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July 30 2012

Guatemala: Microsoft and the University of San Carlos

Blogger Josue Ortega [es] attended a university event which invited students to develop a project to help communities with very little access to technology. However, students were told to develop the project using only Microsoft technology. One of Ortega's friends inquired about using open licenses, but the idea was immediately rejected. Ortega concludes his post saying that authorities continue to sell education to companies that only contaminate it and hinder knowledge.

July 29 2012

Jamaica: Campaign to Exonerate Marcus Garvey - Part 2

Jamaican diaspora blogger Geoffrey Philp has been working tirelessly to gather signatures for the online campaign to exonerate Marcus Garvey, who was convicted and sentenced to prison on charges of mail fraud involving his Black Star Line shipping company. [Read the first part of the interview with Geoffrey here].

In this follow-up post, Geoffrey discusses why he thinks it is important for Garvey's name to be cleared of the mail fraud conviction - which Garvey supporters maintain was politically motivated - and why it should be done under the Obama administration.

Global Voices (GV): Why it is important to exonerate Marcus Garvey? What do you think it will achieve? What message will it send and how meaningful would it be if it were to happen under the first black U.S. President?

Jamaican diaspora blogger, Geoffrey Philp.

Geoffrey Philp (GP): Marcus Garvey in African Fundamentalism said we must ‘canonize our own saints and martyrs.' The reason for this is psychologically important. If we can see the value of Black heroes–people who look like us– then we can begin to see and validate our own experiences—become the heroes in our own stories. If we begin with ‘mental emancipation,' as Garvey urged, then all the other thoughts of limitation will disappear.

Can you imagine if the Caribbean was populated by people who were not hindered by the question of race in developing their intellectual talents and who were committed to social and economic development?

The problem is that we are forgetting the struggles of our heroes as Mireille Fanon-Mendes-France stated in her interview with the Trinidad Express:
‘I don't know if the young people today know or appreciate what the fathers of liberalisation did so that they can enjoy the freedoms they do today. These writings and teachings are not on the curriculum in France or other nations. From what I've heard they are not on the curriculum here either. The leaders of the liberated nations did not continue the work of the liberators and so the legacy has been forgotten.'

President Obama has done wonders for the psyche African Americans and New World Africans. He has made it possible so that many African American children have proof that if they dream to become president of the most powerful country in the world, it can happen. If President Obama exonerates Marcus Garvey, he will demonstrate that he recognizes the tradition of struggle that was continued by Marcus Garvey and that he
wasn't just giving lip service when he quoted Marcus Garvey's famous words in Dreams From my Father: ‘Up ye mighty race' (199). It would be a historically redemptive act.

For us in the Caribbean, Marcus Garvey’s work is of primary importance. The question of our Africanness must be confronted. Our failure to confront these issues has led us to all kinds of violence against our minds and bodies: the epidemic of skin bleaching and hair straightening and the lack of respect for our bodies and ourselves by reducing the sexual act (which should be an intimate expression of love between two people) to ‘daggering' each other in the streets. This lack of pride in ourselves has also led, in some cases, to extreme forms of self-loathing where we doubt our intellectual abilities. All of these acts of ‘mental slavery' have consequences in our politics, economics, diet, family life, and health.

GV: What has the White House’s reaction been to the cause? Do you expect the campaign to be successful?

GP: Last year, the White House rejected a plea by one of our current members, Mr. Donovan Parker, and I wrote a post about it - Obama Rejects Plea for Marcus Garvey's Pardon:

Mr. Ronald Rogers, White House pardon attorney, stated that the limited resources of the Justice Department would be better spent on other requests for presidential clemency.

‘It is the general policy of the Department of Justice that requests for posthumous pardons for federal offences not be processed for adjudication,' Rogers told Parker in a sharply worded response. ‘The
policy is grounded in the belief that the time of the officials involved in the clemency process is better spent on pardon and commutation requests of living persons.'

Basically, Mr. Rogers was ignoring the fact that in 1925, the Justice Department with the complicity of the White House, railroaded Marcus Garvey, and now ninety years later the current occupant of the White House is washing his hands of the affair because apparently ‘Marcus Garvey is just another dead Negro.'

Do I think it will be successful? Marcus Garvey in The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey said, ‘If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life.'

Marcus Garvey image from ecarmen2020, used under a Creative Commons license.

GV: When Garvey was charged and convicted for mail fraud, many felt that it was out of fear of his message and was politically motivated. Almost 90 years after that judgment, do you see parallels in modern-day America?

GP: The struggle for human rights has always been against a small group of elites who hold and wield power for their narrow class interests. This was true before Garvey and it is true now. In my work, I identify with the prophetic tradition that seeks to 'speak truth to power.' And what is that truth? We are all human, brothers and sisters, and we should never be denied our inalienable human rights.

GV: One of Marcus Garvey’s goals with the UNIA’s Black Star Line was repatriation to Africa. Do you believe in repatriation?

GP: I believe in repatriation, but this is where I disagree with some of my brothers
and sisters who will no doubt quote Marcus Garvey’s answer, ‘I will not give up a continent for an island.'

I want to repatriate to Jamaica because that’s where the first battle has to be fought—to emancipate ourselves from ‘mental slavery.' We can’t help anyone else before we first heal ourselves.

Once we can see ourselves as a Black nation—it is disingenuous to speak about ourselves as White Jamaicans, Chinese Jamaicans, or Indian Jamaicans because it does a disservice to the memory of the heroes such as Sir Alexander Bustamante, Norman
Washington Manley
and their followers who risked so that all Jamaicans could be free—then, we can begin to talk about the liberation of Africa, which I think the African nations are perfectly capable of doing themselves and should be their primary struggle. We can assist, but any act of liberation begins within.

Ultimately, the liberation of Africa is the recovery of human rights. In the Americas, we can fool ourselves about the struggle for human rights by dissociating ourselves from the racial question that began in the Americas when Christopher Columbus landed in San Salvador. But there is no middle ground in the fight against discrimination, for as James Baldwin reminded us in his letter to Angela Davis, ‘If they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night.'

Marcus Garvey art by Dr. H, posted by Le.Mat and used under a Creative Commons license.

GV: How has this digital activism affected your work as a writer?

GP: I never thought I would ever use that word to describe myself, but if the cap fits, I’ll wear it.

Black men have been the target of a white, male patriarchal system whose sole aim in the preservation of white privilege. As a result, the meme of the Black man as a lazy, incompetent, shiftless, sexual beast–in short, a nigger—continues to be spread via the media and especially social media, where some individuals and corporations spew the most vile, racist rants and images in their tweets and shared photos.

So, how do you raise a bulwark against this kind of negative propaganda? First, the source of our pride cannot stem only from our physical talents. We are, after all, the fabled ‘beasts of burden'—this is why Derek Walcott, Kamau Brathwaite, and Sir Arthur Lewis are important.

Garvey addressed the ‘whole man' and that is why The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey had an educational component. Marcus Garvey's work to rehabilitate the image and lives of Black people and Black men, also led him to write several mini-plays that were designed to protect the most vulnerable members of the race: our children.

