due: June 24, 2019

TOOLS & RESOURCES

Have you fancied learning the Cherokee language but don’t know where to start?  The Cherokee Nation is offering free online language classes via their new portal right now.  You can also subscribe to their newsletter to stay up to date in regards to relevant information.

Ever scratching your head trying to figure out how to write in African languages for Wikipedia?  In celebration of the Africa Day, Amir Elisha Aharoni announced a new release that will allow fellow African Wikimedians to contribute more easily.  Please read his blog to  find our more.

Are you a freelance journalist or perhaps a newbie in the newsroom who needs to get a quick start in wrapping your head around content analytics, as a way to determine what audiences are reading your stories?  Jamlab, an initiative of Wits Journalism in South Africa, recently reviewed a number of practical tools. Please read along to learn a few tricks, tips, and advice from the experts.

ADDITIONAL READINGS, LISTENINGS, and VIEWINGS

 

Subscribe to the Rising Voices Newsletter

 

 

Thanks to Eddie Avila for contributions to this newsletter. 

by Yanne C at June 10, 2019 09:28 PM

Creative Commons
Welcome the Official Spanish Language Translation of CC0! (¡Les damos la bienvenida a la traducción oficial de CC al idioma castellano!)

cc0-screenshot

The official Spanish language translation of the Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0) is now available. This means almost 500 million users of CC0 will be able to read and understand the terms of CC0 in their first language.

First started in 2013, this multi-jurisdictional, collaborative translation effort has involved dedicated individuals from more than a half-dozen countries on two continents. The translation represents a significant accomplishment by members of the CC Spanish-speaking community, who worked to unify and bridge differences in terminology and drafting conventions across the many countries where Spanish is recognized as an official language.

More details about the CC0 translation process are available on the Creative Commons wiki, where you can also find information about the Spanish translation process for the 4.0 licenses and their publication last September.

A special thank you to the following individuals who contributed invaluably to this successful multi-year endeavor, and especially Scann and Txopi who assisted with the final reviews and proofing:

Beatriz Busaniche (Argentina)
Carolina Botero (Colombia)
María Paz Canales (Chile)
Alberto Cerda (Chile)
Claudia Cristiani (El Salvador)
Marianne Diaz (Venezuela)
Evelin Heidel (Scann) (Argentina)
Juan Carlos Lara (Chile)
Luisa Guzmán (Colombia)
Ignasi Labastida (Spain)
Claudio Ortiz (El Salvador)
Claudio Ruiz (Chile)
Marko Txopitea (Txopi) (Spain)

¡Felicitaciones a todos!

¡Les damos la bienvenida a la traducción oficial de CC al idioma castellano!

La traducción oficial al castellano de la Dedicación al Dominio Público de Creative Commons (CC0) está ahora disponible. Esto significa que más de 500 millones de usuarios de la CC0 podrán ahora leer y entender los términos de la CC0 en su lengua materna.

Con sus inicios en el 2013, este esfuerzo de traducción multi-jurisdiccional y colaborativa ha involucrado personas dedicadas provenientes de más de una media docena de países en dos continentes. La traducción representa un logro significativo para los miembros de la comunidad hispanoparlante de CC, que trabajaron para unificar y tender un puente en las diferencias en la terminología y en las convenciones de redacción a lo largo de los diferentes países donde el castellano es reconocido como lengua oficial.

Más detalles sobre el proceso de traducción de la CC0 están disponibles en la wiki [en] de Creative Commons, donde también se puede encontrar información sobre el proceso de traducción al castellano para la versión 4.0 de las licencias y su publicación en septiembre pasado.

Gracias especiales a las siguientes personas que contribuyeron de manera invaluable a esta exitosa empresa multianual, y especialmente a Scann y a Txopi que asistieron con las revisiones y pruebas finales:

Beatriz Busaniche (Argentina)
Carolina Botero (Colombia)
María Paz Canales (Chile)
Alberto Cerda (Chile)
Claudia Cristiani (El Salvador)
Marianne Diaz (Venezuela)
Evelin Heidel (Scann) (Argentina)
Juan Carlos Lara (Chile)
Luisa Guzmán (Colombia)
Ignasi Labastida (Spain)
Claudio Ortiz (El Salvador)
Claudio Ruiz (Chile)
Marko Txopitea (Txopi) (Spain)

The post Welcome the Official Spanish Language Translation of CC0! (¡Les damos la bienvenida a la traducción oficial de CC al idioma castellano!) appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Diane Peters at June 10, 2019 07:14 PM

Global Voices
Argentina resumes the fight for legal abortion with new draft bill

A new draft bill was proposed

Photo by Majo Malvares (@malvaresz) taken during the May 28th march. Used with permission.

A bill that would legalize pregnancy terminations in Argentina was introduced in the Chamber of Deputies on May 28 followed by nationwide demonstrations of support of abortion legalizaton.

Abortion is a crime in Argentina except in cases of rape or to save a woman's life, according to the country's 1921 Penal Code. Many states refuse to uphold those legal exceptions. It isn't uncommon for a Argentine young girls to be forced by a court order to carry a pregnancy to term.

The Voluntary Termination of Pregnancy Draft Bill (IVE) establishes the right to termination on request within the firt 14 weeks of pregnancy. Beyond the 14th week, a woman may terminate a pregnancy in the case of rape or when her health is at risk. The bill exempts the patient to seek legal authorisation from a judge to terminate the pregancy in such cases — doctors will be obligated to accept a sworn statement by the patient.

In 2018, the Chamber of Deputies narrowly approved a similar bill that was eventually defeated in the Senate.

This bill, as well as last year's, were drafted by Argentina's National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe and Free Abortion, a national alliance of human rights groups, institutions, politicians, and doctors who support legalization of abortion that has existed for 14 years.

This is the eighth time the National Campaign, or “la Campaña” as they're known locally, presents a bill in the Argentine Congress. This year's bill has initial support of more than 70 legislators.

The Campaña chose May 28 to introduce the draft legislation as that is the International Day of Action for Women's Health.

Argentinian social movements staged demonstrations in many cities in support of the bill on May 28. Women waved green handkerchiefs in a “pañuelazo,” the color long being a symbol of the pro-choice movement in Argentina.

With the help of social media, supportive demonstrations also took place abroad, such as in the cities of Leeds, in England, and Berlin, in Germany:

Around 97 percent of Latin American and Caribbean women live in countries with restrictive abortion laws, according to a study by Guttmacher Institute. The only countries in Spanish-speaking Latin America where abortion is legal on request are Cuba and Uruguay. In the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, abortion is illegal with no exceptions.

A successful failure

The defeat of last year's abortion bill in the Argentinian Senate had the ironic collateral effect of establishing the abortion debate in the national public agenda. A statement by “Alerta Feminista” collective explains this:

Aunque el proyecto de ley para legalizar el aborto en Argentina, que ha dejado en suspenso a toda América Latina, fue rechazado por el Senado el 9 de agosto [de 2018], la lucha por el derecho a decidir ha adquirido una fuerza internacional e intergeneracional incomparable, llamando no sólo al aborto legal, sino a la separación de la Iglesia y el Estado.

Although the bill to legalize abortion in Argentina, which had left all of Latin America in suspense, was rejected by the Senate on August 9 [2018], the fight for the right to choose has gained an incomparable international and intergenerational force, calling for not only legal abortion, but also the separation between Church and State.

They've added:

El año 2018 resultó ser un año clave a nivel mundial en la movilización de las mujeres hacia la conquista de este derecho: la lucha de las mujeres polacas contra las restricciones al acceso al aborto y el triunfo del “sí” en Irlanda fueron seguidos por una lucha ejemplar de las mujeres argentinas.

The year 2018 proved to be a key year worldwide in women's mobilization for obtaining this right: Polish women's fight against restrictions on access to abortion and the victory of the “yes” in Ireland were followed by the exemplary fight of Argentinian women.

Many see the balance as positive when it comes to the fight for reproductive rights. The following tweet was shared from the march in the city of Córdoba:

There are thousands of us at this 5th march. #Not One Less, in this new June 3rd #NoMoreMachismo #NoMoreViolence #LegalAbortionAlready #GirlsNotMothers

The “green wave” of 2018 has drawn attention to many women's help networks as well as to the consequences of clandestine abortions in Latin America. The past year has also seen a wave of reports of institutions, health professionals and public officials obstructing abortions in cases permitted by the law, or hindering access to contraception (available over-the-counter in Argentina).

The campaign “Girls, not mothers”, a regional call for Latin American states to ensure safe abortion for young girls who become pregnant as a result of sexual assault, also emerged in the wake of 2018's movements. They've tweeted this on May 27:

#LatinAmerica: Every year thousands of girls under the age of 14 suffer sexual violence and are forced by their states to continue their pregnancies.
THIS IS NOT FAKE NEWS. We need millions of voices to join us in shouting “GirlsNotMothers!!!”

An image of the #NiUnaMenos (“not one less” in Spanish) march on June 3 in Buenos Aires. Photo by Xime Talento for the Emergentes collective, used with permission.

Other movements that go hand-in-hand with the fight for free abortion gained strength recently too, such as #MeToo#YoTeCreo (I believe you) and #NiUnaMenos (not one less), all denouncing different forms of aggression against women.

In Argentina, there has been increased support for the Comprehensive Sex Education Program, which aims to introduce in school curricula prevention methods for unwanted pregnancies, and is regulated by a 2006 law.

However, it should be noted that 2019 presents a very complex scenario for Argentina: The composition of the chambers is the same as last year, which means that there are few expectations of obtaining more votes at this time, and the country is in the midst of political and economic uncertainty, with rising inflation and a nearing presidential election.

Despite this, the Campaña considers it essential “that the legalization of abortion becomes part of the public debate and that [presidential] candidates take a stand when it comes to sexual and reproductive rights and the implementation of the Comprehensive Sexual Health Law.”

by Melissa Wise at June 10, 2019 04:27 PM

In Nigeria, tensions rise in Kano Kingdom as king faces finance corruption charges

King Sanusi II may be suspended pending further investigation

King Sanusi II of Kano Kingdom sits on his throne in the palace, Kano state, Nigeria, September 2016. The king now faces serious allegations of financial corruption and misuse. Photo by DonCamillo via Wikimedia Commons: CC BY-SA 4.0.

An atmosphere of gloom settled over the ancient city of Kano in northern Nigeria, as the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission investigated King Muhammad Sanusi II, the Emir of Kano Kingdom, for financial scandals that date back to 2017:

King Sanusi II of Kano Kingdom in northern Nigeria. Photo by Baaballiyo via Wikimedia Commons, March 2017, CC BY SA 4.0.

“As a government instituted agency, we [started] investigating these accusations since 2017 to date. We are still in the process. Code 9 promulgated by the Kano House of Assembly grants us the mandate to investigate all institutions under Kano State government. And Kano Palace is among others,” Muhuyi Magaji Rimin Gado, chairman of the commission, told Global Voices in an interview on May 30, 2019.

The Kingdom dates back to the year 999 as one of Nigeria’s largest kingdoms and exists within modern Kano State under the jurisdiction of state Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.

Ganduje has been at odds with King Sanusi II and made the controversial decision to break up the historic kingdom into five sub-domains, undermining the king's power.

The commission investigated King Sanusi II and three others — his palace chief of staff, Mannir Sanusi, finance officer, Mujtaba Abba and bookkeeper Sani Kwaru — for blowing nearly 3.4 billion Nigerian Naira (approximately $9,456,920 United States Dollars) since King Sanusi II's coronation in 2014.

The commission released a report dated May 31 with five specific allegations lodged against the palace over misuse of funds between 2014-2017: They awarded illegal contracts to 21 shell companies; spent 117 million Naira to fuel generators ($325,481 USD); 54 million Naira expended on airtime and data ($150,210 USD); 105 million to an individual account ($292,075 USD); and 144 million Naira on hotel accommodation and flight tickets ($400,542 USD).

“…It is regrettable, and we further [see] that seven among these companies are not certified with the government,”  Muhuyi Magaji said.

Based on these findings, the commission recommended the suspension of King Sanusi II and “all other suspects connected to this case … pending the final outcome of the investigation.”

When Global Voices asked if the commission’s investigation into the king’s financial misdealing was a form of political prejudice, Muhuyi said this was a “false and mischievous accusation.” According to him, a few concerned individuals discovered the financial wrong-doing in Kano Palace and reported the king in 2017 — during that time, no hostility existed yet between the government and King Sanusi II.

Twitter user Abubakar A. Ibrahim disagrees:

Immunity for governors

Ironically, Governor Ganduje himself is the subject of financial scandals, but Section 308 of the Nigerian Constitution restrains the commission from investigating the governor.

Yet, video footage circulating online shows Ganduje allegedly collecting a bribe from state contractors in 2018. Ganduje adamantly denied it.

Muhuyi Magaji says these were unsubstantiated rumors that only circulated online and were never brought to the commission, and even it was brought forward, they do not have the legal authority to review the governor’s actions:

Governor Ganduje is masked by the immunity of section 308 of the Nigerian constitution, which rules out the prosecute of top political office holders in a court of law until their term expires.

Former Governor Ibrahim Shekarau created Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission in 2005. The Kano State House of Assembly endorsed the law that established it.

Kano Kingdom: ‘We will keep silent’

On Friday, May 31, 2019, Global Voices headed to Kano Kingdom palace mid-morning, seeking comment on allegations leveled at the king as well as the other three suspected of wrongdoing.

The palace was crowded with followers who come to offer their allegiance to the king every Friday.

Global Voices secured a meeting with Chief of Staff Mannir Sanusi and passed through guards and other auxiliary forces to speak with the palace official inside the palace grounds, who said:

On behalf of the Emir, and the entire Kano palace, we will not recount. We are going back to court on June 13. And thus, we hold that we will keep silent.

On June 7, the palace issued a brief statement on behalf of the king, claiming he only inherited 1.8 billion Naira ($5,006,406) when anointed in 2014.

In another recent development, Aliko Dongote, an international businessman from Kano, along with Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, has initiated a peace talk between Governor Ganduje and King Sanusi II. Details of the meeting have not been revealed.

Now, Kano citizens and the international community anxiously await the June 13 trial, when the courts will decide the fate of the historical Kingdom of Kano.

by Bala Muhammmad Makosa at June 10, 2019 04:09 AM

June 09, 2019

Global Voices
Could the PetroCaribe scandal be the end of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse?

A new report reveals a Pandora's box of corruption

PetroChallengers stage a protest against corruption allegations linked to PetroCaribe scandals in Haiti. Photo by Medyalokal via Wikimedia Commons: CC BY-SA 4.0.

On May 31, 2019, Haiti's High Court of Auditors released a 600 plus-page report as a deeper audit regarding the mismanagement of the PetroCaribe funds. The corruption scandal surrounding PetroCaribe, a regional energy programme orchestrated by Venezuela and intended to provide petroleum products to Haiti under preferential terms, was at the heart of violent protests that threatened to cause President Jovenel Moïse's downfall this past February.

The Haitian president is linked to the $3.4 billion PetroCaribe scheme via his own company, Agritrans, and now another — Betexs — which have benefited from the opaque contracts that characterise the scandal.

A damning report

In releasing the report, Haiti's Court of Audit has opened a Pandora's box that is bringing to light the high level of corruption and dilapidation that President Moïse and his Tèt Kale party have been accused of:

The Moïse administration may be taking the heat, but in fact, prior successive governments have been involved in managing the PetroCaribe funds.

A screenshot of the title page of the final audit by Haiti's High Court of Auditors regarding mismanagement of the country's revenue from PetroCaribe.

The PetroCaribe programme started in 2006 under President René Préval, who first signed the agreement. Control reverted to the Tèt Kale party when President Joseph Michel Martelly took over in 2010, then the baton was passed to Jocelerme Privert, who acted as interim president between February 2016 and February 2017. Privert, a seasoned bureaucrat, has emerged in politics, just like Preval, through the channels of Fanmi Lavalas, a once-dominant political party and movement. Although allegations of embezzlement of PetroCaribe dollars have also been directed toward them, the public perception is that the Tèt Kale regime has taken the siphoning of PetroCaribe money to astronomical heights.

The inflated cost for painting the Rex Theatre, for example, a famous old movie theatre in Port-au-Prince, is telling in that regard:

I naively thought that Youri Chevry [the mayor of Port-au-Prince] was the one who painted the front of the Rex to mask its ugliness, 😆 but it's  the Tèt Kale Party that stole 5 million US dollars, 😆 that poor thing they do for 5 million 😆 how can one explain such a scam and @GarryGPPC is defending their misbehaviour 😆

One Twitter user asked this intriguing question:

My question that hangs in the balance: was it Picasso who painted the Rex for 5 million?

Social programmes such as Ede Pep, branded under Martelly's presidency as government initiatives to alleviate the suffering of the most vulnerable, have instead served private purposes. The report has revealed huge discrepancies between the funds that were supposedly allocated to these programmes and what was disbursed in reality. The number of fictive beneficiaries is staggering, amounting to 20,850 between 2012-2014 for the Ti Manman Cheri programme alone.

Etzer Emile, a local economist, echoed that the country's current poor governance, insecurity and socio-economic troubles relate to the mismanagement of PetroCaribe funds:

We must understand that today if there aren't enough roads, electricity, hospitals, water, food, airport, economic growth and jobs for young people, but we are going through misery, partly it's because there is a group of people who have embezzled Petrocaribe's money. The Cour des Comptes has done their work, now we'll put pressure for justice to be done #kotkodla [#Polishhaitians]

Political battle in parliament

Meanwhile, the ratification of Jean Michel Lapin as Moïse's third prime minister has hit a standstill in the Senate.

Having exceeded his time as interim prime minister, Lapin has been unable to secure the post permanently thanks to a group of four senators (known as G4) from different opposition factions that have blocked him from presenting his statement of general policy. The G4 scolded the government over the presence of several ministers who had been part of the previous administration in Lapin's nominated cabinet.

Chief among these is Jean Roudy Aly, the Minister of Justice whom the group blames for negotiating the departure of Haiti's foreign mercenaries in February 2019. The G4 obstructed both attempts, on May 14 and 30, 2019, to ratify Prime Minister Lapin.

As a response to the G4, 72 deputies affiliated with the president from the majority bloc in parliament were planning to resign in order to invalidate the parliament. They presented this initiative as a way to resolve the crisis, but it was received very negatively in the court of public opinion. Some of the deputies later tried to dismiss the fact that they ever had such plans.

Haiti-Crisis: 72 MPs threaten to resign, Gary Bodeau [President of the Chamber of Deputes] is waiting for the letter

Social activism stretched

PetroCaribe activism, known as the #PetroChallengers, has dipped recently due to other protests taking centre stage: the November 2018 La Saline massacre and the collective rape of young female students. As more information suggests that elected officials close to the president have connections with armed gangs, some citizens wonder if the government is staging such insecurities to intimidate and instill fear so that people will stop asking for accountability:

Will we just stand by and watch them massacre our fellow Haitians???

The report has fueled a greater discontent rooted in the country's socio-economic crisis. The government's poor handling of the situation, all while insecurity and gang activity increase, is also re-igniting social mobilisation around the PetroCaribe issue, intensifying calls for those who embezzled money to be brought to justice:

We must never demobilise until all the culprits of stealing money from the population go to prison for crimes against the country, and for the sake of prosecution, assets handed over to the relevant institutions for the useful development of citizens.
#wearen'tsleeping #PetroCaribetrial

A PetroChallengers anti-corruption protest is scheduled for Sunday, June 9.

The report focuses on the Tèt Kale party as the one that stole the most from PetroCaribe. It even revealed that rose bracelets which partisans and government officials used to wear to show allegiance to the party were produced with PetroCaribe money. The cost of one bracelet? $90:

In the beginning were the bracelets… Now come the handcuffs

Ahhhh, how times change!

Tèt Kale supporters are already making efforts to discredit the report as being biased and untruthful, but intense social mobilisation around PetroCaribe and other related instances of poor governance may well force Moïse's government to deal with the issue.

If the government refuses, many Haitians wonder whether this movement has the potential to cause its downfall.

by Joseph W. Alliance at June 09, 2019 06:07 PM

Hundreds of thousands protest in Hong Kong against the extradition bill

Would the city's Chief Executive Carrie Lam scrap the bill?

Huge protesting crowd against the extradition bill paralyzed a large part of Hong Kong Island on June 9 2019. Photo from inmediahk.net

Hundreds of thousands of people in Hong Kong took to the streets on Sunday, 9 June 2019, to stop the government from passing amendments to the existing extradition laws – the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance.

The rally started at 2:30 p.m. and it quickly paralyzed a large part of Hong Kong island. Anna Pearce recorded the crowd near Victoria Park, the starting place of the rally:

Streets flooded with protesters

The organizer of the rally, Civil Human Rights Front, estimated that there were more than a million protesters in the rally as the scale of the protest was larger than the anti-national security law mobilization on 1 July 2003. But the police said there were about 240,000 in the streets during the peak of the rally. As South China Morning Post reporter Jeffie Lam put it, Hongkongers made history today:

Protesters said the proposed amendments would make it easier for mainland China to cause the arrest of critics, dissidents, and even journalists in Hong Kong. They were chanting “no evil law” and calling for the city's chief executive Carrie Lam to step down.

Protester placard: No China extradition; Liar Carrie Lam, step down. Image via inmediahk.net CC: AT-NC

A social worker told reporter from inmediahk.net that she rallied to defend the people working in the social work sector because under China's judicial system, those who tried to bring positive change in society would be arrested. Another student protester believes that once the amendment is passed, the city will cease to exist as the constitutional principle of “One Country Two Systems” would come to an end.

There have been several mass protests against the extradition bill. On 30 March, about 12,000 rallied from Wanchai to Admiralty right before the government presented the amendment bill to the legislature. One month later on 28 April, about 130,000 took to the streets demanding the scrapping of the bill.

The series protests has caught the world's attention. Many are now monitoring if the city's Chief Executive Carrie Lam would withdraw the controversial bill which is scheduled for second reading in the legislative chamber this week.

The amendments were first proposed by the Hong Kong government in February to provide further legal grounds for the Chief Executive and local courts to handle case-by-case extradition requests from jurisdictions with no prior agreements, specifically Taiwan and China. By citing the murder case of a pregnant woman in Taiwan, the government claimed that amending the extradition laws was meant to address ‘legal loophole’ that allow fugitives to escape punishment.

However, legal experts pointed out that the so-called ‘loophole’ was in reality a firewall to prevent crime suspects from being handed over to mainland China where there is no fair trial.

Human rights defenders, journalists, NGO workers and social workers at risk

Various sectors have warned that if extradition requests are processed without legislative oversight, the amendments would provide a legal basis for mainland Chinese authorities to arrest political dissents. This concern was stated in an open letter jointly signed by over 70 non-government organizations:

Given the Chinese judiciary’s lack of independence, and other procedural shortcomings that often result in unfair trials, we are worried that the proposed changes will put at risk anyone in the territory of Hong Kong who has carried out work related to the Mainland, including human rights defenders, journalists, NGO workers and social workers, even if the person was outside the Mainland when the ostensible crime was committed. We are calling on the Hong Kong government to immediately withdraw the bill…

Instead of addressing the concerns raised by the petitioners, the Beijing Liaison Office met representatives of the local business sector and demanded them to back the bill. At the same time, the Hong Kong government gave some concessions to the business sector by exempting nine white-collar crimes in the bill and raising the threshold for extradition from crimes punishable by three years in jail to crimes with a seven-year prison penalty.

But on the other hand, it decided to by-pass the legislative committee-level deliberations and tabled the bill for full legislative council discussion.

The direct intervention of the Beijing Liaison Office and the Hong Kong government’s violation of legislative procedure have given a strong and clear signal to the public that the amendment bill is a controversial political decision which is far from protecting Hong Kong people’s interest.

Under the current bill, foreigners who traveled to Hong Kong could also be handed over to mainland Chinese authorities upon extradition requests. Diplomats from the U.S, Canada and European Union have expressed a concern about this. Against the background of the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China, some are worried that the amendments would turn Hong Kong into a battlefield of international politics:

The intended effects of the amendments can be regarded as a mirrored counterpart of the legal rights utilised by the US government in Meng’s case [Note: the arrest of Meng Wanzhou in Canada upon the extradition request filed by the United State on 1 of December 2018]. If the amendments are passed, then any person who happens to come to Hong Kong can be arrested and surrendered to mainland China with the consent of a court or the Chief Executive, and without deliberation in the Legislative Council of Hong Kong.

