Good-bye Wikipedia, hello something else

Donate

Wikipedia was the first great, high profile success story of Internet mass collaboration and produced a well-loved reference used with obsessive frequency by an entire generation. But it is past time for us to build new forms of knowledge commons.

Wikipedia is a website, controlled by a foundation. It is the work of, theoretically, the entire Internet but it is not a global commons. One tiny group can, and did, blackout the entire site for a period specified by them. Wikipedia has survived so long by being hyper aware of and sensitive to their user community, it is highly doubtful they would ever become evil, but it is nevertheless centralized control of what ought to be a global commons. And centralized power always ends up doing things like this.

As an old node in the idea of free information, Wikipedia has a rigid hierarchy of tradition and established editors. Contributors with different ideas cannot just create what they wish and allow people to use it or not, as they can with blogs, tweets, pearltrees or other tools. Wikipedia does not play nicely with a decentralized Internet of information.

When Wikipedia was created, in 2001, it was a fascinating and liberating tool to work with. Now it is as archaic as a box of punched cards. We have made incredible progress in data mapping and modeling tools and we have software which makes graphically linking relationships intuitive and obvious. We also have tools that are designed for use on mobile phones and tablets, where most of the world is. We need to build to our new capabilities.

We also need new information in the repository. Wikipedia has been criticized often for their over representation of one tiny demographic of the world’s population. They have attempted to address their bias but it is very apparent that this is not working, neither women nor non-western men are very interested in editing Wikipedia.

The reason why is obvious, even if it escapes the Wikimedia Foundation board. The Wikipedia game is rigged against everyone but western men because it is a glorification and amplification of mainstream media. You cannot write a Wikipedia article unless you have mainstream media sources; news from mainstream media is considered the official verified version. Anyone who is not a western man must prove to many western men that they are newsworthy before they are included in Wikipedia. The entire Wikipedia repository is contaminated as a result.

A knowledge repository should rely on primary source material, interviews endorsed by all participants or affidavits. All of these types of material can be linked with no reliance on third party media. If citizen journalism is to replace corporate media it must not rely on corporate media to interpret data.

To be a stigmergic project instead of a cooperative one, each contributor must be free to work according to their own ideas and the power of the user group must be limited to acceptance or rejection of the final project for their own use only. This is simple in a structure like pearltrees where everyone creates their own pearls or pearltrees and others link to them or not as they see fit. It is simple in an RSS or Twitter feed where anyone can create their own list of voices to follow. It is impossible in Wikipedia.

Omar Khadr: War criminal, child soldier… or neither? (French)

GRANDIR À GUANTANAMO ET TOUT FAIRE POUR EN SORTIR

Par Heather Marsh


Prises de vue de l’interrogatoire d’Omar Khadr. Via Flickr

Lundi, Omar Khadr a fait sa première apparition devant un tribunal canadien. Après un périple de onze ans qui l’a mené de Bagram à Guantánamo, puis à la prison canadienne de Millhaven, ce natif de Toronto est désormais détenu dans la prison fédérale d’Edmonton. Il avait 15 ans quand il a été capturé et torturé à Bagram. Il a fêté ses 27 ans jeudi dernier.

Si vous n’avez jamais entendu parler de l’affaire, voilà, en gros, ce qui s’est passé : quand les Américains ont arrêté Omar en Afghanistan, on l’accusait d’avoir lancé une grenade ayant causé la mort d’un soldat américain. Il a clamé son innocence pendant huit ans, jusqu’à ce qu’il signe un accord, en 2010, qui lui a permis de sortir de Guantánamo. Cinq chefs d’accusation de crimes de guerre ont été retenus contre Omar, des chefs d’accusation qui n’ont pas été reconnus comme tels dans le reste du monde – dont le Canada.

Le cas d’Omar est particulièrement complexe. Même si le soldat américain qu’il est accusé d’avoir tué a certainement été victime d’un jet de grenade, il n’existe aucun élément prouvant que c’est Omar qui l’a lancée. Même si Omar a certainement confessé ces crimes, c’était au bout de huit ans de torture et après qu’on lui a laissé le choix entre camper sur ses positions et rester à Guantánamo ou avouer ses crimes et rencontrer un juge au Canada. Les conditions de sa confession et la confession elle-même posent problème.

