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February 17 2014

February 03 2014

Human Rights Video: 2013 Year in Review

A video by WITNESS on the Human Rights Channel of YouTube wrapped up some of the most significant protests and human rights abuses of 2013. Dozens of clips shot by citizens worldwide are edited together to show efforts to withstand injustice and oppression, from Sudan to Saudi Arabia, Cambodia to Brazil.

A post on the WITNESS blog by Madeleine Bair from December 2013, celebrates the power of citizen activism using new technologies including video, while readers are reminded that the difficulty of verification and establishing authenticity remains a big obstacle.

“Citizen footage can and is throwing a spotlight on otherwise inaccessible places such as prisons, war zones, and homes,” says Bair. “But given the uncertainties inherent in such footage, reporters and investigators must use it with caution.”

Reposted byiranelection iranelection

January 29 2014

Coursera Online Courses Blocked in Syria, Iran and Cuba by US Sanctions

Hit by US Sanctions, online learning platform Coursera is no longer available for students from Syria, Iran and Cuba. Those effected were surprised to have the following message on their screen as they tried to access their courses:

“Our system indicates that you are trying to access the Coursera site from an IP address associated with a country currently subjected to US economic and trade sanctions. In order for Coursera to comply with US export controls, we cannot allow you to access to the site.”

Iranian student Navid Soltani immediately expressed his outrage on Coursera's Facebook page:

2014-01-29 01_41_59-Navid Soltani - Photos of Coursera

Blogger Leila Nachawati shared his sentiments:

Syrian blogger and developer Anas Maarawi criticized the US sanctions on his blog [ar]:

وبين مطرقة النظام السوري الذي يحجب مئات مواقع الإنترنت، وسندان “العقوبات الأمريكية” يزداد الخناق على الشباب السوري الراغب بالتعلّم، أو بالأحرى من تبقى من الشباب السوري القادر على الوصول إلى ما تبقى من الإنترنت في سوريا.

“Between the censorship imposed by the regime, which includes blocking hundreds of internet sites, and the effect of US sanctions, it has become nearly impossible for the remaining youth in the country to have access to online learning.”

Editor-in-chief at Wamda Nina Curley was more pragmatic in her approach and asked if it was inevitable:

However, one of Coursera's professors, Rolf Strom Olsen, couldn't understand why non-Americans are affected as well:

January 26 2014

Cries of Discrimination as Israel Detains Illegal African Immigrants

La grève des immigrés africains  à Tel-Aviv

Screenshot of African immigrant demonstrators in Tel-Aviv via Zahi Shaked on YouTube 

About 30,000 undocumented Africans living in Israel [fr] mounted a three-day strike and a series of protests backed by human rights defenders in early January against an act that allows Israeli authorities to place illegal immigrants in detention without any trial nor case review for up to a year.

Aside from the new law, approved on December 10, 2013, protesters denounced the refusal of Israeli authorities to consider their applications for refugee status as well as the detention of hundreds of them. The video below highlights the scale of events and presents protesters demands:   

The Holot detention centre in the Negev desert, near the border between Israel and Egypt, already has received numerous inmates since December 2013.

The site offered an idea of the centre's capacity

Holot can house 3,300 migrants and is set to expand, eventually reaching a capacity of between 6,000 and 9,000 people, according to Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Israel's Public Security Minister.

The anti-illegal African feeling has reached alarming levels, fed by hate speech, such as the “Le sentiment” video published by Djemila Yamina. The video shows Israeli citizens stating in a public gathering that illegal immigrants are “psychopaths, scum and manure that need to be expelled from our country”

Elsewhere, minority extremist groups have attacked immigrants. In Israel, the government and the judiciary systems are taking an active part. Previously in July 2012, Allain Jules condemned [fr] on his blog:

 Ce qui se passe en Israël actuellement est indigne. Entre un ministre qui demande que les clandestins soient simplement assassinés, puisqu’il recommande qu’on tire sur eux au moment où ils tenteront de franchir les frontières, un autre qui parle du risque d’impureté future de l’État d’Israël qui doit garder son caractère juif 

What is going on in Israel is shameful. Between a minister demanding that illegal immigrants are simply assassinated, suggesting we shoot at them at the very moment they try to cross the borders, and another minister that talks about the risks of impurity for the future state of Israel that must retain its Jewish character

Racism was apparent even before the new law. On July 18, 2013, Darfuri asylum-seeker and actor, Babaker (Babi) Ibrahim was arrested simply for not having a receipt for his bicycle.

Jean Shaoul explained [fr] the reality for asylum seekers in Israel on his blog 

En vertu de la loi israélienne, il est interdit aux immigrés de travailler tant qu'ils ne sont pas enregistrés comme demandeurs d'asile. Ce qui leur est pratiquement impossible. En effet, selon l’agence des Nations unies pour les réfugiés, alors que le taux de reconnaissance national moyen des demandeurs d’asile est de 39 pour cent, en Israël ce taux est inférieur à 1 pour cent. En Israël, la plupart des demandeurs d’asile sont des Erythréens et des Soudanais qui connaissent un taux de reconnaissance international moyen de 84 pour cent et de 64 pour cent respectivement.

By virtue of the Israeli law, work is prohibited for immigrants as long as they are not registered as asylum seekers. Which is virtually impossible for them. In effect, according to United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), while the national average recognition rate for asylum seekers is 39 percent, in Israel this rate is lower than 1 percent. In Israel, the majority of asylum claimants are Eritreans and Sudanese, that have an international recognition rate of 84 percent and 64 percent respectively.