More than 2500 lawyers demonstrated against the amendment of extradition law on June 6. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

The Hong Kong government responded by accusing the opposition of misleading the public.

Lawyers stage “Black March”

But among those who have spoken out against the bill were not just opposition politicians but also members of the professional legal sector. On 6 June, the legal sector staged a “black march” against the controversial bill. Dressed in black, about 2,500 lawyers gathered outside the Court of Final Appeal and marched to government headquarters in silence. Prior to the “black march”, both the BAR society and the Law society have submitted opinions to the government demanding an extensive consultation with the legal sector and other stakeholders.

While debate in the legislature has been muted by the Hong Kong government, grassroots opposition voices have taken over. In the past few weeks, social media platforms have been flooded with joint signature campaigns against the amendments initiated by hundreds of university and secondary schools alumni groups, Christian groups, and neighborhood associations.

Hongkongers abroad have also spoken out. Diaspora Hong Kong communities from at least 25 cities, including London, New York, Berlin, Toronto, Melbourne, and Tokyo among others also held a coordinated protest against the amendment bill.

The whole world is now watching if Carrie Lam would redraw or continue to push through the extradition bill in Legislature this week.

by Oiwan Lam at June 09, 2019 02:37 PM

June 07, 2019

Global Voices Advocacy
Police raids on major media organisations expose lack of press freedom in Australia

Journalists face possible charges over publication of leaked government ‘secrets’

Australian Federal Police raid on ABC

Australian Federal Police raid on ABC – Screenshot ABC TV News

Raids by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) on members of two of the country's largest media organisations have caused a furore down under.

On 4 June 2019, the home of Annika Smethurst, the national politics editor of the Sunday Telegraph and other newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp Australia, was searched as part of an investigation into the publication of a leaked plan to expand government surveillance in 2018. A whistleblower had revealed the proposal to give an intelligence agency, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), new powers to spy on its citizens within Australia. Smethurst reported on the secret plan for the Daily Telegraph (original article behind a pay wall).

The following day, a warrant was served at the Sydney offices of the Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), an independent national broadcaster funded primarily by the Federal government, naming three of its journalists. It concerned the publication in 2017 of leaked documents alleging possible unlawful killings by members of the Australian special forces in Afghanistan, the so-called Afghan Files. Federal Liberal Member of Parliament and government backbencher Andrew Hastie, then a SAS officer, was mentioned in the report. He is the Chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.

The warrants were issued under sections of the Crimes Act dealing with classified information. The Act does not have ‘public interest’ safeguards or exceptions for journalists or whistleblowers. Whether the controversial data retention and encryption laws have also been used by the AFP is unknown. Last year, the Australian parliament passed a law allowing law enforcement agencies to access encrypted communications. The data retention law, which came into effect in 2017, requires telecommunication service providers to store metadata for at least two years. Government agencies are capable of requesting access to the metadata without providing a warrant.

The AFP denied that there is a link between the raids and the Australian government denied any knowledge or involvement in them. However, the government itself made the original referrals of both cases to the AFP through its “agency heads”.

Reactions online have been overwhelmingly negative:

A number of issues have been raised. The government has been accused of hypocrisy:

Australian journalist Peter Greste who spent 440 days imprisoned in Egypt in 2013 -2015, called for urgent legislation to protect journalists:

Australia does not have a charter or bill of rights guaranteeing press freedom or freedom of speech.

In a wide-ranging article on The Conversation Rebecca Ananian-Welsh explained that ”Australia has more national security laws than any other nation.” She added:

It is also the only liberal democracy lacking a Charter of Human Rights that would protect media freedom through, for example, rights to free speech and privacy.

She also raised questions of source confidentiality and “the chilling of public interest journalism”.

Social media played a major role in spreading the issues. After the ABC raid began, seven of the top ten Twitter trends in Australia concerned the unfolding events:

Screen Shot: Twitter 2019-06-05 at 6.06.25 pm

Screen Shot: Twitter 2019-06-05 at 6.06.25 pm AEST

As the raid on ABC's Sydney headquarters was unfolding, John Lyons, Executive Editor of ABC News & ABC Head of Investigative Journalism, was live tweeting:

He resisted attempts by the AFP to stop his tweets during the raid:

Many online believe that the raids were meant to deter whistleblowers such as David McBride who was charged in relation to the Afghan Files leaks:

There are currently several whistleblowers before the courts. These include Witness K and his lawyer Bernard Collaery who revealed illegal Australian spying on Timor Leste in 2004. Their trial is masked in secrecy. Another is Richard Boyle who exposed unethical behaviour such as aggressive debt collection practices at the Australian Taxation Office.

Emily Howie, Legal Director at the Human Rights Law Centre, defended whistleblowers and journalists:

Without a free press, we don't have democracy. We don't know what our government is doing behind closed doors. These people should be lauded for revealing the truth but instead they face the real possibility of prison time.

The Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison supported the AFP’s actions but tried to strike a conciliatory note, suggesting a review of relevant laws is a possibility.

Marcus Storm, media section president of the journalists’ union, the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA), described the raids as an ”attack on press freedom”:

Meanwhile the acting AFP commissioner Neil Gaughan warned that reporters and media organisations may face charges for publishing secret government information, emphasising that The Crimes Act applies to both the leaking and publication of material. He also added that “it is an offence to actually have that particular material still on websites”.

Veteran journalist and current chairwoman of the ABC Board Ita Buttrose condemned the raid on her organisation as “clearly designed to intimidate”. She continued:

[..]legitimate journalistic endeavours that expose flawed decision-making or matters that policy makers and public servants would simply prefer were secret, should not automatically and conveniently be classed as issues of national security.

Smethurst, national politics editor of the Daily Telegraph, responded to the raids with this mocking tweet:

There is bound to be some lively debate when the Federal parliament resumes in a few weeks’ time.

by Kevin Rennie at June 07, 2019 10:58 AM

Global Voices
Police raids on major media organisations expose lack of press freedom in Australia

Journalists face possible charges over publication of leaked government ‘secrets’

Australian Federal Police raid on ABC

Australian Federal Police raid on ABC – Screenshot ABC TV News

Raids by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) on members of two of the country's largest media organisations have caused a furore down under.

On 4 June 2019, the home of Annika Smethurst, the national politics editor of the Sunday Telegraph and other newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp Australia, was searched as part of an investigation into the publication of a leaked plan to expand government surveillance in 2018. A whistleblower had revealed the proposal to give an intelligence agency, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), new powers to spy on its citizens within Australia. Smethurst reported on the secret plan for the Daily Telegraph (original article behind a pay wall).

The following day, a warrant was served at the Sydney offices of the Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), an independent national broadcaster funded primarily by the Federal government, naming three of its journalists. It concerned the publication in 2017 of leaked documents alleging possible unlawful killings by members of the Australian special forces in Afghanistan, the so-called Afghan Files. Federal Liberal Member of Parliament and government backbencher Andrew Hastie, then a SAS officer, was mentioned in the report. He is the Chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.

The warrants were issued under sections of the Crimes Act dealing with classified information. The Act does not have ‘public interest’ safeguards or exceptions for journalists or whistleblowers. Whether the controversial data retention and encryption laws have also been used by the AFP is unknown. Last year, the Australian parliament passed a law allowing law enforcement agencies to access encrypted communications. The data retention law, which came into effect in 2017, requires telecommunication service providers to store metadata for at least two years. Government agencies are capable of requesting access to the metadata without providing a warrant.

The AFP denied that there is a link between the raids and the Australian government denied any knowledge or involvement in them. However, the government itself made the original referrals of both cases to the AFP through its “agency heads”.

Reactions online have been overwhelmingly negative:

A number of issues have been raised. The government has been accused of hypocrisy:

Australian journalist Peter Greste who spent 440 days imprisoned in Egypt in 2013 -2015, called for urgent legislation to protect journalists:

Australia does not have a charter or bill of rights guaranteeing press freedom or freedom of speech.

In a wide-ranging article on The Conversation Rebecca Ananian-Welsh explained that ”Australia has more national security laws than any other nation.” She added:

It is also the only liberal democracy lacking a Charter of Human Rights that would protect media freedom through, for example, rights to free speech and privacy.

She also raised questions of source confidentiality and “the chilling of public interest journalism”.

Social media played a major role in spreading the issues. After the ABC raid began, seven of the top ten Twitter trends in Australia concerned the unfolding events:

Screen Shot: Twitter 2019-06-05 at 6.06.25 pm

Screen Shot: Twitter 2019-06-05 at 6.06.25 pm AEST

As the raid on ABC's Sydney headquarters was unfolding, John Lyons, Executive Editor of ABC News & ABC Head of Investigative Journalism, was live tweeting:

He resisted attempts by the AFP to stop his tweets during the raid:

Many online believe that the raids were meant to deter whistleblowers such as David McBride who was charged in relation to the Afghan Files leaks:

There are currently several whistleblowers before the courts. These include Witness K and his lawyer Bernard Collaery who revealed illegal Australian spying on Timor Leste in 2004. Their trial is masked in secrecy. Another is Richard Boyle who exposed unethical behaviour such as aggressive debt collection practices at the Australian Taxation Office.

Emily Howie, Legal Director at the Human Rights Law Centre, defended whistleblowers and journalists:

Without a free press, we don't have democracy. We don't know what our government is doing behind closed doors. These people should be lauded for revealing the truth but instead they face the real possibility of prison time.

The Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison supported the AFP’s actions but tried to strike a conciliatory note, suggesting a review of relevant laws is a possibility.

Marcus Storm, media section president of the journalists’ union, the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA), described the raids as an ”attack on press freedom”:

Meanwhile the acting AFP commissioner Neil Gaughan warned that reporters and media organisations may face charges for publishing secret government information, emphasising that The Crimes Act applies to both the leaking and publication of material. He also added that “it is an offence to actually have that particular material still on websites”.

Veteran journalist and current chairwoman of the ABC Board Ita Buttrose condemned the raid on her organisation as “clearly designed to intimidate”. She continued:

[..]legitimate journalistic endeavours that expose flawed decision-making or matters that policy makers and public servants would simply prefer were secret, should not automatically and conveniently be classed as issues of national security.

Smethurst, national politics editor of the Daily Telegraph, responded to the raids with this mocking tweet:

There is bound to be some lively debate when the Federal parliament resumes in a few weeks’ time.

by Kevin Rennie at June 07, 2019 10:55 AM

‘Everything is destroyed': Inside the ruins of Marawi City in the Philippines

Two years after the siege, the city lays in ruins

Photo by Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Arlene Brosas. Used with permission.

Two years since the siege of Marawi from May to October 2017, much of the predominantly Muslim city located in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao still stands in ruins while thousands of residents remain displaced.

Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Arlene Brosas, who represents marginalized women in the Philippine Congress, shares photos of her visit to Marawi City from March 21, 2019, in a public Facebook post. She observes:

Sa laki ng pinsala ni wala halos clearing na nagawa. Mga binombang bahay at establishments plaza simbahan mosque sirang sira ang lahat. Malayong malayo sa richness at vibrant na lugar noon.

Despite the scale of the destruction, almost no clearing has been done yet. Bombed homes and establishments, plazas, churches, and mosques — everything is destroyed. A far cry from the richness and vibrancy of the place before the siege.

Marawi City was leveled in five months of intense urban warfare, artillery bombardment and air strikes by government troops that attempted to quell a Moro extremist group who occupied the city and fought back after the military tried to arrest its leaders.

The Marawi attack by the Maute extremist group was used to justify Duterte’s imposition of martial law on the entire island of Mindanao in order to restore public security and ensure progress. Two years on, Marawi residents are still waiting to return to their homes and rebuild their lives.

The Philippine military’s siege forced over 100,000 residents to flee from their homes to escape the fighting. A UN report said about 66,000 remain displaced in cramped evacuation centers or in their relatives’ homes in different parts of the country.

Mindanao used to have a predominantly Muslim population. The struggle for self-determination of Muslims in Mindanao has been a protracted struggle for many decades, with some groups waging an armed challenge against the Philippine government. So far, peace agreements have succeeded in getting the support of big rebel groups to work for an autonomous set-up. But some groups like the Maute have continued to push for the establishment of a separate Islamic state.

During and even after the siege, access to Marawi has been restricted. Only some media groups, local officials, and select residents were allowed to enter the city. The photos below provide a rare glimpse of the extent of destruction in the city, the hardships faced by displaced residents, and the enormous challenge of rebuilding the community.

Photo by Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Arlene Brosas. Used with permission.

Photo by Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Arlene Brosas. Used with permission.

Photo by Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Arlene Brosas. Used with permission.

Photo by Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Arlene Brosas. Used with permission.

Photo by Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Arlene Brosas. Used with permission.

Photo by Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Arlene Brosas. Used with permission.

Photo by Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Arlene Brosas. Used with permission.

The situation of displaced residents

The visit conducted by Brosas as a member of Congress confirmed earlier reports of the deteriorating situation of residents in evacuation centers. Brosas shares:

Nasilip din ang ilan sa mga bakwit area. Napakahirap ng kalagayan nila. Matapos ang 2 taon ang mga lumang tents ay nagdeteriorate na. Butas butas na napakainit pa. Kawawa ang kalagayan ng mga pamilya at mga bata. Walang tubig o malayo ang igiban. At may balita pang titigil na ng tuluyan ang rasyon ng tubig. Walang kuryente. May solar na naitulong ang kasama ko kaya may kaunting ilaw.

Got a glimpse of the refugee areas. Their condition is very hard. After two years the old tents have deteriorated already. They are not only full of holes but also very hot to stay in. The situation of families and children is very poor. There is no water and water sources are far. And there is even news that water rationing would be stopped indefinitely. There is no electricity. Our colleagues helped setup solar power so there is some light.

The central business district – called “ground zero” – is the most devastated area of Marawi City. Its residents have yet to be allowed to return to their properties, whose rebuilding President Rodrigo Duterte declared would be made at their own expense.

The Duterte government has rejected accusations that it is not doing anything, with the Task Force Bangon Marawi charged with rebuilding the city saying perceived delays can be credited to the many technical protocols involved for clearing operations as well as consultations with residents.

Below are more photos of the evacuation centers in Marawi:

Photo by Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Arlene Brosas. Used with permission.

Photo by Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Arlene Brosas. Used with permission.

Photo by Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Arlene Brosas. Used with permission.

Photo by Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Arlene Brosas. Used with permission.

Photo by Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Arlene Brosas. Used with permission.

Photo by Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Arlene Brosas. Used with permission.

by Karlo Mongaya at June 07, 2019 07:21 AM

Xi Jinping has muzzled Chinese social sciences, says French sinologist Chloé Froissart

Political slogans on Beijing walls mentioning ‘People's participation’. Photo by Filip Noubel, used with permission

Understanding social issues in China is essential to the survival of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). 30 years ago, its survival was challenged as the Tiananmen pro-democracy movement picked up, and since then, the CCP has been very wary of any large-scale social movements. Global Voices spoke with Chloé Froissart, a lecturer in political science at the Chinese studies department of the University of Rennes 2 in France, about the status of social science in today's China and to what extent it is used as a tool for the Party's survival.

The following is the abridged transcript of an interview between Global Voices and Froissart from May 2019.

Global Voices (GV): What is the role played by the social sciences in China? 

Chloé Froissart (CF): Il n’a jamais existé de sciences sociales totalement indépendantes du pouvoir en Chine. Les chercheurs en sciences sociales ont toujours été sommés de servir le Parti et de l’aider à gouverner afin qu’il se maintienne au pouvoir. Mais il y a différentes manières de le faire et l’espace de liberté des chercheurs face au Parti a fluctué dans le temps. Une première manière de servir le pouvoir est d’identifier, d’analyser les problèmes sociaux, économiques et d’y trouver des solutions afin d’aider le Parti à y faire face. C’est pourquoi les sciences sociales en Chine ont toujours été plus quantitatives, sous-tendues par de grandes enquêtes, que qualitatives; plus techniques que critiques. Une deuxième manière, et c’est d’ailleurs la raison pour laquelle les intellectuels ont été réhabilités par Deng Xiaoping après avoir été persécutés pendant toute l’ère maoïste, c’est de légitimer les réformes et d’apporter des idées pour les promouvoir. Les chercheurs chinois ont bien souvent été des passeurs entre l’Occident et leur pays, puisant des idées dans les théories occidentales -qu’elles soient sociales, politiques, économiques- et les adaptant à la situation chinoise, s’inspirant de ce qui se fait en Occident pour impulser de nouvelles expérimentations en Chine. 

Chloé Froissart (CF): Social sciences have never existed independently from the center of political power in China. In fact, researchers in social sciences have always been ordered to serve the Party, and to help it govern so that it can remain in power. But there are indeed several ways that this task is achieved, thus the space for freedom from the Party for researchers in social sciences has evolved in time. One way to serve those in power is to identify and to analyse socio-economic issues, and to find solutions in order to help the Party face them. This is why social sciences in China have always been more quantitative and supported by large surveys, rather than qualitative. Thus it is more technical than critical of the system. Another way, which is the reason why intellectuals were rehabilitated by Deng Xiaoping after years of persecutions during Mao’s period, is to legitimize reforms and to provide ideas in order to promote them. Chinese researchers have often been operating as go-betweens linking the West and China, appropriating ideas in western theories, whether social, political or economic, and adapting them to the Chinese context, thus finding inspiration in the West in order to launch new experimentation in China. 

Studying Xi's app. Image via The Stand News.

GV: What has changed since Xi Jinping gained power in March 2013?

CF: L’ère Xi Jinping a mis un coup d’arrêt violent à la politique de réformes et d’ouverture qui avait été impulsée par Deng Xiaoping. Tout ce qui vient d’Occident est désormais considéré avec méfiance, voire fait l’objet d’une véritable paranoïa. Cela a commencé dès avril 2013 -soit un mois après l’élection de Xi à la présidence de la RPC- avec l’ordre intimé aux chercheurs, journalistes, éditeurs etc. de ne plus utiliser des expressions jugées occidentales et nocives telles que « valeurs universelles », « liberté d’expression », « société civile », « indépendance du système judiciaire ». Les enseignants-chercheurs -comme les éditeurs et les journalistes- sont contraints d’assister à des réunions de lavage de cerveau et d’inculcation de la pensée Xi Jinping au cours de séjours d’étude sur campus ou hors du lieu de travail qui se déroulent généralement sur des week-end entiers, voire des semaines entières. Ironiquement, en chinois, le verbe « étudier » se prononce de la même manière qu’ « étudier la pensée de Xi » (« xuexi »/ « xue Xi » 学习 ), de sorte qu’il semble impossible d’étudier autre chose que la pensée du nouveau timonier. Une nouvelle application intitulée « xuexi qiangguo » : « étudier pour renforcer le pays » (学习强国), mais qui peut donc aussi se comprendre comme « étudier la pensée de Xi Jinping pour renforcer le pays » a fait son apparition depuis un an : les enseignants et les chercheurs sont censés y passer au minimum deux heures par jour pour lire les articles sur la pensée Xi Jinping et visionner les vidéos de propagande. Xi Jinping a assigné une nouvelle mission aux chercheurs : celle de contribuer à l’élaboration de l’idéologie du régime ainsi qu’à l’élaboration d’un modèle de modernité sociale, économique, politique, environnementale exportable à l’étranger. Il s’agit là selon Xi Jinping, de l’ultime revanche que la Chine doit prendre sur les Guerres de l’Opium. Il appartient donc aux chercheurs de parachever le rêve chinois, qui est avant tout un rêve de puissance et de domination sur le reste du monde.

CF: The Xi Jinping era has put a brutal end to the policies of reforms and opening initiated by Deng Xiaoping. Everything that comes from the West is now regarded with utmost suspicion if not paranoia. It started in April 2013 – one month after Xi Jinping was elected President of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) with orders given to researchers, journalists, publishers to no longer use expressions regarded as ‘too Western’ such as “universal values”, “freedom of expression”, “civil society”, “independence of the judiciary”. Professors, researchers, as well as editors and journalists are forced to attend brainwashing sessions during which a Xi Jinping way of thinking is instilled via study programs taking place on campus or outside of work on weekends, but sometimes also for entire weeks. The irony is that in Chinese, to study is pronounced the exact same way as ‘studying Xi's thought’ (« xuexi »/ « xue Xi » 学习 ) thus it seems that the only thing to really study is indeed the thought of the new helmsman. A new App, called  « xuexi qiangguo » which can be understood as “studying to strengthen the nation” (学习强国) but also as “studying Xi's thought to strengthen the country” appeared in 2018. Professors and researchers are supposed to spend at least two hours per day on it in order to read articles about Xi's thought and to watch propaganda videos. Xi has assigned a new mission to researchers: contributing to the development of the regime's ideology and of a model of social, economic, political and environmental modernity that can be exported abroad. According to Xi Jinping, this represents the ultimate revenge that China must take on after the Opium Wars. Researchers are thus expected to finalize the Chinese Dream, which is ultimately a dream of world domination.

 

Chloé Froissart. Photo used with permission

 

GV: Is there then any space left today for independent research in social sciences?

CF: L’espace d’autonomie s’est beaucoup rétréci, la contrainte est partout. Les chercheurs chinois ne bénéficient pas de financements autres que ceux du Parti Communiste Chinois. Même étudier à l’étranger ne peut désormais se faire qu’avec une bourse du gouvernement chinois, tout financement étranger étant considéré comme extrêmement sensible. Bien sûr, certains chercheurs mettent toujours en œuvre des tactiques de contournement. Il est toujours possible de maquiller votre projet de recherche pour le faire entrer dans les priorités du régime ou de demander à votre assistant de recherche de surfer sur l’application « Xuexi » à votre place. Une collègue me disait récemment qu’elle travaille en faisant défiler les articles machinalement sur son portable sans y jeter un œil. Mais la marge de manœuvre est de plus en plus restreinte et même maquillé, un colloque sur la conscience de classe chez les ouvriers, les mouvements de protestation ou l’Etat de droit ne passera pas.

CF: The space has shrunk considerably, there are constraints everywhere. Chinese researchers can only rely on funding from the CCP. Even studying abroad is now possible only thanks to a grant from the Chinese government, as any foreign funding is considered extremely sensitive. Of course, some researchers develop avoidance strategies. One can always mask a research project as seemingly fitting the official political line, or ask her or his assistant to surf on the Xuexi APP. One colleague was telling me recently that she scrolls down articles on the APP without even looking at it while working. Yet the margin is very thin, and even when masked, a seminar on workers’ class conscience, protest movements or the rule of law will not be permitted.

Jasic worker solidarity group formed by university students in support of Jasic labour right campaign. Image from the group's Twitter page.

GV: What is happening with the labor movement in China today?

CF: Le mouvement ouvrier est désormais complètement étouffé en Chine. Il s’était beaucoup radicalisé à l’arrivée de Xi au pouvoir. Les ouvriers chinois sont passés à une vitesse impressionnante de mobilisations pour faire respecter le droit du travail, à des revendications plus politiques pour faire respecter la loi grâce à la reconnaissance de droits collectifs (droit de grève, d’élire les syndicats et en particulier des représentants ouvriers pour négocier avec l’employeur). ONG et avocats ont été sévèrement réprimés en décembre 2015, et plus aucune ONG de défense des droits des ouvriers ne subsiste. Dans le même temps, la réforme des syndicats officiels a été complètement gelée. Avec le ralentissement de la croissance économique, le chômage qu’elle va nécessairement engendrer, la situation risque d’être dramatique s’il n’y a plus de possibilité de dialogue social. L’éventualité d’une explosion du mécontentement et de révoltes sauvages n’est pas à écarter.

GV: The labor movement is now completely censored in China. It had become quite radicalized when Xi Jinping took power. Chinese workers quickly went from mobilizing efforts aimed at applying the labor code, to more political requirements aimed at the implementation of the law thanks to the recognition of collective rights, such as the right to go on strike, to elect their own trade-unions and representatives in charge of negotiations with employers. There was a major crackdown on NGOs and lawyers in December 2015, and not a single NGO advocating workers’ rights remains. At the same time, the reform of the official trade-unions remains frozen. As China's GDP slows down, and unemployment grows, the situation will get worse with the absence of any mechanism for social dialogue. One cannot rule out an explosion of frustration and violent riots. 

GV: No one can predict the future of China, but if there were significant socio-political changes to happen, where do you see them potentially coming from?