Cela mérite d’être relevé, d’autant que le récent recours Hamdan aux États-Unis – en référence àl’ancien chauffeur d’Oussama Ben Laden, relaxé après avoir fait face à plusieurs chefs d’accusation pour terrorisme – a montré que les crimes de guerre jugés par la Commission devaient faire l’objet d’un accord international. Cette jurisprudence pourrait être exploitée dans l’affaire Omar Khadr.

La Cour Suprême canadienne est arrivée à la conclusion que le gouvernement américain avait violé les droits d’Omar, mais a laissé la décision au gouvernement Harper qui bien entendu a botté en touche.

Le Premier ministre Stephen Harper n’a pas mâché ses mots quant à l’issue souhaitée du jugement, le jour même du procès, dans une tentative non dissimulée d’influencer les délibérés. Harper a juré de régler cette affaire « vigoureusement », en utilisant des tournures de phrase très similaires à celles de Steven Blaney, ministre de la Sécurité publique du Canada.

L’avocat d’Omar, Dennis Edney, s’est présenté devant le tribunal pour plaider en faveur du transfert de son client d’une prison fédérale à une institution provinciale. Il a argué de l’âge de l’accusé au moment des faits. Dans un exercice troublant de double discours judiciaire, l’accusation soutient qu’Omar n’a pas vraiment été condamné à huit ans, mais plutôt à cinq peines de huit ans purgées en même temps. Le vice-président de la Cour Suprême, J.D. Rook, a remis son jugement à une date ultérieure encore indéterminée.

La journaliste Heather Marsh était présente au procès d’Omar lundi et nous a écrit sur le sujet.


Un essaim de journalistes autour de l’avocat d’Omar Khadr après le procès de lundi. Photo : Heather Marsh

Lundi, le tribunal semblait rempli de soutiens à Omar Khadr. Nombre d’entre eux étaient habillés en orange ou portaient des rubans orange. J’ai parlé à plusieurs d’entre eux. Une lycéenne qui séchait probablement les cours, des étudiants qui avaient pourtant des examens la semaine suivante, et des gens de tous âges et de toutes ethnies. Les journalistes ont dû être transférés dans le box des jurés et le public encouragé à se serrer : environ 120 personnes étaient présentes dans la salle, et une retransmission en direct était diffusée dans une salle annexe.

Un vigile a dit à l’avocat d’Omar qu’il pourrait s’exprimer dans une salle privée en dehors du tribunal, mais Dennis Edney a rétorqué que c’était une séance ouverte et qu’Omar avait le droit d’être présent. Après une courte altercation, Omar a pu entrer.

Contrairement à ce qu’ont déclaré certains médias le décrivant comme un « géant », Omar est un homme de taille moyenne avec une carrure de joueur de foot et une barbe soigneusement taillée. Quand il est rentré au pays l’année dernière, il a écrit à Seger M., un de ses soutiens, âgé de 11 ans : « Moi aussi je joue au foot, mais je ne pense pas être aussi bon que toi. Normalement, je joue en défense ou dans les buts. » Il parle au présent, même si, depuis son retour au Canada, il vit en cellule, dans un isolement quasi complet.

Heather Marsh : « Le juge dans l’affaire Khadr est vice-président de la Cour Suprême, il s’est auto-assigné l’affaire qui repose sur de multiples condamnations, consécutives ou simultanées. »

CAPTURE TWITTER
Col. Morris Davis : « @GeorgieBC (Heather Marsh) Sur les pages 4891-92 de son compte-rendu du procès, il est clair qu’il s’agit de 8 ans au total pour l’ensemble de ses délits. »

L’auteur discutant de l’inanité des arguments de la Cour avec l’ancien procureur général d’Omar, quand il était à Guantánamo.

