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THE OBSERVERS

A show produced with photos, videos and personal accounts from our Observers around the world - all checked by our staff here in Paris. Saturday at 10.15 am Paris time.

Latest update : 2013-01-17

Pay for protest in Hong Kong, 'Young Patriots' in the Central African Republic, and more

This show is made up entirely of amateur images. We've seen time and time again how images captured by ordinary citizens then uploaded onto the Web can change history, or at least shift the balance of power. This week, we take a look back at some of those moments.

Story 1: Central African Republic

We begin today with a story from the Central African Republic, a former French colony right in the center of the African continent. The country is facing a new uprising from rebels who feel excluded from power by President Francois Bozizé. They've been threatening to march on the capital Bangui, and the president has asked young Central Africans to help defend the city. But locals say the youths - known as Young Patriots - are harassing and intimidating them instead of protecting them. Our Observer, who we'll call Hervé, filmed the Young Patriots in action.

Story 2: Hong Kong

Now to Hong Kong, where tens of thousands of people turned out on New Year's Day for a protest against the territory's chief executive, Leung Chun-ying. They accuse him of trying to cover up illegal construction work done at his home. On the same day, there was a much smaller demonstration of people supporting Mr. Leung, who is close to the central government in Beijing. Our Observer says the pro-government demonstrators were paid to be there. She knows because she took the money - and filmed it.

The local groups who organised the counterdemonstration say they know nothing about the payments shown in the video.

 

Story 3: World

Now for our weekly roundup of stories and images sent in by our Observers.

First stop Mali, in West Africa. The northern part of the country has been in the hands of Islamist insurgents for more than nine months, and they've been imposing their own form of Islamic justice. Here's a video posted online by one of the groups, MUJAO. It shows a suspected thief having his hand amputated, and a man accused of rape getting 100 lashes. Our Observer says the Islamists stage such punishments in public. They tell local journalists to show up and spread the word, he says, but local residents mostly stay away from the gruesome spectacle.

Now to Cairo in Egypt, to the chic district of Heliopolis. Locals say that since the revolution, their splendid tree-lined avenues have been losing their trees. Our Observer Michel Hanna says the crews supposed to maintain the trees have instead been cutting them down indiscriminately. He says the local authorities are doing nothing about it - and nothing to stop residents pruning the trees themselves to keep bird droppings off their expensive cars.

Last stop China, with a photo of the country's future prime minister apparently visiting run-down housing. It was published by the official Xinhua news agency with the caption "Li Keqiang, the man who puts the people first". But it seems he wasn't really there. Chinese Web users say the picture is a fake. They found the original photo on another site, and pointed out how the leaders had been Photoshopped in, and the original residents blurred out. The faked photo has been taken down - and the Web posts censored. But we posted both photos on our site, so you can take a look for yourselves.

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