Out of a similar concern for children, I’ve written two children’s books, which combines the life and work of Marcus Garvey and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. into a fable about an ant who uses non-violent methods to save his colony from an invading Amazon army. The book that I’m currently working on is about a little girl who is teased by her friends about her ‘bad hair'—another one of those pesky issues that surround African identity.

GV: Is signing the online petition limited to only North Americans? And where is it located?

GP: Anyone who is outraged that Marcus Garvey was imprisoned on a charge of mail fraud in which the only evidence was an empty envelope should sign the petition.

The image of Marcus Garvey used in this post is by ecarmen2020. The artwork rendering of Garvey by Dr. H is posted by Le.Mat. Both images are used under an Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0) Creative Commons license. Visit ecarmen2020's and Le.Mat's flickr photostreams. The image of Geoffrey Philp is courtesy the blogger.

World: Nerd Olympics

With science nerds and technology geeks on Twitter busy watching the Olympics, a hashtag like #Nerdlympics is expected to be born. The hashtag that was created by Alex Wild ‏(@Myrmecos) hosted a lot of tweets, and I tried to collect the best of those tweets here.

Cambodia: Social Media and Education

Nayheak Khun discusses the role of the internet and social media in improving the delivery of education in Cambodia

July 28 2012

Amidst Clashes in Eastern Tajikistan, Netizens Contest Telecommunications Blackout

The murder of a senior Tajik security official on July 21, 2012, has triggered deadly clashes in Tajikistan's Gorno-Badakhshan province (GBAO) between government troops and the supporters of a local strongman whom the authorities blame for the assassination. The clashes have left the region's residents cut off from the outside world. Since July 24, Internet, mobile, and landline connections to GBAO have been cut. As a result, Tajikistanis outside the province have had little reliable information about the situation and the extent of human suffering in GBAO.

As the Tajik government attempts to control information coming out of the region, death toll estimates have varied widely. Official sources suggest that 40 people have been killed since the beginning of the government security operation in the province. Of them, nine are government troops, with the remaining being the rebels, including eight Afghan nationals. Yet, some news agencies report that the number of civilian casualties is higher than the official sources report.

Badakhshani expatriates have responded to the blackout by pooling what information on the conflict becomes available in public Facebook groups and calling on telecommunications companies to restore connections to Khorog (aka Khorugh), the provincial capital. One Facebook group, Stop the Military Action in Khorog, compile reports on the clashes in GBAO. Group members share the latest news on the crisis and discuss media reports. Many Tajik users have replaced their Facebook profile pictures with the ‘Stop the Killing' sign. Overall, the conflict has dominated discussion in major Tajik groups on Facebook over the last week.

Young Badakhshani expatriates also held demonstrations in some major cities abroad, including Russia's Moscow and St. Petersburg, Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan, Almaty in Kazakhstan, London in UK, and New York in USA. Protesters demanded that all forms of communication be restored to GBAO.

Below is a video from a peaceful picket held in front of Tajikistan's embassy to the United States, in Washington, DC, on July 26. The video was uploaded by user sanjarmann on July 27, 2012.

A similar event was held in New York. The video below was uploaded by user Pamir TV on July 26.

Below is a video address to the Tajik authorities recorded during a protest held in front of the Tajik embassy in Moscow. It was uploaded on YouTube by Pamir TV on July 25.

A child holding a banner at a peaceful picket held in front of the Tajik embassy in Washington, DC. Screenshot from video uploaded July 27, 2012, by YouTube user sanjarmann.

Banner from the picket held in New York. Screenshot from video uploaded by YouTube user Pamir TV on July 26.

A number of Tajik citizens have also sent an open letter [ru] to the government telecommunications agency, demanding the full restoration of Internet, mobile, and landline connections to the province.

TCell, one of the largest mobile phone companies and the most popular service provider in GBAO, has been bombarded with requests for re-connection. One user, Kesh Pallaev, asked [ru] on the company's Facebook page:

Здравствуйте Почему нету связи с Хорогом? Как мне дозвониться до своих родных? Если в течение часа не будет связи то я и еще несколько тысяч людей откажемся от ваших услуг.

Hello. Why there is no connection to Khorog? How can I call my relatives? If the connection is not restored within an hour, I and  thousands of other users will discontinue using your services.

To which a TCell staff responded [ru]:

Действительно на сегодняшний день предоставление услуг связи и доступа к интерент в регионе ГБАО РТ по техническим причинам временнно ограничено. Мы сожалеем о причиненном неудобстве для наших абонентов и надеемся на восстановление связи в полном объеме в ближайшее время.

Indeed, [mobile and landline] connection and the provision of Internet connection to GBAO has been discontinued for technical reasons. We are sorry for the inconvenience caused to our customers and we hope that the connection will be fully restored soon.

Omil Ximera then wrote [ru]:

‎по техническим причинам” ????? za kogo vi nas prinimaete?

For technical reasons? Who do you take us for?

Aziz Imomnazarov suggested, in Pamiri:

Dath companiyaen yedand aibdor nist. Khubath abor churt thed chidom kompaniyard khush idi vamand celiy viloyatand svyaz maved. Id fuk az tarafi vazorat idora sod.

This is not the company's fault. Just think about it, a mobile operator cannot be interested in restrict the connection to the whole region. They had to do it because the government requested them to do so.

A group of Tajik citizens has also launched an online petition, calling on the Tajik government to restore the connection. The petition has been published on the social action platform Below is an excerpt from the petition:

We plea for help from the international community. We believe that the situation calls for immediate intervention by the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, European Union, governments of democratic states from West and East, whose missions are present in Tajikistan but so far have been silent. We believe that the actions by the Tajik authorities represent violations of the commitments and obligations of the Republic of Tajikistan under the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other UN human rights instruments, the OSCE Human Dimension Commitments and the Fourth Geneva Convention, and hence, are subject to immediate review by the UN Security Council and the OSCE Permanent Council. We plea for support and call for pressure on the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan to announce a permanent and complete cease-fire and restore all communication channels.

July 27 2012

Jamaica: Campaign to Exonerate Marcus Garvey - Part 1

Marcus Garvey was a Jamaican political leader, writer and thinker whose philosophy supported the Back to Africa movement of the 1920s, which advocated that members of the African diaspora return to their ancestral lands. He is considered a national hero in the land of his birth, remembered for his influence in Black Nationalism and Pan Africanism. But in the United States, Garvey is down on record as a convicted felon.

In the first installment of this two-part post, Global Voices talks to one Jamaican diaspora blogger, Geoffrey Philp, who started an online campaign to clear Marcus Garvey's name.

Global Voices (GV): For those who might not know about Marcus Garvey or understand the impact of his philosophy and life’s work, could you explain why he has had such an impact on you
and why he is so important to Jamaica? (And even beyond Jamaica to the African and
Caribbean Diaspora, African Americans, etc.)

Jamaican diaspora blogger Geoffrey Philp, who is petitioning for the exoneration of Marcus Garvey.