Omar m’a écrit lorsqu’il a été rapatrié au Canada, à l’automne dernier : « Au moins, nous avons un système juridique digne de ce nom. » Cette semaine, il a aussi confié à un autre correspondant que ce serait sa première comparution devant « un vrai tribunal ». Il semblait calme et heureux tout au long de la procédure, et adressait de fréquents sourires à la foule. La majeure partie des discussions que j’ai pu entendre lors des pauses tournait autour de son apparence et de son comportement, et non des arguments légaux. Omar et son groupe de soutien étaient tout autant stupéfaits de se rencontrer enfin, après onze ans et demi.

Au cours de l’après-midi, un homme a interrompu les débats en déchirant sa chemise et en hurlant : « Ça suffit ! Il avait 15 ans ». Il s’est fait sortir sans qu’Omar ou le reste de la salle ne lui prête attention. Àla fin de la journée, après le départ du juge et la sortie sous escorte d’Omar, un déchaînement spontané a envahi la salle, des gens faisaient des signes de la main et criaient : « Bravo, Omar ! » et « Sois fort ! »

Après l’audience, Dennis Edney est allé à la rencontre des journalistes à l’extérieur du tribunal et leur a dit qu’Omar aurait beaucoup plus de chance d’être libéré sur parole dans un centre de détention provincial, où il aurait accès à des programmes de réinsertion, en contact avec la société. « S’il reste dans un pénitencier fédéral où il passe le plus clair de son temps enfermé, où sa vie est en danger, il ne sortira jamais. »


Une manifestante en faveur d’Omar Khadr, en 2009. Via WikiCommons.

Tant qu’Omar restera dans une prison fédérale, il sera maintenu dans la solitude pour sa propre sécurité. Il a écrit la chose suivante à un ami, à propos de Millhaven : « Ma nouvelle prison est complètement différente. Les gens sont gentils en général, mais ils ont plein de mauvaises habitudes. La vie ici t’oblige à vivre comme un animal parce que c’est comme une jungle. Je dois changer un peu pour pouvoir me défendre, mais ne pas perdre mon humanité et mon identité. »

Afin d’être éligible à la liberté sur parole, Omar doit prouver qu’il peut évoluer parmi les personnalités que notre société considère comme les plus intolérables. Au cours de son procès, il a été répété à plusieurs reprises qu’il ne pourrait pas être libéré parce qu’il avait « baigné dans le djihad » en tant que prisonnier de Guantánamo et à Bagram lors de ses années de formation. Ça devient du Kafka.

Il est de notoriété publique que le Canada a violé les droits d’Omar Khadr en l’interrogeant pour le compte des États-Unis tout en sachant pertinemment qu’il venait de vivre trois semaines de privation de sommeil et autres « techniques d’assouplissement » avant l’interrogatoire. Pendant huit ans, on a aussi refusé de lui fournir ne serait-ce qu’une paire de lunettes pour préserver l’acuité visuelle restante dans son œil encore valide ou de lui dispenser la moindre éducation afin de lui permettre, éventuellement, de se réinsérer. S’il n’a reçu aucune éducation formelle au-delà de l’école primaire, il a récemment décroché un diplôme de niveau première de l’État d’Ontario, avec plus de 90 %de bonnes réponses dans tous les sujets, anglais, maths, histoire, géographie et sciences.

L’isolement cellulaire est considéré par beaucoup comme de la torture, et plusieurs années de recherches ont montré les dommages permanents qui pouvaient en résulter. Après onze ans de solitude presque totale, Omar semble être l’une des exceptions à la règle. Il réussit même à tirer du positif de cet isolement. En avril, il a écrit à Aaf Post, aux Pays-Bas : « On ne prend pas souvent le temps de profiter des choses simples. On croit qu’elles nous sont dues. C’est en perdant ces choses, comme ouvrir une fenêtre le matin, prendre un bon bol d’air frais ou entendre le gazouillis des oiseaux, qu’on les apprécie vraiment. Même si je suis en prison, il y a toujours un tas de belles choses autour. Voir le soleil briller ou se coucher, voir la neige tomber. »

« Comme tu l’as dit, c’est merveilleux d’être de retour au Canada. Aussi difficile que soit ce changement, ça en vaut la peine. Il y a trop de belles choses dans cette vie pour s’inquiéter ou se soucier des mauvaises choses. Les choses sont ce que nous en faisons. La prison peut être une privation de liberté ou une occasion de gagner en sagesse. Pour moi, c’est la deuxième option. »

L’auteure tient à remercier l’association Free Omar Khadr pour l’aide apportée dans ses recherches.