CF: Ils viendront nécessairement d’une alliance entre des hauts cadres dirigeants et des secteurs clés de la population : les étudiants et intellectuels, les ouvriers, les minorités sexuelles et les ONG qui défendent leurs droits, les personnes qui ne peuvent plus pratiquer leur religion etc., bref tous ceux qui souffrent du régime actuellement et ils sont nombreux. C’est d’ailleurs la leçon qu’a tirée le Parti du mouvement démocratique de 1989, à la suite duquel la préservation du consensus au sein du PCC est devenue un principe intangible pour éviter toute union verticale entre la population et une partie des dirigeants. Ce consensus a été largement remis en cause par Xi, qui a dû par conséquent accroître la répression tant au sein de la société que dans les rangs du Parti, notamment à travers sa campagne de lutte contre la corruption qui est en partie une purge politique déguisée. Mais le jeu est très risqué car si peu de gens le montrent, la frustration et le mécontentement sont bien réels. Xi a en réalité créé une situation de crise permanente très dangereuse : que l’équilibre précaire soit rompu et il n’y aura d’autre alternative qu’un changement violent.

CF: They will come as a result of an alliance between high-ranking state officials and key sectors of society: students, intellectuals, workers, sexual minorities and affiliated NGOs, people who can no longer practice their faith, in other words all who suffer from the current regime, which represents a lot of people. The Party learnt that lesson well during the pro-democracy movement in 1989. After that date, preserving a consensus within the CCP became an intangible principle in order to prevent a vertical alliance between the people and some of the political leaders, yet Xi Jinping has shattered this consensus, which has led to increased repression within society but also within the Party. Xi's fight against corruption is mostly a political purge in disguise. This game is extremely risky because even if people do not show it, they are very frustrated. In fact Xi has created a situation of permanent crisis, that is very dangerous: if the fragile balance is broken, the only alternative will be a violent change.

by Filip Noubel at June 07, 2019 07:16 AM

Reactions to the presidential pardon of Sri Lankan rightwing religious leader

Presidential pardon of right-wing Sri Lankan monk draws controversy

Venerable Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero. Screenshot from YouTube via Hiru TV Salakuna

This post originally appeared on Groundviews, an award-winning citizen journalism website in Sri Lanka. An edited version is published below as part of a content sharing agreement with Global Voices.

The photos, depicting a saffron-robed Gnanasara Thero, received thousands of reactions on Facebook. “He has been freed” they read. Others were messages with Buddhist religious greetings like “Budu saranai” (May you be protected by the noble power of Lord Buddha) and “Theruwan saranai” (May you be protected by triple gem)  which were posted on the Facebook Pages of mainstream media outlets like Neth FM and Hiru News.

On May 23, the General Secretary of the right-wing nationalist organisation Bodu Bala Sena Galagod Aththe Gnanasara Thero received a Presidential pardon and was released from Welikada prison after serving 9 months of a 6-year sentence.  In August 2018, the monk was charged with contempt of court for shouting at a judge presiding over the case of missing journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda and then threatening the journalist's wife.

Gnanasara is well known for his provocative rhetoric which can be seen in a video from a BBS rally in Aluthgama in 2014. Some feel that there are correlations between the speech he gave and the violence that ensued shortly after in which at least four people were killed in riots targeting the Muslim community.

Groundviews spoke to lawyers and members of civil society on the implications of the Presidential pardon.

Image via Groundviews

Human rights activist and wife of missing journalist Sandhya Eknaligoda commented on Gnanasara release:

Gnanasara was imprisoned for contempt of court, for threatening me at the Homagama town Magistrate. It is the Executive’s responsibility to protect the independence of the judiciary. This is a disrespect to the judiciary and to the rule of law. The President is setting an example that any individual can do anything they want in court, and get away with it through a pardon. This sets a bad example for future cases.

Speaking on the legal implications of the pardon, lecturer in Public Law at the University of Edinburgh Dr. Asanga Welikala noted that Gnanasara Thero was convicted and given a custodial sentence for contempt of court after displaying behaviour “so egregious within the court premises, and well beyond the respectful behaviour expected of ordinary citizens before the courts, that it would have been a threat to the Rule of Law itself to let him go unpunished.” In this context, he said, the presidential pardon raised a number of very serious questions.

Dr. Welikala also noted that the appeal against the conviction is still in the courts and have yet to be decided on:

In this context, would a pardon serve to interfere in the due process of law? It is not only the President but also the relevant Minister who has endorsed the requests by third parties to pardon the Thero. The government as a whole, therefore, will need to justify, with stated reasons, why the grant of a pardon, in this case, will not be inconsistent with the Constitution, the Rule of Law, and the administration of justice. Anything less will directly undermine the legitimacy of Sri Lanka’s constitutional democracy.

Attorney J C Weliamuna added that under the Witness Protection Act, a pardon usually isn’t given without consultation with the witness or affected party. Speaking with Groundviews shortly after the monk’s release, Weliamuna said:

I am not sure if the Magistrate was given notice. I know Mrs. Eknaligoda has written to the President objecting to Gnanasara’s release 2 months ago. We still don’t know if the views of the Attorney General’s Department, the Ministry of Justice and the judges who convicted him were obtained. Strictly speaking, there is no constitutional requirement to do so, but this is the pardoning of a suspect who has a history of conviction.

Weliamuna also noted the wider implications of the Presidential pardon, given the Thero’s influential position.Image Via Groundviews

Human rights law researcher at the University of Oxford Gehan Gunatilleke said that the pardon was reflective of a new and disturbing nexus between mainstream politics and “militant nationalism”.

Image via Groundviews

Human rights activist and founder member of the Mannar Women’s Development Federation (MWDF) Shreen Saroor termed the pardon an insult to Sandhya’s long fight for justice.Image via Groundviews

Legal and Advocacy Coordinator of the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL) Yamini Ravindran added that given Gnanasara’s past record of hateful speech, the Presidential pardon amounted to disrespect to all those who had suffered religious freedom violations in Sri Lanka.

Image Via Groundviews

Doctoral student at the University of Oxford Shamara Wettimuny had similar sentiments, noting that it appeared that the Government was not serious about addressing ethnoreligious violence.

Image via Groundviews

Despite criticism from the legal fraternity and civil society, there was undeniable support for Gnanasara Thero’s release, as evidenced by the positive reactions on Facebook. Although the President met with Gnanasara and his mother on the day of his release, the UNP has maintained a stoic silence on the issue, which has been met with criticism from TNA MP M A Sumanthiran. This points to continued fractures within the coalition government – fractures which have had devastating and fatal consequences.

The official Presidential pardon document has not yet been made public.

by GroundViews at June 07, 2019 07:03 AM

June 06, 2019

Creative Commons
New Canadian Report Offers Balanced Recommendations for Progressive Copyright Reform
The Maple Leaf ForeverThe Maple Leaf Forever by Dennis Jarvis, CC BY-SA 2.0

Earlier this week the Canadian Parliament’s Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology (INDU) released a report with 36 recommendations on the statutory review of Canadian copyright law. The report caps a year-long study, including a public consultation and committee hearings that included a variety of stakeholders.

The document makes progressive recommendations that support a more balanced copyright regime. Michael Geist provides an overview, including the following key findings that, if pursued, could fortify and expand user rights under the Canadian copyright system:

  • expansion of fair dealing by making the current list of fair dealing purposes illustrative rather than exhaustive (by using more open ended legislative language like “such as”),
  • rejection of new limits on educational fair dealing with further study in three years,
  • retention of existing Internet safe harbour rules,
  • rejection of the FairPlay site blocking proposal with insistence that any blocking include court oversight,
  • expansion of the anti-circumvention rules by permitting circumvention of digital locks for purposes that are lawful (ie. permit circumvention to exercise fair dealing rights),
  • extend the term of copyright only if ratifying the USCMA and include a registration requirement for the additional 20 years,
  • implement a new informational analysis (also known as text and data mining) exception,
  • further study of statutory damages for all copyright collectives along with greater transparency,
  • adoption of an open licence rather than the abolition of crown copyright (i.e., putting the works directly into the public domain).

The INDU report is a breath of fresh air for copyright policy making, especially considering the recent adoption of the backward-looking reform in the EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, which included the provision that will require nearly all for-profit web platforms to get a license for every user upload or otherwise install content filters and censor content, lest they be held liable for infringement.

Creative Commons and Creative Commons Canada provided input into the consultation on the copyright reform in Canada. In May 2018 we submitted comments to INDU. First, we said the Canadian copyright term should stay where it is; there is no reason to consider any further extension of copyright. Second, we urged the government to protect and strengthen limitations and exceptions to copyright, as these important measures ensure balance in our legal framework. Third, we advocated for Canada to maintain and maintain and improve its existing safe harbour protections with regard to intermediary liability and copyright, noting that a healthy commons requires a healthy ecosystem of platforms and infrastructure for sharing. Finally, we urged the government to continue to support policy efforts to ensure open access to publicly funded resources, including clarifying that we have a right to use and re-use works produced by our government.

Additionally, in October 2018 Creative Commons Canada appeared before the Committee to provide testimony and answer questions on recommended changes to copyright that would promote creativity and expand the commons. In addition to the issues mentioned above, CC Canada touched on other areas for copyright intervention, including permitting creators to reclaim control of copyright in their works 25 years after assignment, protecting fair dealing, especially for education, expanding user rights to kickstart cutting-edge research related to machine learning and artificial intelligence by ensuring that “the right to read is the right to mine, and reforming the Crown Copyright regime to ensure that all Canadians have the right to access and re-use government produced works.

We’re happy to see many of these points included in the recommendations released this week, including the resistance to extend copyright term, the protection and possible expansion of limitations and exceptions like fair dealing, the ability for authors to reclaim their rights, and the recommendation to include a copyright exemption for text and data mining.

On a related note, the Committee was right to put an end to the idea floated last year by Bell and a group of Canadian telecommunications companies to create an “Internet Piracy Review Agency.” Even though the Canadian telecommunications regulator denied this application in October last year, the INDU Committee reinforced the ruling by stating that “it is for the courts to adjudicate whether a given use constitutes copyright infringement and to issue orders in consequence.”

The Canadian report offers a glimmer of hope that copyright policy can be furthered in such a way to promote creativity and innovation, while at the same time protecting crucial user rights. This is contrasted with the final outcome of the European copyright directive, which reflects a disturbing path toward increasing control of the web to benefit only powerful rights holders at the expense of the rights of users and the public interest.

The post New Canadian Report Offers Balanced Recommendations for Progressive Copyright Reform appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Timothy Vollmer at June 06, 2019 04:04 PM

Rising Voices
Meet Susan Gehr, the host of the @NativeLangsTech Twitter account for June 6-12

Photo provided by Susan Gehr

In 2019 as part of a social media campaign to celebrate linguistic diversity online, Native American and First Nations language activists and advocates will be taking turns managing the @NativeLangsTech Twitter account to share their experiences with the revitalization and promotion of Native American and First Nations languages. This profile post is about Susan Gehr (@vurayav) and what she plans to discuss during her week as host.

Rising Voices: Please tell us about yourself.

I’m Karuk from the villages of Athithuufvunupma and Ináam, near the town of Happy Camp, California. I started learning my language in 1992. My teachers encouraged me to start teaching, and I was the first teacher of Karuk in the Native Languages Program at Hoopa Valley High School. I earned my master’s degree in linguistics at the University of Oregon because I wanted to learn how to read the linguistic works written on Karuk. I have a second masters degree in library and information science because I wanted to get answers to my questions about long term access to the language documentation work on Karuk.

RV: What is the current status of your language on the internet and offline?

We have maybe six first-language speakers of Karuk and several dozen second-language learners. We have a very robust online dictionary with audio, thanks to Andrew Garrett, Line Mikkelsen, and everyone else at the Survey of California and Other Indian Languages, of the University of California at Berkeley. We have a couple of fairly active Facebook groups of speakers. Several of us second-language learners have made short movies in Karuk, or online language lessons. Dozens of Karuk speakers and learners have been through the Master-Apprentice Program thanks to the efforts of the Advocates for Indigenous California Language Learning Survival.

RV: On what topics do you plan to focus during the week that you’ll manage the @NativeLangsTech Twitter account?

During the week that I manage the @NativeLangsTech account I’ll focus on how Karuk language teachers and learners have used technology in support of language documentation and revitalization over the years. My interests also range to archives, memes, linguistics, and CoLang, the Institute for Collaborative Language Research.

RV: What are the main motivations for your digital activism for your language? What are your hopes and dreams for your language?

My main motivation for my digital activism is having the opportunity to practice language learning and use no matter where I am. My dream for Karuk is that the current small but mighty generation of Karuk language learners and speakers have a new generation of motivated learners and speaks to pass the language forward to.

by Rising Voices at June 06, 2019 03:03 AM

June 05, 2019

Joi Ito
Blog DOI enabled

As part of my work in developing the Knowledge Futures Group collaboration with the MIT Press, I'm doing a deep dive into trying to understand the world of academic publishing. One of the interesting things that I discovered as I navigated the different protocols and platforms was the Digital Object Identifier (DOI). There is a foundation that manages DOIs and coordinates a federation of registration agencies. DOIs are used for many things, but the general idea is to create a persistent identifier for some digital object like a dataset or a publication and manage it at a meta-level to the URL, which might change over the lifetime of the drafting and the publication of an academic journal article or the movement of a movie through a supply chain.

One registration agency, Crossref, focuses on DOIs for academic publications and citations across these publications and their service has proliferated the use of DOIs as a convenient and effective way of rigorously managing and tracking citations. Many services, like ORCID which manages affiliations and publications for academics, use DOIs as one way to import and manage publications.

Although DOIs can be used for many things, because they are somewhat non-trivial to get and set up and because of the success of Crossref which services academic publishers, they have become somewhat synonymous with authority, trustworthiness and formal publishing. Although Geoffrey Bilder from Crossref warns us that this is not true and that DOIs shouldn't signal that, I think that in fact they do, for now.

Something I noted as I started playing with all of the various tools available to academics to manage their profiles and their citations, and having only one peer reviewed paper to my name so far (thanks Karthik, Chelsea and Madars for that!), was that my blog posts weren't getting indexed. Also, as I was doing research while working on my dissertation, I noticed that blogs generally weren't very heavily cited. Using my privilege and in the name of research, I started bugging Amy Brand, director of the MIT Press, who worked on the adoption of DOIs when she was at Crossref. I asked whether I could get DOIs for my blog posts.

It wasn't as easy as it sounds. First of all, you need a DOI prefix--sort of like a domain--registered through one of the registration providers. Amy helped me get one, under the MIT Press, via Crossref. Boris defined the DOI suffix format, set up a submission generator and integrated everything into my blog. Alexa from MIT Press worked on getting the DOIs from my blog to Crossref. The next problem is that "blogs" are not a category of "thing" in the DOI world so the closest category according to the experts was "dataset." So, this thing, formerly known as a blog post, that I'm writing is now a dataset contribution to the scholarly world. I do believe that it meets the standard of something that someone might possibly want to cite, so I don't feel guilty having a DOI assigned to it. I hope that Crossref would consider adding a blog post "creationType" or extend the schema more broadly for other citable web resources.

Also, I wish APA would update their blog citation format so that the name of the blog is part of the citation and not just the URL. In a rare act of disobedience, I've gone rogue and added the name of this blog in the APA citation template on this blog against their official guidelines. Strictly speaking, the APA citation for this post would be "Ito, J. (2018, August 22). Blog DOI enabled. [Blog post]. https://doi.org/10.31859/20180822.2140" but the citation tool here gives you: "Ito, J. (2018, August 22). Blog DOI enabled. Joi Ito's Web [Blog post]. https://doi.org/10.31859/20180822.2140". Sorry not sorry if you get dinged on your paper for using the modified format.

When I tweeted about the issue of blog posts not being cited, one of the concerns from the Twittersphere was lack of peer review for blogs. I think this is a valid request and concern, but not all things that are worthy of being cited need to be peer reviewed. On the other hand, clearly citing others, noting any contributors and their contribution to a blog post, and having some sort of peer review when it makes sense, is probably a good idea.

I'm not stuck on the use of the world "blog" although that's what I think this is. I just think that having an ability to rapidly publish, as blogs enable us to do, and have it connect to the world of academic literature is something worth considering.

Recently, academic preprint servers have become very popular and a growing number of academics are skipping journal publishing altogether, putting their papers on archive servers and presenting them at conferences instead of submitting them to journals.

My sense is that blogs can play a role in this ecosystem if we can tweak the academic publishing side, the culture on both sides and some of the practices on the blogging side. Geoffrey suggests that DOIs should be assigned to anything that is citationworthy and I agree, but I think that blogs are and could be even more like informal publications than just a merely citationworthy blobs of data.

Boris Anthony who has been my partner in thinking about this stuff and has been designing and maintaining my blog for the last 15 years or so has been thinking deeply about the semantic web and the creation of knowledge and was critical in getting it sorted out on this blog. He was also the one who convinced me not to convert all of my blog posts into DOI'ed objects, but to pick the ones that might have some scholarly value. :-)

PS There appears to be a DOI plugin for Wordpress using a prefix registered by the developer.

by Joichi Ito at June 05, 2019 07:15 PM

Global Voices
Record crowd commemorates Tiananmen Massacre at Hong Kong candlelight vigil

2019 June 4 candlelight vigil at Victoria Park. via inmediahk CC: AT-NC.

Thousands of Hong Kongers attended a candlelight vigil to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre at Victoria Park on Tuesday night. This collective act of remembrance has turned into a ritual for the past 30 years, as many Hong Kongers keep honoring the spirit of China's democratization, as well as the high price some paid for it on June 4, 1989.

The Chinese government continues to claim that the democracy movement led by students in Beijing in 1989 was a riot manipulated by foreign forces. The 50 day-long peaceful protest ended with a military crackdown on June 4, 1989. According to a Chinese Red Cross estimate, 2,700 civilians were killed, but other sources point to a much higher toll. A confidential U.S government document unveiled in 2014 reported that a Chinese internal assessment estimated at least 10,454 civilians had been killed.

Within China, the June 4 incident, as it is described, has been a political taboo for 30 years. The majority of the young generation has never heard about the military crackdown, as it has not been reported on in newspapers. Similarly, online discussions about the events have been and remain censored. This year, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) affiliated news outlet Global Times described such censorship practice as a “political success”, as it has turned the June 4 incident into “a faded historical event rather than an actual entanglement”.

Photo from the candlelight vigil taken by Georgia Popplewell. Used with permission.

Hong Kong has been the most significant site within China in preserving the memories of June 4. The organizer of the annual candlelight vigil, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movement in China, has also established a June 4 Museum in the city in 2014.

Every year, the organizer also provides an update on the actual documentation of the victims of the Tiananmen Massacre, given that the Chinese government blocks any inquiries. The update is done by the Tiananmen Mothers — a civilian group composed of families of the victims. Despite ongoing harassment, surveillance and threats, the group has so far collectively identified and documented 202 individuals killed in the June 4 crackdown.

Members of Tiananmen Mothers vowed that they would continue seeking the truth in their video message to Hong Kong people during the candlelight vigil. image via inmediahk.net CC: AT-NC.

Former reporters and students who were in Tiananmen Square during the crackdown also shared their testimonies. During the candle night vigil, former student activist Liane Lee gave her first public testimony on stage (Chinese transcript via the Initium):

在救護站,死傷枕藉,有個大學生後頸被槍傷,傷得一片血肉模糊,全身癱瘓,但仍不停的說:「堅持到底,不要放棄。」

救傷車不停響號,穿梭往來救護站與醫院。有一架救傷車來到,在人群中,有人突然大聲說:「香港的學生上救護車。」我們愕然,我們說,我們沒事,不需要去醫院,不需要上救護車,我們會留在廣場。

第二架救護車來了,更多的人群,更大的聲音說:「香港的學生上救護車。」我們堅定不肯上車。於是,一個女醫生上前握著我的手說:「孩子,你聽我說,你要上救護車,你要離開天安門廣場,安全的回到香港,告訴全世界的人,今晚所發生的一切。告訴他們,我們的政府是如何對待人民!」

於是,我就是這樣,佔了救護車的位置,離開天安門廣場!

三十年來,我要求自己記住每一個細節,記住他們每一個人的臉容,他們的聲音,他們的汗水,他們的淚水,甚至記住他們生命最後的體溫!

但我不知道他們的名字!三十年來,他們的唯一名字,就是中國共產黨以人民的名義,以中國的名義稱他們為暴徒。

In the medical station [at Tiananmen Square], there were many dead bodies and injured people. I saw a student who was shot in his back near his neck. His body was covered with blood but he kept saying: “Carry on. Never give up.”
The ambulance kept running between the station and the hospitals. One ambulance came, someone in the crowd cried out: “Hong Kong students, get into the ambulance!” We said we are fine, we don’t need to go to the hospital, we don’t need the ambulance, we will stay on the square.”
Another ambulance came, more people yelled at us: “Hong Kong students, get into the ambulance!”. We insisted not to get on it. A female doctor came forward and grabbed my hands: “Kid, listen to me, you have to get onto the ambulance, you have to leave Tiananmen Square. Be safe back to Hong Kong, tell the world what happened here tonight. Tell them how our government treated their own people!”
That’s how I occupied a space in the ambulance and left Tiananmen Square!
For thirty years, I remind myself to remember every detail, every face, their voices, their sweat, their tears, and even their body temperature as they were passing out.
But I don’t know their names. In the past 30 years, the Chinese Communist Party, which says it acts in the name of the people and in the name of China, has called them only one name: thugs.

Lee Lan Ko via inmediahk.net (CC: AT – NC)

In mainland China, the official political narrative describes the June 4 military crackdown as a necessary step to preserve the One-Party system, as reflected in the Global Times’ latest commentary:

The Chinese government's control of the incident in 1989 has been a watershed marking the differences between China and former Eastern European socialist countries, including the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. Since the incident, China has successfully become the world's second largest economy, with rapid improvement of people's living standards. The policy of avoiding arguing has served as a contributor to the country's economic take-off.

In such political context, the people’s memory of June 4 has become a “crime”, as depicted by lyrics of the song, Memory is a crime composed by local pop singer Anthony Wong to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre.

回憶即使有罪
真相怎麼敢無言
歷史假使有人定被發現

Even though it is a crime to remember
The truth will find its courage to be told
The history that has happened will be revealed

Anthony Wong performed on stage during the candle vigil and urged the people of Hong Kong to speak up against the amendment of the city's extradition law and to join an upcoming protest on June 9.

The spirit and the courage to remember are well preserved by the sea of candlelight. According to the organizer of the vigil, 180,000 people came to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre, breaking the record set in 2014.

by Oiwan Lam at June 05, 2019 11:27 AM

June 04, 2019

Rising Voices
Meet Doaa from Nubian Voices, the host of the @DigiAfricanLang Twitter account for June 5-11

Photo provide by the Nubian Voices project.

In 2019 as part of a social media campaign to celebrate linguistic diversity online, African language activists and advocates will be taking turns managing the @DigiAfricanLang Twitter account to share their experiences with the revitalization and promotion of African languages. This profile post is about Doaa of the project Nubian Voices. (@TheNubianVoices) and what she plans to discuss during her week as host.

Rising Voices: Please tell us about yourself.

I am a Nubian Egyptian journalist living in Cairo. I launched an initiative in July 2018 called “The Nubian Voices”. The initiative aims to give Nubians an opportunity to speak up, because Nubians are underreported in mainstream media. We focus on the Nubian Language and efforts to keep it. We feature all Nubian projects, startups and organizations that keep conversations about Nubia going.

RV: What is the current status of your language on the internet and offline?

The Nubian Language has long been neglected in Egypt. There are no official efforts to document the language or its letters so it is subject to disappear. The only way for young Nubians to learn the Nubian language is verbally through the old generation because they would find no book to go back to. However, there has been some good efforts in that recently through blogs and mobile-based applications to document and save the language.

RV: On what topics do you plan to focus during the week that you’ll manage the @DigiAfricanLang Twitter account?

I am planning to focus on the efforts to preserve the Nubian Language and protect it from disappearing. The Language used to be written and read, but majority of Nubians don't know how to do that because there is no practice. We don't want that to happen with the spoken language.

RV: What are the main motivations for your digital activism for your language? What are your hopes and dreams for your language?

My main motivation is to create an online platform where all Nubian projects and we initiatives will be gathered in one place. The platform will have a separate interactive section for the Nubian Language. This section can be the start of a physical book teaching the Nubian Language.

by Rising Voices at June 04, 2019 06:21 PM

Global Voices
Jamaica's Reggae Girlz football team ‘strike hard’ to make history

Their debut World Cup match is against Brazil on June 9

A screenshot from a YouTube video of Jamaica's Reggae Girlz in a pre-World Cup international friendly match against Panama on May 19, 2019. Jamaica won the match 3-1. Video published by JFFLIVE.