Geoffrey Philp (GP): This is an interesting question that I've attempted to answer it in many ways, including a recent post: Exonerate Marcus Garvey: 5 Ways You Can Help. Vanessa Byers at Blogging Black Miami was also intrigued about my commitment and I did a guest post for her:

Growing up in Jamaica with the music of Bob Marley and themes of freedom, equal rights, and justice as an integral part of his lyrics, four questions haunted me: Who am I? Where have I come from? Where am I
going? How can I be a good man?

Not surprisingly, these questions about the creation of an authentic identity and the impediments have been central to my work as a writer and teacher. Added to this was the question of what W. E. DuBois called ‘the color line' and the connection between race and class that C.L.R James wrote about in The Black Jacobins.

These questions could have remained abstractions. However, with the birth of my son, they became pressing concerns: How do I teach my son to be a good man and father? What does it mean to be a good man? A good father?

As a father, writer, and teacher who has spent the past thirty years living in Miami, Florida, where many of our children, especially our boys are in trouble, the challenge broadened: How can I teach our sons to be good men?

The importance of Marcus Garvey's work for Jamaica, African Americans, and to the African and Caribbean Diaspora, was best defined by Marcus Garvey's son, Dr. Julius Garvey:

‘A sense of identity, self-reliance, unity/nationhood, entrepreneurship, education in the physical and psychological sciences, and spirituality based on the Father/Motherhood of God and the brother/sisterhood of woman/man. The principles that Garvey outlined in was a philosophy, theology, psychology, and social action plan that could be applied by all people in any location.'

GV: How did your campaign to exonerate Garvey begin and who else is involved in the effort (bloggers, regional groups, etc.)?

GP: I started the petition out of my love and respect for Marcus Garvey. For ten years, I taught Marcus Garvey’s Life and Lessons as part of a course on heroes. The course also used texts and videos about Joseph Campbell, bell hooks, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, Audre Lourde, Frantz Fanon, Paulo Freire, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, and Toni Morrison.

They say we teach what we want to learn and during this time, I was also asking myself the question: How can I be happy? In order to answer that question, I realized that the first contradiction in my life—what the Buddhists call the root chakra (Muladhara)–would have to be resolved: the validation of my life experiences versus the multiple narratives from history, literature, and the media that denigrate anything/everything Black/African.

If I, as a ‘browning' from middle class Mona Heights, educated at Jamaica College and a graduate of the University of Miami could be affected by this racial prejudice, then how did my darker brothers and sisters feel about themselves? And if they did not experience the 'shame' of blackness (Marcus Garvey called blackness ‘a glorious symbol of national greatness') how did they heal themselves from that psychological wound?

All my readings and conversations pointed to Marcus Garvey. When I discovered that Garvey was railroaded by the Justice Department, I felt something had to be done to clear the name of a man who was the victim of injustice and whose only crime was standing up for the human rights of Africans and New World Africans.

Along the way, I met with others who felt as passionately…as I did and we agreed to form a coalition to pursue [his] exoneration. The principals are Dr. Claire Nelson of The Institute for Caribbean Studies; Jabulani Tafari, Priest Douglass Smith, and Dr. Michael Barnett of the Rootz Foundation; Ras Don Rico Ricketts and Professor Donald Jones of the Marcus Garvey Celebrations Committee; Mr. Yaw Davis of the UNIA; Mr. Donovan Parker, attorney at law, and Mr. Justin Hansford, Assistant Professor of Law at Saint Louis University.

But before we did anything, we decided to get the blessing of Marcus Garvey's son, Julius Garvey, who for many years has been a crusader for clearing his father's name. Jabulani Tafari of the Rootz Foundation, who is also a friend of Dr. Julius Garvey, reached out to Dr. Garvey and he gave his blessings.

Then, we crafted a press release by using an online service that allowed us to edit in real time. Next, we used our media contacts and emailed the press release to all of them. The final step was coordinating our efforts online and on the ground.

“Marcus Garvey Square” - image by Mark Gstohl, used under a Creative Commons license.

GV: What are some of the activities (online and otherwise) that you have been doing to
get Garvey’s name cleared?

GP: Jabulani Tafari of the Rootz Foundation has invited celebrated historian, Garvey
disciple, Dr. Runoko Rashidi, to deliver the feature presentation at the 2012 Rootz Extravaganza. The program, scheduled for 7.00 pm to midnight on Friday, August 17, has been designated ‘Marcus Garvey Appreciation Day' in the City of Fort

Don Rico Ricketts of the Marcus Garvey Celebrations Committee has spearheaded a campaign in Miami Gardens that has several components, which we hope they will approve, including the naming of a section of 7th Avenue, in honor of Marcus Garvey and establishing a Sister City/Parish Program between Miami Gardens, (the largest predominantly African-American municipality in Florida, with a significant Caribbean population) and St. Ann (birthplace of Marcus Garvey) and its capital, St. Ann's Bay, Jamaica. We have also planned activities commemorating and celebrating the 125th anniversary of Marcus Garvey's birthday, the 90th anniversary of his marriage to Amy [Ashwood], and the 50th anniversaries of Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago's independence.

GV: We're very interested in how the social media campaign has been organised. Can you tell us more about it? Do you think using social media to spread the message has given more weight to the campaign? If so, how?

GP: We have been using social media to help spread the word, including You Tube, @babagarvey on Twitter, Facebook and this blog.

We've used social media because it is the most effective way of spreading the news about the campaign and the easiest ways to collect signatures!

Don't miss Part 2 of this interview with Geoffrey Philp, in which he shares how Garvey has had an impact on his work as a writer, why he thinks it is important that Garvey be exonerated by the first black President of the United States and what the response from the White House has been like thus far.

The image used in this post, “Marcus Garvey Square”, is by Mark Gstohl, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) Creative Commons license. Visit Mark Gstohl's flickr photostream. The image of Geoffrey Philp is courtesy the blogger.

Nigeria: Osun-Oshogbo Sacred Groove: Lost but Found?

Immanuel Afolabi is a Nigerian film producer, teacher, freelance journalist, writer and  musician. He has a passion for communicating developmental issues through text, sound, still and moving images. With funding from the French Research Institute (IFRA-Nigeria), Immanuel made a documentary - Osun Groove: Lost but Found?

The Oshogbo Sacred Groove is a UNESCO designated cultural heritage centre that sprawls a magnificent 74 hectares of land. Ironically, this historical site is the fruit of Susan Wenger's labor. Susan Wenger is the Austrian priestess, Iya Adunni (Mother Adunni), who first visited the groove in the 1950s and fell in love with the place. Wenger has come to personify “the spirit of the forest” an English translation of Oshogbo. 

Nwachukwu Egbunike spoke to Immanuel Afolabi about his journey to the Osogbo Sacred Groove and the role of social media in reviving dying or invisible African religious practices.

Immanuel Afolabi

Nwachukwu Egbunike (NE): You just did a documentary of the Oshogbo Groove. What is it is all about?