Suivre Heather sur Twitter : @GeorgieBC.

Omar Khadr: War criminal, child soldier… or neither?

 

Previously published on VICE


Frames from Omar Khadr’s interrogation. via Flickr.

Omar Khadr made his first appearance in a Canadian court on Monday. After an 11-year journey from Bagram to Guantánamo to Canada’s Millhaven Institution, the Toronto-born man is now in Edmonton’s federal prison. He was 15 when he was captured and tortured at Bagram. He turned 27 last Thursday.  

If you’re not familiar with the case it goes loosely as follows: When the Americans first arrested Omar in Afghanistan, he was accused of throwing a grenade that killed an American solider. For eight years he maintained his innocence, until he signed a plea deal in 2010 that got him out of Guantanamo. Omar was then convicted of five counts of war crimes for his actions, which were not recognized as such anywhere else in the world including Canada.  

Omar’s case is wildly complex. While the American solider he is accused of killing was certainly killed by a grenade, there is no evidence showing that Omar ever had or threw one. While Omar certainly did confess to these crimes, it was after eight years of torture and given his option to either insist he’s innocent and stay in Gitmo, or confess to the crimes and see a judge in Canada, it certainly sounds like the terms of his confession were problematic at best.

All of this is important to note, especially in light of the recent Hamdan appeal in the US—which refers to the case of Osama Bin Laden’s former driver whose terrorism charges were thrown out—that pointed out war crimes tried by the Commission must be internationally recognized. This verdict may end up being leveraged effectively in the Omar Khadr case.

The Canadian Supreme Court has even ruled that our government violated Omar’s rights, but left the remedy up to the Harper government who of course declined to provide any solution.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been making strong statements on the preferred outcome on the day of the trial, in an apparent attempt to influence the court proceedings. Harper has vowed to fight the case “vigorously,” and used almost the same phrasing as that of Steven Blaney, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety.

Omar’s counsel, Dennis Edney, was in court to argue that he should be transferred to a provincialinstitution from a federal institution due to his age when the alleged crimes took place. In a confusing instance of legal doublespeak, the Crown’s prosecutors are arguing that Omar has not really been sentenced to eight years, but rather to five eight-year sentences served at the same time. Associate Chief Justice J.D. Rook has reserved judgment to a currently undetermined future date.

Heather Marsh, a journalist, was at Omar’s trial on Monday and wrote about it for us.


The media swarming Khadr’s lawyer outside of Monday’s hearing.
 Photo by the author.

On Monday, the court was filled with what seemed to be exclusively supporters of Omar Khadr. Many were wearing orange or orange ribbons and I spoke to several of them. There was a high school student who said she was done for the day, students from several different universities skipping class even though they had exams next week, and people of all ages and ethnic groups. After the media were moved to the jury box and people were encouraged to squeeze up, 120 people were in the court room and a live feed was set up for more in an overflow room.

A security guard told Omar’s counsel that Omar would be available to talk to them in a private interview room outside—but Edney insisted it was an open court and Omar could appear. After a brief altercation he was allowed to be present.

Contrary to earlier media reports depicting him as a “giant,” Omar is an average sized man with a soccer player build and a neatly trimmed beard. When he came home last year he wrote to Seger M., an 11-year old supporter, “I play soccer too, but I don’t think I’m as good as you. I usually play defense or goal keeper.” He looks it, although since he came home he has been almost entirely in solitary confinement instead.


The author discussing the insanity of the crown’s arguments with Omar’s former chief prosecutor from Guantanamo.

Omar wrote to me when he was finally transferred back to Canada last fall, “At least we have a proper legal system,” and he told another correspondent this week that this would be his first appearance in “a real court.” He seemed composed and happy throughout the proceedings, smiling frequently at people. Most of the discussion I overheard during the breaks was regarding his appearance and demeanor, not the legal arguments. Omar and the gallery of supporters seemed equally amazed that they were finally meeting after 11 ½ years of hearing about each other.