The Reggae Girlz, Jamaica's women's football team, are in France to play in the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup. Ranked 53rd globally, the female counterpart to the country's Reggae Boyz will make their debut appearance at against Brazil, currently in 10th place, on June 9. It will be no walkover match, but the Reggae Girlz have arrived — announcing their presence on the world stage — and that in itself is a remarkable achievement.

The team's story began in 1991, when they played their first international match against Haiti, losing 1-0. Despite this tentative start — and some challenging hurdles over ensuing decades — the Reggae Girlz have emerged to become the first Caribbean women’s team in history to qualify for the World Cup.

They have paid their dues. As a local women’s league that struggled for many years with minimal sponsorship, the national team was abandoned altogether in 2008 when the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) cited a lack of funds.

Then, in 2015, along came an unlikely rescuer: Cedella Marley, whose father, Bob, was a well-known lover of the game, recognised the Reggae Girlz’ plight and persuaded Florida-based coach Hue Menzies to volunteer his services.

After a disappointing World Cup campaign in 2015, leading to Jamaica's second disbandment of its women’s league the following year, Menzies took charge again in 2018, with Marley’s full support. The Girlz vanquished Panama in a dramatic penalty shootout to qualify for the 2019 tournament.

Part of Menzies’ motivation was to help change local attitudes toward women in football:

I took the project, it wasn't really a soccer deal but to try to see if we can change the mindset of how our people perceive females playing football. In my culture, females mainly do track and field and netball and they thought soccer [in general] is a poor man's sport and they didn't see that females could play football. That was the main reason that I took the job. Sometimes when you do something for a different purpose, good things happen.

Marley, who is CEO of Tuff Gong International and the Bob Marley Foundation, tweeted her support after attending the Girlz’ last match in Jamaica before they left for France:

A football Facebook page noted:

The Reggae Girlz would not have become the first Caribbean nation to qualify for a Women's World Cup without the help of Cedella Marley.

The team has now been added to the official FIFA 2019 video game and boasts its own symbolic mascot:

The Jamaican government has begun boosting the Reggae Girlz's prospects now that the team is successful and more high profile. Prime Minister Andrew Holness tweeted:

Under Menzies’ guidance, the Girlz have been playing and improving their skills mostly in European clubs, although several team members study and play at colleges in the United States. One member of the squad, the highly-rated Jody Brown, from rural Lime Hall, Jamaica, is still in high school.

Statuesque striker Khadijah “Bunny” Shaw, The UK Guardian's Footballer of the Year 2018, is also rapidly gaining star status in Jamaica. Born in the tough city of Spanish Town, she grew up in a large family, learning to play football with the boys, barefoot on the street. She has lost three brothers to gun violence, but stuck to her studies and recently graduated from the University of Tennessee.

Despite such inspiring stories, the question remains: What happens after the World Cup?

Is women’s football in Jamaica (and the wider Caribbean) sustainable? Will local sponsors finally step up to the plate, whatever the results in France? Will the Jamaican public remain fired up about the Girlz, or will the euphoria wear off?

With sustainability for women's football always top of mind, Cedella Marley has launched an online fundraising effort.

Whatever the future holds, Jamaicans are going to enjoy the next few weeks of the competition. Some of the Reggae Girlz’ new-found fans are packing their bags to go and wave the Jamaican flag in France, while others will be cheering them on at watch parties in living rooms, sports bars and clubs across the island and throughout the diaspora.

There's even a song to support the team, with the refrain “Strike hard!”

That's exactly what the team's supporters are hoping the Reggae Girlz will do in France. Jamaica's football focus has always been on its men's team, despite the fact that it has lacked cohesion since qualifying for the 1998 World Cup.

Now, it's time to pay attention to the calibre of the women's game. Thanks to the Reggae Girlz, Jamaica has been listed in the FIFA franchise for the first time since 2006 and the hope is that they will fly the flag just as high as their male counterparts.

by Emma Lewis at June 04, 2019 03:47 PM

Rising Voices
Community networks and local access monthly newsletter – number 18

DWeb Camp, a four-day retreat where diverse people can freely exchange ideas about the technologies, laws, markets and agreements we need to move forward. Photo by Dwebcamp.org and used with permission by APC.

This newsletter is part of the project titled, “Local Access Networks: Can the unconnected connect themselves?” developed by APC in partnership with Internet Society and Rhizomática, with support from Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC). It is republished here on Rising Voices as part of a partnership with APC. Click here to see the original post on APC's website.

1. Events and conferences

  • The Africa Internet Summit is taking place from 9 to 21 June in Kampala, Uganda. Read more here and here.
  • Access Now’s RightsCon programme has been released, announcing the event taking place from 11 to 14 June in Tunis, and includes many sessions on community networks, detailed below. Read more.    – Community networks: Concept, regulations and action. Read more.
    – Widening the spectrum: How can radio spectrum regulation advance community networks. Read more.
    – Making regulatory waves: A discussion on the need for collaborative spectrum management policy development. Read more.
    – Data security: It ain’t your fault, but it is your fight, by Detroit Community Technology Project/Our Data Bodies Project.
    – Community networks: How we build a truly free and open internet, by People’s Open Network.
    – Public access, local connectivity, libraries: How they can work together and democratise access to the internet.
  • Applications for the IPFS Camp are are now open for the first time ever! Builders of the Distributed Web will gather in Barcelona from 27 to 30 June for three action-packed days of workshops (featuring brand new @ProtoSchool content!), hacking and deep dives. Read more here and here and follow #IPFS #libp2p #Dweb.
  • Open until 30 June 2019: Call for applications for travel support to attend the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2019 #IGF2019 (Berlin, 25-29 November). The IGF is an annual global multistakeholder platform of the United Nations that facilitates the discussion of public policy issues pertaining to the internet. Read more.
  • The conference on wireless networks and open source software, Battlemesh v12, has been announced and will be held at “Le 6B”, 6-10 Quai de Seine, 93200 Saint-Denis, France (very close to Paris) from 8 to 14 July. It will bring together people from across the globe who are interested in community networks, including wireless mesh network technologies, fibre infrastructure, do-it-yourself internet access providers, and more generally how to create and maintain a thriving community of people involved in building their own networks. You can ask for travel assistance in the registration form. Read more.
  • DWeb Camp, taking place this 18-21 July, is a retreat for those who want to create a decentralised web where our values are baked into the code, and a place where diverse people can freely exchange ideas about the technologies, laws, markets and agreements we need to move forward. Read more.
  • [En español] Mujeres interesadas en participar de la Conferencia Latinity 2019 pueden optar por una beca que cubre los viáticos para la participación del evento. Leer más.
  • The next Offline Camp will take place 2-5 August. If you are excited about the #OfflineFirst approach to development/design, we want to see you there! Read more.
  • [En español] El evento de Foro de Gobernanza de Internet para Latinoamérica y el Caribe este año será en La Paz, Bolivia, del 5 al 9 de agosto. Leer más.
  • Our Networks is a conference taking place in Toronto from 20 to 22 September, focused on all aspects of the decentralized web – from mesh networking to p2p applications to commons governance. The theme for this year is RE: Infrastructures, channelling all your imaginings about what kind of infrastructures (of regeneration, of repair, of resistance, and of refusal) can best serve our communities as we move forward in solidarity and hopefulness. Topics could include, but are in no way limited to: practices of reparative networking, remediation practices for communication infrastructures, uncooptable computing reconfigurations, reconstructing technology after refusal, and regenerative approaches that resist status quo tech. Read more.

2. Resources from past events

  • The APC community actively participated in the 2019 Stockholm Internet Forum, where it organised and co-organised a number of events. Read more. The videos of the two days of the event are available here and here.
  • Carlos Rey-Moreno, Josephine Miliza and Michuki Mwangi gave a webinar on community networks for the ISOC Nigeria Chapter. Read more here and watch here.

3. Gendering community networks

  • Find incredible, local groups for women in tech around the world. Read more.
  • [Em portugues] Artigo19 realizou uma oficina de redes comunitárias na comunidade de Conceição de Salinas, um projeto liderado por mulheres. Leia mais.

4. Community networks in news and blogs

  • [En español] En México, el ente recaudador congeló las cuentas bancarias de la red comunitaria TIC A.C. en el medio de un incendio, dejando a todas las comunidades incomunicadas, por litigios ya resueltos sobre reclamos injustos de pagos impositivos. Leer más.
  • US regulation may allow the use of rural Wi-Fi boosters to extend connectivity, and this could be one change that enables community network growth. This article shares some examples of Wi-Fi and fibre initiatives. Read more.
  • The ISOC Nigeria Chapter is supporting the Zaria Community Network and Culture Hub. They published a report of the plan for the year and now they are sharing their progress. Read more. The Internet Society Foundation featured them in their blog here.
  • Rajnesh Singh, Regional Bureau Director for Asia-Pacific of the Internet Society, shares an overview of the Community Networks Exchange held last year. Read more.
  • [En español] El Ministerio de Tecnologías de la Información y las Comunicaciones de Colombia (MinTIC) y Colnodo iniciaron el proyecto que promoverá las telecomunicaciones sociales rurales comunitarias en las poblaciones del Ceral y El Porvenir, ubicadas en el municipio de Buenos Aires (Cauca). Leer más.
  • Interference Archive explores the relationship between cultural production and social movements. They recently interviewed NYCMesh, FunkFeuer, and Rhizomatica to explore the concept of community networks and how they work in different parts of the world. Read more.
  • Nic Bidwell presented “Decolonising in the gaps: Community networks and the identity of African innovation” at the University of Oxford’s Centre for Socio-Legal Studies. Watch here.
  • Rising Voices republished the chapter on Italian community network Ninux featured in the 2018 GISWatch report. Read more.
  • The Internet Society’s Rural Connectivity Special Interest Group was created and streamed its first meeting. Watch here.
  • [En español] Charla impartida por Peter Bloom sobre su experiencia investigando las implicaciones sociales de la tecnología 5G en América Latina. Leer más.
  • In this podcast, Rob McMahon, co-founder of the First Mile Connectivity Consortium, tells us how some indigenous communities are finding their own connectivity solutions. Listen here.
  • When communities get together to deal with a shared need such as connectivity, the cohesion created by working together inspires a collective approach to other problems. The Lawrencetown Cooperative is now tackling healthcare. Read more.
  • Tribes across US push for better internet access. Read more.
  • Geomeo Informatics is supporting communities in South India to grow their own community networks. Read more here and here.
  • Bruce Buffalo knew that without internet connectivity, he and his neighbours would be cut off from vital educational, employment and health resources online. So, he decided to take matters into his own hands and created Mamawapowin, a free Wi-Fi network. Katie Watson of the Internet Society spoke with Bruce recently about how the project started, and what’s coming next. Read more.

5. News on policy and regulation

  • Public consultations on ICT national policies are open in Somalia untill 31 May. Read more.
  • APC joined Rhizomatica, CIPESA, AfChix, BOSCO Uganda and the Internet Society to contribute a submission to a public consultation on the proposed review of the licensing framework for the telecommunications sector in Uganda. The submission highlights the importance of spectrum set-asides, secondary use, removing authorisation for Wi-Fi use, reducing fees and increasing transparency. You can find the full submission here.
  • The Competition Commission of South Africa has released its provisional findings about the high cost of data communications in the country. “This suggests that pricing is limiting the ability of lower income subscribers to make greater use of data services, which in turn restricts the benefits of the digital economy to this class of consumer.” Some of the solutions proposed address spectrum, cost reduction, infrastructure sharing and community networks, among others. The Competition Commission is receiving written comments to their preliminary analysis until 14 June 2019. Read more.
  • [En español] El ente regulador de telecom de Argentina asigna la banda de 450Mhz para servicios de banda ancha rurales. Estas frecuencias permiten mayores potencias y tienen mejor cobertura en zonas rurales, por lo que reducen los costes y facilitan el despliegue y mantenimiento de infraestructura tanto a proveedores rurales como a redes comunitarias. Leer más.
  • Ottawa looking at providing cash for rural areas to set up their own internet providers. Read more.
  • @Airtel_Ug is the first mobile network in Africa to publish an open data map of their towers, following the example of their parent company in India. Read more.
  • [En español] En un país donde sus redes comunitarias son reconocidas a nivel global y ejemplo de modelo para otros paises, el gobierno Mexicano toma otro camino y creará una empresa estatal para dotar de internet a todo el país. Leer más.
  • [En español] “Otorgaremos servicios de Telecomunicaciones a zonas rurales. Para ello, se desplegarán redes comunitarias de Internet sin fines de lucro a 127 mil hogares, los mismos que accederán al servicio con tarifas reducidas”, anuncia @caanmichelena, Ministro de @Telecom_Ec Ecuador. Leer más.
  • [En español] Fundación Karisma, a través del periódico El Tiempo, hace eco de la temática de redes comunitarias en Colombia, donde se encuentran en proceso de revisión de la ley TIC que regula las telecomunicaciónes. Leer más.

6. Research

  • The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), in the context of their Connectivity for Refugees project, has opened a call for interest for researchers to provide a comprehensive outlook on connectivity, from different angles and different perspectives, to understand how connectivity intersects with other domains and fields. Read more.
  • Hasan, S., Barela, M. C., Johnson, M., Brewer, E., & Heimerl, K. (2019). Scaling Community Cellular Networks with CommunityCellularManager. In 16th USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation (NSDI 19), p. 735-750. Pre-print copy available here.
  • Maillé, P., Tuffin, B., Peignier, J., & Varloot, E. (2019). Pricing of Coexisting Cellular and Community Networks. In Network Games, Control, and Optimization, p. 1-16. Birkhäuser, Cham. Pre-print copy available here.
  • Maccari, L. (2019). Detecting and Mitigating Points of Failure in Community Networks: A Graph-Based Approach. IEEE Transactions on Computational Social Systems, 6(1), p. 103-116. No link to pre-print version.
  • Mitchell, M., & Siebörger, I. (2019). Building a national network through peered community area networks: Realising ICTs within developing countries. In 2019 Conference on Information Communications Technology and Society (ICTAS), p. 1-5. IEEE. No link to pre-print version.
  • Connecting the Unconnected: Towards Frugal 5G Network Architecture and Standardization. Read more.
  • MachaWorks is referenced in communal thinking when doing research. Read more.
  • [En español] REDES y Rhizomatica iniciaron CITSAC, el Centro de Investigación en Tecnologías y Saberes Comunitarios, un espacio de producción de conocimiento propio, creación de capacidades e incidencia política que promueve y refuerza procesos de comunicación y telecomunicaciones comunitarias e indígenas en el mundo. Entre sus lineas de trabajo incluye conectividad en zonas apartadas y autonomía tecnológica. Leer más.

7. Reports and publications

  • Yes Magazine shares in a very simple comic a research study that shows how small talk and casual connections create happy communities and less-lonely individuals, which is a characteristic of life as part of community network initiatives. Read more with Susan Pinker, The Village Effect, here.
  • [En español] ¿Qué tan saludable es internet? Este informe de Mozilla recién traducido al español comparte una recopilación de investigaciones e historias de 2019 que explican qué es clave para una internet más saludable, a través de cinco temas que van desde experiencias personales a asuntos globales. Leer más.
  • AfterAccess is uniquely positioned to disrupt the current narratives of homogeneity in mobile and internet access and use, to illustrate the multifaceted challenges faced by the developing world, and to identify precise points of policy intervention. Read more.
  • Research ICT Africa’s After Access report for Africa (2018) is available. Within its recommendations, it states that “complementary regulatory and delivery strategies will be required to enable different types of services to be offered by different kinds of operators, and there is a need (…) to standardize the process and frequency of collecting data; to stipulate what data needs to be publicly available and what information from the public and private sectors should remain confidential; and to define the format in which data needs to be presented.” Read more.
  • The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has established an agenda of universal connectivity for refugees, and sets out how that agenda could be achieved, focusing on access, adoption and use of connectivity. Read more.
  • The African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms is a key tool to promote internet rights in the region. This platform was created for rights advocates to engage with the Declaration by sharing resources and to give greater visibility to internet rights in Africa. Visit and read more.
  • SDG Digital Investment Framework: A Whole-of-Government Approach to Investing in Digital Technologies to Achieve the SDGs. Read more.
  • In “Beyond internet access: seeking knowledge justice online,” Kira Allman and Anasuya Sengupta say that a human rights-based approach to the internet must look beyond issues of access towards questions of online knowledge equality and equity. Read more.

8. Articles on technologies related to local access networks

  • A4AI's deputy director challenges 5G’s capacity to close the digital divide, and proposes regulation changes to make sure they don’t leave anyone behind. Read more.
  • [En español] Facebook se alió con Hughes, banda ancha satelital, para crear puntos de conexión inalámbricos en México y Brasil. Esta acción tiene un gran impacto en la privacidad de quienes usan la red. Leer más aquí y aquí.
  • People technology, an article about how it is better to work together. Read more.

9. Technological developments related to community networks

  • The Google Summer of Code supports the development of open source projects by funding students’ work on open source during their summer vacations. This year it is supporting several community network-related technologies. Read more.
  • Local-first software: You own your data, in spite of the cloud. Read more.

10. Funding opportunities

  • The ISIF Asia 2019 Internet for Development Award will be granted to one organisation that supports research and development of software and/or hardware solutions to improve the stability and reliability of how internet infrastructure is powered. The deadline for applications is 30 May. Read more.
  • The Orange Seed Funding for Social Venture prize aims to reward the best innovative and socially responsible business projects in Africa and the Middle East. The deadline for applications is 30 May. Read more.
  • The Mozilla Fellowship programme will be focusing on core internet infrastructure in the global South, seeking developers who can help bring the unconnected  online – roughly four billion users in the global South and remote locations. Applications are being accepted until 30 May. Read more.
  • Until 31 May, @FIREAfrica is accepting award proposals for projects that use ICTs to drive change and development to marginalised groups or disadvantaged communities. Read more.
  • CIPESA has established the Africa Digital Rights Fund (ADRF) to offer flexible and rapid response grants to select initiatives in Africa to implement activities that advance digital rights, including advocacy, litigation, research, policy analysis, digital literacy and digital security skills building. The deadline for applications is 31 May. Read more.
  • Until 1 June, the Shuttleworth Foundation is accepting applications for fellowships that help people implement innovative ideas for social change. They are most interested in exceptional ideas at the intersection between technology, knowledge and learning, with openness being the key requirement. Read more.
  • Until June 2, applications are being accepted for D-Prize, which funds new entrepreneurs who increase access to proven poverty reduction interventions. It includes girls’ education, energy, education, infrastructure, and other themes. Up to USD 20,000 is available for pilots in any region where extreme poverty exists. Read more.
  • The Global Citizen Award supports projects working on global issues defined by the UN. The call for nominations is open until June 5. Read more.
  • The GSMA Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation Fund promotes innovation in the use of mobile technology to address humanitarian challenges. Applications for the next funding round will be accepted until June 7. Read more.
  • The Takeda Foundation targets young entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial individuals who challenge technological or social needs in the real world. The call for applications or nominations for the 2019 Takeda Young Entrepreneurship Award is open until 28 June. Read more.
  • The Social Justice Fund makes grants for grassroots activist projects, giving priority to those with small budgets and little access to more mainstream funding sources. They focus on confronting institutionalised repression against racial, ethnic, gender-based, and LGBTQ communities, support progressive workers movements and the eradication of poverty, among others. The Next Social Justice Fund application deadline is 8 July. Read more.
  • During 2019 Google has opened a call for policy fellowships in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the US and Latin America. Fellows will have the opportunity to work at public interest organisations at the forefront of debates on broadband and access policy, content regulation, copyright and creativity, consumer privacy, open government, government surveillance, data security, data innovation, free expression and more. Read more.
  • The Ford Foundation’s JustFilms supports artist-driven film and new media storytelling projects that explore aspects of inequality, as well as the organisations and networks that support these projects. Read more.
  • Her Abilities is the first global award that honours women with disabilities who have achieved greatness in their life and field of work. Read more.

by Association for Progressive Communications at June 04, 2019 03:45 PM

Global Voices
How Beijing uses intimidation to censor the Tiananmen Massacre outside of China

Louisa Lim / HKFP Kris Cheng

The following post is originally written by Kris Cheng and published by Hong Kong Free Press on 2 of June 2019. The edited version is republished on Global Voices under a content partnership agreement.

Although 30 years have passed since the Tiananmen Massacre, the bloody crackdown has become increasingly sensitive for China-based journalists to cover.

Louisa Lim, a veteran China reporter-turned-scholar, surveyed 60 current and former China-based correspondents and found that three-quarters of those who had covered the anniversary had been on the receiving end of harassment and intimidation. Lim told Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) in an interview:

The party is still terrified by the legacy of Tiananmen and it really tried to limit coverage in all kinds of ways…I think it’s interesting because it shows not just that they are trying to control discussion about June 4 inside China, but they are also trying to control the way that it is portrayed or remembered outside China.

The massacre, which began on 4 June 1989, ended months of student-led demonstrations in China as the military was deployed to crack down on protesters in Beijing. The Chinese Red Cross estimated that 2,700 civilians were killed, but other sources point to a much higher toll. A confidential US government document (unveiled in 2014) reported that a Chinese internal assessment estimated at least 10,454 civilians were killed.

A recent commentary in Global Times described Beijing's censorship around the massacre as a “political success” because it succeeds in turning the incident into “a faded historical event rather than an actual entanglement”.

“Intimidation does have an impact on shaping the stories”

Lim, who covered China for outlets including NPR and BBC, is now is a senior lecturer at the Centre for Advancing Journalism at the University of Melbourne. She also wrote a book on the massacre, The People’s Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited, published in 2014.

Respondents of Lim’s survey said that physical access to Tiananmen Square was often blocked around the anniversary, while in some cases, police officers would directly pull journalists away. In other cases, respondents reported that police officers went to their offices and told them not to go to Tiananmen Square.

In 2009, BBC and CNN correspondents were blocked from speaking to their camera by plainclothes police officers wielding umbrellas. In 2013, a Sky News correspondent was detained in the midst of a live segment in the square.

Lim’s survey showed that one in five reporters covering the anniversary had been intimidated or detained, and complaints were lodged against them. She said the intimidation has “an impact on shaping the stories [journalists] tell and the ways that they tell it.”

According to the survey, a key concern when reporting on the massacre was access to sources, as many said their sources were intimidated or detained. In many responses, the journalists said they often dropped anniversary reporting because of the difficulty of finding sources, or the difficulty of securing the safety of their sources.

Lim also said the problem was that many stories leading up to June 4 were not remembered, such as the seven weeks of protests ahead of the massacre and the “Democracy University” on the square. She said:

When you limit the types of coverage in that way, so you are really only telling one story – [it] actually serves to amplify the Chinese government’s message that political activism is dangerous.

The strategy of most journalists, Lim said, has been to begin writing anniversary stories up to six months to avoid many of these issues.

“They felt their work had zero impact”

Lim’s survey also asked foreign journalists in China if they felt their reports had any impact. The results shocked Lim: The longer that they had spent in China, the less impact they felt their work had.

The respondents, on average, spent 13 years reporting on China. Some journalists, including many with awards, took the view that there were no new stories coming out of China. Lim said their cynicism may be linked to the challenges they faced in day-to-day reporting. “The oppression becomes normalised”, she said.

A third of the respondents said they did not report on their own intimidation, because they felt it was normal in China. But whether journalists reported on their own difficulties depended on the medium they were using. For television journalists, the oppression itself was the story; print journalists would try to find ways to report on the story; journalists at wire agencies were often not allowed to talk about their experiences.

Lim said journalists may have to change their norms in reporting in authoritarian countries. Many journalists feared increased threats to their visas if they report on something the police told them not to do:

It was surprising to me how many people said ‘I did not want to make myself part of the story. [It is] worthwhile for journalists in China to make an extra effort to enumerate the kind of challenges and restrictions they face when they report stories.

It is useful for readers to understand how stories were constructed and shaped by external forces, Lim said. An example was how foreign journalists had changed their norms in covering the Xinjiang region. She said,

My survey result would definitely point to the importance of transparency – both to help audiences understand how stories are shaped and made, but also as an act of agency by journalists themselves in order to push back against intimidation, repression.

If everybody reports these things, the possibility of reprisal is reduced.

by Hong Kong Free Press at June 04, 2019 03:29 PM

Creative Commons
UNESCO OER Recommendation: One Step Closer to Adoption
OER Recommendation #3Photo by Ryan Merkley. CC BY 4.0

The global open education community works collectively to create a world in which everyone has universal access to effective open education resources (OER) and meaningful learning opportunities as defined by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #4 (SDG4): Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. UNESCO continues to work with national governments to help them better support open education (content, practices, policy) in their countries. CC is an active leader and contributor to this work, alongside our many partners.