Immanuel Afolabi (IA): Let me start with the genesis of the documentary. I was in the French Research Institute sometime last year and the director mentioned to me that there was an International conference on patrimony identity, culture, etc. He said would want me to explore an aspect of those concepts through a documentary film and he specifically suggested the Osun Sacred Groove. Its revolves around patrimony because it has been in existence for hundreds of years and some of the things in that sacred groove have not been distorted by westernisation and modernisation, in spite of the heavy influence of late Susan Wenger, an Austrian. What I did was to explore how Nigerians specifically the people of Oshogbo respond either positively or negatively, and even the neutral aspects of their responses to what has been bequeathed to them by their great ancestors. Because of the sacred nature of that groove and the influence of Christianity and Islam, I found out that most people of Oshogbo shy away from fraternizing with their sacred groove. There are different dimensions and intricacies to the groove which I explored in the documentary.


NE: Nigeria seems to be a religious fault line between Christianity and Islam. How then does one then situate the place of the Oshogbo Groove within this equation?

IA: Studies claim that 50% of Nigerians are Muslims, 40% Christians, 10% of us are traditionalists, if you permit me to use that word. That’s the big challenge to the survival of the Osun groove. But one of my interviewees who is an adherent of the Osun religion told me that most Nigerians may profess not to fraternise with the groove publicly but privately are their frequent guests. The problem is hypocrisy, that’s what I can deduce from the responses of that particular interviewee of mine. However, when we get to our closets, we do one or two things that celebrate traditional religion. But the challenge is still there; either we look at it from that openness, or the covert way with which people fraternise with traditional religion. The challenge is that what is obviously known to us is that Christianity and Islam are the two dominating religions in this country and they do not subscribe to traditional religion and most Nigerians who ‘profess’ to be either Christians or Muslims do not fraternise with our traditional religions, due to the tenets of these two religions: Christianity and Islam.


Goddess of Fertility, Oshogbo Groove, Nigeria (Photo Credit:

NE: What was your perception of the Osun Groove?

IA: I went to the groove as an observer-participant not as a participant-observer. For instance, when that priestess asked me to do one or two things, so as to become a participant in the Osun worship, I objected to that because I do not believe in the Osun deity. But that did not truncate my assignment because I went there with the eye of an artist: let me see what other people cannot see, let me be the eyes of the society. But when it came that point of my identifying as a worshiper of the deity, I had to excuse myself from doing so. It my interest you also that I worked in the midst of Muslims when making this documentary. I was even in one of their religious services, but they never forced me or even asked me to participate in any of their religious rites. I went there to observe what they did and to give reportage of what they did and I don’t see a conflict actually, between what I do and my religious affiliation.


NE: Apart from the documentary that you have already done, what do you think about the potential of social media to be able to amplify these voices to other places about the cultural patrimony of Nigeria. Is there hope, or is it just mere hype?

IA: It is no hype and there is hope. But, I think the developmental angle will be to train, the traditionalists so that they themselves can report to us directly rather than through intermediaries – the digital natives. I was limited to going in to some places because I was initiated into some cult. So, if the traditionalists were trained in the art of employing the social media in reporting their patrimony that revolves round their cultural heritage etc; then, they would the liberty to give it to us one hundred percent and how they want it to be disseminated to us. How I can respond concretely to that is in this way. As a professional, if I can have the opportunity to train the locals, in employing the social media in reporting their traditional practices. I think that would serve them better and that would help in employing the social media in conveying to us what they want to convey to us from their own traditional and cultural perspective.

NE: Will the social media be employed in promoting this documentary?

IA: I don’t think so since the aim is purely academic. However we intend to create some short clips that will be uploaded on YouTube. The primary motive is to have it screened in an international conference (Patrimony, Memory and Identity in West Africa) organised early this month in the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan. Another objective is to further screen it in global films festivals. In summary, it will serve as an educational and teaching tool.

NE: Is there a website for this documentary?

IA: No there is no website for the documentary but I have a blog and the sponsors of the project – IFR – also have a website.

NE: Do you think there is a common meeting ground for oral based African religious practices and technology?

IA: I am not in the best position to answer this question. However, some scholars advocate that Yoruba traditional religions have technology embedded in them. For instance, some believe that the Ifa corpus – a medium, through which Ifa priests communicate with the gods, gets feedback from the gods and relay same to their clients – is technology in action. Others also are of the view that the ability to predict the future – divination – is already a technological advancement.

NE: Can social media revive dying or invisible African religious practices to an everlasting life (by digitalizing the African spiritual experience)?

IA: Yes it can be used to preserve and make them available to the outside world. Technology helps in documenting these various cultural practices – the religion, the art, etc. The social media can serve as a platform through which oral tradition/religion can be projected to the global community easily and at a faster pace. Facebook, Twitter will be a platform in integrating these religious practices – serving as media of communication among many traditional groups, religions and promoting indigenous practices.

NE: How about Facebook or Twitter in local Nigerian languages?

IA: It can help. But some of these people might still be deprived from using social media because of lack of education. Since the language of instruction is still English. If people are instructed in their indigenous languages, this will not only push development but will also drive the adaptation of these social media platforms. However, we are disadvantaged in Africa because following the old trajectory of development, ‘technology’ used to be the paradigm. Although this attitude to development has changed, however, the remnants still remain. Until the language of instruction morphs from English to the local languages, then development will still remain stunted and the overall penetration and acceptance of social media platforms, might remain largely elitist.

NE: Generally, what do you see as the present or the future, as the case may be, of social media platforms in Nigeria, within and outside the art?

IA: The first thing is that, we need to build our technology in Nigeria. The more advanced we are and the more accessible many Nigerians are, including the locals, to technology, the better for Nigerians. We need to create access for Nigerians too, using this technology. The future is bright, and the world is going gaga, in the sense that technology is driving the world. And we can’t cut ourselves away from this trend.

July 26 2012

Global: A Marathon to Translate the Declaration of Internet Freedom

The world may be glued to the TV to watch the start of the Olympic Games in London, but Global Voices Lingua translators are excited about another challenge: the Internet Freedom Translathon, a marathon to get the Declaration of Internet Freedom translated in as many languages and dialects as possible over the course of 24 hours on Friday August 3. Everyone can join: you don't have to be an Olympic athlete or professional translator to help!

Image by Juan Osborne using the word ‘freedom’ in about fifty languages. Publish under Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Freedom!: Design by Juan Osborne using the word ‘freedom’ in about fifty languages. Publish under Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Lingua is partnering with New American Foundation and Free Press to provide official versions of the declaration in a number of languages. Since the Declaration was posted on Global Voices Advocacy last weekend, our translators have rendered the text into 20 languages. Global Voices' content is currently translated into almost 30 languages, a big achievement but a small fraction of the 6,909 known living languages catalogued by Ethnologue.

This means that there is one language for every 862,000 people on Earth: Europe alone accounts for only 234 of them, whereas in Asia 2,322 languages are spoken on a daily basis. We hope to offer the declaration in as many of them as possible, even in artificial languages: from Solresol to Esperanto, there are 200 auxlangs in which the declaration would look great too! And with your help and luck, we can even hope to reach impromptu translators of those 46 languages that have just a single speaker.