During the afternoon, a man interrupted proceedings to rip off his shirt and say “Enough! He was 15,” and object to the endless paper shuffling and statute citing. He was escorted out with no acknowledgement from Omar or the rest of the court room. At the end of the day, after the judge had left and as Omar was being led away there was a spontaneous outburst from the room with people waving and calling “Good job, Omar!” and “Stay strong!”

After the hearing Edney met with media outside and told them Omar’s chances of parole would be much greater in a provincial institution as he would have access to the programs and the society he needs to rehabilitate himself. “If he remains in a federal penitentiary, where he doesn’t get any programs, where he spends most of his life locked away, where his life was threatened, he’ll never get out.”


An Omar Khadr protester in 2009. via WikiCommons.

As long as Omar is in federal prison he will probably be in solitary as necessary protection. As he wrote a friend last February about Millhaven, “My new place is different definitely. People are generally nice, but with a lot of bad habits. Life here compels you to live like an animal because it is like a jungle. I have to change a little to defend myself, but not lose my humanity and who I am.”

In order to be eligible for parole, Omar must prove he can thrive among those our society has deemed most unacceptable. During his trial the point was repeatedly made that he could not be released as he had been supposedly “marinated in jihad” as an inmate of Guantanamo and Bagram during his formative years. The catch-22 continues.

Canada famously violated Omar Khadr’s rights by interrogating him for the US when they knew he had been subjected to three weeks of severe sleep deprivation torture and other ‘softening up techniques’ prior to questioning. They also refused for eight years to provide even a pair of glasses to preserve the vision remaining in his one good eye or to provide any education for him to rehabilitate himself. After receiving no formal education past elementary school, he recently passed Ontario’s Grade 10 high school equivalency exams with more than 90 percent in all subjects, English, math, history, geography and science.

Solitary confinement is widely recognized as torture, and many years of studies have shown the permanent damage that can result. After over 11 years of almost entirely solitary, Omar appears to be one of the exceptions. He can even find benefit in the deprivation of experience, education and companionship. In April he wrote to Aaf Post in the Netherlands, “Usually we don’t appreciate the small things. We take them for granted. Once you lose these things like opening your window in the morning and taking a breath of fresh air or seeing a bird chirping, you really appreciate these things. Even though I’m in prison there are still a lot of small beautiful things around us. Seeing the sun rise or set or to see the snow fall.”

“Being back in Canada is, as you said, a wonderful thing. As big or difficult as change may be, it’s worth it. There are too many good things in this life (as hard as it might be) to worry or even care about the bad things. Things are what we make out of them. Prison can be a deprivation of freedom, or a time to enlighten ourselves. For me it is the latter.”

 

The author would like to thank the Free Omar Khadr group for research assistance. 

Follow Heather on Twitter: @GeorgieBC

2011-11-23 Omar Khadr Part 4 of 4: “Punitive post-conviction confinement”

Image

This article is in lieu of the long delayed fourth part of the Omar Khadr series written on WL Central last May. The original fourth part consisted of hours of interviews regarding the astoundingly corrupt and illegal military process which culminated in a verdict which allows the Canadian press to refer to Omar Khadr as a ‘convicted terrorist’. One day the information in those interviews will be widely known, but today we are still prevented from publishing any of it for fear of retribution to those we do not wish to harm.

Today, Omar should be at home in Canada, as promised by the Canadian government as a term of his acceptance of a plea deal. Today, he is still in Guantanamo Bay serving what the US military terms “punitive post-conviction confinement.”. A little known fact regarding the Guantanamo sentences is that time served before sentencing is not considered ‘punitive’ and therefore does not count as time served towards his sentence. Omar’s sentence is to be carried out in a solitary confinement ‘enhanced interrogation’ environment, and at the end of his sentence he can be placed back in ‘Prisoner Of War’ status in the Guantanamo cells he has spent his life in since he was 15 years old. Without repatriation to Canada, his eight year plea deal is just an eight year sentence to solitary confinement in the middle of a lifetime sentence in Guantanamo.

Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg writes, But Bahlul and Qosi, Khadr and Noor are segregated because they are “serving punitive sentences,” says Navy Cmdr. Tamsen Reese, a Guantánamo spokeswoman. Under the 1949 Third Geneva Conventions, she said, the other captives are “detained under the Law of War only as a security measure” and “should not be subjected to a penal environment or comingled with prisoners punitively incarcerated as a consequence of a criminal conviction.” Once their sentences are over, under Pentagon doctrine, they become ordinary detainees again — put back with the others in a penitentiary away called Camp 6, the closest thing at Guantánamo today to POW-style barracks housing.

I spoke last summer to Omar’s former defense attorney Dennis Edney about his current condition. “Omar is doing his post sentencing time back in Camp 5 which as the Pentagon states is “designed for enhanced interrogation techniques”. He is back in solitary confinement where he has spent so much of his life. Prior to trial, we were able to have him removed to the cages where he was able to socialize with others which made him happy. He is not happy and has been subject to interrogations by the FBI.”

In this isolated and unsupported environment, “He is never allowed mail from other than family which rarely arrives.” As part of his ‘plea deal’ he is not allowed to have legal counsel present during his interrogations.

Thanks to Canadian Prime Minister Harper’s appeals, all levels of court in Canada have agreed, in 2008 and again in 2010, that the Canadian government has violated Omar’s rights under Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by interrogating him at the Guantanamo Bay facility in 2003 and 2004 and by sharing information from those interviews with U.S. authorities despite knowing that in 2004 U.S. authorities had subjected him to illegal interrogation methods, including sleep deprivation. It further found that his status as a minor, his detention without counsel, and his interrogators’ awareness that he had been subjected to sleep deprivation were“not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”

Omar was sentenced in October of last year. In a diplomatic exchange with the United States which formed part of Omar’s plea deal, the Canadian government wrote “The Government of Canada therefore wishes to convey that, as requested by the United States, the Government of Canada is inclined to favourably consider Mr. Khadr’s application to be transferred to Canada to serve the remainder of his sentence, or such portion of the remainder of his sentence as the National Parole Board determines” after his first year of post-trial incarceration.

Omar’s defense counsel filed the paperwork for his return in October. Now we are told:Corrections officials have received the request for transfer and now have to determine if Khadr is eligible to return to Canada to finish out his sentence. Once Canadian officials determine that, they send an official request to American officials. If U.S. officials agree, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has the final say. He has the option of refusing the transfer if he decides Khadr is a risk to public safety. The process is expected to take about 18 months. A spokesman for Toews said he doesn’t comment on individual cases.

In addition to this, the United States now must certify Canada as a fit place to send a convicted terrorist, a nation not likely to permit him to attack the United States, and one that has control of its prisons. That certification must be delivered to Congress signed by U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta with “the concurrence of” U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton.

It is well documented in the US State cables released by Wikileaks that Canadian indifference and hostility have had everything to do with the torture and unlawful confinement of a child and the continuing suffering of the only western citizen left in Guantanamo Bay. “There would be virtually no political blowback domestically for the Conservative Party if the government chooses to pursue an appeal, making this a strong likelihood.” reports one cable.

December 10 is World Human Rights Day, the day the world celebrates the 63rd birthday of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, written first by Canadian John Humphrey. If Canadians are ever again to hold their heads up on this day, we must remove this human rights blight from our actions by finally repatriating the man we have victimized since he was a child.

WL Central calls for immediate action to defend the rights of this Canadian citizen.

Previous WL Central coverage on Omar Khadr here.

Omar Khadr Part 1 of 4: “Omar Khadr is a lovely young man”
Omar Khadr Part 2 of 4: Canada, the entire world is still watching
Omar Khadr Part 3 of 4: “The world doesn’t get it”

 

2011-10-30 The value of street protests in the Occupy movement

Speakers in order of appearance:

Heather Marsh.

