Can social media really spur a revolution? Who benefits more from advances in technology—activists or authoritarian governments? What can the rest of the world do when Big Brother turns off the Internet? How did the successful Arab Spring turn into a complicated, bloody summer in Syria, Bahrain, and elsewhere? Can blogging make a difference in Cuba and North Korea?
Please join Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State University in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, July 13, for a conversation touching on these questions and more. Our agenda includes:
Internet Freedom and Human Rights: The Obama Administration’s Perspective
A discussion with Michael Posner, assistant secretary of state for the bureau of democracy, human rights, and labor, moderated by the Slate Group‘s Jacob Weisberg.
Internet Freedom’s Next Frontiers?
A conversation with Mary Jo Porter, a translator for Cuban bloggers, and Marcus Noland, co-author of Witness to Transformation: Refugee Insights Into North Korea.
Bypassing the Master Switch
Sascha Meinrath, director of the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative, and Ian Schuler, senior program manager at the State Department’s Internet Freedom Program, will discuss new ways to help activists circumvent Big Brother’s firewalls and surveillance.
This event is part of Future Tense, a partnership between Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State University that examines the transformative effects of emerging technologies on society and public policy. To learn about other Future Tense events and articles, and for the latest on the technologies that will transform your life in the next few years, follow us on Twitter @FutureTenseNow.
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Torie Bosch is the editor of Future Tense, a project from Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State that covers emerging technologies and their implications for society and policy. Follow her on Twitter.
Tag Archives: Human Rights
Arab Spring: Join Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State for a “Future Tense” discussion about technology, social media, and democracy
An old woman had died. Before burying the her, the residents of the village of Obo — in southern Central African Republic, just north of the Congolese border — gathered around a campfire to eat, drink, cry and sing in celebration of the woman’s long life. It was a night in March 2008, just another beat in the slow rhythm of existence in this farming community of 13,000 people.
Then the dreadlocked fighters from the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group — tongo-tongo, the villagers call them — rose from their hiding places in the shadows and advanced toward the fire. Others blocked the paths leading from town. The rebels killed anyone who resisted, kidnapped 100 others and robbed everyone in sight. The LRA forced the captured men and women to carry stolen goods into the jungle before releasing them. Boys and girls, they kept. The boys would be brainwashed, trained as fighters and forced to kill. The girls would be given to LRA officers as trophies, raped and made to bear children who would represent the next generation of LRA foot soldiers.The gang released the adults. Boys and girls, they kept.
It was a familiar tragedy, repeated countless times across Central Africa since firebrand Christian cultist Joseph Kony created the LRA in the mid-1980s, aiming to establish a sort of voodoo theocracy in northern Uganda. Defeated in its home country, in 2005 the LRA fled westward across Sudan, Congo and Central African Republic, looting, raping, killing and mutilating as it went.
Obo was just one of hundreds of communities terrorized by the LRA. Many simply wither and die afterwards.
But Obo didn’t.
Instead, Obo’s surviving villagers raised their own volunteer scout force (depicted above), armed it with homemade shotguns, and began disseminating intelligence on the LRA’s movements using the village’s sole, short-range FM radio transmitter.
The results of this Do-It-Yourself approach were encouraging. Since the attack three years ago, Obo has not suffered another major LRA invasion. Noting Obo’s successful strategy, Invisible Children, a California-based aid group, in March traveled into Central African Republic to help Dutch group Interactive Radio for Justice upgrade the town’s radio to a much longer-range model, further boosting the community’s self-defense capability.
Invisible Children’s goal: to increase by 30 times the area the town could keep on alert, while also plugging Obo into a radio-based “early warning network” that Invisible Children has been building in Congo since last year. The network of High Frequency and FM radios allows communities across the LRA-infested region to share intelligence and warn each other of impending rebel attacks.
How the people of Obo have guarded their town, and the role American humanitarians played in their success, represents a possible vision for grassroots security in a region that has long defied large-scale armed intervention.
But there’s a downside to DIY security. In arming itself and taking on intelligence tasks, Obo is essentially giving up on ever receiving help from Central African Republic’s impoverished government. That can only further undermine the government’s tenuous legitimacy — and could fuel wider instability in the future.
This is quite an impressive series of articles from The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. There’s a link at the bottom of this web clip that takes you to the other pieces in the series, so far. Good reading.
INSIDE: Interactive map with video
FARGO – Fifteen years ago, Laetitia Mizero found herself once again a refugee in her own country.
, June 11, 2011
By Salil Shetty, Secretary-General of Amnesty International
Last March, when Andrei Zhuk’s mother brought one of her usual food parcels to the prison in Minsk, she was turned away. Her son ‘had been moved’, officials told her. She should not come looking for him anymore, they said, but should instead wait for notification from the court.
Three days later, she was informed by prison staff that her son and another man, Vasily Yuzepchuk, cell mates on death row for separate murders, had been shot. Officials refused to return Andrei’s body or belongings, or even to say where he had been buried. She was shocked. Her husband suffered a heart attack upon hearing the news.
The executions were the first in Belarus – the last executioner in Europe and the former Soviet Union – in more than a year. They stood in stark, disturbing contrast to the rising tide of world opinion that has seen a growing list of countries abolishing the death penalty in either law or practice.
But while an overwhelming majority of countries around the world have stopped executing, some, like Belarus, defiantly resist. They claim popular mandates, crime deterrence or religious, cultural or political principles as justifications. But whatever their reasoning, they account for thousands of deaths each year involving this most cruel and inhumane punishment.
In 1977, when Amnesty International began its global campaign against the death penalty, it had been abolished by only 16 countries. Now, as the organization’s annual report Death Sentences and Executions 2010 shows, nearly a hundred countries have stopped using it for all crimes, with 139 ending it in law or practice. And there are other encouraging milestones.
A new “panic button” cellphone application is being promoted by the U.S. State Department for pro-democracy activists, especially those in the Arab world and China, that wipes out the phone’s contacts and alerts fellow activists.
One may wonder how much the State Department will be promoting the technology within our own borders. —JCL
Some day soon, when pro-democracy campaigners have their cellphones confiscated by police, they’ll be able to hit the “panic button”—a special app that will both wipe out the phone’s address book and emit emergency alerts to other activists.
The panic button is one of the new technologies the U.S. State Department is promoting to equip pro-democracy activists in countries ranging from the Middle East to China with the tools to fight back against repressive governments.
“We’ve been trying to keep below the radar on this, because a lot of the people we are working with are operating in very sensitive environments,” said Michael Posner, assistant U.S. secretary of state for human rights and labor.
2009 was an amazing year of celebration and revival for the UN Declaration on Human Rights. Over 52,000 people signed a pledge to promote the goals and support our belief that Every Human Has Rights. CIVICUS are working hard to evolve the campaign so we can continue to promote the goals, keep visiting back for more. Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nice site, pointed out by @TheFreeHumanist on Twitter