On May 28, 2019, UNESCO member state representatives took an important step for open education by adopting the 2019 UNESCO OER Recommendation, providing unanimous approval to bring it to the next General Conference. UNESCO has a strong history in open education, having coined the term OER in 2002, passed the 2012 Paris OER Declaration, and co-hosted (with Slovenia) the 2017 OER Global Congress.

Member states and observer organizations, including CC, provided multiple edits including: improved OER and open license definitions; calling on member states to support the linguistic translation of open licenses; adopting high standards for privacy in OER, platforms, and services; and a call to facilitate open procurement. The final text of the document, with all of the approved edits, will now be created by UNESCO and will be published (TBD) prior to the UNESCO 40th General Conference in November. We expect the OER Recommendation to be approved and adopted by UNESCO member states at that time.

This new UNESCO OER Recommendation presents an historic opportunity for Creative Commons (CC) and others in the open education community to work with national governments to help them understand and implement model open education recommendations in their countries. CC and our international chapters will actively support national governments as they leverage this opportunity to meet the SDG4 goals.

OER Recommendation #2Photo by Ryan Merkley CC BY 4.0

CC sent Diane Peters (General Counsel) and Ryan Merkley (CEO) to the meeting to work with delegates and provide expert advice, and we are pleased with the outcome. CC, the UNESCO OER Chairs, IFLA, Education International, and OEC were among the non-governmental organizations who made multiple contributions to and collaborated on the draft OER Recommendation.

Thank you to everyone who was involved in this long process of drafting the document, revising and improving it, and educating each nation’s UNESCO delegates. Special thanks goes to:

  • Trudi Van Wyk (Chair) and Zeynep Varoglu (UNESCO Secretariat) who were present for every line-by-line edit, carefully reviewed each proposal to understand its purpose and impact, and gracefully guided UNESCO member states to a consensus “yes” vote.
  • The Slovenian Delegation who hosted the Second World OER Congress and worked on this OER Recommendation tirelessly for the past two years.
  • The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for their ongoing support of open education at UNESCO and around the world.

We will share more information as it becomes available via our blog, social media, and the CC Open Education Platform.

The post UNESCO OER Recommendation: One Step Closer to Adoption appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Cable Green at June 04, 2019 01:14 PM

Global Voices
Trinidad and Tobago registers Venezuelan asylum-seekers to legalise their status

There are registration centres in various parts of the country

Venezuelan asylum-seekers line up outside the Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain on the first day of the government's registration process, which would give them legal status within Trinidad and Tobago and allow them to work for one year. Screenshot taken from a YouTube video published by TTT Live Online.

The registration process that the Trinidad and Tobago government promised to introduce in an effort to regularise Venezuelan asylum seekers is officially underway. The two-week-long initiative, which began on May 31, 2019, will afford undocumented Venezuelans amnesty so that they can be put on the record and legally recognised in Trinidad and Tobago.

Registering will also allow asylum-seekers the ability to work for one year, a measure that should minimise the exploitation that many currently face.

Venezuelans have been fleeing their country to neighbouring territories as a result of their country's political problems, which has given rise to violence, exacerbated poor living conditions and increased shortages of critical supplies like food, toiletries and medicine. At its closest point, the Caribbean twin-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago lies just 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) north of Venezuela.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, estimates that Trinidad and Tobago's “population of concern” comprises more than 10,000 people — among them, 800 refugees and 9,985 asylum-seekers, most of whom are from Venezuela.

However, Rhonda Maingot, head of Living Water Community, a UNHCR implementing agency that handles the resettlement of Venezuelan asylum-seekers, wonders how many will actually participate. Trinidad and Tobago's Minister of National Security, Stuart Young, has already said the process is not a “get out of jail card,” and many people who have fled the country feel vulnerable.

Erika Guevara Rosas, director of the Americas with Amnesty International, issued a statement two days before the registration process was due to begin. While the organisation welcomed the initiative, it questioned whether the allocated period of two weeks was sufficient:

Amnesty International […] would like to receive further information about how your government proposes to process all the applicants in such a limited period of time, and how it plans to safeguard the confidentiality of those that register and ensure that it does not fall into the hands of the Venezuelan authorities.

Journalist Soyini Grey took offense to Amnesty's use of language and tone. In a private Facebook status update (republished with permission), she said:

I try to be a mature thinking adult, but Lord if I didn't say that Amnesty International was a trigger I lie.

They could have a point with which I agree, but always with a superior tone, that makes me see red.

‘…while it wel­comes the Gov­ern­ment’s plan to reg­is­ter Venezue­lans in this coun­try, it wants as­sur­ances that the con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion re­ceived will not fall in­to the hands of the Venezue­lan Gov­ern­ment.’

I mean, why would you need to say that? You feel that we are savages who don't know what the word ‘confidential’ means? […]

It is not the first time that Trinidad and Tobago has been chastised over the issue. The country's repatriation of 82 Venezuelans in April 2018 drew harsh words from the UNHCR, which called the move a “forced deportation” that breached international law.

Although Trinidad and Tobago's cabinet adopted a national policy to address the pressing issue of refugees and asylum-seekers in 2014, they have not put it into practice. In a statement to the UNHCR, the government said that although it had acceded to the 1951 Refugee Convention, and is signatory to both the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, a lack of legislation “has hindered the application of proper protection principles for refugees and asylum-seekers.”

As a result, asylum-seekers, displaced and stateless people, and even those with UNHCR refugee status end up being treated as undocumented migrants, with little or no protection and — according to a January 2019 Refugees International report — “forced into illegality”.

The registration process will give Venezuelans who have fled the opportunity to claim a level of protection that extends far beyond the terms of Trinidad and Tobago's Immigration Act, which holds that undocumented migrants can be detained, fined and deported.

Local reactions to the registration process have been mixed. While some noted that most citizens of Trinidad and Tobago were migrants, some have fears that the country will not be able to withstand the economic burden.

Following a recent incident in which a boat filled with Venezuelans traveling from the Venezuelan city of Guiria to Trinidad sank, some say that news of the registration process may encourage asylum-seekers to take risks.

The irony of such a response was not lost on Facebook user Joseph Drayton, who posted:

[On May 30, on which Trinidad and Tobago celebrates Indian Arrival Day] we celebrated the #Arrival of a people seeking a better life. They came with different names, cultures, physique and language. We are who we are because they came.

24 hours later our offsprings shouting ‘#sendthemback … to others coming.

Meanwhile, local authorities say they are well prepared to accommodate large numbers of registrants over the two-week period. The process ends on June 14, 2019.

by Janine Mendes-Franco at June 04, 2019 11:36 AM

Global Voices Advocacy
Tinder now required to share user data with Russian authorities

The privacy of Tinder users in Russia is at risk.

Russian security services might now have access to Russian users’ data on Tinder // Ithmus on Flickr, under CC2.0

On March 31, 2019, Russia’s state censorship agency, Roskomnadzor (short for Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media) added Match Group LLC, the parent company of the dating app Tinder, to its registry of “organizers of dissemination of information on the internet.” Roskomsvoboda, a Russian internet freedom and digital rights NGO, broke the news on Monday, June 3:

Roskomnadzor added Tinder to its registry for snooping on users on FSB’s [Russia’s domestic intelligence agency] behalf.

In practice, it means that Tinder, like 174 other websites on the registry which also includes most Russian social media services but also messaging apps such as Threema and Telegram, is now required by Russian law to store six months’ worth of its user data and provide it to the Russian authorities at their request. The data that must be stored and shared, according to a 2014 law, includes anything pertaining to “receipt, transfer, delivery and (or) processing of voice information, written text, images, sounds or any other electronic messages.” They must also comply with other Russian laws, such as the ones banning loosely defined “extremist” materials or “exposing minors to harmful information.”

It is also worth noting that being added to Roskomnadzor’s registry requires at least some participation on the service’s end: at the ministry’s request, they must provide relevant company information that will be added to the database, which means that Tinder did respond to Roskomnadzor’s letter and complied with it. A Tinder representative told Kommersant, a Russian business daily, that, although they have indeed registered in the Russian state database following an official request, they had no intention of sharing their users’ data with Russian authorities.

The good news is that these laws lack in enforceability, especially for large international services. Refusal to comply can result in a fine of up to 300 thousand rubles, or slightly above 4,500 USD — not quite enough to put Tinder or its owner Match Group out of business. It is also unlikely that a popular website such as Tinder can be blocked in Russia without a major backlash. Not that Russia’s censorship ministry is quite up to the task: last time it attempted to ban a popular service, it resulted in a major, embarrassing failure which made Roskomnadzor a national laughingstock. The service in question, Telegram, is still online.

Naturally, Russian social media users could not miss an opportunity for a good laugh.

Roskomnadzor added Tinder to the registry of information disseminators and required it to cooperate with Russian special services. [image says: Comrade Major Super Liked You!]

Roskomnadzor required Tinder to inform FSB who swipes whom. Not a joke! More details inside: [image: What a beauty! That’ll do. Yeah, swipe right]

Despite Tinder's public refusal to share user data, the privacy of the dating app's users in Russia is already at risk. According to investigative media reports, a Moscow-based company called SocialDataHub, has been using bots to harvest the data of the app's users. 

As Andrey Zakharov, an investigative journalist who works for BBC Russian, noted:

About the news that Tinder will now be required to share its data with the FSB. SocialDataHub (a shadow contractor for the security services) has learned to harvest Tinder’s data as well. A bot swipes your profile, learns your location, compares it against against data from other social networks and compiles a full digital portrait.

SocialDataHub provides services to both government agencies and anyone who might be interested in millions of user profiles from a dozen different social media sites. It is just one of several such firms in Russia alone whose activities were investigated in an article by Coda Story in 2018:

One such firm is Moscow-based “Social Data Hub.” It proudly lists the Russian government as a client and boasts that it has a copy of the activity on every Russian social media network going back for the past seven years.

But their online hoovering also includes all the traffic generated by Russian-based users of U.S. and other international online giants such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. The company also covers sites such as the Tinder dating app, and the Airbnb accommodation service. What this means in practice, for example, is that some swipes on Tinder profiles could actually have been made by bots.

Whether Russian security services will have access to the private messages of Tinder users in the future or not, will largely depend on the company's willingness to hand over such data. It is, however, worth keeping in mind that a private firm — one of many — has already been busy hoovering up users’ clicks, swipes and location data and selling them to the highest bidder, which may well be the very same Russian security services.

by Alexey Kovalev at June 04, 2019 09:46 AM

Global Voices
Turning ‘likes’ into rewards: Hong Kong citizen media outlets launch ‘Civic Likers’ campaign

Civic likers campaign launched on May 21, 2019. Image from the Stand News.

As the Internet becomes flooded with more and more information, the issue of media sustainability is a major challenge for the journalism sector. In the case of Hong Kong, the majority of independent online media outlets depend on both citizen donations and advertisements for revenue to support their daily operations. In response to what many see as the unsustainability of this model, four major citizen media outlets in Hong Kong have joined a Civic Liker Campaign to look for alternative income sources.

Civic Likers

Under the current business model, citizen media outlets have to spend extra manpower for fundraising and the majority of their writers contribute to the platform without receiving an honorarium. At the same time, in order to attract more advertisements, they also have to boost up visit rates and insert advertisements in their content. Some independent media outlets, such as Initium Media, have had to shift to a subscription model in order to generate enough revenue for high-quality content, and more and more bloggers make a living by creating promotional content.

To address the problem, four major citizen media outlets including inmediaHK, Matters.news, the Stand News and Citizen News have collaborated with LikeCoin Foundation to launch a campaign known as Civic Likers.

The campaign encourages individual citizens to make use of a new cryptocurrency, LikeCoin, to show their appreciation for original online content through donations. As written on LikeCoin's official site:

讚賞公民是一場回饋優秀內容的運動。讀者每月付出一杯咖啡的價錢,就能成為讚賞公民,從此每個點讚,都會化成對創作者的實質支持。

讚賞公民每月付出的 USD $5,金額將不扣除任何行政成本,全數分配予創作者,支持創作*。基金會只負責分配,支持哪位創作者,回饋哪筆作品,百分百由你的點讚決定。你亦可隨時查閱資助分配,細至一分一毫,盡在掌握。

Civic Likers is a campaign to support original online content. One only has to spend an amount equal to a cup of coffee per month to get registered as a civic liker. After that, you can turn your “likes” into monetary support for online content creators.

The monthly USD$5 you spent would be allocated solely to the authors to support their work. By clicking the LikeCoin button, you can distribute your coins to the works and authors you like. The foundation will not take any administrative or transaction costs. You can login anytime to trace where you have spent the coins.

The foundation launched the campaign on May 21 with a public forum entitled “The future of online media: Alternatives to free content and subscription”.

Kin Ko, the founder of LikeCoin Foundation, took aim at Facebook's like button during the launch (via Citizen News’ report):

就算網紅都好,其實都無喺Facebook攞過一分錢,Facebook like button最大功能就係令Facebook知道應該派咩廣告俾你,即係話唔係幫創作者創造收入,而係幫Facebook派精準的廣告。

Even if you are an opinion leader, you could not get a penny from Facebook. Facebook's like button is just to help the company's AI to attach advertisements to your post. It doesn't generate any revenue for the authors.

Turning “likes” into rewards

On the other hand, he wants the Civic Likers campaign to turn “likes” into rewards for the authors (quote via the Stand News):

設計虛擬貨幣 LikeCoin 和讚賞公民計劃,目的要在現時「免費」和「訂閱」兩個商業模式的極端之間,找尋一個保持內容開放,但創作者仍能獲回報的商業模式,實行真正「化讚為賞」…依賴廣告或訂閱的商業模式,各有不理想之處,例如作者撰寫文章時要避重就輕,或阻礙財政緊拙的讀者接觸優質內容,希望讚賞公民計劃未來會成為一個可持續,「各盡所能,各取所需」的生態,讓公民支持創作者。

The main objective of LikeCoin and the Civic Likers Campaign is to find a business strategy alternative to the free content with advertisement model and subscription model. By turning “likes” into “monetary rewards”, the content can remain open for public access while the authors can get their revenue from “likes”… both advertisement models and subscription models have disadvantages. If the writers have to insert advertisements in their work, they can not be critical. As for the subscription model, if one can't afford to pay the fee, they can not access high quality content. Civic Likers is a campaign to support an ecosystem in which those who can afford to pay for content can support good quality open source content for public consumption.

Raymond Wong, Chief editor of Madman Monologue, a Facebook page founded in 2013 that tailor-made social media advertisements for their clients, echoed Ko Kin's view. He confirmed that content circulated online cannot be critical under the advertisement model. Wong cited from his own experience:

以前我敢言啲,接咗廣告之後避重就輕,我嘅做法就係開多個Facebook group,我喺嗰度仍然敢言,講自己想講嘅嘢,Page變咗係維生⋯⋯如果新聞網站向廣告主妥協,問題大啲。

I was more outspoken in the past. But after I adopted the advertisement business model, I could only express my views in a Facebook [closed] group. Pages are for making a living… if such model is adopted in news site, it would be an even bigger problem.

Many feel that the free content model has generated a passive consumption culture among the young generation. Donna Chu, associate professor at the School of Journalism and Communication from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, hopes that the Civic Likers campaign can encourage more active online participation:

青少年雖然浸淫在社交媒體的世界,但只會看留言、不like、不share,避免留下「數碼足印」(Digital Footprint),又習慣了接收免費資訊,不會主動篩選資訊,譬如到YouTube看影片就會看「Trending」的片…讚賞公民計劃[…]做到實質的參與,有充權作用,亦相信這個可以是有意義討論的起點,或可帶來移風易俗的效果。

While the young generation grew up in a social media environment, a majority of them are in passive consumption mode. They don't even like or share the content in order to avoid leaving digital footprints. They are so used to receiving free information to the extent that they would not search for meaningful information. For example, when they visit Youtube, they just watch the trending videos. The Civic Likers campaign can encourage participation with real effects, it is quite empowering. This can be a starting point for more substantial change of the current online culture.

Damon Wong, editor of inmediaHK, hopes that the LikeCoin mechanism can help to tackle the “free labour” and “exploitation” problem:

以前創作人都抱怨,(供稿)去網媒的話好似做免費勞工。」就算想付稿費,也不知道應怎樣付、付給誰、付多少,而如今讚賞公民計劃是一個解決方法,讓讀者決定付費、作者收到回報。

Authors have complained that writing for online media is like “free labour”. Even if we have a bit of resources to give an honorarium to some of our writers, we don't know how to allocate the resources fairly. The Civic Liker campaign is a potential solution. Let the readers decide and reward the writers directly.

While Wong is hopeful that the Civic Likers campaign can address potential self-censorship problems under the advertisement model, Poon Chekman, the advertising manager in the Stand News, worries that the pool of Civic Likers will not be big enough to support the independent sector:

成日遇到一些贊助人話『我要cancel你嗰個(捐款)喇,因為我覺得仲有啲更加需要我幫助的,我錢就得咁多,我仲需要幫助其他的』。非建制的支持者,選民來講百幾萬,但實質上掏錢出來支持非建制媒體的,真係未夠多去支撐晒我們咁多間。可能好熱心、好肯畀錢的人,來來去去都係那些人。可能眾新聞呢期做眾籌,咁資金就會從我們或者其他媒體抽走。未來就要諗點樣做呢班畀錢的大支持者。

We frequently get feedback from our individual donors that they have to cancel their donations because they have to give the donations to others. They only have this much of money and they have to help others. Although there are more than a million voters giving their votes to the pro-democracy parties, but those who are willing to give money to media outlets critical of the establishment are only very few and they could not possibility support all of the media outlets. For example, when Citizen News was launching their crowdfunding campaign, some of our donors would leave us. The most important issue is to expand the pool of citizen media supporters.

Currently, about 360 individual bloggers and news sites have installed the LikeCoin button and 130 individuals have joined the Civic Likers campaign. Ko Kin says he is aiming to recruit 10 thousand Civic Likers by the end of 2019.

by Oiwan Lam at June 04, 2019 01:43 AM

June 03, 2019

MIT Center for Civic Media
Gobo: Your Social Media, Your Rules
Gobo LogoSocial media influences our daily lives, but we have little influence on how social media platforms work. We’re tired of algorithms that don’t really understand what we want to see. We’re concerned about how content on these platforms is being moderated. And we’re frustrated with our lack of control over these communities. If you could change how social media works, what would you want to see? Gobo is our playground for answering this question. Gobo […]

by Anna Woorim Chung at June 03, 2019 03:14 PM

Global Voices
Czechs demand new justice minister's resignation in nationwide challenge to PM Andrej Babiš

The rally from 21th May on Wenceslas square in Prague. Photo by Lucie Šarkadyová, used with permission.

Thousands of people rallied in more than 220 towns and cities in the Czech Republic on Tuesday, May 28, against the controversial appointment of a new minister of justice by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš.

Marie Benešová was appointed shortly after the police requested the Public Prosecutor's Office to press fraud charges against Babiš for allegedly using European Union subsidies to build a luxury resort. Benešová used to be an adviser of President Miloš Zeman, an ally of Babiš. The case is known locally as the Stork's Nest affair.

Protesters say Babiš is seeking to interfere with his prosecution. They demand Benešová's resignation as well as new measures to protect the judiciary's independence.

Tuesday's rally was the fifth in a series of demonstrations since Benešová's appointment, and the first that involved multiple countryside cities beyond just Prague. Another demonstration is planned for June 4 in Prague. The association Million Moments for Democracy is the main force spearheading the protests.

Babiš is an agribusiness billionaire who was re-elected in 2017, shortly after the subsidies scandal emerged. He denies any wrongdoing and says demonstrations are part of a political campaign against him. He suggested protesters form a political party of their own if they want to challenge his rule.

During her time as justice adviser, Benešová allegedly prepared a confidential document about the current judicial system in which she supported Babiš interpretation of the subsidies case. PM Babiš has denied the document exists.

Benešová says she intends to roll out judicial reforms that would limit prosecutors’ office term among other changes in the public prosecution system. Protesters fear this is a covert attempt to dismiss the current Supreme Public Prosecutor Pavel Zeman along with the Chief of the High Prosecutor's Office in Prague Lenka Bradáčová, who are both in charge of cases related to the Stork’s Nest affair.

Internet discussions

Online discussions on the subject tend to be heated, and name-calling by both sides is frequent. Government supporters tend to call the protesters “sluníčkář,” which literally means “sunny person” in Czech and implies that they're naive and advocate for unrealistic ideas. Even more often protesters are accused of being “Prague Café”, or “from Prague's coffee shops”, meaning they're intellectuals disconnected from real life, with cushy jobs the fields of culture, media, or nonprofit where they earn a lot of money for doing essentially nothing.

Meanwhile, protesters say the PM advocates are “donuts eaters,” a reference to the fact that Babiš distributes donuts in his electoral campaigns. The implication is that Babiš supporters are humble people who vote in exchange for cheap bribes such as snacks.

One user said the PM is correct in ignoring the protests:

If one should act only according to dissatisfied protesters, then there would be no need of elections. Today it concerns Babiš and Benešová, and if it all works out, the protesters will abolish inconvenient political parties, then courts, people, etc. It would be a disaster.

Another user was satisfied with the PM's response to the protesters:

You don’t have to admire Babiš, but the message to the tens of thousands of demonstrators that they should form their own political party and put their skin in the game must drive mad those ‘sunny people’ thrash.

Another Twitter user suggested that protesters’ jobs are useless to society and that is why they prefer to protest rather than going on strike.

The Prague Café has to demonstrate, because if they strike, what would happen …?

On the opposite side of the spectrum, a Twitter user says Babiš's supporters act out of spite:

In my opinion, the voters of ANO do not know why they vote for Babiš, and they disregard everything bad he does. Indeed, Zeman and Babiš managed to divide the Czech society so that the people who vote for ANO do it just out of spite to the “Prague café that does not work and wants to destroy our country.”

Another citizen emphasized the fact that Babiš owns the most widely read newspapers in the Czech Republic and alleges that he misuses them to promote himself:

In case Babiš’s media claims, once again, that only a few people came to Wenceslas Square, it is not true. It was filled until the tramway track and the adjacent streets were full too. In case Zeman and his fellows claim that the Prague Café was demonstrating, it is not true. The main station and trains were full of demonstrators.

Shortly before the May 23-26 EU Parliament elections, another user said they've spotted a donut-distributing spot by Babiš’ political party ANO:

2 days after one of the biggest demonstrations against Babiš there is a ANO promotion stand at the I. P. Pavlova station distributing donuts. And people take them! And the time goes by…

Despite the anti-government protests, ANO won six out of the 21 seats designated to the Czech Republic in the European Parliament — two more in comparison to the previous elections in 2014.

by Jan Lockenbauer at June 03, 2019 11:04 AM

June 01, 2019

Creative Commons
Looking forward and back: Five years at Creative Commons

This month, I’ll mark five years as CEO at Creative Commons. That makes me the longest-serving CEO in the organization’s history, and it’s also the longest I’ve served with the same job title. Every day I get to work with some of the brightest, most dedicated staff and community members in the open movement. Anniversaries are a good time to reflect, and as we all arrive home from our annual CC Summit in Lisbon, I wanted to share a few reflections on where we’ve come from, and where we’re headed.

TL;DR – In the last five years we’ve rebuilt CC from the ground up, with a more solid financial foundation; a revitalized multi-year strategy and plan to focus on a vibrant, usable commons powered by collaboration and gratitude; and a renewed and growing network. We’ve developed and launched new projects and programs like CC Search and the CC Certificate program, and through it all, played a vital role in defending, advancing, and stewarding the commons.


We produced this video, entitled “Remix,” not long after I started at CC to share our new strategy.