 In a post published on a Mediapart blog, JOSEPH AKOUISSONNE [fr] wrote:

Ce racisme est incompréhensible de la part d’un peuple qui a souffert de l’abjection nazie, avec sa cohorte d'actes odieux visant à l'extermination des juifs. Pourtant, c'était bien Madame Golda Meir qui proclamait que  : « …les Africains et le peuple juif partagent des points communs. Ils ont été victimes de l’histoire : morts dans les camps de concentration ou réduits en esclavage… » Dans les années 1960, l'état d'Israël avait tissé des liens très forts avec le continent noir. Des étudiants africains étaient accueillis dans les kibboutz. Inversement, nombreux étaient les Israéliens qui allaient en Afrique pour soutenir le développement des états fraîchement indépendants. Il faut aussi rappeler le combat des juifs sud-africains, aux côtés de Nelson Mandela dans sa lutte contre l’apartheid. Sans oublier ceux qui s’engagèrent avec les militants des Droits Civiques aux États-Unis.

This racism is incomprehensible coming from people who have suffered under the Nazis, with its cohort of heinous acts aimed at Jewish extermination. Nevertheless, it was Golda Meir who proclaimed that:  “… Africans and Jews share common points. They have been victims of history, who died in concentration camps or have been enslaved… “. In the 1960s, the Israeli State forged strong links with the African continent. African students were welcomed into the kibbutz. Vice versa, there were plenty of Israelis who were involved in supporting the development of the newly enacted independent states. It is worth mentioning too the struggle of South African Jews alongside Nelson Mandela in the strife against apartheid. Not to forget those who engaged with the Civil Rights activists in the United States.

What is it about illegal immigration that provokes so much hatred in Israel? In response, JOL Press site presents figures [fr] from the Freedom 4 Refugees Association:

“Environ 50 000 demandeurs d'asile et réfugiés africains vivent aujourd’hui en Israël. Nous avons fui la persécution, les forces militaires, la dictature, les guerres civiles et le génocide. Au lieu d'être traités comme des réfugiés par le gouvernement d'Israël, nous sommes traités comme des criminels » explique Freedom4Refugees. ”Nous réclamons l’abrogation de la loi, la fin des arrestations, et la libération de tous les demandeurs d'asile et les réfugiés emprisonnés”, ont encore déclaré les réfugiés dans une pétition relayée par l’association Freedom4Refugees. Principalement d'origine soudanaise, sud-soudanaise et érythréenne, les manifestants demandent également que les demandes d'asile soient effectuées de “manière individuelle, équitable et transparente ”.

“Approximately 50,000 asylum seekers live currently in Israel. We fled persecution, military forces, dictatorship, civil wars and genocide. Instead of being treated as refugees by the government of Israel, we are being dealt with as criminals,” explained Freedom4Refugees. “We demand that the law be revoked, the end of arrests, and the release of all asylum seekers and refugees imprisoned,” the refugees declared in a petition communicated by the Freedom4Refugees Association. Mainly Sudanese, South Sudanese and Eritrean demonstrators further demand that asylum applications are made “in an individual, fair and transparent way”.

Al Monitor website noted the discriminatory character of measures taken against African immigrants:

At the same time, however, there are some 93,000 “tourists without valid visas” in Israel, about half of them from the former Soviet Union. Needless to say, the government is not building special detainment centers for them. The number of people requesting asylum is also significantly lower than the number of legal guest workers in Israel (approximately 70,000), much to the relief of those companies that arrange to bring them to the country and employ them.

There has been striking indifference at an international level. In an article published on Rue89, Renée Greusard disclosed everyday racism against Israel's black population:

Quand nous abordons ce sujet ensemble, David Sheen, le journaliste américain, pèse ses mots et parle plus lentement :

“Le niveau de racisme actuel en Israël, il peut être comparé à ce qu’on a connu dans d’autres pays occidentaux, il y a cinquante, soixante ans. Les gens se font insulter dans la rue. Souvent, quand les Noirs entrent dans les bus, les gens se bouchent le nez, bloquent les places à côté d’eux, ouvrent les fenêtres, pestent : “Ah ! Mais on n’a pas besoin de tous ces Noirs !”

Dans les autres pays, les gens sont gênés par leurs pensées racistes. Ils ne les disent pas en public. Là, non. C’est un racisme assuré, et dont les gens sont fiers. “

When we address this issue together, American journalist David Sheen weighs his words and talks slowly: 

“The current level of racism in Israel can be compared to what has been experienced in other Western countries 50, 60 years ago. People are insulted in the streets. Often when blacks board buses, people would plug their noses and block the seats near them, opening the windows while ranting ‘Ah! But we don't need all these blacks!' 

In other countries, people are embarrassed by their racist thoughts. They do not divulge them in public. Here, not quite. They are confident and proud on their racism.”

These anti-black sentiments can be observed even from the comments published on blogs and online media such as and  

These types of comments frequently arouse passions on both sides of the issue. An article by Jack Guez on Yahoo News has received 2,410 comments, and many of these comments have in turn attracted plenty of “likes”. The comment below has received 82 favourable opinions

People criticize Israel but no one says a thing about Saudi Arabia, why? 

Saudi Arabia expelled 200,000 Africans a few weeks ago!

The death of Ariel Sharon brought the protests and strike to a temporary halt for a few days. However, the struggle of the undocumented migrants in Israel continues. After marching outside the offices of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as well as other foreign embassies in Tel-Aviv, protesters have held demonstrations in front of The Knesset, the Israeli Parliament in Jerusalem. Nevertheless, the government continues to herald sluggish proposals.

January 08 2014

Reason for President of Central African Republic Djotodia Imminent Resignation

Multiple sources report [fr] that Michel Djotodia, Interim President of Central African Republic (CAR) will step down tomorrow (January 9) as his country is rocked by violent inter-community conflicts. Although the minister of Communication denied [fr] the president's resignation earlier, Simon Koitoua in Bangui, CAR opines that it was bound to happen because of the president's recent ill-advised decisions regarding weaponry [fr]:

Le chef de la transition aurait approuvé et validé un montage financier colossal lié à l’achat d’armes via le Soudan et Tchad malgré l’embargo imposé sur les armes en destination de la Centrafrique

The head of the transition allegedly approved a financial package that green lighted the purchase of heavy weaponry via Sudan and Chad. The purchase was validated in spite of the embargo on weaponry in the Central African Republic

December 04 2013

Traffickers Force Smuggled Refugees to Rape Each Other in Sinai

About 30,000 people have been trafficked to Sinai, Egypt, over the last five years. Cairo-based journalist Bel Trew tweets from a Press conference on the matter, to shed light on “a hugely under-reported issue.”

