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October 11 2011

Cuba: New Independent News Agency

Pedazos de La Isla announces the launch of a new independent press agency in Cuba; Uncommon Sense comments: “Cuba's independent journalists…are deserving of respect and admiration because without their reports…from the front lines of the struggle for liberty, the world would know far less about the reality of life on the island today.”

Jamaica, U.S.A.: #OccupyTogether Going Global

Diaspora blogger Labrish Jamaica says of the global spread of the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon: “BRILLIANT! May this be the beginning of the end of the immoral, rapacious greed and criminality that has overrun democracy in favor of the 1% plutocratic overlords…”

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Portugal: Lisbon Hosts Citizenship 2.0 Event

On October 13, Lisbon is going to host an event about new platforms that promote dialogue in society, aiming to stimulate the discussion between the Portuguese government, public administration, NGOs and citizens - Cidadania 2.0 (Citizenship 2.0). Some sessions are going to be livestreamed [pt], and the hashtag #cid20 is already being used on Twitter (@cidadania20).

China: More Visits to the Blind Activist Chen Guangcheng

Samuel Wade from China Digital Times has an update on the activist action to rescue the blind activist Chen Guangcheng from his house arrest at the Dongshigu Village in Yi'nan County, Shandong Province.

Global Voices Podcast: 3rd Arab Bloggers Meeting - Part 2

Global Voices Podcast HomepageSubscribe in iTunes

Hello world!

In an addition to our usual monthly podcast, we have some special audio for you from the newly concluded 3rd Arab Bloggers Meeting in Tunisia.

Nearly 100 bloggers from Arab countries gathered in Tunis from October 3-6, 2011 in a meeting hosted by Global Voices, Nawaat and the Heinrich Böll Foundation to discuss citizen media, safety online, post-revolutionary ideas, and of course to meet each other face to face - some for the first time. In the 12 interviews in these two podcasts (check out Part 1) you will hear about online anonymity using Tor, revolution in a historical context, forthcoming elections in Arab countries, filmmaking, blogging and hope. And much, much more.

Arab Bloggers Meeting, 2011: Part 2

Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and many other countries have citizens living through a time of change and upheaval. Our online information these days is fast and furious when it comes to the minute by minute events, but how should we find context in a time of revolution?

Zeynep Tufekci is an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard. She presented a wonderful talk at the conference about the importance of putting revolutions into a historical context.

Part of telling the story of revolutionary times in a digital age requires video. Clips on YouTube offer powerful snapshots, but it is also important to follow a narrative to gain a greater understanding. Alexandra Sandels is a Swedish journalist and co-director and producer of a documentary called Zero Silence about young people using the Internet for change. It was screened on the first day of the Arab Bloggers Meeting.

Bloggers from nearly all Arab countries attended the meeting to learn from one another about citizen media and activism. Hayder Hamzoz is a blogger from Baghdad, Iraq. We chatted about his activities online and how the website Iraqi Streets shows an alternative Iraq to the one shown in mainstream news headlines.

The dangers of being identified and apprehended for protest and online activity are numerous and in some cases horrifying. There are methods for staying safer that people can enact, and there is also software that can help. Roger Dingledine works on an anonymity or privacy or circumvention tool called Tor. We talked about how it works.

That's all we have for the special edition of the Global Voices podcast at the 3rd Arab Bloggers Meeting!

Group photo from Arab Bloggers Meeting, Tunis 2011

Group photo, Arab Bloggers Meeting, Tunis 2011 by Ibtihel Zaatouri (CC-BY)

Thanks to everyone who took time to talk to me, to the organisers for creating such a fantastic forum, and to Mark Cotton who adapted our Global Voices theme tunes for this particular episode.

Global Voices Podcast HomepageSubscribe in iTunes

Global Voices Podcast: 3rd Arab Bloggers Meeting - Part 1

Global Voices Podcast HomepageSubscribe in iTunes

Hello world!

In an addition to our usual monthly podcast, we have some special audio for you from the newly concluded 3rd Arab Bloggers Meeting in Tunisia.