Some key facts. In the last five years, we’ve:

  • Articulated a new vision for CC, with a 5-year strategy to bring it to life, that focuses on a “vibrant, usable commons, powered by collaboration and gratitude”
  • Developed and launched CC Search, now indexing over 300M images, working closely with partners like the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum, and Flickr
  • Redesigned the entire Creative Commons Global Network from the ground up, from codes of conduct to community prioritization and collaboration, with a goal of being more open, accountable, and community-led. The new network is nearly 3x larger than the previous affiliate community.
  • Established “The Big Open,” a platform to acknowledge the interconnected nature of the many communities we work in, including Mozillians, Wikipedians, Open Education, Open Science and academia, Open Government, and Open Data
  • Co-created the CC Certificate with community experts and advisors, and certified over 250 people from all over the world to be practitioners and advocates
  • Authored the State of the Commons report, published every year since 2015 to demonstrate the size and reach of the Commons online, today at over 1.4B works (with the next report out in mere days)  
  • Hosted the largest and broad-reaching community-led CC Summits ever, in Seoul, Toronto, Toronto (again), and Lisbon
  • Raised over $26M from foundations, corporations, thousands of individual donors, and dedicated event sponsors, to support our work and community around the world
  • Worked with institutions around the world to help expand and protect the commons, from the New York Met, to Flickr, to Medium, to MIT’s edX platform. In each case, we’ve been there to teach, advise, support, and advocate on behalf of CC users, open knowledge, and shared creativity
  • Built a more diverse team at Creative Commons, with a majority of both leadership and staff who are women, and a global staff that better represent the communities and cultures we serve, and the geographies in which we work

kittens-compressed

The all-new CC Search

We’ve had some difficult moments too. In 2015, CC was forced to make a round of difficult layoffs in order to stabilize our budget and program. We recovered, but those kinds of changes are painful for everyone. In 2017, we learned that CC community member and friend Bassel Khartabil had been murdered by the regime in Syria. Many of us joined together with his family and friends to create a fellowship in his name, and I’m proud to see that Majd Al-Shahibi will speak at this year’s summit as the inaugural Bassel Khartabil Fellowship recipient.

This can be a lonely and unforgiving job. People treat you like a character — like the Office of the CEO — not like a person who has feelings, hopes, and doubts. And no doubt I have made mistakes. Like many in a role like this, I constantly replay how things worked out, and wonder how I might have done them differently in a different context. I think it’s normal for leaders to do that, and I’d worry about anyone who says they regret nothing, or would never change a past decision. Most of the leaders I admire obsess about doing the right thing, both before and after the fact, but also recognize that we almost always have to do something — hopefully the right thing, or at least the best thing for the moment we’re in, with the information we have. Still, within these difficult moments lies the knowledge that everything we do moves us towards a more equitable world.

None of this work would be possible without the team of talented humans who make up the CC team. I am full of gratitude for their daily energy, excellence, and commitment to the work we do. CC is also quite fortunate to have a strong Board of Directors who have provided mentorship, advice and counsel, and helpful criticism and support. I especially want to acknowledge our former board chair Paul Brest, whose board term ended last year, and who taught me a great deal about leadership, management, and strategic planning (and logic models). Finally, I want to thank my wife Kelsey, who was an active leader in the CC movement long before I came along, and who continues to support my work as an advisor and partner.

Creative Commons Global Summit by Sebastiaan ter Burg.

What’s next?

Creative Commons’ 20th anniversary is just around the corner (Jan 15, 2021), and it deserves a celebration worthy of the organization’s reach and impact. We’ve already started planning, and we hope to create a celebration that looks as far forward as it does back.

CC Search is taking off, and we’ll soon be adding more content types like open textbooks and audio. We’re also working on enhanced search tools that will enable new types of discovery and re-use.

The CC Certificate continues to grow and sell out with each cohort. We’ll be opening up a round of scholarships to improve accessibility for anyone who wants to take the course (though all the content is also CC BY, allowing anyone to read, copy, and remix it). We’re also expanding the content to serve additional communities, like the GLAM sector.

And this year, for the first time in CC’s history, the Global Network will lead and govern itself, set priorities and drive community growth and development. That’s a profound change, and a collaborative result that I’m  certain will have an incredible impact.

There’s so much more to do, so many important ways we can help. “Pick big fights with your enemies, not small fights with your friends,” has been a favorite phrase of mine, and today there remain so many vital fights to have on behalf of shared knowledge and free culture. And CC has so many good friends to fight them with. I’m deeply grateful for those collaborations.

I look forward to doing this work for many years to come, with all of you in The Big Open.

The post Looking forward and back: Five years at Creative Commons appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Ryan Merkley at June 01, 2019 01:00 PM

May 31, 2019

Global Voices
Indonesian General Election 2019: Unique events from the campaign trail

A photo collage of incumbent President Joko Widodo and presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, from their respective Instagram accounts. Both of the presidential candidates used Instagram to show their mass support. 

On 17 April 2019, 193 million Indonesian citizens simultaneously cast their vote for new leaders at more than 800,000 polling stations spread across the archipelago. According to the Australian think-tank, Lowy Institute, this gives Indonesia the unique distinction of holding the largest single-day elections in a democratic country.

On 21 May 2019, the General Election Commission (KPU) announced that incumbent president Joko Widodo (otherwise known as Jokowi) had won another term. His opponent, Prabowo Subianto, has rejected these results and hurled accusations of systemic cheating at the KPU. In the wake of these dramatic election results, Global Voices delves deeper into some of the other unique events that occurred during this year’s election cycle.

White: The color of both candidates and an anti-voting protest 

No ink finger, was the icon of abstention this year. Image courtesy of Facebook page Saya Golput. Used with the permission of the owner.

In this election cycle, the color white took on new meaning for voters across the political spectrum. For Jokowi followers, a plain white shirt — which has come to typify Jokowi's style — was the uniform of choice for his supporters. According to some, the word ‘white’ is one of the most frequent words pronounced by Jokowi’s stronghold.

On the opposition's side, supporters of Prabowo Subianto from The Islamic Forum (FUI) and the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), two fundamentalist Muslim groups, urged their sympathizers to also wear white clothing on Election day. Conservative Muslim men from these organizations often wear long white shirts, and the clothing has become synonymous with their group.

The color white can also be seen in the symbol of a white hand that represents ‘no ink’. In Indonesia, ink is applied to a voter's finger once they have cast their vote. This ink is very difficult to wash off and thus helps prevent double voting. The slogan behind this is, ‘Golput’, which is short for ‘golongan putih’ (white group).

In 2014, 30.14 percent of the total registered voters abstained from voting. During this election cycle, the Golput campaign was at the center of debate as different religious factions spoke out against abstention. Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI), Indonesia's top Muslim clerical body, forbade abstention. In addition, notable Catholic priest Romo Franz Magnis wrote an impassioned opinion article denouncing abstentions.

However, Indonesian political and military researcher Made Supriatma said that abstention in the election is a political choice:

Berbeda dengan von Magnis yang mendakwanya sebagai immoral, saya justru melihat bahwa pilihan ini sangat bisa dipertanggungjawabkan secara moral. Von Magnis menyebut mereka yang mengambil sikap golput adalah orang yang bodoh, benalu (parasite), dan bermental tidak stabil. Namun benarkah golput adalah sebuah tindakan immoral? Pertama-tama, saya kira kita perlu meluruskan apa yang disebut sebagai golput. Ada banyak kerancuan pengertian tentang ini. Banyak orang memahami golput semata-mata sebagai tindakan tidak memilih (non-voting behavior). Kita perlu menggarisbawahi bahwa ini adalah sebuah tindakan. Bukan sikap. Karena hanya tindakan maka penyebab non-voting behavior ini bermacam-macam. Sebagian besar dilakukan bukan sebagai sebuah sikap, bukan sebagai statemen politik. Di atas saya sudah kemukakan bahwa banyak orang menjadi golput karena pertimbangan yang serius. Ini bukan sikap yang diambil membabi buta. Menurut saya, justru berpartisipasi membabi buta mendukung salah satu capres dan ikut merobek-robek hidup sosial di negeri ini adalah bentuk ketidakstabilan mental. Bukankah itu yang terjadi dengan pendukung fanatik kedua capres? 

In contrast to von Magnis who indicted this as immoral, I actually see that this option is morally accountable.

Von Magnis called those who decided to abstain fools, parasites, and mentally unstable.

But is it true that abstention is an immoral action? First of all, I think we need to straighten out what's meant by “golput”. There is a lot of confusion with this term. Many people comprehend abstention merely as abstaining (non-voting behavior). We need to underline that this is an action. Not an attitude. Because it is simply an action, then the cause of non-voting behavior is diverse. Mostly it is done not as an attitude, not as a political statement.

I've pointed out that a lot of people choose abstention out of serious consideration. This [action] is not taken blindly. In my opinion, blindly supporting one candidate and participate in shredding the social life in this country is a form of mental instability. Isn't that what has happened with the ardent supporters of both presidential candidates?

Deaths at the polling stations

One of the more astonishing incidents that happened during the 2019 election cycle, was the news that more than a thousand election workers fell ill and nearly 300 died due to fatigue-related causes

Our biggest condolences to Indonesian Democracy Heroes #IndonesiaElectionHeroes Thank you for your dedication and service for the establishment of Indonesian democracy #KPUserved

_ KPU RI (@KPU_ID) April 25, 2019

 

There is an ongoing debate about whether or not the cause of these deaths is a result of the immense mental pressure or the intense workload demanded of the polling station workers. 

President Joko Widodo wrote his condolences on his Facebook account:

Di luar sukses penyelenggaraan hajatan demokrasi ini, kita telah mendengar kabar duka mengenai meninggalnya sejumlah petugas KPPS dan juga aparat Kepolisian RI, karena kelelahan dan sebab lainnya.

Saya, atas nama pribadi, pemerintah, dan negara, menyampaikan duka cita dan belasungkawa yang mendalam kepada keluarga yang ditinggalkan. Para petugas KPPS dan polisi-polisi ini adalah pejuang demokrasi yang meninggal dalam tugasnya.

Semoga Allah SWT menerima semua amal kebaikan mereka, menjadi sebuah keberkahan bagi Indonesia, dan semoga keluarga yang ditinggalkan diberikan ketabahan.

Beyond the success of democracy celebration, we have heard a sad news about the death of a number of KPPS workers and police officers due to fatigue and other causes.

I, on behalf of myself, the government, and the state, express deep condolences to the families left behind. These KPPS workers and police officers are warriors of democracy who die in the line of duty.

May Allah accept all their good deeds, become a blessing for Indonesia, and hopefully the families left behind are given fortitude.

Will either candidate be able to overcome the serious issues plaguing Indonesia?

In general, the 2019 election cycle was a success for the oldest political parties. Barely seen in the voter's choices were the new Solidarity Indonesian Party (PSI) which targets the millennial generation, the Berkarya Party chaired by Tommy Suharto (son of former Indonesia president and strongman Suharto), and the Indonesian Unity Party (Perindo) founded by a tycoon close to Donald Trump.

This election season saw (and continues to see) a lot of campaign drama; however, what was lacking on the campaign trail were agendas from both candidates that addressed environmental problems, women’s and children's rights, bureaucracy reformation, the potential return of TNI's dual function, and other issues.

Without a clear agenda, the candidates and politicians involved in the public administration will struggle to overcome sectarian groups, corrupt bureaucrats, and impunity for human rights violations.

by Andi Tenri Wahyuni at May 31, 2019 03:51 AM

May 30, 2019

Creative Commons
Meet CC’s 2019 Google Summer of Code students

This year, CC is participating in Google Summer of Code (GSoC) as a mentoring organization after a six year break from the program. We are excited to be hosting five phenomenal students (representing three continents) who will be working on CC tech projects full-time over the summer. Here they are!

Ahmad BilalAhmad Bilal, credit: Usman C., CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Ahmad Bilal

I am Ahmad Bilal, a Computer Science undergrad from UET Lahore, who likes computers, problems and using the former to solve the later. I am always excited about Open Source, and currently focused on Node.js, Serverless, GraphQL, Cloud, Gatsby.js with React.js and WordPress. I like organizing meetups, conferences and meeting new people. I view working in GSoC with Creative Commons, one of the biggest opportunities of my life. Cats are my weakness, and I am a sucker for well-engineered cars.

Ahmad will be taking ownership of the CC WordPress plugin, which simplifies the process of applying CC licenses to content created using the popular WordPress blogging platform. He will be updating it to use the latest WordPress best practices, resolving open issues, and adding new features like integrating with CC Search. Ahmad’s mentor is our Core Systems Manager Timid Robot Zehta, backed up by Hugo Solar.

You can follow the progress of this project through the GitHub repo or on the #cc-dev-wordpress channel on our Slack community.

dhruv bhanushaliDhruv Bhanushali, credit: Arpit Gupta, CC BY

Dhruv Bhanushali

I am Dhruv Bhanushali, a Mumbai-based software developer recently graduated from IIT Roorkee. I started programming as a hobby some five years ago and, having found my calling, am now am pursuing a career in the field. I have worked on a lot of institute-level projects and am excited to expand the reach of my code to a global scale with CC through GSoC. Apart from development, I am a huge music fan and keep my curated collection of music with me at all times. I also love to binge watch TV shows and movies, especially indie art films.

Dhruv will be working on an original project, CC Vocabulary, which is a collection of UI components that make it easy to develop Creative Commons apps and services while ensuring a cohesive experience and appearance across CC projects. These components will be able to be used in sites built using modern JavaScript frameworks (specifically Vue.js) as well as simpler websites built using WordPress. CC’s Web Developer Hugo Solar serves as primary mentor, with backup from Sophine Clachar.

You can follow the progress of this project through the GitHub repo or on the #gsoc-cc-vocabulary channel on our Slack community.

María Belén Guaranda CabezasMaría Belén Guaranda Cabezas, CC BY-NC-SA

María Belén Guaranda Cabezas

Hello! My name is María, and I am an undergraduate Computer Science student from ESPOL, in Ecuador. I have worked for the past 2 years as a research assistant. I have worked in projects including computer vision, the estimation of socio-economic indexes through CDRs analysis, and a machine learning model with sensors data. During my spare time, I like to watch animes and reading. I love sports! Specially soccer. I am also committed to environmental causes, and I am a huge fan of cats and dogs (I have 4 and 1 respectively).

María will be working on producing visualizations of the data associated with more than 300 million works we have indexed in the CC Catalog (which powers CC Search) and how that data is interconnected. These visualizations will enable users to understand how much CC-licensed content is available on the internet, which websites host the most content, which CC licenses are used the most, and much more. She will be mentored by our Data Engineer Sophine Clachar with backup from Breno Ferreira.

You can follow the progress of this project through the GitHub repo or on the #gsoc-cc-catalog-viz channel on our Slack community.

Ari MadianAri Madian, credit: Ellen Madian, CC0

Ari Madian

I am an 18 year old, Seattle based, mostly self taught, Computer Science student. I originally started programming by tinkering with Python, and eventually moved into C# and the .NET framework, as well as JS and some web development. I like Chai and Rooibos teas, volunteering at my local food bank, and some occasional PC gaming, among other things. I’m now working with Creative Commons on Google Summer of Code!

Ari will be working on creating a modern human-centered version of our CC license chooser tool, which is long overdue for an update. His work will focus on design and usability as well as code. CC’s Front End Engineer Breno Ferreira is the primary mentor for this project with support from Alden Page.

You can follow the progress of this project through the GitHub repo or on the #gsoc-license-chooser channel on our Slack community.

Mayank NaderMayank Nader, credit: Rohit Motwani, CC BY

Mayank Nader

I am Mayank Nader, a sophomore Computer Science student from India. Currently, my main area of interest is Python scripting, JavaScript development, backend, and API development. I also like to experiment with bash scripting and ricing and configuring my Linux setup. Apart from that, I like listening to music and watching movies, documentaries, and tv shows. I am very much inspired by Open Source and try to contribute whenever I can.

Mayank will be working on building a cross-platform browser plugin that allows users to search CC-licensed works directly from the browser and enable reuse of those works by providing easy image attribution tools. Users will be able to find content to use without having to switch to a new website. Mayank will be mentored by CC’s Software Engineer Alden Page with support from Timid Robot Zehta.

You can follow the progress of this project through the GitHub repo or on the #gsoc-browser-ext channel on our Slack community.

You can visit the Creative Commons organization page on Google Summer of Code site to see longer descriptions of the projects. We welcome community input and feedback – you are the users of all these products and we’d love for you to be involved. So don’t hesitate to join the project Slack channel or talk to us on GitHub or our other community forums.

The post Meet CC’s 2019 Google Summer of Code students appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Kriti Godey at May 30, 2019 02:28 PM

Rising Voices
Meet Margot Camones Maguiña, the host of @ActLenguas Twitter account for May 20-26

Photo provided by Margot Camones Maguiña

In 2019, we are inviting several hosts to manage the @ActLenguas (Language Activism) Twitter account and to share their experiences in the revitalization and promotion of their native languages. This profile post is about Margot Camones Maguiña(@MargotCamones) and what she plans to discuss during her week as hostess.

Rising Voices (RV): Please tell us about yourself.

Soy Margot Camones Maguiña, natural del caserío de Huacna, del distrito de la Merced, de la provincia de Aija, región Ancash, tengo 37 años de edad, docente de profesión, actualmente laboro en el Ministerio de Educación, como Especialista Nacional de Educación Intercultural Bilingüe, paralelo a esta actividad dedico una partesita de mi tiempo a las redes sociales, a los medios digitales y otros, para motivar el uso del quechua en los diferentes sectores, algunas veces con frases amorosas, que obtiene una interacción impresionante con los usuarios de Facebook o twiter.

Otra con palabras sueltas que también ayudan a la investigación de parte de los lectores, algunas veces videos, escribo también artículos y los publico por diferentes medios, tengo por ejemplo dos canales de YouTube (canal 1, canal 2), donde difundimos videos relacionadas al quechua como también a la actividades culturales, tengo un blog allí estoy compartiendo enlaces para mantener en vigencia digital el quechua, del mismo modo hago una serie de actividades sociales  para seguir difundiendo la importancia del quechua en todo espacio público como un derecho de todos.

Algunos enlaces para compartir:

My name is Margot Camones Maguiña, I am from the Huacna village, in the district of La Merced, from the province of Aija, in the Ancash region in Peru. I am 37 years old, I am a teacher, and I currently work in the Ministry of Education as National Specialist of Intercultural Bilingual Education. I am also active in promoting the use of the Quechua language in social media, and digital media in different sectors, sometimes with expressions of affection, which get an impressive amount of interaction from the Facebook and Twitter users.

As each word and video helps readers learn more about the language, I also write articles and publish them through different media: I have two YouTube channels (channel 1, channel 2), where we broadcast videos related to the Quechua language and of different cultural activities. I also have a blog where I share links to promote the Quechua language in the digital space; and I do a series of social activities to continue spreading the importance of Quechua in all public spaces as a right of all.

Some relevant links:

RV: What is the current status of your language on the internet and offline?

Actualmente el quechua tiene una importante cantidad de hablantes según los censos del INEI, sin embargo hace mucha falta la conciencia de practicarlo en público, de hablar sin vergüenza, hay resistencia para salir de la casa y bailar en la calle al compás de su vestimenta (quiero decir que la lengua sigue siendo en muchos casos lengua de hogar, y se mantiene allí), por ello he encontrado como medio poderoso de volver a la gente a sus raíces atreves de los medios digitales disponibles.

Somos pocas personas las que asumimos esta tarea de difundir nuestra lengua por la internet, ya que ésta es un trabajo extra y voluntario, sin embargo nos hace falta conocer el manejo adecuado de los medios para empoderarnos y seguir introduciendo el uso en todos los medios posibles.

Hacen falta políticas lingüísticas claras de los gobiernos de turno, por ello queda la tarea pendiente de seguir concientizando, aunque de un tiempo a esta, se conformó el Organización Regional de Pueblos Quechuas de Ancash, que está logrando generar interesantes políticas en el gobierno regional y algunos gobiernos locales.

Currently, according to INEI (National Institute of Statistics and Informatics) censuses, there is a significant number of Quechua speakers; however, there is a lack of awareness and a resistance to proudly speak it in public, and the language is still, in many cases, only used at home. This is why I have realized that the available digital media is a powerful means of returning people to their roots.

There are few of us who take this task of spreading our language through the internet, since this is an extra and voluntary work; however, we need to know the proper management of the media to empower us and continue introducing its use in all possible ways.

There is a need for clear linguistic policies from the current government. This is why, in order to continue raising awareness, although for some time now, the Regional Organization of Quechua Peoples of Ancash was founded, which establishes interesting policies in the regional government and some local governments.

RV: On what topics do you plan to focus during the week that you’ll manage the @ActLenguas Twitter account?

Los temas que abordaré son videos promocionales sobre el quechua a través del YouTube donde recoja testimonios de personajes ilustres que hablen la lengua, para motivar a otros su uso, teniendo en cuenta los siguientes aspectos.

  • Textos reflexivos en video y pequeños testimonios sobre la importancia de difundir, hablar, preservar y fomentar el uso del quechua.
  • Fomento de políticas lingüísticas de parte de las autoridades (video)
  • Testimonio de personas hablantes nativos del quechua dando testimonio del porque les da vergüenza hablar el quechua.
  • Memes humorísticos difundiendo derechos lingüísticos.
  • Artículos sobre la importancia de fomentar activismo digital de mi lengua.

The topics that I will address are promotional videos about Quechua through YouTube where I collect testimonies of well-known people who speak the language, to motivate others to use it, taking into account the following aspects:

  • Reflective texts on video and small testimonies on the importance of spreading, speaking, preserving, and promoting the use of Quechua.
  • Promotion of language policies by the authorities (video)
  • Native Quechua speakers’ testimonies of why they are ashamed to speak Quechua.
  • Humorous memes disseminating linguistic rights.
  • Articles on the importance of promoting digital activism of my language.

RV: What are the main motivations for your digital activism for your language? What are your hopes and dreams for your language?

Mi mayor motivación es el amor al quechua y todas las lenguas existentes porque considero que son ejercicio ciudadano, son patrimonio y sobre todo es una forma de vida que asumo como encargo social de mi gente, mi pueblo, mis padres y abuelos.

Sueño que mi lengua este empoderado en todo espacio, que los medios digitales sean nuestros aliados, que hayan muchísimas personas difundiendo su lengua por cualquier medio, que los problemas sociales que hoy nos aquejan sean abordados desde la perspectiva de la cultura y la lengua.

Sueño que en los colegios no haya justificaciones para enseñar el quechua, que las autoridades sean realmente quechuas y otorguen recursos para fomentar investigaciones en lenguas originarias y que haya algún presupuesto para que las instituciones públicas tengan información en páginas web u otros medios sobre la atención a la lengua.

My main motivation is my love of Quechua and all the existing languages because I believe that they are a citizen's rights, they are part of heritage, and, above all, it is a way of life that I consider as being the social responsibility of my people, my village, my parents, and grandparents.

I dream that my language will be empowered in every space, that digital media will be our allies, that there will be many people spreading their language through all media, that the social problems that affect us today will be addressed from the perspective of culture and language.

I dream that there will be no justifications for not teaching Quechua in schools, that there will be Quechua officials, and that they will provide resources to encourage research in native languages, and that there will be a budget for public institutions to have information about native languages on websites and other media.

by Teodora C. Hasegan at May 30, 2019 12:13 PM

Global Voices
Detention of Gaspard Glanz is a sign of France’s increasingly authoritarian treatment of journalists

Concerns abound when it comes to free press in France

Capture d ecran d'une video de l'arrestation de Gaspard Glanz le 20 Avril 2019 par Taranis News

On 20 April 2019, video journalist Gaspard Glanz was arrested while filming a demonstration in Paris’ Place de la République. Gaspard runs the photo news agency, Taranis News, which covers social movements in France.

After his arrest, Glanz was placed in custody for “insulting a representative of law enforcement” and “participating in a group in order to provoke acts of violence and destruction.” Glanz was assigned an “S card,” indicating that he is considered to be a serious threat to national security, and may be subject to increased surveillance. He was also banned from entering Paris to cover subsequent Yellow Vest demonstrations, a measure that could leave him unable to do his work and earn a living.

Gaspard Glanz taken by Claude Truong-Ngoc on Wikimedia Commons – CC-BY-SA 4.0

Glanz remained in custody until 22 April, when he was released. Along with his lawyer, he confirmed his intention to contest the ban, which was ultimately annulled by the criminal court of Paris on 29 April, due to insufficient grounds.

Glanz was able to go to Paris on 1 May and on the following Saturdays, when the Yellow Vests hold their protests.

Glanz initially became known in France after his video reporting on social movements and protests such as the demonstrations against the labor law, the Nuit debout (“up all night”) movement, and the Yellow Vest demonstrations, as well as his reporting on the living conditions of refugees in Calais.

According to the police, Glanz was arrested for “participating in a group in order to commit acts of violence and destruction” and for “insulting a law enforcement official,” for giving the finger to a police officer. The former accusation is legally difficult to prove and was withdrawn upon his release.

Glanz described the conditions of his custody on Reporterre, a French news site with a focus on environmental issues:

La garde à vue s’est passée assez mal, j’ai des bleus partout. Quand je me suis fait arrêter, je me suis fait écrabouiller par terre, je n’ai rien mangé depuis samedi. J’ai pu boire, mais ce n’était pas facile, il a fallu se battre, et je pense que par ma notoriété, j’ai pu boire, alors que d’autres, dans ma situation, ne pouvaient pas le faire. Je sens encore l’odeur d’urine qui doit couvrir mon corps, pour vous donner une idée de l’ambiance du commissariat.

My time in custody went pretty badly, I’m covered in bruises. When I was arrested, I was slammed to the ground, I haven’t eaten anything since Saturday. I was able to drink, but it wasn’t easy, I had to fight for it, and I think because of my name recognition, I was able to drink something, but other people in my situation couldn’t. I can still smell the urine, I must be covered in it, to give you an idea of the ambiance at the police station.

He also explained what he saw as the real reasons for his arrest:

Quand il y a eu les attentats de Strasbourg et qu’on filmait leurs unités, ils étaient bien fiers de montrer leurs casques, leurs boucliers, leurs pistolets, là on était journalistes, on faisait leur promotion. Quand par contre, on montre leurs bavures, ce qui se passe dans les rues, la vérité de ce qui se passe dans Paris, alors on est interdit de tourner, parce qu’on pourrait montrer des choses qui ne doivent pas être vues. On a atteint un point de non retour très grave.

When there were the attacks in Strasbourg and their units were filmed, they were so proud to show their helmets, their shields, and their guns. There we were reporters, we were promoting the police. But when we show their mistakes, what’s happening in the street, what’s really happening in Paris, then we’re not allowed to film, because we might show things they don’t want to be seen. We’ve reached a very serious point of no return.”

Solidarity with Glanz

The national press and media rights organizations have come out in support of Glanz. Many criticisms have been leveled against the ministry of the interior, which has argued that Glanz didn’t have a press card. The card implies that the bearer works for an employer, but French law does not require journalists to carry a press card in order to do their work in public spaces.

Reporters Without Borders and the Sociétés de Journalistes de Libération have criticized “attacks on the freedom of the press.”

#GiletsJaunes: @RSF_inter and @SNJ_national denounce attacks on the “fundamental freedom of the press.” https://t.co/zvQnNlAftk #AFP pic.twitter.com/MeJtrFZzFn — Agence France-Presse (@afpfr) 21 April 2019

Attorneys have pointed out the legal inconsistencies of the minister of the interior's arguments:

An independent justice? Apart from the attack on the freedom of the press, the measures against the journalist @GaspardGlanz call into question the independence of the judiciary branch https://t.co/VhcIp9Pjpd — SAF [lawyers’ union] (@syndicatavocats) 26 April 2019

« Je rappelle à #GaspardGlanz qu’il existe dans notre pays une séparation des pouvoirs »

En préjugeant – es qualité de ministre de l’intérieur – de la commission d’un délit à la place d’un juge indépendant.

Quelqu’un pour rappeler à M Castaner la séparation des pouvoirs ? https://t.co/bZUggfy5Zm

— AuPalais (@palais_au) 26 avril 2019

The solidarity of French mainstream media journalists has been robust. The political editorialist for Radio France Inter gave the definition of a journalist, explaining how Gaspard Glanz fit the definition on every point:

Qu'est-ce qu'un journaliste ?
L'édito de @lofejoma #le79Inter pic.twitter.com/c3q025J9g9

— France Inter (@franceinter) 25 avril 2019

Another target of attacks on media freedom: the investigative site Disclose

On 24 April, four days after the arrest of Gaspard Glanz, two reporters from the investigative media website Disclose and one Radio-France reporter were called before the DGSI, the intelligence service of the ministry of the interior, for revealing secret defense documents as part of their investigation “Made in France,” on the massive use of French lethal weapons in the war in Yemen by Saudi Arabia and its coalition.

[URGENT] Deux journalistes de https://t.co/aJsaTD26Fz [Disclose] sont convoqués dans le cadre d'une enquête pour “compromission du secret de la défense nationale” suite à une plainte du ministère des Armées. #yemenpapers #madeinfrance @Mediapart @InvestigationRF @ARTEInfo@konbininews pic.twitter.com/heA1zeXML2

— Disclose (@Disclose_ngo) 24 avril 2019

enquête Disclose

Screen shot from Disclose home page featuring their “Made in France” investigation into the use of French offensive weapons in the ongoing war in Yemen

Once again, journalists were loud and clear in asserting their solidarity. Rue89 Strasbourg wrote:

Aujourd’hui, pour avoir exposé ces informations, trois journalistes se retrouvent sous la menace d’une procédure, pour un délit puni d’une peine d’emprisonnement, dont l’objectif manifeste est de connaître les sources à l’origine de leur travail.

Today, because they exposed this information, three journalists are being threatened with a lawsuit for a crime punishable by a jail sentence, when the goal is obviously to uncover the source of their information.”

37 sociétés de journalistes, de rédacteurs ou rédactions (dont celle de @LaCroix) apportent leur soutien aux journalistes de @Disclose_ngo et @RadioFrance qui seront entendus mi-mai par la DGSI suite à une enquête sur l'utilisation des armes aux Yémen #secretdessourceshttps://t.co/0Rf3ed41kM

— Aude Carasco (@a_carasco) 25 avril 2019

Media freedom moving backwards in France

From the moment he took office, French president Emmanuel Macron and his cabinet have had a distant relationship at best with the press, and a deplorable one at worst. This article from the daily Le Parisien tells the tale of a love gone cold.

Ce n’est pas du mépris ou de la détestation, il veut installer une relation directe avec les Français », analyse un interlocuteur régulier. Raison pour laquelle il est si féru des réseaux sociaux.

He doesn’t hate the press or disdain them, he wants to create a direct relationship with French people,” is the analysis of a regular contributor. That explains why he is so enamored of social media.

France currently ranks at number 32 out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 freedom of the press ranking, down one place and 0.34 points from 2018.

by Diana Rhudick at May 30, 2019 02:09 AM

May 29, 2019

Global Voices
Recent troubles rock the historical Kano Kingdom in northern Nigeria

A governor plays politics to split the ancient kingdom

The Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, at Durbar Festival celebrating Eid in June 2018, Kano, Nigeria. Photo by Don Camillo via Wikimedia: CC BY-SA 4.0.

The Kingdom of Kano in northern Nigeria is in trouble.

Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State in northwestern Nigeria, has decided to split Kano Emirate into five distinct territories, breaking up a kingdom that has existed before the age of governors for nearly 1,000 years.

Dating back to the year 999 as one of Nigeria’s largest kingdoms, Kano played a central role in trans-Sahara commercial routes. Kano is home to a remarkable museum that holds ancient relics in a prominent palace, and Nigerians often gather for festivals and exhibitions.

Ganduje’s decision to split this ancient kingdom under his governance is tied to a political tug-of-war between himself, Kano’s former governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso and the current king, 57-year-old Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II, the 58th Emir (King) to date — appointed by Kwankwaso before his term ended.

Once political allies, Ganduje and Kwankwaso became rivals after Ganduje took office in 2015, and now his decision to split Sanusi’s kingdom is, according to some, an act of revenge against the emir, his rival Kwankwaso's pick.

This adverse situation has disturbed the unity among Kano Kingdom households who have gotten along for centuries.

On May 10, the courts instructed Ganduje to halt the appointment ceremony of the new kings, but he defied the court and executed the division anyway, claiming he was carrying out the orders of the state legislature.

Several palace officials decried Governor Ganduje’s actions, calling it a distortion of a working model for governance in Kano and northern Nigeria. Ganduje said he did not obey the court order because it came after the appointment of the new emirs in each of the five distinct sub-kingdoms: Kano, Rano, Karaye, Gaya and Bichi.

However, on May 15, the court ordered a return to the status quo pending the hearing of the suit against the appointment of the new emirs.

Many Kano residents, depressed by the division, said Governor Ganduje is playing politics in diminishing the famous Kano Kingdom.

The Emir of Kano on his throne, September 2016. Photo by Don Camillo via Wikimedia:  CC BY-SA 4.0.

Political rivalry

Current Governor Ganduje worked as deputy governor to Kwankwaso twice between 2011 and 2015.

When Kwankwaso was about to leave office, he called on Ganduje as his deputy to run in the 2015 election. But since Ganduje took office, Kwankwaso has accused him of not being loyal, although Ganduje denies these charges.

During Nigeria’s 2019 presidential election, Kwankwaso strategized to prevent Ganduje from taking on a second term, but Ganduje prevailed.

Ganduje has expressed hostility toward Sanusi for supporting Kwankwaso’s favored candidate, Abba Kabir, of the People’s Democratic Party, during the 2019 election.

The two rivals have challenged each other with political blackmail through their supporters. Ganduje has revoked all Kwankwaso’s projects that he started as governor.

Ganduje’s move to split the kingdom is revenge against Sanusi’s partisanship and another way to show disdain for Kwankwaso.

He says the five new territories would operate as Kano’s sub-domains within Kano State. Jurisdiction for these territories would fall under Ganduje — instead of King Sanusi.

A history of kingmakers

Before 1903, kingmakers determined the pick of Kano kings through family lineage. But with Europe’s widening influence in West Africa, ruling governors were given the power to choose kings beginning in 1903. Even though a prevailing democratic governor oversees Kano’s Emirate Council, it usually complies with ancestral customs of the kingdom.

Present-day Kano State in northwestern Nigeria was established in 1967 and remains a major economic hub in northern Nigeria, governed by Nigeria’s military and civilian governors.

1850 postcard reproduction of an engraving of Kano Kingdom via Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons.

Ado Bayero became the 57th Emir in 1963, holding sway for 50 years until his death in 2014. After his demise, Emirate families expected Governor Kwankwaso to appoint a descendant of the Bayero family as the next king.

But that year, Kwankwaso, Kano governor, wielded his power granted by the constitution to appoint Muhammad Sanusi as the monarch, instead. Ado Bayero had a tense relationship with Kwankwaso, thus it was “practically impossible” for Kwankwaso to appoint Bayero’s son as emir.

On the other hand, Sanusi has always harbored the ambition to return his lineage to the throne of Kano, which was lost when his grandfather, Emir Muhammadu Sanusi I, was deposed fifty years ago.

Sanusi was Nigeria’s Central Bank governor when Kwankwaso named him as the new king in 2014 and he resigned to accept the mantle as the 58th Emir of Kano Kingdom. That same year, however, BBC reports that Sanusi was ousted by the Central Bank for alleged fraud and mismanagement of millions of dollars in oil revenue.

Sanusi hails from the Sanusi Emirate folk, yet choosing him as the Emir of Kano tore apart Emirate households — most initially rejected Sanusi. The Bayero family also declined to pay homage to the new emir, and pandemonium broke out in Kano city.

But since 2014, Sanusi has contributed to an abundance of reforms in the kingdom and many say he has improved the well being of Emirate families and the Kano community at large — a king ushering in modernity to the ancient kingdom.

Others say Sanusi used monetary influence to win over those who initially defied him.

Kano Emirate families pay their respect to the King Sanusi, 2016. Photo by Don Camillo via Wikimedia: CC BY-SA 4.0.

Split kingdom, halted?

The Kano State House of Assembly Speaker, Alasan Rurum, backs the Ganduje division of the Emirate:

The four emirate councils [Rano, Gaya, Karaye and Bichi] have existed for more than 300 years. It is not a new creation. So, as far as the laws that we passed are concerned, we simply re-introduced what we had on the ground between 300 and 500 years ago.

Meanwhile, some members of Kano State House of Assembly, who oppose Ganduje, petitioned the State government in court, challenging it to oblige the governor to reverse Kano Emirate to its former status.

In the same week that the High Court halted Ganduje along with eight others in splitting the kingdom, a youth group went to Bichi — one of the sub-kingdoms — to pay allegiance to the new king  — the son of the late Ado Bayero.

Now, the historical Kano Emirate faces turbulent times by an eager politician attempting with urgency to baffle his political adversary.

What are the consequences? Time will tell.

An edited version of the Kano Wall in the Kano Kingdom. Photo by Cepit via Wikimedia: CC BY-SA 4.0.

Editor's note: Nwachukwu Egbunike contributed to this report. 

by Bala Muhammmad Makosa at May 29, 2019 11:02 PM

Rising Voices
Meet Jacey Firth-Hagen, the host of the @NativeLangsTech Twitter account for May 30-June 5

Photo provided by Jacey Firth-Hagen, who is wearing a #SpeakGwichinToMeShirt, Dickson Designs headband on Yellowknives Dene Territory.

In 2019 as part of a social media campaign to celebrate linguistic diversity online, Native American and First Nations language activists and advocates will be taking turns managing the @NativeLangsTech Twitter account to share their experiences with the revitalization and promotion of Native American and First Nations languages. This profile post is about Jacey Firth-Hagen (@speakgwichin) and what she plans to discuss during her week as host.

Rising Voices: Please tell us about yourself.

Shii Jacey Firth-Hagen. Inuvik ihlii. Srii Ts'oo K'aii gidaan gwiichin. My name is Jacey Firth-Hagen. I am born and raised in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Canada and currently living in the capital of the NT in Yellowknife. I am the creator of the online language revitalization initiative Gwich'in Language Revival Campaign #SpeakGwichinToMe. Follow the hashtag on most social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc). I have been learning my Gwich'in language for over a decade. It is one of the most endangered languages. I love my language and it makes me happy to share and to learn my language.

RV: What is the current status of your language on the internet and offline?

There are less then 500 Gwich'in language speakers.

RV: On what topics do you plan to focus during the week that you’ll manage the @NativeLangsTech Twitter account?

I will share information about the Gwich'in language, share the language, my language journey, and beautiful initiatives taking place.

RV: What are the main motivations for your digital activism for your language? What are your hopes and dreams for your language?

My language work is dedicated to my diduu (grandmother), family, community, peoples, and ancestors. My hopes and dreams for my language is accessibility and fluency for everyone.

by Rising Voices at May 29, 2019 10:42 PM

Global Voices
‘End of an era’ as Jamaica's former prime minister, Edward Seaga, dies

Seaga was proud of achieving “justice for the people”

Former Jamaican Prime Minister Edward Seaga, who died on May 28, 2019. Screenshot taken from a YouTube video titled, “PICTURE THIS: Remembering Edward Seaga”, published by the Jamaica Gleaner.

On May 28, 2019 — his 89th birthday — Edward Seaga, one of the most influential political leaders in Jamaican post-colonial history, died in a hospital bed in Miami, Florida. He had been ailing with cancer for some time.

Seaga was Jamaica’s fifth prime minister since the country's independence from Great Britain in 1962. Born in 1930 in Boston, Massachusetts, Seaga returned to Jamaica as an infant but was often seen as an outsider by political opponents, possibly due, in part, to the fact that he was a racial minority. His father was of Lebanese descent, while his mother boasted African, Scottish and Indian ethnicity.

A dominating figure, Seaga proved to be a strong-willed (some would say stubborn) leader for the conservative Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). The island's other main political party, the People's National Party (PNP), was led at the time by Michael Manley, a democratic socialist.

Seaga and Manley were always seen in juxtaposition to each other. Journalist Cliff Hughes described Seaga as a motivator and builder, while Manley was the inspiring visionary. The two politicians were fierce rivals during the turbulent 1970s, culminating in a difficult period of political strife between 1978 and Jamaica's violent 1980 elections. During this bitter period of ideological division, disillusioned Jamaicans nicknamed Seaga “Spy-aga” (for his alleged association with the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency) and Manley was called “Man-lie.”

Seaga was well known for creating the most notorious political garrison in Jamaica: Tivoli Gardens, a constituency of West Kingston, which has its own violent history. In 2010, after the JLP government could no longer resist the US’ calls for extradition of drug don Christopher Coke, who controlled the garrison, residents clashed with state security forces, leaving at least 72 Jamaicans dead.

It was a grey, rainy day in the island's capital city when news of Seaga's death broke, and Jamaicans were not in the mood for antagonism. While local radio stations went live with reactions to Seaga’s passing, with many callers recognised him as a towering, but often divisive figure in Jamaican politics, most social media posts acknowledged the politician's achievements, not his flaws.

The current prime minister and Seaga's protégé, Andrew Holness, who visited him in the hospital just days before his death, tweeted:

Prime Minister Holness continued:

On radio, Bruce Golding, a former prime minister who had inherited Seaga's West Kingston constituency, described him as a long-term thinker, an exceptional leader and “a hard man to disagree with.” In Jamaican parlance, Mr. Seaga was “nuh easy” (“not easy”).

One socia media user who shares Seaga's birthday posted a thread of the politician's achievements:

Members of the Jamaican diaspora had a more nuanced view, perhaps, of Seaga's legacy, focusing primarily on those troubled years:

Edward Seaga is dead. Jamaica mourns as well it should. Seaga and Michael Manley slaughtered Jamaica's future, both with the best personal intent.
Manley embracing our communist neighbor Cuba with hubris and Seaga embracing American imperialism in an effort to ‘save’ Jamaica from communism.
We can all look back with our subjective opinions but this is the reality that has lead to a foreign debt from which I see no complete recovery.
Now, both Seaga and Manley are gone and we will remember both their positive and negative contributions to our country but at the end of the day, both were great men with Jamaica first and foremost in their hearts.

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, in a timely response to Seaga's passing, tweeted a video message, in which she noted that during a recent conversation with Seaga, “In his frank observation, trickle-down economics has not worked.”

The launch of a book of Michael Manley interviews written by his widow, originally scheduled for May 29, has been postponed out of respect for Seaga, who continued to play a part in public life up until last year and is now regarded as a patriotic figure.

The scope of Seaga’s contribution to Jamaica’s national life cannot be underestimated. The last surviving framer of the constitution, he was the country's longest-serving parliamentarian, for over 40 years. Seaga established many financial institutions, including the now-thriving Jamaica Stock Exchange and the first Jamaican majority-owned commercial bank, as well as other important social institutions like the National Training Agency.

Achievements aside, Jamaicans shared fond memories on social media:

On Facebook, Jamaican environmentalist Wendy Ann Lee shared a photograph of Seaga presenting her with an award, and remembered him as “a true patriot and promoter of the arts, history and culture of Jamaica.”

One Twitter user, noting Seaga's love of patties and juice, both Jamaican staples, summed up his legacy:

In a recent radio interview, Seaga described his major achievement as “justice for the people” through his contribution as one of the architects of Jamaica's constitution, his creation of the country’s Charter of Rights and his work as a public defender.

In tribute, on a gloomy afternoon in Kingston, a radio station played Frank Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way”.

by Emma Lewis at May 29, 2019 09:40 PM

Creative Commons
What does it mean to have a shared culture? A wrapup from this year’s CC Global Summit

Another year, another incredible Creative Commons Global Summit! This year, nearly 400 Creative Commoners gathered in Lisbon, Portugal to lift their voices in support of the Commons as advocates, activists, creators, and community members dedicated to a more open and sharing world.

It’s all about Community

The Global Summit was designed by the community, for the community to inspire action and events for this group of participants from around the world. Each one of the over 130 sessions was chosen by our volunteer program committee, proposed by CC chapters and organizations from around the world. From Portugal to Tanzania to New Zealand, our presenters came from hundreds of local contexts, sharing stories, data, projects, and ideas at the beautiful Museu do Oriente, our main venue.

unleashing a global community in actionPhoto by Sebastiaan ter Burg CC BY

At night, we welcomed participants to Capitolio, where we heard from five community keynotes and two invited keynotes. Diversity, equity, and inclusion were themes throughout – Natalia Mileczyk invoked a quote from Shirley Chisholm, “When they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”

Fortunately, there were chairs at many tables at the CC Summit.

people around tablesPhoto by Sebastiaan ter Burg CC BY

“Now is the time for Genuine Change:” Global Summit Keynotes

Our five community keynotes came from three continents and a variety of disciplines. From Majd al-Shihabi’s work on decolonizing archives in Palestine to Sophie Bloeman’s Commons Network project, the five keynotes demonstrated their expertise and passion for the values of the Commons.

Our invited keynotes, Adele Vrana and Siko Bouterse from “Whose Knowledge” and James Boyle and Jennifer Jenkins of the Duke Center for the Study of the Public Domain spoke as well, with narratives of colonization, inclusivity on the open web, the public domain, and… comic books.

jennifer jenkinsPhoto by Sebastiaan ter Burg CC BY
adele and siko on stagePhoto by Iñigo Sanchez, CC BY-NC-SA

keynote speakers on stagePhoto by Sebastiaan ter Burg, CC BY

The Creative Commons Network

The Summit also marked the first meeting of the expanded Creative Commons Global Network, re-launched in 2016. The Global Network is three times larger than before and now comprises 37 chapters, 368 individual members, and 43 institutional members, many of whom attended this year’s Summit.

At this year’s Newbie Breakfast, dozens of new Summit attendees gathered on the first day of the Summit to create a welcoming space for new participants.

cc chapter leads meetingCC Chapter Leads meeting. Photo by Sebastiaan ter Burg, CC BY

A nuanced view of “open”

What does it mean to be “open?” From questions of indigenous knowledge to CC business models to the implications of Artificial Intelligence, Summit participants asked the hard questions in nearly every session.

One particularly interesting panel focused on artists’ relationships to copyright, with a number of Portuguese artists discussing their work, including Summit graphic designer João Pombeiro. The panel featured a special guest appearance from Steve Kurtz of the Critical Art Ensemble via video call. They questioned the need for artists to exert strong power over their intellectual property and discussed the difficulties of making ethical art in 2019.

podcast interviewing at summitPhoto by Iñigo Sanchez CC BY-NC-SA

Copyright reform: What’s Next?

On the heels of the difficult loss in the European Union, much of the CC Summit was spent planning for the future of copyright around the globe. Many sessions, including a meeting of the copyright reform platform, touched on the challenges and opportunities confronting the movement in 2019 and beyond.

The CC community continued to explore ways to engage in productive copyright reform. We heard from experts from around the globe who shared their strategies and experiences in copyright law reform advocacy in the “How to Win the © Wars” session. CC allies also shared their work going on at WIPO, especially related to the agenda in support of expanding crucial limitations and exceptions to copyright for education, research, and libraries. Paul Keller from Communia shared lessons learned from the long and winding road of the EU copyright directive, and pushed for Creative Commons to actively contribute as the directive is implemented into the national laws of the member states over the next two years. And a diverse group of advocates met to lay out thematic areas and rough project plans for the copyright reform platform over the coming months.

the future is open on stagePhoto by Iñigo Sanchez, CC BY-NC-SA

Gratitude

Thank you to all presenters, volunteers, participants, and staff who made this event a success. We couldn’t have done it without you!

attendeesPhoto by Sebastiaan ter Burg, CC BY

Thank you also to our sponsors Private Internet Access, MHz Foundation, Mozilla, Re:Create, Flickr, Lumen Learning, and UPTEC.

sponsors 2019

Get involved

We invite you to join us on Slack in the #cc-summit channel or social media @creativecommons to connect with the community, learn more about next year’s summit, or our work in search and discoverability, open access, open education, and more. View photos from the event by Sebastiaan ter Burg and Iñigo Sanchez on CC’s Flickr page.

The post What does it mean to have a shared culture? A wrapup from this year’s CC Global Summit appeared first on Creative Commons.

by Jennie Rose Halperin at May 29, 2019 04:46 PM

Global Voices
In Myanmar, Buddhists offer white roses to Muslims during Ramadan

Photo from White Rose Campaign Facebook Page. Used with permission.

On 16 May 2019, a group of Buddhists in Myanmar's capital, Yangon, launched a ‘White Rose’ campaign which offers roses to Muslims who are fasting during Ramadan. The campaign was organized to show solidarity with Muslims after Buddhist mobs gathered around a number of temporary Muslim prayer houses and demanded that prayer services be suspended.

On the evenings of 14 and 15 May, mobs of more than 100 Buddhist extremists attempted to prevent Muslim prayers, demanding that three prayer houses set up for Ramadan observance in the South Dagon area of Yangon be closed down.

In response, Buddhist monk Bandatta Seidatta, more famously known as Asia Light Sayardaw, created the White Rose campaign. Bandatta Seidatta visited the South Dagon Muslim community on the evening of 16 May to offer them white roses as a way of providing encouragement and support. The campaign has been joined by interfaith activists, and in just one week, it has spread to other cities across Myanmar, including Mandalay, Sagaing, and Mawlamyine — even reaching Myanmar communities in Malaysia. The campaign continues to urge citizens in Myanmar to offer a white rose to their friends regardless of ethnicity or religion.