The Internet Freedom Translathon is part of the Summer of Internet Freedom, a series of events taking place this August to encourage Internet users to continue the global conversation about the role of the Internet in our lives and how we can keep it free and open. It is also a way to engage with the Declaration and to show public support for Internet freedom. Anyone can host offline or online events, anywhere around the world.

Everyone can join forces in the Internet Freedom Translathon: you can offer your skills to translate or proofread the declaration in your language or dialect.  Or, if you don't speak any other languages, you can blog about the Translathon, republish translations, share this post, promote it on your social networks, join our event, or spread the word. Join Lingua in this marathon for freedom, libertà, liberté, libertad, llibertat, liberdade, свобода, özgürlük, szabadság, uhuru, свобода, Ελευθερία, Hettagol, Freiheit, wolność, Yɛrɛmahɔrɔnya, آزادی,  স্বাধীনতা, 자유, आज़ादी, 自由, حرية.

Summer of Internet FreedomSave the date – Internet Freedom Translathon
When: Starting at midnight GMT on Friday, August 3, for 24 hours
Link: (the translation form is closed and will be available just before midnight on August 3, 2012)
Connect: join the Translathon event page at the Summer of Internet Freedom website.
Please promote freely – in any language!

Bangladesh: Growing Internet Trends

Nazimuddaula Milon posts an unique insight into how users within Bangladesh and abroad use the internet.

July 24 2012

Kenya: Javelin Throwing Olympian Trains Using YouTube

This is part of our special coverage London 2012 Olympics.

Julius Yego, the African and Kenyan national javelin champion, broke the national record over the weekend in a field athletics meet in Finland. After using YouTube to hone his skills and techniques, Yego's record improved to 81.12 metres.

Julius Yego - Image courtesy of

Julius Yego - Image courtesy of

SportsKenya blog compiles Yego’s exploits:

Participating in an event which has never been a speciality for Kenya let alone Africa, he managed to hone his skill and better his technique using this (YouTube) social media platform. And true to word, his skill got better and his technique won him the first ever gold medal for a field event for Kenya in the 2011 All- Africa Games in the Mozambican capital of Maputo. This he did by breaking the national record to a then (new national) record throw of 78.34 m.

Hoping to better his throwing before the start of the July-August event, Yego will surely join the many sportsmen and women who have made Olympic folklore not just by becoming champions but also by the mere part of participating in this sporting extravaganza. And he still recognises the role that social media plays in his everyday life of ensuring he becomes a world beater in the throw sport of javelin…thanks to YouTube!

Heart, Soul & Mind makes it clear who they will be rooting for:

We will compete in the 4×400m men relay and have a representation in the field games with Julius Yego embracing his javelin (a first for us). In the ring Ben Gicharu and Elizabeth Andiego will carry the flag. I will certainly be watching the Olympics this season, rooting for Team Kenya and enjoying the strength and lessons that sport always brings out.

Highligting Yego’s lessons, Kenyatech shows what Kenyans online can use YouTube for:

Some people even look to it for direction in learning or perfecting their techniques in sports, hobbies or art – even javelin gold medallist Julius Yego turned to YouTube for guidance. YouTube plans to garner partnerships with local communities, producers, individuals and companies to foster and support this pattern of “edutainment”, aspiring to not only make videos stream faster, but also provide all of this through a local interface that provides pertinent information for Kenyans

In an unprecedented move, YouTube plans to live stream Olympic content:

Yep, the 2012 Olympics will be streamed live on The International Olympic Committee’s YouTube channel in 64 countries world-wide. NBC, aka the official broadcaster of the Olympics, is teaming up with YouTube to provide a constant stream of Olympic competition. This is the first year that every single Olympic game will be available to viewers, whether they are at the beach, outside drinking sangria or enjoying the summer from the comfort of their own work cubicle! So while some may be opening tabs at bars to watch the Olympics, others…will be opening up their own tabs and charging them straight to YouTube!

This is part of our special coverage London 2012 Olympics.

Africa: Digital Citizen Indaba 7

Digital Citizen Indaba 7 is coming: “In recent years we discussed the role of bloggers during disasters, we showed the latest digital tools in activism and continued the conversation about the digital gap.This year we propose to tackle two hot items: African digital outcasts and Internet privacy.”

Colombia: Locals Concerned Over Media's Slant on Cauca Conflict

Though the serious situation affecting the southwestern department of Cauca in the last few days is quite complex, the most notorious event was the removal of around 100 soldiers from a military base at the top of El Berlín mountain in Toribío on Tuesday, July 17. A close-up photo [es] of Army sergeant Rodrigo García, taken by photographer Luis Robayo of AFP, crying out of humiliation after been pushed by dozens of indigenous, prompted outrage on social media sites [es] and made the cover [es] of centre-left newspaper El Espectador on Wednesday, July 18.

Most Colombians learned about the incident through television [es], but the Association of Indigenous Councils of Cauca (ACIN) uploaded their own version [es]:

The Defence Ministry [es] and other indigenous groups, such as the OPIC [es] (Pluricultural Organization of Indigenous Peoples of Colombia), have accused the main local indigenous groups, ACIN and CRIC (Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca), of being infiltrated by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), despite the communities' public rejection of FARC. The weekend before these accusations, some indigenous people and a crew from newscast Noticias Uno were caught in the crossfire [es] as indigenous youth tried to expel guerrilla fighters. Days before, sergeant García himself recorded with his mobile phone [es] and uploaded footage of the indigenous as they destroyed military trenches to his YouTube channel.

Furthermore, on Thursday, July 19, the Indigenous Guard caught 4 indigenous guerrilla members, which they sentenced to be lashed [es] and also exiled from their territory if they return to FARC [es]. A photo by Manuel Saldarriaga depicting armed indigenous people circulated on the web [es] and was published by economic daily La República on its front page [es] on the same day. Racist, anti-indigenous comments poured on social media, though there were also respectful tweets supporting the Army (all links lead to Spanish-language tweets).

On Atrabilioso, Adas Oz claims [es] that the Cauca department is controlled by FARC and criticizes the current government for its lack of action:

¿Por qué ponerle un ultimátum a las FFMM si son una fuerza legítima del Estado creada para brindar seguridad en todos los rincones del país y para defender la soberanía y el orden? ¿Por qué no ponerle más bien un único ultimátum a las FARC que son los que siembran el terror en la zona y en toda Colombia? ¿Por qué la supuesta guardia indígena no se alía con la verdadera fuerza legítima para combatir el flagelo del narcoterrorismo que azota al departamento del Cauca? La respuesta es muy sencilla: porque el CRIC no es más que otro frente de las FARC y porque no tienen ningún interés en dejar a un lado su actividad cocalera.

