Stories from Quick Reads and Digital Activism
On July 17, 2014, four men from Kosovo completed a 78-day walk from eastern Kosovo to Brussels, Belgium. The goal of their trek was to incite EU officials to grant Kosovo visa-free travel throughout the EU, a privilege that has been available to all other Western Balkan countries for some time.
The four men began their trip entirely independently and with their own financing, but say that they received both financial and moral support from others throughout the countries of the region as they made their way to the headquarters of the European Union. Radio Free Europe reported after the men reached Brussels, where they met with EU officials:
Calling themselves The “Free Travellers” group (“Shtegtarët e lire”), the men walked under the slogan “5 million steps for one step” in the hope that Brussels will grant citizens of Kosovo the possibility to travel to the European Union without visas.
For those who figure that the issue of net neutrality doesn't affect them, Trinidad-based blogger Activized connects the dots. The concept that “all data is created equal” is not as common as you might think:
Local telecommunications company Digicel announced that they were banning certain VoIP application services from their network…in an attempt to secure their bottomline – ensuring that users of the cellular phone service make calls using credit, not data. There’s only one problem with that – if I’m paying for my data, I should have the power to get the data that I want and use it how I want.
Indian users are reacting to the impending demise of Google's Orkut social networking platform. Orkut is the oldest citizen media site Indians used and around 20% of Orkut’s users today are from India.
Vinaya Naidu at Lighthouse Insights compiles some of the users’ comments on the end of Orkut:
Priya Mittal was able to find her first childhood classmate via Orkut, which “felt like a miracle then.”
Avid biker Vishal Kataria: “It took me a while to leave Orkut and switch to Facebook because I got attached to it. