Winds of change blow through Maghreb and Middle East
Online reports of the protest movements in the Maghreb and Middle East. Chinese web users are campaigning for the freedom of an activist under house arrest. And some young American thrill seekers reinvent the swing.
Winds of change blow through Maghreb and the Middle East
The Iranian protesters in this amateur video are chanting “Free political prisoners”. The images were reportedly filmed on Monday in a neighbourhood of Tehran just before police used tear gas to disperse the crowds.
Similar scene in Bahrain where these images were filmed by a video blogger: we see the police charge a peaceful demonstration, creating panic among the protesters.
Anti-government demonstrations have recently been staged in several countries in the Maghreb and the Middle East, like here in Yemen. The revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt have inspired these fresh protest movements that have also been coordinated via social networks.
And, despite repression and online censorship, cyber activists are not giving up. One Facebook group, with over 5 000 members, is calling for a Day of Anger on Thursday to protest against Colonel Gadhafi’s regime.
And in Algeria, web users are trying to coordinate a demonstration planned for Friday, whilst another opposition march should be taking place in Algiers on Saturday despite the fact that large amounts of police were deployed to contain previous demonstrations.
The winds of change also appear to be blowing through Morocco. Some young activists recently made this video for the Internet, to denounce lack of political freedom in the country and encourage the people to take to the streets on Sunday.
China: campaign to free Chen Guangcheng
Blind lawyer and human rights defender Chen Guangcheng, who has been under house arrest, with his family, since his release from prison last September, has received a beating from police following the release of this video detailing conditions of their house arrest: it was filmed in secret and has since been broadcast by American organization China Aid. In the video, which is available to view online, he explains amongst other things, that any contact with the outside world is now forbidden and that 60 or so security guards take it in turns to watch his home 24 hours a day to prevent him from leaving. He lives in a village in Shandong, a province in eastern China.
Some citizens feel this situation is intolerable and have decided to demonstrate their support. Radio shows, t-shirts with his face on them, visits to his home and also attempts to enter into contact with the activist… the mobilization has been intensifying in recent months and is likely to continue online, notably via this website on which the site’s designer, Zhai Minglei encourages web users to join the campaign for Chen’s freedom. Supporters are asked to demonstrate their support by sending him postcards or flowers…
And Minglei also reminds web users of the staggering cost of this permanent surveillance. He explains that the authorities have already spent over one and half million dollars to pay the villagers and guards responsible for keeping watch over Chen and his family. Minglei feels these are quite simply useless expenses.
Cyber activists meanwhile are continuing the fight on social networks, to denounce the unfair treatment of Chen. Comments from outraged Facebook and Twitter users and appeals for his freedom continue to pour in online.
Canadian webdocumentary focuses on social networking
Does the Internet isolate people or, on the contrary, does it bring us closer together than ever before? The National Film Board of Canada is trying to answer this question in a web documentary entitled, « Ma tribu, c’est ma vie ». The project follows eight young social networkers and the aim is to stimulate web users and encourage them to think about our relationship with the web and how it contributes to shaping our identity.
Robocop statue in Detroit?
Residents of Detroit in the U.S. have taken it into their heads to erect a statue of the famous comic strip character and star of the Robocop films, which take place in the city of Michigan. The mayor of Detroit, David Bing is far from happy with this idea, but web users are thrilled and have set up this web site to raise money to go towards building the statue, estimated at a cost of 50 000 dollars. A Facebook group has also been created so that supporters of the project can voice their opinions. To be continued…
Video of the day
Following on from bungee and base jumping, the new popular activity for thrill seekers is swinging in the middle of canyons. In this video, we see fans of this extreme sport enjoying their favourite pastime in Utah in the U.S. Images that web users are guaranteed to find thrilling.