She tweets:

Bel Trew explains:

And then provides staggering figures:

Out of those people trafficked, 95 per cent are from Eritria:

In a series of tweets, Trew provides a horrific insight to what those trafficked go through:

She provides a chilling testimony of one refugee:

And this is not all. Trew adds:

Further reading:

Jadaliyya: Human Trafficking in the Sinai: Refugees Between Life and Death

Spiegel Online: Imprisoned, Tortured, Killed: Human Trafficking Thrives on Sinai Peninsula

Sign the Petition:
Take Action to Stop Human Trafficking in Sinai

December 03 2013

Five Arab Countries Among Top 10 Corrupt Worldwide

Five Arab countries have been named among the top 10 most corrupt countries, according to Transparency International's newly released annual Corruption Perceptions Index.

Egyptian Amro Ali reacts:

And Sudanese Usamah Mohamed comments:

October 25 2013

GV Face: Everything You Need to Know About #SudanRevolts

Dozens of Sudanese activists are currently on hunger strike across the world to protest human rights violations in Sudan. Under the banner #Strike4Sudan, striking activists have been protesting in front of the White House in Washington DC since October 20. Last month the Sudanese government responded to peaceful mass protests with guns and tear gas. More than 200 protesters were killed and over 2000 arrested, some were even tortured. 

Graphic images of injured and murdered protesters spread widely through social media, telling the story of a Sudanese revolution that has been in the making since 2009. At the heart of the revolt is a nonviolent grassroots movement called Girifna, which means “We are fed up. “

This week our MENA editor Amira AlHussaini and Deputy Editor Sahar Habib Ghazi talk about #SudanRevolts with our Sudan author Usamah M, and Magdi ElGizouli, the man behind the influential blog Still Sudan, we will ask him why some are calling the ongoing protests the next Arab Spring.

Visit theGV Face: #SudanRevolts event pagefor more information.

Female activists protest the detainment of a writer named Rania. Posted on Twitter by @Girifna

September 26 2013

Protests in Sudan: Dozens Feared Dead

On Twitter, Yasir Yaha shares this photograph of a child watching the mayhem unfold in Sudan. Photo credit: @yasirya7ia

On Twitter, Yasir Yaha shares this photograph of a child watching the mayhem unfold in Sudan. Photo credit: @yasirya7ia

Sudan's answer against fuel subsidy protests, raging for the fourth day in a row, was cutting off the Internet and killing dozens of protestors. Activists say Sudan pulled the Internet plug to stop activists from sharing its crackdown on protestors on the one hand, and screening the rest of the world from seeing the carnage unfolding on the ground.

Girifna, the Sudanese Non-Violent Resistance Movement, posts a round up on developments in Sudan over the previous four days. They say, over the last 24 hours, the Sudanese government cut off the Internet – to stop videos and images of the crackdown on protesters from spreading.

Popular Protests

According to Girifna:

Sudan is experiencing a new wave of popular protests that are increasing in popularity and scope. They have so far included Wad Madani, Khartoum, Kassala, Port Sudan, Gadarif, Sinaar and Nyala. In all of these towns except Nyala, the protests were triggered by the critical economic situation that saw in the last weeks a sharp depreciation of the Sudanese pound vis a vis the dollar and, and an increase in prices of basic food items and the cost of fuel. This was compounded by the government’s announcement, last Tuesday (September 17) that it was lifting State subsidies from fuel and essential food products, such as sugar. Starting Tuesday, September 24, the price of gasoline almost doubled.

The report adds:

What separates this new wave of protests from previous ones is that the protests are not led, coordinated or mobilized by known political factions or youth movements. These protests are more grassroots in their nature and not geographically localized in specific neighbourhoods. In Khartoum, the protests included most areas, with the participation of school students and young adults.

100 Killed in Khartoum

Girifna's estimate of the human toll is as follows:

Reports of deaths of peaceful protesters, mainly by live bullets, indicate that in Khartoum alone about 100 civilians were killed– by the end of the third day of protests. While in Madani the death toll reached 12 civilians by Tuesday. The number of those injured is much higher, but could not be confirmed.

Gas Stations Closed:

Girifna adds:

In Khartoum all gas stations are closed, creating a severe shortage in gasoline and implying that mobility of residents of the capital will be limited if the situation remains the same. Market places and smaller neighbourhood shops have also closed down creating shortages in basic foodstuff. This has implications on the future ability of Khartoum’s residents to communicate as many depend on pre-paid credit for their mobile phones, and may not be able to buy phone credit in the immediate future.

Schools Closed:

And schools were closed:

On Wednesday the Sudanese government announced the closure of all schools until September 30. At the time of writing this report there was unconfirmed news that a curfew may be imposed from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., most probably in an effort to limit the continuation of protests which went on until after midnight in some areas of the capital on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Shutting Down the Internet:

According to Girifna, the Internet was shut down to stop activists and protesters from sharing news on the ground. Also, the government did not want the world to see what was happening in Sudan.

On Wednesday at about 1.30 p.m. Sudan time, news spread about the possibility of the internet being disconnected as information from mobile phones including video footage and photos that were being shared by protesters on the ground; as well as communication via smart phone applications such as, WhatsApp stopped suddenly. Soon after, wi-fi connections were also impacted. This created panic, because in the current information black-out a lot of citizens are using their phones and applications on smart-phones to share videos, pictures and updates. The only source of information for Sudanese inside Sudan and outside was social media platforms where most information was being exchanged, in addition to telephones and transfer of information via word-of-mouth.