Nearly 100 bloggers from Arab countries gathered in Tunis from October 3-6, 2011 in a meeting hosted by Global Voices, Nawaat and the Heinrich Böll Foundation to discuss citizen media, safety online, post-revolutionary ideas, and of course to meet each other face to face - some for the first time. In the 12 interviews in these two podcasts (check out Part 2) you will hear about online anonymity using Tor, revolution in a historical context, forthcoming elections in Arab countries, filmmaking, blogging and hope. And much, much more.

Arab Bloggers Meeting, 2011: Part 1

Naturally the topic of Arab uprisings was a big part of the conversation. The role of the citizen journalist has been very important in describing events to a wider audience. I chatted with Egyptian blogger and Global Voices author Lilian Wagdy, about why the benefits outweigh the challenges of this difficult work.

Online activists and bloggers travelled from near and far to come to the meeting. Yazan Badran is a Syrian blogger and Global Voices author currently based in Japan. He told us what motivated him to travel the distance to be at the meeting.

Though the past uprisings are a constant topic of conversation, the Arab Bloggers meeting this year was a forum for pushing things onward. Nasser Weddady, a blogger from Mauritania, is also the Civil Rights Outreach Director for the American Islamic Congress based in Boston, USA. We talked about the main issues of the day.

A number of talks and presentations during the meeting shed light on current events as well as providing training and new ideas. Marek Tuszynski, co-founder and co-director of Tactical Technology Collective gave a presentation about clear visualisation for online activists.

Many participants attended previous Arab Bloggers Meetings. With Jillian C. York, Director of International Freedom of Expression Electronic Frontier Foundation in the United States (as well as Global Voices author and board member), we talked about her experience and why the EFF takes an interest in international freedom of expression.

In the conversation with Jillian, we talked about how Palestinian bloggers were denied visas by the Tunisian government to attend the meeting. Aternative methods were used to contact these bloggers and include them in the meeting. One blogger of Palestinian origin was there. I spoke to Saed Karzoun about the visa debacle, and what he hoped to bring to the event.

The location of the Arab Bloggers meeting in Tunis was highly relevant to the main topics discussed. Tunisia has seen a revolution and inspired many other movements in the region. Malek Khadraoui is the co-administrator of Tunisian website Naawat, an independent group blog. We chatted about how the network of bloggers across Arab nations offers both hope and valuable practical advice.

There were so many experienced, entertaining, knowledgeable and wonderful people at the Arab Bloggers Meeting, I could not fit them all into one edition of the Global Voices podcast. You can hear more of these great interviews in Part 2.

Thanks to everyone who took time to talk to me, to the organisers for creating such a fantastic forum, and to Mark Cotton who adapted our Global Voices theme tunes for this particular episode.

Global Voices Podcast HomepageSubscribe in iTunes

October 10 2011

Cuba: Outpouring of Support for Las Damas' Leader

Over the weekend, the leader of Cuba's Las Damas de Blanco (The Ladies in White), Laura Pollan, fell ill. News of her hospitalization has come on the heels of successive weekends of the opposition group - along with other human rights activists - being targeted, allegedly on account of their anti-government protests. Bloggers, both on island and throughout the diaspora, reached out online to offer their support and wishes for Pollan's recovery.

Uncommon Sense spoke of Pollan's influence and courage in the fight for the rights of political prisoners in Cuba:

Pollan is one of the more fearless figures in the Cuban opposition, bravely leading the Damas on peaceful marches in Havana and other cities on behalf of their imprisoned loved ones and other political prisoners in Cuba. She has carried forth the group's campaign even after her husband, Hector Maseda, was released earlier this year after 8 years in prison.

Last month, Pollan and other Damas were attacked by a Castroite mob sent to block them from marching in Havana to commemorate a religious feast day. News coverage included a photograph of Pollan and another marcher being pushed against a wall by a mob.

Please keep this courageous woman and her family in your prayers.

Along the Malecon posted two updates yesterday: the first, a link of an interview with Pollan (before she fell ill) talking about the experiences Las Damas have endured in their fight. The post ends by saying:

Fellow members of Las Damas de Blanco marched on Sunday along Quinta Avenida in Havana and prayed for the dissident leader…they said Pollán was in intensive care with respiratory problems caused by an as-yet-unknown virus.

The blog's second update contains an interview with Pollan's husband, which Yoani Sanchez posted via twitpic. The blogger, Tracey Eaton, summed it up this way:

He said his overall impression after visiting Pollán was ‘very positive.' Maseda is a former political prisoner whose imprisonment inspired Pollán to help start Las Damas de Blanco, dedicated to freeing all political prisoners.

In the face of limited information about Pollan's condition, words seemed inadequate; some bloggers simply posted photo tributes to the Las Damas leader.

Generation Y, though, thought it important to talk about the messages sent about activists like Laura Pollan through the state media and the seemingly increasing number of Cubans who choose not to believe them:

Cubans increasingly doubt what they are told, begin to read between the lines, and interpret, in reverse, information in the national media. The disbelief has gotten to the point where insult is deciphered as praise and vice versa. Those demonized by partisan publications are thus transformed into admired beings — albeit in a whisper — and even those fired from the government apparatus acquire a certain aura of appeal.

Knowing this peculiar phenomenon of reinterpretation, the number of people who have called me to ask about the health of Laura Pollan does not surprise me. The great number of friends and onlookers who have gathered outside the Calixto Garcia Hospital emergency room where she was admitted for acute respiratory distress is comforting. Considering all the insults, curses, and lies that have been launched against this woman on the official television, the reactions of so many Cubans in solidarity with her is a revelation. The dozens of text messages transmitting medical reports about the leader of the Ladies in White, the prayers at shrines throughout Cuba, and the encouragement from so many other peaceful activists, are the major silencers of this shrill character who — in our living rooms — launches into a tirade we no longer believe in.

Global Voices will post updates on Ms. Pollan's condition as they become available.

Cuba: Fonseca & Husband Released

Uncommon Sense reports that “almost two weeks after they were arrested, Cuban activists Sara Martha Fonseca and her husband Julio Ignacio Leon were released from jail on Friday.”

Bahamas: Women's Right to Safety

“Crime in the Bahamas denies women and their children the right to safety, which is a human right,” says Womanish Words, adding: “The new Nobel laureates I hope will remind Bahamian women of this human right to safety , and inspire us to courage enough to speak out when this right is denied to us.”

South Korea: Movie Prompts Outrage Over Disabled Child Sex Crimes

In South Korea, the movie ‘Crucible' has brought a long-forgotten rape case to light. It is based on the true story of disabled children who were continuously raped by school officials for five years; the offenders however, walked away from the courtroom nearly unscathed.

The movie, which has been a major hit for several consecutive weeks and been seen by several million Koreans, has sparked calls for the reinvestigation of the crime and amendment of related law articles.

The serial rapes were done to hearing-impaired kids in a special education institution in Gwangju city. The case was unearthed by an insider report in 2005 and brought into the public eye in 2009 in the novel ‘Dogani', on which the movie is originally based.

The offenders, including the school headmaster, were indicted, but of the six school officials involved, only two received jail terms of less than a year, while two were sentenced to probation and the remaining two went unpunished. The trailer can be viewed on YouTube:

Less than a week since the movie was released, over 74,000 netizens have signed an online petition [ko] demanding further investigation. Accepting public calls for action, a special police team has been set up and Gwangju city has decided to shut down [ko] the school. The Supreme Court plans to draft [ko] a new bill that will enable courts to order harsher punishments for sex crimes on disabled individuals.

Even the Grand National Party, the nation's ruling party, is discussing [ko] enabling judges to punish sex crimes on under-age kids retrospectively. The Twittersphere lit up with responses, with many saying that they felt repulsed, uneasy, helpless and angry after watching the movie.