Why impose an ultimatum to the Military Forces if they're a legitimate State force created to give security all over the country and defend sovereignty and order? Why don't they rather issue an only ultimatum to FARC, which are the ones seeding terror in the area and all of Colombia? Why doesn't the alleged indigenous guard join the true legitimate force to fight the narcoterrorism slashing Cauca? The answer is very simple: because the CRIC is no more than another FARC front and because they have no interest in leaving aside their coca activity.

The CRIC has complained [es] about “the subjectivity and bias” showed by mainstream media and “the expressions of racism and resentment against the Cauca indigenous peoples.”

Carlos Cortés Castillo wrote two posts about the media coverage of this situation in his blog Subversión de los hechos. In the first post he mocks [es] the speeches delivered by hosts of the morning radio programmes on Caracol Radio (Darío Arizmendi and Gustavo Gómez Córdoba) and W Radio (Julio Sánchez Cristo):

El discurso nos dará bríos para enfrentar el futuro, afianzáremos los lazos familiares, llamaremos a esa tía que hace diez años olvidamos. Pondremos la Constitución en la mesa de la sala. Nada de esto lo verá el periodista, que recibirá abrazos de todos sus colegas, Había que decirlo, Well done. Poderosas tus palabras.

The speech will give us determination to face the future, we'll reinforce our family ties, we'll call that aunt we forgot 10 years ago. We'll put the Constitution on the living room table. Nothing of this will be seen by the journalist, who will be hugged by all his colleagues, “it had to be said, Well done. Your words are powerful.”

In the second one, Cortés writes tongue-in-cheek [es] about a harsh interview [es] by Luis Carlos Vélez, a former CNN journalist and now director of Noticias Caracol newscast, with two indigenous leaders: Luis Évelis Andrade, head of CRIC, and Marcos Avirama, an indigenous senator (he also posted the interview with some of his own notes [es] with what Vélez would ‘actually' do and say):

[Vélez] aprendió el oficio en dos escuelas similares, idénticas para los observadores más agudos: la Doctrina de la Guerra Preventiva, de Estados Unidos, donde acumuló horas de vuelo, y el Análisis Futbolístico Estrambótico, que lleva en la sangre.

[Vélez] learnt his job at two similar schools, identical for the most acute observers: the United States' Preventive War Doctrine, where he accumulated flight hours, and the Outlandish Football Analysis, which he carries within his blood [referring to Vélez's father, sports commentator Carlos Antonio Vélez].

In a comment in this post, Hermes Trimegistro says [es]:

creo que los indígenas se equivocan y que han extralimitado el margen de autonomía que les da la constitución. Sin embargo ese es un debate aún abierto y que merece mayor sosiego y crítica objetiva. Los medios no han hecho más que suscribir ciegamente la posición gobiernista, con la despreciable mirada racista y dogmática propia de las dictaduras.

I think the indigenous are wrong and have overstepped the autonomy given by the constitution. Nevertheless that's still an open debate which deserves more calm and objective analysis. The media hasn't done anything else than blindly support the government's position, with the despicable racist, dogmatic view typical of dictatorships.

Álvaro Duque carries out an exercise [es] with this interview: using a strategy he claims is used by Japanese companies, he switches the questions around, as if the indigenous leaders where interviewing Vélez.

Finally, artist Lucas Ospina assesses [es] both the interview by Vélez and another one (in the same confrontational tone) by veteran newscaster Yamid Amat with Giovani Yule, a spokesperson of CRIC.

July 23 2012

Russia: Hacker Hell, Scourge of the RuNet

When noted Russian anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny's email and Twitter accounts were hacked on June 26 [ru], it came as no surprise that a hacker [ru] who goes by the somewhat pretentious moniker “Hell” took responsibility [ru]. After all, the same hacker claimed [ru] to have gained access to Navalny's email and Facebook accounts last fall, apparently seeking to expose his activism as fraudulent. The motivation for the second attack was, according to Hell [ru], a desire to finish the job, since he was not able to extract all of Navalny's correspondence in the first attempt.

The exercise seems petty — then, as now, there do not seem to be any smoking guns secreted away in the gigabytes of Navalny's emails. The vandalism of Navalny's Twitter (Hell tweeted from the account in a style that can only be described as obscene inanity) was also immature, at best. This, however, is the point. Hell, in the long tradition of Internet trolls, thrives on pettiness and immaturity. A legendary figure in the RuNet, Hell gained his notoriety in 2005, following a string of LiveJournal-account break-ins (see here [ru] for a full list). He would hijack an account and its associated email, and either delete all the posts, expose private emails and messages, or both. The early hacks seemed to be without rhyme or reason. Some targeted Russian Internet personalities Hell for some reason found annoying or offensive, resulting for example in attacks on politically neutral journalist and blogger [ru] Samson Sholademi and a notorious LJ troll, Stalinist, and anti-Semite [ru] szhapokljak2 (now defunct).

Other targets evolved into personal vendettas. Such was the case of Andrei Malgin, a liberal advertising/newspaper entrepreneur, who currently lives in Italy and blogs as avmalgin [ru]. Malgin's LJ account first was hijacked by unknown parties, then “returned” by Hell, ostensibly as a gesture of good will. Malgin, believing Hell was behind the hacking, refused to let bygones be bygones. His excessive attempts to “deanonimize” [ru] Hell (at one point [ru], he visited another blogger's home, accompanied by a lawyer, on the erroneous belief that this was the mysterious hacker) led to the account getting hijacked again. This time, Hell did not give it back. The two engaged in low level warfare, which culminated in Hell — for whom no subject is taboo – blaming Malgin for the suicide of his daughter [ru].

Screenshot of Hacker Hell's webpage (23 July 2012).

Another vendetta developed between Hell and Vladimir Pribylovsky [ru], the quirky proprietor of Anticompromat (a RuNet clearing house of political and internet rumors). Pribylovsky, another of Hell's victims, embarked on a mission to locate the man behind the name. At the moment, he believes that he has discovered Hell's real identity as a Russian national living in Germany. The evidence is lengthy, but fairly circumstantial [ru].Pribylovsky is also one of the main believers that Hell's attacks are politically motivated, not acts of random Internet vandalism. Although the evidence is once again tenuous, it does appear that liberal, or at least opposition-minded social and political activists are recently over-represented among Hell's targets. For instance, Hell recently hacked the LJ account of protest organizer and mystery writer Boris Akunin [ru], deleting all of his entries. Other notable liberal victims have included Oleg Panfilov and Valeria Novodvorskaya. Nationalist bloggers are also in danger, as shown by Hell's attacks on nationalist figure Vladimir Tor.

Alexey Navalny visits camp of opposition in Moscow, 24 May 2012, photo by Anton Belitskiy, copyright © Demotix.

The story is complicated by the fact that Hell has sometimes returned stolen LJ accounts to users hacked by others. Beneficiaries include pro-Kremlin blogger and counterculture writer Eduard Bagirov, sci-fi writer Oleg Divov, Irkutsk history professor Sergei Shmidt, and rather surprisingly Irina Vorobyeva, a member of the opposition and former Yabloko youth activist. (Irina publicly thanked [ru] Hell in her returned blog.) Of course, it is quite possible that Hell himself was both the villain and the hero in these situations. Regardless, the opposition has little patience for such nuances: during the most recent imbroglio, Navalny claimed [ru] that FSB was using Hell to leak emails it acquired after its raid on his apartment.