The shutting down of the internet comes at a time when very disturbing images and videos of dead students and injured protesters are starting to circulate on social media. It is proof that the Government of Sudan has something to hide that it does not want its citizens to share with the rest of the world.

Activist's Family Harassed:

Sudanese activist Khalid Ewais complains that his family, back in Khartoum, is being harassed by the authorities [ar]:

The Sudanese Security Service is harassing my family in Sudan, Khartoum. Your issue is with me, not my family. I hold you responsible for their safety.

In another tweet, he shares a tally of the number of injured treated at Khartoum Hospital:

According to medical sources: 185 victims have been taken to Khartoum Hospital Bahari since yesterday, all of them with gun shots. Another 135 victims taken to Omdurman … and tens of deaths

Meanwhile, the Sudanese are calling on people not to turn a blind eye to their strife:

@rrakia tweets:

And blogger Usamah Mohamed expects more Internet cuts:

July 24 2013

Sudanese Refugee Detained for Owning a Bicycle in Israel

In September 2012, the Israeli Ministry of Interior implemented a new regulation that allows the State of arrest and detained indefinitely, without trial, asylum-seekers suspected of crimes, even if those suspicions are unsubstantiated and would have not led to a conviction in court. In July 2013, the regulation, The Procedure for Handling Infiltrators [the term used by the State of Israel to vilify asylum-seekers] Involved in Criminal Proceedings, was expanded to include refugees suspected of even misdemeanors. Over 500 asylum seekers have been detained under the Criminal Procedure and sent to the internment camps for refugees in the Negev desert until their deportation from Israel is possible.

On July 18, a Darfuri asylum-seeker and actor, Babaker (Babi) Ibrahim was arrested by Israeli police for not having a receipt for his bicycle, which was thus presumed to be stolen. Babi, a well-known figure in the Sudanese community in Israel, is a member of a refugee troupe that recently staged a satirical play about the mistreatment of refugees in Israel, One Strong Black. Babi's arrest and indefinite detention without trial sparked outrage and an online and offline campaign to release him and other refugees in his situation. On July 20, dozens protested in front of the residence of Attorney General, Adv. Yehuda Weinstein, who approved the regulation:

The Hotline for Migrant Workers, an NGO advocating for the rights of refugees, migrants and human trafficking victims in Israel, provided an update about Babi's current legal situation [heb]:

לאחר שעתירת הביאס קורפוס שלנו נדחתה על ידי בג”ץ, אתמול הגשנו עתירה בשם באבי… עתירתנו דורשת את שחרורו של באבי וגם תוקפת את הנוהל שמכוחו הוא עצור בטענה שאינו חוקתי…
אנו נמשיך להאבק למען שחרורו של באבי ושל כל הפליטים הכלואים בישראל ללא משפט. לא ייתכן שיתקיימו בישראל שתי מערכות משפט נפרדות: אחת לפליטים ואחרת לכל היתר. לא ייתכן שפליטים ייזרקו למעצר עולם ללא ראיות, ללא משפט הוגן, ללא יכולת להתגונן ומבלי שהמשטרה תצטרך להוכיח שהם אשמים בדבר. לא ייתכן שבמדינה דמוקרטית יתקיים נוהל שמשמעותו הנחה מראש שכל רכוש שנמצא בידיהם של בני אדם בעלי צבע עור מסוים הוא גנוב.

After our habeas corpus petition was rejected by the High Court of Justice, yesterday we filed another petition on behalf of Babi… Our petition demands Babi's release and the abrogation of the regulations under which he has been arrested, claiming that the regulation is unconstitutional… We will keep fighting for Babi's release and the freedom of all refugees detained in Israel without trial. The existence of two separate legal systems in Israel: one for refugees and one for everyone else cannot stand. It is outrageous that refugees are sent to life in prison without evidence, without a fair trial, without the opportunity to defend themselves and without the police having to prove that they are guilty of anything. A regulation that it predicated on the assumption that all property possessed by people of a certain skin color is in fact stolen cannot exist in a democratic country.

Advocates Yonatan Berman and Oded Feller wrote on their blog Laissez Passer about the absurdity of detaining people for owning property:

הבלוג פותח בפני קוראיו את פינת הרולטה – נחשו מה יהיה הצעד הבא. ההימור שלנו – מבקשי מקלט שלא יוכלו להציג קבלות המוכיחות כי רכשו את הבגדים שלגופם ייעצרו. כך נבטיח כי כל מבקשי המקלט יסתובבו בעירום. או שאולי, בעצם, כך נבטיח כי כל מבקשי המקלט שיסתובבו לבושים ייעצרו בגין עבירת גניבה, וכל מבקשי המקלט שיסתובבו בעירום ייעצרו בגין התערטלות במקום ציבורי.

The blog opens the roulette section before its readers – guess what will be the next move [by the government]. Our guess – asylum seekers who won't be able to present receipts proving that they've purchased the clothes on their back will be detainees. Thus we will ensure that all asylum-seekers will walk around naked. Or maybe, actually, this way we will ensure that all clothed refugees will be detained for stealing, while all the asylum-seekers who walk around naked will be detained for indecent exposure.