Twitter user @lovely__StaR tweeted [ko] :

나도 도가니보고 기분 찝찝했어요. 분노와 슬픔과 뭐라 형용할 수 없는 감정이 뒤섞여서.

After I watched the movie, I felt really uneasy because all these feelings - anger, sadness and something indescribable - are all jumbled together.

Son So-ra (@BbiBbiZz) tweeted [ko] :

불편한 진실이라는 수준을 넘어서 듣고도,알고도,외면하고 싶은 지경에 진실인것같다.. 아역배우들의 부모님들이 출연결정을 내린것이 참 대단할정도다!

It is beyond an uncomfortable truth. It is the truth we don't want to listen and we wish to turn away from, even though we knew it does exist. I applaud the parents of the young actors for their courageous decision of allowing their kids to star in such a movie.

Sports journalist, Seoh Ho-jung (@goalgoalsong) tweeted [ko] :

전 분노를 넘어 사회 구성원으로 책임감을 느꼈어요. 사회적 약자에 무관심했던 걸 반성했고요.

Beyond anger, I felt the sense of responsibility as a member of society. And I deeply regret that I've been so apathetic toward underprivileged groups in our society.

Seoh Young-seok(@du0280) tweeted [ko] that the city where the scenes are taking place is a reflection of the darker aspects of our society:

무진이란 작은 도시 속에서 교직채용비리, 경찰과 학원재벌들과의 유착관계, 전관예우 변호사의 비리적 현실, 학연과 돈에 넘어가는 의사와 판사, 변호사. […]축소판이더군요.

There is so much corruption in that small city of Mujin. There is corruption in the teacher hiring process, the chain of collusive ties between police and academic institute moguls, the back-scratching alliance of lawyers and former judges, and those doctors, judges and lawyers bending over for money and (making decisions) in favor of someone from their academic clique. It is a microcosm of our society.

Dong Soo (@taiot) tweeted [ko] a famous line from the movie. It is said by a male character who fought against the school authority for the kids but was finally kicked out of the school.

세상을 바꾸려는 게 아니라 세상이 나를 바꾸지 못하게 싸우는 것이다”(도가니)

It is not about changing the world, but I am fighting against the world forcing me to change.

Among numerous social media responses, tweets by Kim Kwang-jin (@cop5680) have invited controversy. Kim is the police officer in Gwangju who investigated the rape case several years ago. Kim tweeted [ko]:

어느덧 6년이라는 세월이 흘렀고, 그 사건 이후 내 기억 속에 서서히 사라져 갔던 그 애들을 기억하기 위해 당시 사건을 같이 수사했던 선배 형사와 함께 영화관을 찾았다. 6년전 광주 인화학교에 다니던 여학생들에게 피해내용을 확인하면서 세상에서 일어나지 말아야 할 일들이 너무 많다고 생각했다. 경찰관으로 재직하면서 여러가지 사건을 접해보았지만 그 사건은 세상의 모든 단어를 사용 하더라도 제대로 표현할 수 없었다.[…]정상인도 그런 피해를 당하면 제대로 표현하지 못하는 법인데, 하물며 아픔을 감내하며 고사리 같은 손으로 만든 일그러지고 처절한 그들의 수화에 미안하고 또 미안했다.

Six years have passed since that rape case and my memory of those kids got blurry over the years. To revive my memory of those kids, I went to the movie with my senior partner with whom I investigated the case. [Back when he was investigating the case] As I delved further into what had happened to those young female students in Gwang-ju In-wha school, I felt that there are so many things going on this world that should never be happening. Although I had experienced various different cases, in this case - even with using all the words that ever existed in the world dictionary - it is impossible to describe [the brutality of ] this case. […] Even non-disabled people, when they became the victim of such assaults, they have a hard time describing the crime scene, but those kids who are using sign languages to describe what had happened… When I watched the scene of the kids forcing themselves to describe the brutal, cruel situation with their small hands, I felt really sorry.

Kim later added that some of the scenes in the movie, such as the police taking bribes from the headmaster to cover up the case, excessive police brutality to protesters and a student victim killed by a train accident were added up to spice up the movie.