If Hell is indeed being used by the FSB [ru], we can expect to see more “hacks” of the opposition leaders whose computers were confiscated in the June 11 raids [en] (Ilya Yashin, Ksenia Sobchak, and others). Even if this happens, however, we will never know with absolute certainty who is behind it. Although Hell denies his involvement with the Kremlin, he does not deny his antipathy toward the Russian opposition movement. His desire to incite outrage and induce reaction can easily characterize him as either a Kremlin shill or a professional troll. This, of course, is a perennial problem of Russian politics and the Russian Internet.

June 29 2012

Moldova, Transnistria, Gagauzia: “Get to Know Your Neighbor”

On June 30, young social media activists from the cities of Chișinău and Bălți, and from Transnistria and Gagauzia, are meeting for a “get to know your neighbor” event [ro, ru], to discuss issues relevant for young people who grew up separated by geopolitics and the role of social networks and the Internet in their lives, as well as to brainstorm social initiatives that they could carry out together.

Russia: A Mobile Service to Connect Passengers & Drivers

The project Yeehay! was created to connect passengers and drivers. With its help, it is possible to hail a car, offer one's services as a driver, or leave a review about a particular ride. This service not only cuts costs while covering another person's fuel expenses, but it also has a positive impact on any city's ecology.

Yeehay! works in two directions, and information about the service and how it works can be found on the project's website. Yeehay!'s mobile smartphone application enables the service's primary functions. The app is for both passengers and drivers, but users must select one of the two roles each time they launch the program. For now, Yeehay! is only available for iOS, but its creators are currently developing software for Android, as well.

Screenshot of Yeehay!, 25 June 2012.

Instantly after activating the app, it automatically aggregates all necessary information for drivers or passengers. Users must first download Yeehay! and complete its registration process in order to activate. Its creators recommend registering within the application, as it is quicker than doing so on Yeehay!'s website. To register, one must enter his or her mobile number. The main idea behind the application is that a passenger can directly connect with a driver to discuss the conditions of a shared trip. To do this, drivers must provide their contact information.

In turn (to avoid lost missed calls), the projects' creators added to the application the option to “View Missed Calls” — a feature that archives passengers' telephone numbers.

Yeehay! allows for passenger-driver, passenger-passenger, and driver-driver communication. The project's developers encourage user feedback and written reviews about the service. Passengers can leave comments about the quality of a particular driver, and drivers can communicate about traffic and road accidents.

Yeehay! also uses location-tracking. After launching the application, it automatically determines the user's precise location. Thus, one group of users receives live data about approaching vehicles, while the other receives information about passengers.

Original [ru]

June 25 2012

China: Bridge Blogger List

DANWEI has presented its annual Model Worker Awards 2012, a list of the best specialist websites, blogs and online sources of information about China.

June 24 2012

South Korea: Broadcasters' Battle for Fair Journalism Continues

In South Korea, an indefinite strike by broadcasters has continued for almost five months in the nation's largest TV network, MBC. MBC journalists and producers are urging the company president to step down, accusing him of incapacitating investigative new programs that criticize the government, by firing or reprimanding reporters and producers.

Pressure for resignation

Numerous people from various fields have joined the cause and a mass scale petition is going on to gather one million signatures to pressure the president to resign. However, MBC leadership made another unpopular decision and laid off two senior workers for no specific reason on June 20, 2012, inciting another public backlash.

Since Kim Jae-Chul became the president in 2010, 8 people have been fired [ko] and disciplinary action has been taken against 117 people. The labor union's Twitter account @saveourmbc, tweeted [ko] about the laid off workers:

김재철이 해고한 방송인만 8명.전두환 이후 최고의 언론학살입니다.최승호PD는 한국의 시사다큐를 이끌어온 거장입니다. 박성제 기자 역시 수많은 특종을 해 온 중진기자구요. 김재철은 구체적인 해고사유도 없이 이 인재들을 해고했습니다.

Broadcasters fired by Kim Jae-chul [the company president] have totalled eight people now. This is the worst assault on free press since the Chun Doo-hwan era [Chun is the nation's ex-president, notorious for oppressing press and activists and directing a massacre back in the 1980s]. The fired producer Choi Seung-Ho is a maestro, a leading figure in the nation's news documentary field and journalist Park Sung-Je is also a senior journalist who has covered various exclusive stories. Kim Jae-Chul fired these talented people for no specific reason.

@earnkyun tweeted [ko]:

[…]김재철 사장의 언론대학살 이제 멈춰야 합니다!!언론이 마땅히 가져야할 비판과 감시의 기능을 스스로 포기한 김재철, 당신이야말로 해고 1순위입니다!

President Kim Jae-Chul's massacre on the press should stop now! Kim, who voluntarily relinquished the press' criticism and monitoring function– you should be fired first.

Many mocked the MBC leadership's excuse that the lay-off was in aid of ‘company innovation'. @tsbre tweeted [ko]:

유능한 사원해고가 혁신인가? 공원배회하다 더위먹었나? RT @hyunseok_Lee: 20일 임원회의에서 김재철 사장은 “앞으로의 50년을 위해 혁신과 개혁은 계속돼야 한다”고 강조했다고 한다. 최승호 PD와 박성제 기자를 해고한 날이다.

How it is an innovation to fire talented employees? Have they have a touch of sun while wandering around the park (in hot weather)? RT : In a board meeting on June 20, Kim Jae-Chul emphasized that “For the future and next 50 years of the company, we should continue innovation and revolution”. And that same day, he fired producer Choi Seung-Ho and journalist Park Sung-Je.

@glebbangzip tweeted [ko] about those two workers' accomplishments, reminding people that the fired producer had played a leading role in the PD Notebook, the network's signature investigative news program that quite often criticized the current government and unearthed frauds committed by powerful people and organizations.

Intensifying conflict

MBC labor union workers are voicing their concern over the intensifying conflict. @hoyah35 tweeted a photo [ko] of union workers' protest against the lay-off. Among its 1,600 employees, over 800 people have joined the protest [ko] and to fill the hole, MBC has hired about 60 new employees, mostly contract workers. Despite the leadership's claim that they are very close to ‘normalizing the situation', with most of their talent out of the office, their news rating has plummeted over the month.

@saveourmbc tweeted [ko] about a significant drop in quality and rating of the news program:

김재철과 그 일당들! 방송만 나간다고 정상화가 아닙니다. RT @mbcjwy: MBC 뉴스데스크 시청률 2.9%! 친정부 낙하산사장 아래 비판을 두려워하는 간부들, 영혼없는 앵무새 시용기자들과 보도영상이 뭔지도 모르는 계약직VJ들의 당연한 성적표!