Prominent leftist blogger Yossi Gurvitz wrote on his blog Friends of George:

כמעט 160 שנים אחרי דרד סקוט, כמעט 150 שנים אחרי שהתיקון ה-13 שם קץ לעבדות, מאשר וינשטיין בחתימתו שיש קבוצה שלמה של בני אדם – לגמרי במקרה, כמובן, צבע עורם שחור – שהם, אם לא סחורות ממש, פחותים מבני אדם. די בעלילה עליהם (למשל, מצד נוכל בן העם הנבחר שלא רוצה לשלם להם את משכורותיהם) כדי להשליך אותם לבור משפטי שממנו אין כמעט דרך לצאת. לאברהים יש מזל נדיר: הוא דמות מוכרת. יש לו לא מעט חברים. כמאה מהם יצאו במוצ”ש הביל של יולי להפגין למענו מול ביתו של וינשטיין. לרוב הפליטים אין מזל כזה. אין מי שיכיר אותם, אין מי שיגיש בשמם עתירות הביאס קורפוס. הם נאלמים, ונעלמים אל הבור שחפר עבורם וינשטיין. בציבוריות הישראלית, המקבילה של החלטת דרד סקוט של וינשטיין עברה ללא כל רעש; יש בה יותר מדי תואמי יאנסי, ומעטים עדיין מעיזים לומר ש”אתם טועים בנו, לא נעשה זאת.”

Almost 160 years after Dred Scott v. Sandford, almost 150 years after the 13th Amendment ended slavery [in the U.S.], Weinstein approved with his signature that there is an entire group of people – incidentally, of course – their skin color is black – that they are, if not property per se, are less than human. Libelous claims (for example, from a swindler of The Chosen People who does not want to pay them their salaries [refugees have been threatened with this by employers - E.T.] are enough to dump them into a legal hole from which it is almost impossible go get out. Ibrahim is very lucky: he is a known figure. He has quite a few friends. About one hundred of them went out on a hot July Saturday night to protest for him in front of Weinstein's home. Most refugees are not that lucky. There is no one who knows them, there is no one of file a habeas corpus for them. They are silenced and disappeared into the hole Weinstein dug for them. The Israeli public did not react to Weinstein's decision that parallels the Dred Scott ruling; there are too many twins of William Yancey [southern Democratic congressman, leading proponent of slavery] and few still dare to say “you mistake us. We will not do it!” [response by a northern Democrat to Yancey's demand that the Democratic Party's platform for the 1860 election include pro-slavery statements]

The Facebook page freeBabi was launched, quickly gaining hundreds of “likes”. The page asked users to submit photos and videos of themselves asking for Babi's release. Many sent in their photos, including famous Israeli actors and musicians.

Famous Israeli singer-songwriter Alma Zohar posted a photo of herself with a sign reading: “Free Babi! Keeping innocents in jail costs you and me a lot of money!”

The producers and directors of the play One Strong Black visited Babi in Giv'on Prison on July 23 and informed him about the ongoing campaign to release him. Babi is set to be transferred to the Sahaornim internment camp on July 24.


The campaign received attention in Turkey, Tunisia and Greece as well. Simge and Vulkan from Izmir, Turkey, took this photo of themselves.

John Brown created this meme using the image of Attorney General Weinstein:

"I don't always approve to lock up innocent people for life But when I do, they're always black"

“I don't always approve to lock up innocent people for life
But when I do, they're always black”

July 11 2013

Israel to African nations : take our Asylum_seekers and we will give you arms

#Israel to African nations: take our #Asylum_seekers and we will give you arms

In the last few days more details have come to light about Israel’s operation to deport African asylum seekers back to the continent, to whichever country wants to take them in exchange for “benefit packages.”  On Tuesday  Israeli newspaper #Yedioth_Ahronoth published an article in Hebrew, followed by a slightly different English version on its website revealing that the [...]

#Benjamin_Netanyahu #Eritrea #Hagai_Hadas #Sudan

July 09 2013

Report : Web monitoring devices made by U.S. firm Blue_Coat detected in Iran, Sudan - The Washington…

Report: Web monitoring devices made by U.S. firm #Blue_Coat detected in #Iran, #Sudan - The Washington Post

American-made devices used for Internet monitoring have been detected on government and commercial computer networks in Iran and Sudan, in apparent violation of U.S. sanctions that ban the sale of goods, services or technology to the autocratic states, according to new research.


May 07 2013

US Invitation to Sudanese Official Draws Wide Condemnation

The United States government faced a wave of criticism when news surfaced about an official invitation it has extended to a senior delegation of the Sudanese government, particularly including Nafie Ali Nafie, Sudan's ruling party controversial strongman and Presidential adviser to President Omar Hasan al-Bashir.

In late April, a Department of State official told the Associated Press that Nafie and other officials have accepted an invitation to Washington DC for a “candid discussion on the conflicts and humanitarian crises within Sudan.” Another top State Department official explained to AFP that the U.S. had invited Nafie “after he voiced an interest in traveling to Washington”.

Considered a reward to the Sudanese government despite its ill-reputed record of undemocratic conduct and committing of war crimes in Darfur, the invitation drew wide criticism from the Sudanese activist community at large, as well as US congressmen and US-based Sudan advocacy groups, questioning Nafie befitting to be honored such an invitation.

Dark history

In the early mid-1990s, a time at which securing its grip on power was the Sudanese regime's top priority, Nafie headed the notorious National Security and Intelligence Service, NISS, during which he was a mastermind of the practices and policies that shaped the ongoing legacy of the security apparatus. Specifically, Nafie is widely believed to be the architect behind establishing what is commonly known in Sudan as “Ghost Houses”, off-the-record detention safe houses at which security agents hold political activists captive without due process or judicial oversight.

Mass human rights violations reportedly have been documented to take place in these ghost houses, including but not limited to torture, rape, disappearance and killing that thousands of political activists faced.

Reports also accuse Nafie of personally participating in committing such violations, including in one incident the beating up of a detainee during interrogation sessions! In a 2008 interview, Nafie bluntly admitted and endorsed the torture of political dissents in his presence, arguing that his mission was to protect the regime, “not play cards with them”.


Nafie is arguably one the most disliked officials among Sudanese people. Well-known for his provocative speeches and statements in which he publicly scoffs Sudanese opposition at large, he is also credited for displaying contempt for any calls for political reform or change in Sudan.