Best-selling novelist Kong Ji-young who wrote the novel ‘Dogani', acknowledged this aspect but lambasted [ko] Kim for delaying the investigation. Kong tweeted [ko] that if they were really sorry, the police should not have delayed the investigation for four months for no apparent reason. Kim explained that the four month delay was spent laying groundwork for investigation.

October 09 2011

Croatia: Court Forbids Homophobic Priest From Blogging

Serbia Insajd, a Hungarian blog about South-Eastern Europe, reports [hu] that the Rijeka Court has banned Franjo Jurčević, a Kastav-based Catholic priest, from writing homophobic blog posts [Jurčević's blog, hr:]. The court has also ordered Jurčević to publish the court decision in two national dailies at his own expense.

October 08 2011

Brazil: Different Perspectives on Steve Jobs' Work

As the world mourns the death of Steve Jobs, the Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff illustrates another side of the entrepreneur. The same does Rodrigo Savazoni, on the blog Trezentos, saying [pt] that Jobs was the number one enemy of collaboration.

Brazil: FIFA's Demands in the Run Up to the World Cup 2014

Brazilian blogger José Carlos denounces [pt] the controversial demands of FIFA (the highest governing body of football) on the preparation of the World Cup 2014 . Several Brazilian laws, such as the half price tickets', may be violated to ensure greater exposure of FIFA's products and profits.

Poland: Facebook Initiative Puts Pressure on Politicians

“One cannot ignore tens of thousands of votes”

More than 63,000 netizens gathered on Facebook to express their ideas on how to improve the Polish legislation. Image courtesy of the "Appeal to Parliamentarians" organizers.

For the past two months, a Facebook initiative called “Appeal to parliamentarians” [pl], with more than 60,000 fans, has been crowd-sourcing ideas to improve the Polish legislation. Ahead of the upcoming Oct. 9 parliamentary elections, the organizers presented ideas to political parties and promised to endorse those who would support the most popular of the netizens’ proposals.

The initiative arose from a campaign that the same group of people had started in order to change one of the most restrictive drug laws in the EU. With a proper videospot [pl], with a celebrity as the campaign face and, in the end, with over 60,000 facebook fans who didn’t agree with the perspective of going to jail for three years for smoking one joint. Eventually, the Polish Parliament adopted the new drug law [pl], and the Facebook initiative celebrated it as its victory, although many netizens described the amendment as irrelevant.

On the group's Facebook wall, one the the followers, Alex Raczynski, criticized the achievement but noted the relevance of the change as such on May 26:

Born in pain, incomplete, lousy, not changing much. But anyway the content of the articles doesn’t really matter here. What is important is the fact that old parliamentarian geezers bended under the pressure of society. Bravo my dears. Very slowly but consequently we head towards a civil society.

Encouraged by the success of the campaign, the organizers decided to widen horizons and transform the campaign into a tool for young people to put pressure on politicians. Especially in the context of the upcoming parliamentary election. They wrote on their Facebook wall:

Just think: which party would ignore at least tens of thousands of potential votes? Let’s invite friends, let’s get media attention and let’s put pressure on the politicias. Maybe they will finally start to listen to us?

“To the blackboard!”

A new campaign and videospot, posted on Sep. 15 by Apelujemy on Vimeo, encouraged Polish netizens to post their ideas in the Facebook group:

In the press release, the organizers stress their political neutrality and describe the action as the voice of young people who feel ignored or betrayed by political parties.

Michal Juda, one of the organizers, says [pl]:

The election is approaching and we don’t have anybody to vote for. We are reading the parties' agendas and we can’t find anything that really interests us. That’s why we have created this initiative, “To the blackboard!”. With the help of Facebook, we want to engage young people and create our own list of postulates. Then we'll show them to the politicians [running in the upcoming election] and ask for their positions on each one of them.

The new project elicited different responses among the fans of the group. On July 15, Pan Kapica encouraged [pl] the organizers to continue with the citizen initiative:

I will support every, even the smallest change of the Polish “anti-drug” law. Appeal to the parliamentarians has become a very strong, concrete citizen initiative – and Poland needs this. If we have achieved something like this, why not go further?

Damazy Podsiadło stressed the importance [pl] of the initiative but was sceptical about its actual impact:

The idea is good, it’s good to remind our deputies that they are representatives chosen by citizens in order to act in the people’s best interest. The mandate to govern comes from us (theoretically, but, more importantly, also legally), so we have the right to do such actions and we should organize them. I personally think that the parliamentarians are so cynical by now that they forgot it. So – it’s good that we have such initiatives but I still have doubts if we are really going to manage to achieve anything in the long term with their help only.

Kamil Fikou expressed [pl] the same concern in a more pointed way on the group's Facebook wall on Aug. 8:

Cool that this initiative is taking place, but the truth is that the government doesn’t give a shit about it.

Iza Forys supported [pl] the initiative on July 17:

I’m for many changes in the Polish law because this country is impossible to live in. And it’s enough to take a short look at other countries to see a diametric difference (and to be perfectly clear, I’m not talking only about the marijuana case). Everyday probably each one of us faces lots of absurdities and we all just shut our eyes to it, one has to function somehow in these conditions. But the question is – do we really have to or is it just because we are lazy? I will support every initiative that unifies people and tries to change something.

El Ogurro doesn’t believe [pl] in the power of Internet activism and pleads for real actions:

Or maybe it’s time to realize that the world isn’t changing on Facebook but on the streets with a Molotov in the hand.

And Sebastian Chmura complained about slacktivism:

It’s easy to click on “like” - but then nobody wants to go to vote

Despite scepticism, once the Facebook “blackboard” opened, thousands of people have answered questions and posted ideas about changes in the Polish legislation. The postulates touched upon such topics as employment, family politics and relations with church, and caused many discussions. One of the biggest concerns of the young people remained the drug law – thousands of netizens postulated decriminalisation of marijuana.

The action has received some media coverage [pl], but – more importantly - also some actual reactions from politicians who answered netizens’ questions in short video recordings [pl], available on YouTube (here, here, here and here). The peak of the campaign was the debate [pl] at the University of Warsaw with representatives of most political parties. Among these major parties the only party missing was the national-conservative party Law and Justice, led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

On Sunday, October 9, the Polish election day, young netizens can decide who has passed the test and answered the “blackboard” questions correctly - and who has failed their expectations. Is this online debate a beginning of a new quality in the political culture in Poland? Alex Raczynski is optimistic in his Sept. 20 post:

I’m full of hope for a genuine bottom-up citizen debate about real things. Just look at what we’ve achieved starting with the drugs politics. […]

October 07 2011

Brazil: Mega No to Surveillance Wins FRIDA Award

The movement Mega No to Surveillance [pt], a Brazilian watchdog of online censorship, has won the FRIDA International Award in the category “Freedoms”. This joint initiative of Latin American Network Information Center, International Development Research Centre and Internet Society, rewards digital innovation and research initiatives that have made the Internet catalyze change in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Iran: Against forced Hijab

Setareiran proposes each Thursday at 17h, Iranian women move their veils for five seconds to protest against forced veil (hijab).

Reposted byiranelection iranelection

Slovakia: New Draft Law Threatens Internet Freedom

The Slovak Ministry of Finance has published a draft law [sk] that would allow blocking web servers that provide online gambling without a Slovak license. Internet providers would have to block web sites from a list updated twice a month - not by the court, but by the Tax Office.

Against this idea are, among others, the non-governmental Society for Open Information Technologies (SOIT) [sk] and the Slovak IT Association [sk]. SOIT warns that this way Facebook should also be blocked completely, because it allows users to play online roulette and poker.

According to SOIT consumer protection, crime prevention or reduction of tax burden are not sufficient arguments for establishing of Internet censorship: “We believe that the promotion of purely economic interests at the expense of personal freedoms of citizens is particularly dangerous and unconstitutional.”