       As 

Georgie

       she has been writing about the revolution since before the beginning, starting with 

A Stateless War

       in September 2010. As editor/administrator of WL Central, she has created a community for activists around the world to provide a new hard news organization, covering only the news people require in order to govern themselves and working towards the Wikileaks model of scientific journalism. This is an ongoing project that is about to get a lot bigger, building off of everything learned in the last year.

A Canadian activist, she created Take the Square Canada and works with activists around the world to encourage and facilitate connection and communication for the revolution, both in Canada and around the world. She has been active in human rights and freedom of information for years.

Zak Yahya is a blogger at Lebanon Spring blog, where he writes about current affairs in Lebanon and Middle East. He writes in Wikileaks Central matters related to the Wikileaks cables, democracy and human rights issues. He focuses on the matters originating from the Levant – Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Palestine and Iran. You can contact him on the Lebanon Spring blog or on twitter @TheZako

Naomi Colvin is a UK activist with UK Friends of Bradley Manning and the Occupy Londonmovement. . Her website is here.

Alexa O’Brien. In February of this year she founded usdayofrage.org, where alongside her friends, she pushed the edge of digital social media for scalable organization of civil disobedience and non-violent protest. usdayofrage.org was instrumental in the traditional and digital organization of the original September 17 action in 5 American cities, including Austin, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Oregon, and New York, and built trusted networks that spread #occupywallstreet virally across the United States.

Since January 2011, she has covered the WikiLeaks release of US State Department Cables, JTTF memoranda known as the ‘GTMO files’, and revolutions across Egypt, Bahrain, Iran, and Yemen. She has interviewed preeminent US foreign policy expert on the Cambodia cables, and published hours of interview with former GTMO guards, detainees, defense lawyers, and human rights activists, as well as WikiLeaks media partners, including Andy Worthington, GTMO historian and author, and Atanas Tchobanov, Balkanleaks’ spokesman and co-editor of Bivol.bg.

Listen to the conversation here.

2011-08-13 Human Rights News

Current news of any violations, legal progress, setbacks or other news in human rights as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Syria: Assad continues to ignore the UN security council, the Arab League, the governments of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and almost everyone else, killing at least 90 civilians this week, for a total of almost 2000 since the protests began in March.

United States: A US federal appeals court ruled on August 8 that former Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld had no immunity against being sued personally by US citizens Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel who allege torture at the hands of US troops. Last week, a US district judge in Washington ruled separately that a former American military contractor who also claims he was tortured in Iraq could sue Mr Rumsfeld. A lawyer for Mr Rumsfeld said the decision “puts American soldiers at risk”. Further appeals by the US justice department to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals or to the US Supreme Court are possible.

On July 12, Human Rights Watch produced an extensive report entitled Getting Away with Torture: The Bush Administration and Mistreatment of Detainees.

Carol Rosenberg covers the rehearsals for Guantanamo trials.

Cageprisoners reports A New York judge has declined to force an investigation into whether an Army psychologist developed abusive interrogation techniques for Guantánamo Bay detainees and should be stripped of his license.

Charles Graner, who was convicted of leading his six-member team in the sexual humiliation of naked prisoners as documented in the Abu Ghraib photos, was released after serving more than six-and-a-half years of a 10-year sentence.

Kyrgyzstan: Osmonjon Khalmurzaev, a Russian citizen, died two days after being released from police custody where he was allegedly tortured, Human Rights Watch reports.“Khalmurzaev’s torture and death show the chilling consequences that can result from total impunity for law enforcement officials who use torture for investigation or personal enrichment.” the family’s lawyer stated.

England: UK Prime Minister David Cameron supports plans by estate councils to evict familes from council housing if one member was involved in rioting, in addition to imposingharsh sentencing within the legal system. There are reports of an eviction which has already been served to a family which includes an 18 year old who has been only charged (not convicted) of burglary and violent disorder. The family also includes an eight year old girl. Other evictions reportedly include the family of a 12-year-old boy photographed stealing a £7.49 bottle of wine.

Cameron is also considering restrictions on social media websites, disrupting the use of cell phones services, messaging services or social networking tools, banning or removing face coverings, using the army to help quell riots and the use of water cannon and dye sprays.