“Lick your elbow!”, an expression he once used to ridicule what he believes is the opposition's inability to overthrow the regime became a remarkable reminder of his ill-mannered and disrespectful attitude towards the Sudanese. During the June-July protest movement of last year, dubbed on social media as #SudanRevolts (See Global Voices Online's special coverage of #SudanRevolts), protesters nicknamed one of the Friday protest days the “Elbow Licking Friday”, in an act of defiance and to challenge Nafie's assumptions.

In early 2012, a young student activist walked into a discussion panel held at University of Khartoum, which Nafie was addressing as a guest. Standing a few feet from Nafie, the activist delivered a speech, in which he harshly criticized Nafie for corruption and other wrongdoing. A video of the incident was uploaded on the Internet, and went immediately viral, viewed by hundreds of thousands online, making the activist an idol among Sudanese for standing up to the fearsome Nafie.

The activist was subsequently arrested and spent a month in prison before he was released without charge.

Bitter disappointment

It is no wonder then, that for a man with such qualities, so to speak, and such history, the US invitation came off as surprising, if not quite shocking, to many Sudanese who suffered and continue to suffer from Nafie's and Sudan government's ill-fated record of oppression, brutal human rights violations and crimes. The non-violent youth movement Girifna (translates to “We Are Fed Up”) wrote a strong-worded Open Letter to US President Barack Obama, describing Nafie's invitation as a “big mistake”.

The letter went on explaining the miscalculations the US government makes by succumbing to the regime's propaganda machine that portrays the ruling National Congress Party as the sole guarantor of peace and stability in Sudan, before concluding:

The Sudanese people yearn for and believe in an alternative: democracy, justice, accountability and peace. If the US government is interested in helping the Sudanese people achieve this alternative, it must not stand in our way. Talking to this regime is one thing, but legitimizing it is a mistake.

The youth movement also launched an online campaign on Twitter, urging those concerned about Nafie's invitation to voice their objection to US government and officials, using the hashtag #NafieTheButcher. Many responded.

@TheDooda: Shame on @StateDept @USEmbassyKRT @barackobama for inviting #NafieTheButcher for “talks”… He has blood on his hands, literally! @girifna

Azaz Shami, journalist and activist explained on Twitter that “whoever made the decision to invite Nafie is unforgivably unacquainted with Sudan complexity”, as having him “will do anything but bringing peace”:

@sudanesedream: #NafieTheButcher z nastiest NCP member who enjoy insulting #Sudan ese pple. he isnt representing us @AmbassadorRice @barackobama

@MuzanAlneel: I am v. happy about the invitation of #NafieTheButcher to USA, maybe finally it'll be clear that America is no friend of the people of Sudan

@yasirya7ia: Lesson learnt, no matter how bloody your hands are, you are still welcome in the US
Cc @barackobama

Khalid Ewais, a Sudanese activist, renowned novelist and journalist at Al Arabiya TV, asserted [Ar]:

@KhalidEwais: واشنطن ترتكب خطأً أخلاقياً وسياسياً بالغاً وفادحاً بدعوتها مساعد الرئيس السوداني، نافع علي نافع، أحد “جزاري” نظام البشير، لحوارٍ معها !

Washington commits a moral mistake and grave and fatal political one by its invitation to the Sudanese President adviser, Nafie Ali Nafie, one of Bashir's regime “butchers” for dialogue!

The real deal?

The question that begs itself for many in Sudan however, remains whether the US invitation to Nafie and his delegation is a fit of enthusiastic albeit misguided diplomacy, or rather a thought-out policy shift in which the US considers the current regime in Sudan an ally, despite its public pro-democracy rhetoric.

February 18 2013

Videos from “One Billion Rising” Global Protests for Women's Rights

Foto vom Flashmob auf dem Waisenhausplatz in Bern, Schweiz

Photo of the flashmob on Waisenhausplatz in Bern, Switzerland

Every third woman falls victim to violence in her lifetime. On February 14, 2013 thousands of people all over the world protested against these daily acts of violence with dance-flashmobs, artistic events and other happenings. Under the motto “One Billion Rising” they protested on behalf of the one billion women in the world, who are beaten or raped during their lifetime, according to a UN study.

Also in countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh women took to the streets.

Photo of a flashmob on the Polyterrasse at the ETH in Zürich, Switzerland

Photo of a flashmob on the Polyterrasse at the ETH in Zürich, Switzerland

More than 13,000 organisations in 200 countries took part in this global protest. Below, we present some videos from February 14.

Flashmob in Bern, Switzerland:

The organisation “United Societies of Balkans” recorded a video of men and women from around the world, telling “One Billion Rising” why they were on the street on February 14:

NDTV reported from Mumbai, India:

The following dance was rehearsed and performed by girls of “New Light”, an NGO operating in the red light district of Calcutta, India:

Video from Khartoum, Sudan:

Stop-Motion-Film from São Paulo, Brazil:

Flashmob in Bali, Indonesia:

December 11 2012

Global Voices Where Every Voice Counts

Every year Human Rights Day provides an opportunity, to many of us, to highlight issues that matter to us and to advocate  human rights for all. This year the spotlight is on the rights of  people - the poor, the  marginalized and the disingenuous, women and  youth and those across the gender spectrum. Every one has the right to be heard and the right to participate.

The idea that every voice counts is one that is very close to the  notion of Global Voices as a platform and as a community. As netizens unite to have their voices heard when the world's authorities argue  on who should run the internet, we decided to ask our  diverse community to participate and speak out on issues that matter to them and look back at issues we have covered over the year bearing in mind that every voice counts.

Global Voices community members make their #VoiceCount

Global Voices community members make their #VoiceCount. Image collage by author.