Their online petition [sk] has been signed by thousands of citizens. Later, the Ministry of Finance asked [sk] the European Commission for their opinion.

Below are some comments from a discussion at


this should be … immediately taken to the Constitutional Court … because if it starts, […] we will end up with just the [web] pages of the Ministry of Finance :-(

Blur(rr)e(d) vision:

This whole idea is sick. What if I earn money and go to Las Vegas and spend it all there? Will the Minister prevent me from doing this?

yep, me again:

when we start blocking some selected entrepreneurs and companies … that are based in the EU, then we say that we want to be in the free-trade club only if it is useful to us … and that is already not free trade.


Just as I can order goods from a German e-shop, or let a licensed German architect design my house, I can freely bet through a British online casino.

Peter Šoltés:

If the Minister was serious in that he wants to increase the intake into the state budget, he would first eliminate Tipos [a 100% state-owned company] monopoly on online poker and online casino.


And next they will block Amazon, because a local company has higher prices, and we will search using only because Google will be blocked too. Not to mention the fact that Wikipedia will be blocked in all language versions because of our cobweb-filled libraries!


we will start with gambling and end up like in China … because the state will not release its claws when it can extend its scope and power.


And speaking of morality, does he think that the same services, just provided by Slovak companies, will be moral?


What's interesting is that they never propose to proceed in the opposite direction - somewhere else they have better conditions, so let's change the conditions in our country.


A typical political solution - hardly feasible, its effectiveness is problematic and it probably also violates international treaties … So it seems the problem will stay unsolved … but it will trigger other, more serious problems. This approach - “we do not know how to tax it, so we will disable it” - is incredible and shows that the author of this solution has a problem with elementary understanding of how the world behaves in the 21st century.


I would like to hear/read the Minister's opinion on how a person threatens public morality when he is playing PC online gambling game at home?


disable something on the Internet? lol :-)))


Mr. Minister, please concern yourself with the real problems and needs of Slovakia and its people. Leave such nonsense to others who understand that blocking or censoring the internet is virtually impossible (if you do not want to be a second China) and incorrect, if not unconstitutional.


We all are stupid, incapable of thinking for ourselves, making decisions and acting independently. Therefore, we need clever, omnipotent, the most beautiful, the best, infallible politicians who will tell us that when we put our hand into the fire it will burn, because we stupid idiots can't figure it out by ourselves.


What nonsense. Do they want to draw boundaries on the net?

Thumbnail image of Slovakian flag by Flickr user HatM (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

October 06 2011

Bahrain: Dr Ghassan Dhaif Tweets His Jail Experience

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011.

Twitter avatar of Dr. Ghassan Dhaif between his wife Dr. Zahra Sammak and daughter and two sons

The plight of Bahraini medics, 20 of whom have been sentenced to 5 to 15 years in prison on allegedly fabricated charges, is still gathering momentum, despite an announcement by the government to re-trial them in a civilian court.

Medical organizations abroad, especially those located in Ireland, have shown a lot of support and solidarity with the medics by awarding them for their courage and dedication and by taking part in a hunger strike a month ago to demand their release. One of the interesting takes in the medics' case is that many of the targeted doctors have become active in social networks, tweeting their stories, about getting beaten, tortured, harassed, and insulted whether by the police or even some members of the Royal family.

In the following tweets, Dr Ghassan Dhaif (@ghassandhaif) tweets his story. He is a Senior Consultant oral and maxillofacial surgeon at the Ministry of Health and he was the first Bahraini maxillofacial surgeon in Bahrain, who started his practice in 1995. He was sentenced to 15 years in jail while his wife Dr Zahra Sammak (@Zahrasammak) was sentenced to five years. Being a couple, their story gathered a lot of attention and sympathy especially when they told the world about the reaction of their children after the court's decision:

@ghassandhaif: My children asked me: Baba are you going to jail for 15 years and mama for 5 years after what you have done to save lives? I broke in tears

@ghassandhaif: My children told me: Baba we are proud of you and mama coz both of you loved people and people loved you. We will wait for both of you.