Iran: The Committee to Protect Journalists reports “In recent days, Iranian authorities increased a prominent journalist’s prison term by two years and arrested a critical journalist who had just finished serving a prison sentence. Other journalists have suffered from declining health as a result of substandard conditions, extended periods in solitary confinement, and intentional abuse, according to news reports.

2011-08-13 Protests around the world

Syria:

  • The Local Co-ordination Committees say 7-8 people have been killed across Syria so far today: 4 in Homs, 1 in Hama, 1 in Daraya and 1 or 2 in Latakia. Shooting continues.
  • This video reportedly shows Bashar al Assad’s picture taken down and destroyed at Syrian Airlines international sites.
  • Friday’s death toll is being reported as 23.
  • This video shows a funeral in Douma, where five people, including a young woman, were reported killed by government forces on Friday. The crowd is being estimated at “tens of thousands” by Al Jazeera.
  • Thousands are still being arrested.
  • Tanks entered Lataika and heavy artillery was being reported there.
  • Turkey isn’t ruling out international intervention in Syria if the Bashar al-Assad regime doesn’t stop using violence against its own people, a Turkish official told the Hürriyet Daily News on Friday.

 

Israel: 25,000 assemble in Haifa, 20,000 people fill Rager Boulevard in Be’er Sheva, in Afula, some 15,000 people gather, more than 1,500 people march down the city’s main street in Eilat. Haaretz reports. It was the first time in nearly a month that Tel Aviv did not hold a march. Thousands of protesters took to the streets in other cities throughout Israel, with 8,000 demonstrating in Modi’in, 7,000 in Netanya, 5,000 in Petah Tikva, 3,500 in Hod Hasharon, 2,500 in Ramat Hasharon, 2,000 in Rosh Pina, 1,500 in Rishon Letzion, 1,500 in Eilat, 1,500 in Dimona and 1,500 in Nahariya.

Yemen: Hundreds of thousands protested in Sana, and at least 17 other cities and towns,the largest turnout since President Ali Abdullah Saleh left a hospital in Saudi Arabia, where he was recovering from wounds suffered in a June attack on his palace compound, and signaled he intends to return home soon.

South Korea: Continuing the labour protests related to the mass layoffs at Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction, the 4th Hope Riders, a festival in which people around the country ride down to the Youngdo shipyard to show solidarity and support to the crane protester Kim Jinsuk, launches in Seoul on the 27th August. The protest of Kim Jinsukenters its 219th day.

United States: Anonymous has a message for the people of San Francisco. “The Bay Area Rapid Transit has made the conscious decision of ordering various cell phone companies to terminate services for the downtown area inhibiting those in the area from using cell phones – even in the case of an emergency.” They are organizing a peaceful protest at Civic Center station on Monday, August 15th at 5pm. They are calling for non-violence and requesting that people bring and use cameras. They are requesting that people outside of San Francisco, show solidarity by using black fax, email bombs, and phone calls to the BART Board of Directors. Tomorrow, Sunday – August 14, 2011 at High Noon Pacific Time we, Anonymous – will remove from the internet the web site of BART located at www.bart.gov for exactly six hours. That’s twice as long as they shut off the cell phones for. BART decided to cut off your communications and now we will flood theirs. Follow #OpBart on Twitter.

US Day of Rage is posting video guidelines for non-violent civil disobedience in the leadup to their September 17 protests.

Chile: In response to the ongoing student led protests for free and equal education in Chile, Government spokesman Andres Chadwick says Chile “is not going to be governed from the street.” Students have been marching for over two months and are asking for a referendum.

China: Thousands of people in Qianxi County, Guizhou province smashed ten vehicles and torched another five, said Xinhua, China’s state news agency. According to Reuters, “China saw almost 90,000 such “mass incidents” of riots, protests, mass petitions and other acts of unrest in 2009, according to a 2011 study by two scholars from Nankai University in north China. Some estimates go even higher.” “In fact, China has riots more serious than England’s every week,” said one Weibo comment.

Egypt: Brief clashes between protesters and security broke out in an otherwise peaceful demonstration in Cairo’s Tahrir Square where a few hundred people gathered on Friday to protest the continuing military rule.