With Syria and Gaza plunging into information by pulling the plug on the internet, the right to access remained one of the most pertinent issues. Our special coverage included Syria,archiving online reactions to Syria's internet blackout and the resurgence as parts of Syria regained connectivity, protests in Bahrain and Yemen amid media blackout, conflict voices from Caucasus and Sudan revoltsin-depth coverage of Russia's protest movements,bearing witness to Egypt's historic presidential elections and the aftermath and the intense elections in Venezuela, seeking indigenous voices representing 370 million people that speak more than 4000 languages, a spotlight on the forgotten voices of Myanmar's Rohnigya, keeping an eye on the worldwide #occupy movements and SlutWalks a new protest movement defending women's rights and  most importantly monitoring and defending internet freedom,  free speech and freedom to access with Global Voices Advocacy evolving in to a community determined to take a stand.

Then there were other stories that needed the world's attention as we stood true to the notion that we are reminded of today; every voice counts.Qatar's life imprisonment of a poet that praised Arab spring,Russia's crackdown on online satire, women being barred and penalized from using mobile phones in villages in India, stricter SIM card registration process hampering communication in Zambia, Pakistan's consistent pursuit to replicate the great firewall of China, Tajikistan blocking of facebook and summoning Mark Zuckerberg - a move startlingly similar to that of Pakistani authorities, Internet companies overlooking user privacy, the fight for free expression as authorities muscle in more control, we continued to speak out against impunity and for justice for threatened voices, these are the few issues global voices as a community has been able to bring attention to. As we move forward towards the end of the year, there will be a more comprehensive overview of the year through the eyes of the networked.

For now, on Human Rights Day, we stand in solidarity with people around the world and believe in every individual's right to be heard, to participate and be counted. Our commitment remains, to amplify the voices of the networked and to enable and support the indigenous communities to become a part of the larger community.



November 29 2012

Tortured Sudanese Female Journalist Speaks Up

Attacks against journalists and human rights activists seem to have intensified recently in Sudan as shown by the horrific abduction and torture of a Sudanese female journalist by National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), Sudan's notorious security apparatus. Sumaya Ismail Hundosa, 34, was abducted from near her house on October 29, 2012, later to be found thrown inside a mud pit in a remote area in Khartoum on November 2, 2012, five days after her abduction.

The journalist was tortured for writing articles criticizing Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir. She was severely beaten up until she subsequently lost consciousness, had her head shaved because her hair ‘belongs to the Arabs', and was iron-shocked on several parts of her body. She was called a slew of racist insults by her captors, including whore and slave for belonging to Darfur, a region in western Sudan that's also witnessing a decade-long, raging conflict.

Several human rights groups strongly condemned the attack on the journalist, including the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists and Cairo-based Al-Karama [ar], who issued calls to Sudanese authorities to investigate the attack.

Burns on Hundosa's arm caused by iron-shocking. She was iron-shocked on her stomach, back and other parts of her body!


As the details of Hundosa's unprecedented torture unfolded, Sudanese netizens largely responded with shock and outrage, showing sympathy and solidarity with the journalist.

Journalist Reem Shawkat tweeted a photograph of Hundosa's shaved hair, while expressing her support [ar]:

حلقو ليك شعرك يا سمية هندوسة و لكن لبستي تاج الشرف #السودان -يسقط جهاز عدم الانسانية و عدم الوطنية

@ReemShawkat: They shaved your hair, Sumaya Hundosa, but you wore the crown of honor. #Sudan - Down with the apparatus of inhumanity and lack of patriotism.

@nsaeed, on Twitter, pointed out to his fellow Sudanese that if they do not take action against such violations, it is going to be everyone's turn:

متى سيفهم المواطن السوداني أن ما يحدث لأمثال #هندوسة و #جليلة وارد حدوثه لأي مواطن في أي لحظة؟ كان حلقو لأخوك بل راسك #حرفياً

@nsaeed: When will the Sundanese citizen understand that what happens to the likes of Hundosa and Jalila can possibly happen to any citizen at any moment? If your brother's head is shaved, moisten your own!

Award-winning Sudanese cartoonist Khalid Al-Baih drew an expressive cartoon bemoaning Sudanese women's prestigious status in the past as compared to now, under the current regime in Sudan.

Khartoon! by Khalid Al-Baih

The cartoon illustrates two women, one who looks prestigious in a traditional garment (thoub), and refers to the old days, and another who looks bare-headed, humiliated and sitting behind bars, in reference to the treatment women are getting nowadays. The Sudanese woman is symbolized as “عزة” (transliterated, Azza), which means “glorious” in Arabic. It is a common female name in Sudan and is a semi-official national personification.

Hundosa, who gradually moved from print journalism to online journalism, came to Sudan from Egypt where she has been living since 2003, to spend Eid Al-Adha with her family. Following her horrific ordeal, she left Sudan immediately for fear for her life. Back in Egypt, she recounted her ordeal with the NISS in a detailed, first account 27-minute video testimony [ar] on YouTube. The video was recorded by a committee to protect journalists of Egypt's Journalists Syndicate.

The journalist also wrote an Open Letter to President Omar Al-Bashir [ar] that was highly circulated online, holding him accountable for bringing her offenders to justice and ensuring that no one can commit such horrendous acts with impunity in the future.

Race and identity, revisited!

The unequivocal racist attacks against Hundosa by her torturers provoked discussions online about the role of race and identity in Sudan's modern politics and society.

Amr Abbas, on Twitter, mockingly remarked:

سمية اسماعيل هندوسة تجلد، يحلق شعرها، تصعق بمكوة وتجلد بالسياط ليس لانها كتبت عن البديل لكن لانها غرباوية فى بلد العروبواسلاميين

@amrmohabbas: Sumaya Ismail Hundosa is flogged, hair-shaved, iron-shocked and whipped not because she wrote about the alternative, but because she's gharbawiya in the country of the Arabo-Islamists

Gharbawiya” is a woman who hails from western Sudan, but the term is often used derogatory as a racial slur.