@ghassandhaif: My children: though mum and dad are going to prison, you won't be alone because the whole world is behind you. We both will rest on peace.

@ghassandhaif: My wife goes to jail for 5 years and my kids left lonely for no reason but helping people in need for medical aid. Not fair my country

The Story of Torture

A few days ago, Dr Nada Dhaif told The Times that she was tortured by princess Nourah Al-Khalifa. She said she, among others, was threatened of rape. Dr Ghassan tweeted his story of torture and how he too was also threatened that his wife and daughter would be raped.

@ghassandhaif: The amount of torture medics have experienced is beyond imagination. It showed the hate and revenge. All have permanent disabilities

@ghassandhaif: When i was examined by American doctor, she got shocked from hearing me tortured at Al Qala clinic by medical staff! I wonder is that fair?

@ghassandhaif: I was kept in a solitary confinement for 7 days, standing, deprived from sleep and toilet. I was tortured by hour by several people.

@ghassandhaif: I was intimidated and threatened of rape to my wife and daughter while i was supposedly receiving treatment at AlQala clinic.

@ghassandhaif: We were tortured in the ugliest ways to sign confessions for actions we haven't committed. The medics are innocent by all standards.

@ghassandhaif: I was Tortured by a female member of the royal family by repeated beatings and punch on my face until i fainted.

@ghassandhaif: I was knocked out by a lady who attacked me as i reached CID. I bled from mouth and nose. I wake up after she punched me on my chest.

Not a Sectarian

When reading Dr Dhaif's tweets, one can see that he is not a politician and that all he was trying to do and be is a medical doctor who would like to practice his profession in peace and for all without discrimination. In the following tweets, he addresses the King, and condemns the sectarian charges against him.

@ghassandhaif: HM The King, isn't it time for you to save the lives of innocent medics who helped the people and served their country!

@ghassandhaif: I was hurt deeply by being charged me for refusing to treat Sunni brothers. My practice is 70-75% Sunnis?!

@ghassandhaif: I was convected of sectarian discrimination. I treated 1000s of Sunnis and people from Royal family for over 20 years,Isn't it ridiculous

Testify for the Truth
One of the irritating sides about the case of medics is the testimonies made by some of their colleagues who accused them of possessing weapons. In the following tweets, Dhaif tweets about that and demands others to break their silence.

@ghassandhaif: It is awful that a doctor back stab his colleagues in medical profession. Prof McCormack in response to bahraini medics case.

@ghassandhaif: SMC administration have seen doctors and nurses helping casualties and not engaged in non-professional acts. It is unfair to accuse them.

@ghassandhaif: MOH official have entered history by not defending consultants who have saved humanity for over 25 years without discrimination.

@ghassandhaif: Over 50 witnesses gave their testimony to the court which deny all charges. The judge got fed up & said it's enough. Then 15 years sentence

@ghassandhaif: Tell the truth that all health professionals at salmaniya were treating and helping to save lives and are not criminals.

Support the Medics

Dr Ghassan Dhaif has been a good voice for the case of Bahraini medics. He spoke up, unveiling the truth and he has been active though media and social networking for his case. In the following tweets, we see the emotional side of his struggle and his need for support and solidarity.

@ghassandhaif: We have represented bahrain in international events and got recognized. We our country and will defend its soil forever.

@ghassandhaif: The medics are human being with emotions and feelings. Obviously they are shocked with these unfair and harsh sentences. We need support????

@ghassandhaif: Oh my people, my country, you don't know how much I love you and adore you. I want help you by whatever means I can till you”re satisfied.

@ghassandhaif: Do we think that tomorrow will better than today? Oh my country how much we loved and served you, at the end i go to jail for 15 years?

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011.

Puerto Rico: Internet Leadership

Dondequiera says that “there is no way that Puerto Rico will ever have a chance of building an Internet startup community if we don't enjoy the same freedoms and access that are granted to other leaders on the Internet”, adding: “This isn't about status, it's about opportunity.”

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