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Latest update : 2012-12-19

Concerns over fate of jailed Syrian software engineer

Web users express concern over fate of a Syrian software engineer held by the regime. Taiwanese net users rally to defend the island’s different forms of media. And YouTube offers a video round-up of 2012.

Concerns over fate of jailed Syrian software engineer

The web is rallying for Bassel Khartabil, a software engineer detained on March 15 in Damascus during a wave of arrests following the first anniversary of the uprising against the Syrian regime. Held without trial and without access to a lawyer ever since, the 31-year-old is thought to have recently been transferred to a military prison and his loved ones fear he may have suffered torture or other ill-treatment.

Considered as one of his country’s internet pioneers, Bassel Khartabil is known in particular for his contribution in projects such as the Creative Commons free licences, the web browser Mozilla Firefox and the online collaborative encyclopaedia Wikipedia. According to US magazine Foreign Policy, his activities have enabled Syrians to become part of the global internet community.

Many web users have rallied in recent months in favour of this new technologies expert. In this video, for example, members of the Creative Commons foundation who met recently in Cairo, speak in turn on camera to urge the Syrian authorities to release Bassel Khartabil.

Net users meanwhile have decided to organise a rotating hunger strike via social networks with participants taking it in turns every twenty four hours to express support for the software engineer and to call for his release.

Taiwan: campaign against pro-China media monopoly

For weeks, many Taiwanese net users have been acting to defend the island’s freedom of press and expressions. Their top issue being the monopoly steadily being established by the Want Want group; deemed to be close to the Chinese government and who are thought to possess almost fifty percent of the Taiwanese media. An intolerable situation for a section of the population who have decided to express their rage online.

Many events have been staged to warn local authorities of the danger for freedom of expression and press plurality in Taiwan if such a monopoly is established by a pro-Chinese group. It is now towards the social networks that inhabitants of the island are turning to express their fears.

This Facebook group baptised, “I don’t Want Want” was set up to denounce the acquisition of Taiwanese media by the company. A page boasting over sixty three thousand supporters and on which net users against the establishment of a pro-Chinese media monopoly in Taiwan are asked to display posters, such as here, recalling their deep commitment to freedom of expression and that of the press.

And mobilisation is also spilling over the island’s borders, as illustrated by these pictures posted online by Taiwanese people living abroad and wishing to take part in the struggle to defend media plurality. Expatriates who- like those still living on the island- emphasise the importance of free press and reassert their desire to continue their struggle as long as necessary. 

"New and Then" photos of an abandoned Detroit school

With this series of photographs entitled, “Now and Then”, the Detroiurbex site denounces the decline in the city of Detroit. To this end, the creators superimposed old photos taken in a high school at a time when the city still boasted significant industrial activity, and recent photos of the same place, left derelict since then, just like a good number of the city’s buildings. A stark contrast which sends shivers down our spines.

Now trending on social networks

Nime Register”, a mixture of Swahili and English meaning, “I have registered”, are the key words Kenyan net users have been using in recent weeks to encourage their compatriots to register as voters. General elections are set for next March in the country. A campaign has been launched online as, according to figures published recently, only ten out of eighteen million Kenyans of voting age have taken the necessary steps to do their civic duty.

Video of the day

After Google and Twitter, it is YouTube’s turn to offer a round-up of 2012. And this year, the video share site decided to ask a few of the platform’s greatest stars to recreate two of 2012’s most popular music videos: the inescapable “Gangnam Style” by Korean artist, Psy and “Call me maybe” by Canadian singer, Carly Rae Jepsen. The result is a zany and overboosted video to be consumed without moderation this Christmas time.

By Electron Libre

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