A Sudanese blogger who maintains a blog called “Sudanese Dream“, wrote a bitter blog post titled: “من هم العبيد الجدد؟” [ar], which translates to, “Who are the new slaves?”. She asserts:

ان ما يحدث الان في السودان هو اكثر سوءاً من عهد امتلاك الرقيق مع اعادة تعريف للعبودية ،

What happens now in Sudan is worse than the slave owning era with a redefinition of slavery,

The blogger observes that racism is still rampant among ordinary Sudanese who sometimes practice it with relative ease. She then addresses the more structural racism within the context of state violence, pointing out that many political detainees who originate from west and south Sudan testified to have been discriminated against and received racist insults during detention. She gives the discriminatory ill-treatment of female detainees like Sumaya Hundosa and Jalila Khamis as another pointer. She then dismisses arguments of ethnic purity before concluding:

عليه ؛ كلنا عبيد يا ريس ، كلنا عبيد يا جهاز الامن.

نحن العبيد “السودانيين” نتقبل حقيقة كوننا عبيداً ، فما بالكم ايها المستعربون؟

Thus; we are all slaves, Mr. President, we are all slaves oh Jihaz Al-Amn (security apparatus)

We the slaves “The Sudanese” accept the fact of being slaves, what bothers you, the Arabized?

The issue of identity is a recurring theme of debate among Sudanese youth. Known blogger and Global Voices long-time author Amir Ahmed (better known online as ‘Sudanese Thinker') has written in the past about ending Sudan's identity crisis. Another blogger, Moez Ali, presented a critical view of the whole “Sudanese Identity” question.

November 12 2012

7 Must-See African Moustaches

President Omar al Bashir

In honor of Movember: President Omar al Bashir of Sudan and his moustache. Via Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)


November 11 2012

Sudan: Nuba Mountains Activist Detained for 8 Months

In the middle of the night on 14 March 2012, the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) abducted a woman named Jalila Khamis Kuku from her home and took her into custody. Denied access to a lawyer and even a change of clothes, Jalila was dragged into a pickup truck in her night gown accompanied by a dozen NISS officers in civilian clothes.

Kuku, who hails from the Nuba Mountains, is a primary school teacher, an activist and a member of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N). She was targeted for helping displaced Nubans who fled the war in South Kordofan and hosting them in her own home. She recorded a video in which she spoke about the humanitarian situation in the Nuba Mountains.

Out of the eight months Jalila has served in jail so far, three of them were spent in solitary confinement. She is now under threat of the death sentence as she has been accused of serious charges under the Sudanese criminal law; namely Article 51, of waging war against the state, and Article 50, which entails undermining the constitutional system. Her trial remains shrouded in secrecy as Kuku’s lawyers are still being denied access to the details of her case.

Jalila Khamis Kuku

Jalila Khamis Kuku has been unjustly detained by the Sudanese security organ since mid-March 2012.

Youth movement “Girifna” (We Are Fed Up) called for a campaign on the 8th and 9th of November to condemn the Jalila's ongoing detention using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. November 14th marks the activist’s eighth month in detention.

@girifna: Thurs-Fri Nov9/10 GIRIFNA will host tweeting campaign 4 Jalila's freedom bc Nov14 will b her 8 months n detention w/o trial #Jalila8Months

On Twitter, netizens from Sudan and other parts of the world rushed to answer the call and tweeted, demanding Jalila’s release.

Aliah Khaled tweeted:

@AliahKhaled: #Jalila8Months #FreeJalila who is a teacher,who speaks about the injustice in her region,who fights 4 human rights shouldn't be where she is

Sudanese journalist Reem Shawkat tweeted:

@ReemShawkat: I dedicate all my tweets today to Jalila Khamis, an activist, mother and teacher in detention since March 14 #Sudan #Jalila8Months

Dalia Haj-Omer, a Sudanese human rights activist, tweeted:

@daloya: Jalila speaks: My children's life turned to hell…they refused to celebrate Eid, it's the 2nd w/o me #Jalila8Months

Many others joined the online campaign, relentlessly tweeting:

@Sudanesedream: Jalila Khamis is a peace activist, one of the few persons who stood up against war in #Sudan #Jalila8Months

@Neo0rabie:شهور_يا_جليلة جليلة خميس كوكو ، ذنبها انسانيتها #Jalila8Months

@Neo0rabie: Jalila Khamis Kuku, her only fault is her humanity

@africathinker: Jalila Khamis,will be executed very soon unless we do something.Her crime …speaking out against the Sudanese government.#Jalila8months #Nuba

@ReemHajo: freedom to #Jalila8months who speaks about the truth, FREEDOM to our beloved #SUDAN

@Galaxy717: ننادي بالحرية لمن فقدتها لأنها نادت لغيرها بالحرية وطالبت بحقه ،، فشتان بين من كانت قضيتها وطن وبين من كانت قضيته قبض الثمن #Jalila8Months

@Galaxy717: We call for the freedom of a woman who lost it because she called for freedom and rights .. There is a difference between those whose cause is a nation and those who get paid for their stance

Muzan Alneel condemned the United Nations' lack of action, tweeting:

@MuzanAlneel: dear #UN when u placed #SudanInECOSOC did u think about #Darfur? #Jalila8months? #Shawa? damn it did u think about #Sudan|ese ppl at all?

“Girifna” vows to continue campaigning for Jalila Khamis Kuku.

@girifna: We are continuing our campaign for Jalila.Raise your voice for a woman who risked her life for the truth #Jalila8Months

August 30 2012

Chinese Weapons Flooding Africa

Deborah Brautigam from China in Africa provided more background information about the importation of Chinese Weapons in African countries and explained the incentive of arms sale is from private sector:

As we saw in the notorious Libya case, it appears that Chinese companies with their own balance sheets are “going global” and making arms export decisions and deals.

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