The campaign also urged Internet users to share posts on social media of people offering white roses to Muslims using the hashtag #WhiteRose4Peace.

statement from the campaign's official page reads:

[…] ငြိမ်းချမ်းရေးအတွက် နှင်းဆီဖြူလှုပ်ရှားမှုသည် မြန်မာနိုင်ငံအတွင်း ဖြစ်ပွားနေသည့် ဘာသာရေး ၊ လူမျိုးရေး မတည်ငြိမ်စေရန် ၊ အမုန်းပွားစေရန် တမင်ကြံစည်လုပ်ဆောင်မှုများကို ပြည်သူလူထုက ကြံကြံ့ခံ၍ ငြိမ်းချမ်းရေး၊ လူမှု သဟဇာတ ဖြစ်ရေးနှင့် တန်းတူညီမျှရေးကို တန်ဖိုးထားသော ငြိမ်းချမ်းရေးကို ချစ်မြတ်နိုးသူ မြန်မာပြည်သူ၊ ပြည်သားများ၏ လှုပ်ရှားမှု ဖြစ်ပါသည်။ […]

White rose for peace movement is the movement of the citizens of Myanmar who love peace and value equality and social harmony, by resisting those who intentionally spread hatred and provoke ethnic and religious instability in Myanmar right now.

White Rose Campaign in Yangon. May 27, 2019. From White Rose Campaign Facebook Page. Used with Permission.

Meanwhile, some netizens responded to the harassment of Muslims by changing their profile pictures with this frame endorsed by the Yangon Youth Network:

ဘာသာရေးအစွန်းရောက်များအတွက် ငါတို့နိုင်ငံမှာ နေရာမရှိ

There is no place for religious extremists in our country.

Profile frame developed by Yangon Youth Network.

Myanmar has a predominantly Buddhist population. Current Buddhist extremist movements in Myanmar were started by a radical group called MaBaTha in 2014. Although MaBaTha was declared unlawful by state bodies, the 969 movement initiated by the group and its leader Wirathu has inspired widespread discriminatory extremist movements and pervasive online hate-speech against Muslim minorities in the country. Since 2012, Myanmar has experienced several instances of religious conflicts across the country, including the large scale communal violence between Rohingya Muslims and Rakhine Buddhists.

To rebuild social cohesion among Buddhists and Muslims in Myanmar, civil society leader Thet Swe Win believes that government leaders must step up to speak about social harmony. He said during a recent interview by Irrawaddy News Agency that:

I attach greater importance to the moral leadership of political leaders. […] Frankly speaking, our leaders fail to provide moral leadership. Millions of Rohingya fled and many people died. […] They should at least acknowledge on humanitarian grounds that they had been living in the country, and are now in trouble after they left the country. Muslims have suffered, and Arakanese people are suffering now, and so are Kachin and Shan people. Only when a leader defines the norms and values of [a] society will people be able to follow. […] One day when we have leaders who dare to say the country has no place for people with such amoral attitudes, and define clear moral standards for the society, then, hopefully there will be some changes to our society.

by Thant Sin at May 29, 2019 03:37 PM

May 28, 2019

Rising Voices
Meet Blossom Ozurumba, the host of the @DigiAfricanLang Twitter account for May 29–June 4

Photo provided by Blossom Ozurumba

In 2019 as part of a social media campaign to celebrate linguistic diversity online, African language activists and advocates will be taking turns managing the @DigiAfricanLang Twitter account to share their experiences with the revitalization and promotion of African languages. This profile post is about Blossom Ozurumba. (@blossomozurumba) and what she plans to discuss during her week as host.

Rising Voices: Please tell us about yourself.

I am Blossom Ozurumba and several people call me Blossom while very few people call me Asampete which can be loosely translated from Igbo language to mean “the pretty one.” I am excited about Igbo language and culture and is committed to ensuring that several folks become literate in some or all of speaking, writing and reading. I am a founding member of the Igbo Wikimedians User Group and will most likely start a conversation about the Wikimedia Foundation without prompting. I live in Abuja, Nigeria and love the calm and unhurried feel of the city.

RV: What is the current status of your language on the internet and offline?

Igbo language speakers, readers and writers are gradually declining and unless a deliberate effort is made, the language might become extinct with time. I am excited to see a recent push across social media platforms to curate an offline gathering of Igbo people across various cities in Nigeria for a meet and greet. I am hopeful that such gatherings will catalyse and quicken a movement that will inspire more young people to learn and relearn how to speak, read and write.

RV: On what topics do you plan to focus during the week that you’ll manage the @DigiAfricanLang Twitter account?

I will focus on three major areas:

  1. Technology solutions that can help folks learn to read, write and speak Igbo language.
  2. How we can as a people help to improve the quality of Igbo language translations online.
  3. Attracting editors to contribute to the Igbo Language platforms across various Wikimedia projects.

 

RV: What are the main motivations for your digital activism for your language? What are your hopes and dreams for your language?

This is in two-fold; the foremost which speaks to the joy that I have for what I do and the other which is a a quest to ensure that more people get to embrace this joy that is beyond comprehension as we deliberately advocate for the Igbo language.

RV: What are your hopes and dreams for your language?

The sheer number of Igbo language speakers, readers and writers will keep increasing and more content made available.

by Rising Voices at May 28, 2019 07:26 PM

Global Voices
‘I don't want to be hacked to death!': Kenyans speak out against a spike in murders of women

In the past five months, at least 60 women were murdered

On October 24, 2017, Fanis Lisiagali, executive director of Healthcare Assistance Kenya, leads the White Ribbon Campaign march and promotes their rapid response call center hotline, which responds to violence against women in elections, Nairobi, Kenya. Photo by Carla Chianese, IFES, via Flickr / Creative Commons CC BY-NC 2.0.

Over a month has passed since the Kenyan young woman, Ivy Wangechi, was murdered on April 9, 2019, in broad daylight, allegedly by Naftali Kinuthia, a childhood acquaintance.

When Wangechi wouldn't take Kinuthia's calls following a recent reunion, he drove to Moi University, in Eldoret, Kenya, where Wangechi studied medicine — and killed her.

In the past five months alone, at least 60 femicide cases have been reported in Kenya, according to “The She Word,” a women’s Pan-African TV programme.

Nearly 40 percent of girls and women between 15 to 49 in Kenya have experienced physical violence at least once in their lifetime, and 24 percent experienced physical violence in 2017, according to the report “Global Study on Homicide: Gender-related killings of women and girls 2018,” conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

And the numbers keep climbing. Parliamentary police officer Helen Kwamboka is the latest victim, who was found brutally murdered inside her locked home in Nairobi. Police suspect her boyfriend, who is now on the run.

Despite the spike in gender-based murders, the issue has been met with indifference. Some have even blamed the murders on women:

But on May 27, 20 female members of parliament in Kenya launched a campaign against femicide called “Her Life Matters,” to raise national consciousness on killings that occur within relationships. The MPs also called for research into the cause of rampant killings among partners in relationships.

While there are laws and guidelines to prevent gender-based violence in Kenya, including the Protection Against Domestic Violence (PADV) Act (2015) and the National Guidelines on the Management of Sexual Violence (2014), they are rarely implemented.

Last month, on April 15, 2019, the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) released a statement calling for decisive action against femicide. FIDA offers mediation and psychosocial support to families and partners in attempts to ensure the safety of women. 

The group requested Kenyans to identify, report and testify against perpetrators of violence.

‘Sitaki shoka!’ ‘I don't want to be axed!’

Global Voices spoke with two Kenyan women, Joyce Nawiri, and Patty Mwangi, who offered their insights on the recent spike in femicides. The interviews took place via WhatsApp on April 23, 2019. Patty Mwangi's name was changed upon her request to protect her identity. 

Global Voices (GV): Do you feel like the current rise of violence toward women has affected you psychologically?

Joyce Nawiri (JN): It has given me a phobia for relationships because there's a risk of me dating such kind of a man.

Patty Mwangi (PM): I was at work when I heard about Wangechi, I was really scared that day. I had to run errands, I was in a haze, I don’t even know how I crossed the road. This guy stopped me from nowhere, I just stood still. It was “flight or faint” moment. But of course, I couldn’t run. In my head, I was wondering if the man wanted to attack me. But he just wanted to ask for directions.

GV: Do you feel safe when you are out alone during the day or at night?

JN: No, I don't. I don't know if an ex or rejected admirer is gonna appear from nowhere and slash me in the middle of the road during the day or at night. I've never felt safe at any time because of fear of being robbed or raped but now I have to add this kind of fear, too.

GV: Has it changed your perception of love and how to tread in its waters?

JN: Yes. How do I tell if a man I'm rejecting won't come back for my neck? How do I tell apart a genuine admirer from a psycho? How do I accept gifts or dates from a man? Personally, I don't accept anything from a man I don't have an interest in. But now I keep thinking, what if I do [because] I'm interested and later on, find out I actually don't like something about him? I'm a bisexual. I don't worry about these kinds of things when I'm dating a girl or when a girl is wooing me.

PM: I'm a sucker for love, but … my feelings have become heightened. If you don't feel safe, run! Trust your gut, it's always right. The red flags are always there if you are careful enough to see. I do my due diligence, I am that kind of person who seeks out information. I research the person I date. It’s not enough to just know someone’s last name.  

GV: How have the government and the police responded to the situation?

JN: To a very little extent. Most of the government is male-dominated. However, I'd like to commend one government official, Mr. Ezekiel Mutua [of the Kenya Film Commission Board], because he recently banned a song called “Pigwa Shoka,” where two men [encourage] their fellow men to brutally attack women who rejected them or played them for their money. This goes a long way in sensitizing the general public about the need to respect women's choices. The police only act when they're bribed or there's a public demand for justice. So they’re also not responsible in any way.

PM: I just think our government is incompetent.

GV: What are the measures that you've taken to stay safe? 

JN: I have threatened to take pictures of men who woo me and post them on social media so that these men stop. I get harassed a lot because of my body. I even carry ginger spray. I'm staying away from male admirers. When they ask for my number I give them my father's number. I've even shouted at male strangers in public places: “sitaki shoka!” [I don’t want to be hacked [to death!] whenever they begin asking for my number.

#EndFemicideNow

Kenyan netizens have taken to social media to call for the end of femicide and violence against women.

Twitter user Rayal George addressed the role that men can play in putting an end to the trend.

And Twitizen Anonymous Kenya agrees:

Hashtags like #HerLifeMatters and #EndFemicideNow have been making rounds on Twitter.

Last month, Siasa Place, a youth-based non-governmental organization, hosted a Twitter chat to discuss the issues surrounding GBV in Kenya and FIDA members were guest speakers.

On May 30, the Centre for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW) will hold a vigil where Kenyans are invited to meet at the University of Nairobi, to show solidarity to the victims of femicide.

by Susie Berya at May 28, 2019 12:59 PM

Global Voices Advocacy
Russia: Kommersant staff walk out in protest of censorship, triggering journalism ethics debate

Not all were sympathetic with the reporters’ plight.

Vladimir Putin meets the top editors of major Russian news outlets. Most of them are now either directly controlled by the state or owned by one of its loyal oligarchs // kremlin.ru under CC2.0

On May 20, 2019, the management of Kommersant, one of post-Soviet Russia’s oldest and most respected business newspapers, forced its two star reporters, Ivan Safronov and Maxim Ivanov, to resign.

The incident was triggered by an April 2019 article that Safronov and Ivanov co-wrote, along with three other staff reporters, about the possible resignation of Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of Russia's upper chamber of parliament, the Council of the Federation.

Citing anonymous sources, the article alleged that Matviyenko, a veteran politician who was the governor of St. Petersburg before taking the job in the parliament, was considering another top government position.

This was nothing out of the ordinary: well-respected publications in Russia often publish articles based on nothing but anonymous sources, as the country’s notoriously secretive ruling circles are reluctant to go on record about even the most trivial matters of bureaucratic musical chairs.

Sometimes these anonymous scoops do play out, but this particular one did not. One month has gone by since the story ran and Matviyenko has still not resigned. Perhaps the article spooked her plans, or perhaps it was simply wrong.

What came next was shocking to many, though not unprecedented: both reporters were forced to resign.

Maxim Ivanov announced the news on his Facebook page:

С завтрашнего дня я больше не работаю в ИД «Коммерсантъ».

Если без лирики: уход из Ъ оформлен по соглашению сторон, а решение о необходимости прекратить трудовые отношения принято акционером ИД. Поводом стала заметка «Спикеров делать из этих людей», в которой сказано о возможном уходе Валентины Матвиенко с поста председателя Совета федерации.

As of today, I’m no longer employed at the Kommersant publishing house. To avoid waxing lyrical: formally, my resignation from Kommersant is a mutual agreement between parties, but the decision to terminate my employment was made by the publishing house’s stakeholder. The reason is an article […] about the alleged resignation of Valentina Matviyenko from the position of the speaker of the Council of the Federation.

Kommersant has only one true “stakeholder” in Alisher Usmanov, one of the wealthiest people in the world, and the owner of a vast media empire which includes Kommersant, Megafon, one of the top four mobile providers in the country, and the Mail.Ru Group which owns stakes in two of the most popular social networks in the Russian-speaking world, Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki.

Kommersant is a tiny speck among Usmanov’s other assets but its political coverage seems to have caused him significant problems. In March this year, another Kommersant reporter, Maria Karpenko, was forced to resign over the Telegram channel she administered.

Several former and current employees told Runet Echo that Usmanov’s interference in the newspaper’s editorial affairs has been constant over the years, whenever he felt the coverage threatened his business interests or angered his patrons in the Kremlin.

In 2011, Maxim Kovalsky, the editor of Kommersant’s political magazine Vlast (Power) was fired for the magazine’s issue covering the mass fraud during the parliamentary elections.

It’s sad that we’re getting used to these purges in the media. Gazeta.ru, Lenta.ru, Delovoy Peterburg, now Kommersant. The list could go on. There are fewer and fewer large independent media outlets.

In an interview with Vedomosti, a competing business newspaper, Kommersant editor-in-chief Vladimir Zhelonkin said that Ivanov and Safronov had to resign because their article did not comply with editorial standards. He did not specify which standards exactly and skirted around the fact that he, as the top editor, had run the story on the newspaper's front page story when it came out. He also denied the allegations of Usmanov's involvement.

Just hours after Ivanov and Safronov were made to leave, the entire politics desk of Kommersant, several dozen people in total, resigned in protest and in solidarity with their colleagues.

One of the reporters, Vsevolod Inyutin, posted on his Facebook page a stack of signed notices saying: “I hereby resign from my position due to my disagreement with the stakeholder’s decision to dismiss two employees of the politics desk, Ivan Safronov and Maxim Ivanov.”

Screen capture of Vsevolod Inutin Facebook post.

К этому давно шло. Всё остальное написал Глеб Черкасов

It has been brewing for quite a while. Gleb Cherkasov [editor of Kommersant's politics desk] said the rest.

Crippled by mass resignations, Kommersant seemed unable to cover a crisis in its own ranks:

StalinGulag, a previously anonymous political blogger who became the focus of media attention when his true identity was revealed by investigative reporters, wondered why a newspaper in today’s Russia even needed a politics desk:

However, not all were sympathetic to Kommersant reporters’ plight.

On Telegram, some have wagered that the fired reporters’ public posturing was part of an attempt to promote the news outlet they were launching.

Meduza editor (and former RuNet Echo editor) Kevin Rothrock tweeted about the rumors:

Alexey Navalny, a prominent opposition politician, tweeted:

It’s all water under the bridge, of course, but when Usmanov sued me for saying that “Usmanov censors the Kommersant newspaper,” none of its reporters (former or current) stepped forward to be my witness. They all chickened out.

Navalny then wrote a lengthy post on his website accusing Kommersant’s reporters and editors of cowardice and acquiescence, and while still offering them legal support. He also called everyone who still hasn’t resigned a strikebreaker who should be ostracized.

But alongside Navalny’s public spat with journalists — one of many in his political career — there were others who echoed his statements.

RBC, another business news outlet competing with Kommersant and facing many of the same problems — its top editors were forced to step down after an investigation of Vladimir Putin’s wealth — wrote about the historical roots of today’s political crisis in Russian media:

Given that Russia’s top publications are either directly state-owned or belong to oligarchs loyal to the Kremlin, it’s unlikely that the crisis will be resolved anytime soon.

by RuNet Echo at May 28, 2019 12:31 AM

May 27, 2019

Global Voices Advocacy
Right to Information: With its new law in place, will Ghana go the way of Nigeria?

The law could bring more transparency — if implemented properly.

A media panel discussion at the Club Suisse de La Presse. Image by U.S. Mission Photo by Eric Bridiers. [Creative Commons Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) via Flickr, March 5, 2013]

On May 21, President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana gave accent to the Right to Information Act (RTI) that was passed by parliament on March 26.

This law grants citizens the right to seek, access and receive information from public bodies. It is intended to enable citizens to easily access information about public programs and services, while also promoting transparency in government and in fighting corruption.

UNESCO asserts that freedom of information is an “integral part of the right of freedom of expression.” In the region, the right to free expression is enshrined in the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa.

The legislation is an important check on government power that allows citizens, media outlets and human rights advocates to hold government actors to account for their duties as public servants. In the absence of such laws, violations of national law and human rights laws may be more likely to occur.

Program officers at the Open Society Foundations have written that the biggest challenge to implementing freedom of information legislation on the continent lies in fears over national security, which governments have used as an excuse to curtail transparency:

Perhaps the biggest single constraint to the effective implementation of access to information in Africa is the regional challenge of insecurity and mass-casualty terrorism. Negotiating the balance between guaranteeing public safety and security on the one hand and open and transparent government on the other has not been easy.

The passage of the RTI Act in Ghana marked the end of a two-decades-old road for a bill drafted in 1999, and underwent reviews in 2003, 2005 and 2007.

The bill was finally sent to the parliament in 2010, but the thrust to get the bill passed swelled in 2017. This was due to the formation of the Media Coalition on RTI which, with “support from other civil society organisations in the past 11 months, piled pressure on Parliament to get the Bill passed,” according to Ghanaian media outlet MyJoyOnline.

Ghana will join 22 other African countries that have adopted RTI laws (AFEX has a complete list through 2017), but as others have seen, the law's existence does not guarantee its robust implementation.

Will Ghana be like Nigeria?

Nigeria, Ghana's close neighbour, went through a similarly slow legislative process before the Freedom of Information (FOI) was signed into law in May 2011, by then-President Goodluck Jonathan. In the case of Nigeria, the FOI Act was preceded with a decade of activism which included three trips through and fro Nigeria's parliament, the National Assembly.

While civil society and the press struggled to make government business more transparent and open, the government resisted these moves.

Ayobami Ojebode, a professor of communication, wrote that the reasons behind the “reluctance” to pass the bill were a manifestation of “the age-long struggle in Nigeria (and elsewhere) between the press, citizens and civil society on the one hand and the government on the other.”

Nigeria's law gives everyone the right to request information “in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution.” In principle, making an FOI request in Nigeria can be done orally to an authorised government or public official “who must then reduce the application into writing and provide a copy of the written application to the applicant.” A request may also be made in writing or through a third party for illiterate applicants.

But in practice, this freedom has not been so easy to exercise. In a 2014 survey study, Ifeoma Dunu and Gregory Obinna Ugbo found that most Nigerian journalists were underutilising the act because it is difficult to take advantage of in practice. Despite being aware of the existence of the FOI, most of the journalists who participated in the study had “never made use of the law in the discharge of their journalistic responsibilities.” More than 80% of respondents said that some government authorities were not compliant with principles of the law, and that they had challenges using the law.

This study was conducted just three years after FOI became law in Nigeria. Today, many more journalists and civil society groups have kept tabs on the government through FOI applications. One project, known as the FOI Vault, tracks the number of requests made and to which government agency.

Yomi Akintomide, a development professional, described for Global Voices some of the limitations of FOI requests in Nigeria: The FOI Act still clashes with the Official Secrets Act, which remains binding for Nigerian public officers. Thus, since most Nigerian civil servants “think that everything is a secret,” most FOI requests are either “ignored or answered superficially.”

This shows that Nigerian civil servants still need capacity-building on the true workings of an FOI request. It also suggests that the Official Secrets Act should be amended to eliminate clashes with the FOI.

The passage of RTI in Ghana is being watched with muted breath. As the Nigerian experience has shown, the passage of a law is one thing, but its implementation is another.

by Nwachukwu Egbunike at May 27, 2019 07:26 PM

Global Voices
Right to Information: With its new law in place, will Ghana go the way of Nigeria?

The law could bring more transparency — if implemented properly.

A media panel discussion at the Club Suisse de La Presse. Image by U.S. Mission Photo by Eric Bridiers. [Creative Commons Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) via Flickr, March 5, 2013]

On May 21, President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana gave accent to the Right to Information Act (RTI) that was passed by parliament on March 26.

This law grants citizens the right to seek, access and receive information from public bodies. It is intended to enable citizens to easily access information about public programs and services, while also promoting transparency in government and in fighting corruption.

UNESCO asserts that freedom of information is an “integral part of the right of freedom of expression.” In the region, the right to free expression is enshrined in the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa.

The legislation is an important check on government power that allows citizens, media outlets and human rights advocates to hold government actors to account for their duties as public servants. In the absence of such laws, violations of national law and human rights laws may be more likely to occur.

Programme officers at the Open Society Foundations have written that the biggest challenge to implementing freedom of information legislation on the continent lies in fears over national security, which governments have used as an excuse to curtail transparency:

Perhaps the biggest single constraint to the effective implementation of access to information in Africa is the regional challenge of insecurity and mass-casualty terrorism. Negotiating the balance between guaranteeing public safety and security on the one hand and open and transparent government on the other has not been easy.

The passage of the RTI Act in Ghana marked the end of a two-decades-old road for a bill drafted in 1999, and underwent reviews in 2003, 2005 and 2007.

The bill was finally sent to the parliament in 2010, but the thrust to get the bill passed swelled in 2017. This was due to the formation of the Media Coalition on RTI which, with “support from other civil society organisations in the past 11 months, piled pressure on Parliament to get the Bill passed,” according to Ghanaian media outlet MyJoyOnline.

Ghana will join 22 other African countries that have adopted RTI laws (AFEX has a complete list through 2017), but as others have seen, the law's existence does not guarantee its robust implementation.

Will Ghana be like Nigeria?

Nigeria, Ghana's close neighbour, went through a similarly slow legislative process before the Freedom of Information (FOI) was signed into law in May 2011, by then-President Goodluck Jonathan. In the case of Nigeria, the FOI Act was preceded with a decade of activism which included three trips through and fro Nigeria's parliament, the National Assembly.

While civil society and the press struggled to make government business more transparent and open, the government resisted these moves.

Ayobami Ojebode, a professor of communication, wrote that the reasons behind the “reluctance” to pass the bill were a manifestation of “the age-long struggle in Nigeria (and elsewhere) between the press, citizens and civil society on the one hand and the government on the other.”

Nigeria's law gives everyone the right to request information “in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution.” In principle, making an FOI request in Nigeria can be done orally to an authorised government or public official “who must then reduce the application into writing and provide a copy of the written application to the applicant.” A request may also be made in writing or through a third party for illiterate applicants.

But in practice, this freedom has not been so easy to exercise. In a 2014 survey study, Ifeoma Dunu and Gregory Obinna Ugbo found that most Nigerian journalists were underutilising the act because it is difficult to take advantage of in practice. Despite being aware of the existence of the FOI, most of the journalists who participated in the study had “never made use of the law in the discharge of their journalistic responsibilities.” More than 80% of respondents said that some government authorities were not compliant with principles of the law, and that they had challenges using the law.

This study was conducted just three years after FOI became law in Nigeria. Today, many more journalists and civil society groups have kept tabs on the government through FOI applications. One project, known as the FOI Vault, tracks the number of requests made and to which government agency.

Abayomi Akinbo, a development professional, described for Global Voices some of the limitations of FOI requests in Nigeria: The FOI Act still clashes with the Official Secrets Act, which remains binding for Nigerian public officers. Thus, since most Nigerian civil servants “think that everything is a secret,” most FOI requests are either “ignored or answered superficially.”

This shows that Nigerian civil servants still need capacity-building on the true workings of an FOI request. It also suggests that the Official Secrets Act should be amended to eliminate clashes with the FOI.

The passage of RTI in Ghana is being watched with muted breath. As the Nigerian experience has shown, the passage of a law is one thing, but its implementation is another.

by Nwachukwu Egbunike at May 27, 2019 07:20 PM

Feeds In This Planet