I say this to Kim Jae-Chul and his entourage! Merely airing shows on scheduled times does not mean that the situation has returned to normal. RT @mbcjwy: MBC news desk's rating only scored 2.9 percent! It is a natural consequence caused by the company's board members who, led by the company president, fear voicing criticism, soulless reporters who [merely read the scripts] like a parrot and contract video journalists who have no clue about video journalism.

Twitter has been used as a channel for people show their support to broadcasters on strike. Many users have uploaded a photo of themselves with the petition webpage next to them. The strike's petition web page [ko] was set up to facilitate online signature gathering to pressure the president to resign.

This recent YouTube video posted by MBC's labor union shows citizens from various places signing the petition:

One of South Korea's influential Twitter users, Park Dae-Yong (@biguse), tweeted various citizens' remarks made during the off-line signature gathering event. One tweet [ko] read:

“PD수첩 제보했다가 방송앞두고 김재철 사장이 막아서 방송 못나갔다”-MBC사장구속촉구서명시민

One citizen who signed for the petition calling for MBC president's arrest said “I reported on one thing to the PD Notebook, but that piece was not aired because President Kim Jae-Chul blocked it from broadcasting.”

Numerous comments, such as this tweet [ko], said they miss watching Infinite Challenge, one highly popular comedy show widely loved by young Koreans for over seven years. The show went on an indefinite hiatus as its producer joined the strike:

“무한도전 보고 싶어요”-MBC김재철사장구속촉구서명시민

“I really want to watch Infinite Challenge” - said by a citizen who signed the petition calling for the arrest of President Kim Jae-chul.

Welcome news

While broadcasters struggle in this uphill battle for fair journalism, welcome news was heard on the second week of June that the arrest warrants filed against the labor union leadership had been acquitted. Another key Twitter user @dogsul, tweeted [ko] after the court decision was made:

“업무방해죄 성립여부 다퉈볼 소지있고 파업 종결은 어느 한쪽의 노력만으로 되는 것이 아니다. 증거 인멸 및 도주의 우려도 없다” 법원이 밝힌 MBC 노조 집행부 영장 재기각 사유. […]

This is the court's reason to acquit once more the warrant request filed against the labor union leadership members: “Charges against on them about the obstruction of work is disputable. And not through only one side's effort a strike can end [to paraphrase the sentence, it would read ‘Not only one side is to blame for the strike. The leadership and labor union both are responsible for the current situation']. And there are no concerns about them committing destruction of evidence and trying an escape.

@saveourmbc tweeted [ko]:

이제 경찰과 검찰은 MBC 노동조합 괴롭히기는 단념하시고, 김재철에 대한 구속영장이나 청구하시길!!

Now the police and prosecutor's office should stop harassing the MBC labor union and start working on filing an arrest warrant for Kim Jae-Chul!

Many people, including fellow broadcasters and journalists, have actively joined the force. Twenty four hour cable news channel YTN's union worker (@ytnmania), welcomed the court's decision via Twitter, calling the result an ‘inevitable conclusion'. Notable one-man media outlet Mediamongu tweeted [ko] about one weathercaster turning down a job offer from MBC since she didn't want to work in a place where Kim Jae-Chul is still seated as president.

Wiki Tree consolidated tweets by a movie director (@kimjhogwangsoo), who refused to be interviewed by an MBC journalist as a sign of support for the strike, despite needing to promote his new movie.

The Korean Association for Communication and Information Studies has released a statement [ko] lashing out at the company's president. The statement quotes a source saying that Kim was appointed to the position for being an ‘obedient' person, and that investigative programs which revealed uncomfortable truths and monitored powerful figures have either been incapacitated or shut down under his rule.

June 23 2012

Hungary: New Freedom of Information Tool

Vastagbőr blog [hu] is promoting the use of's new website KiMitTud ['WhoKnowsWhat'], which allows users to send freedom of information requests to any institutions responsible for spending public funds in Hungary. Vastagbőr wrote: “Those who have ever asked themselves these questions, ‘I wonder how much this cost?' or ‘Who has been contracted to do this?' should not wait but try to find out the answers themselves!” KiMitTud runs on’s engine and follows the examples of the UK-based WhatDoTheyKnow and AskTheEU, which is promoting transparency in the EU.

June 22 2012

Sudan: Netizens Verify Internet Blackout Rumours

Netizens are watching Sudan closely, following rumours that the Sudanese authorities intend to cut off the Internet - a chilling reminder of Egypt's attempt to silence activists and contain the January 25 revolution when it pulled the plug off the www on January 27.

On Twitter, Jordanian Ali Alhasani reports:

@_AHA: BREAKING: Reports that Internet has been CUT in #Sudan. If true then god be with them because we won't know anything! #SudanRevolts

Four hours ago, Egyptian journalist Salma Elwardany, who is reporting from Khartoum, tweeted:

@S_Elwardany: news that sudan govt might cut off internet #Sudanrevolts

In preparation for the anticipated blackout, a Speak to Tweet service has been set up. Rodrigo Davies tweets about it:

@rodrigodavis: Dear ‪#Sudan‬, in case ‪#Bashir‬ cuts off the internet, Speak to Tweet using +16504194196 or +390662207294 ‪#SudanRevolts‬ ‫#السودان_ينتفض

Netizens quickly compare notes on who is available online, in Sudan.

Sara Elhassan writes:

@BSonblast: @SudaneseThinker @Usiful_ME is in Sudan and he's still tweeting.

and Israeli Elizabeth Tsurkov adds:

@Elizrael: @JustAmira @SudaneseThinker seeing way too many people tweeting from Sudan for it to be true… See @elizrael/sudanpeeps

Protests broke out at Khartoum University on June 17, when hundreds of students denounced the government’s planned austerity measures. The protests were met with police brutality and arrests, fueling more anger and protests the following days.

CNN's Ben Wedeman comments:

@bencnn: If #Egypt weren't such a 24/7 news tsunami #Sudan might be getting more attention. Sudan has a rich history of rebellion and revolution.

Arab Revolution adds:

@ArabRevolution: Watching #SudanRevolts videos reminds me of how #Yemen started. Tens in the street, but very passionate. All out revolution within weeks.

And the lack of news in mainstream media of what is happening in Sudan is annoying activists. Egyptian blogger Wael Abbas asks [ar]:

هو ليه الجزيرة … مش بتغطي احداث السودان تماما؟
@waelabbas: Why isn't Al Jazeera covering the incidents in Sudan at all?

Al Jazeera, which provided blanket live coverage of the Egyptian revolution from its epi-centre in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo, has been credited with ‘exporting' the revolution spark to the living rooms of homes across the Arab world.

June 21 2012

Azerbaijan: Musical Talent on YouTube

Gultekin Garadaghly continues to post her own renditions of well-known songs on YouTube, including those from this year's Eurovision Song Contest held in her native Azerbaijan. The young singer living in Baku, who also covers Azerbaijani folk songs, has even been featured in the local press with [RU] reporting that at the end of May her YouTube channel had received over 322,000 views. A month later at time of writing, that has now increased to over 467,000.

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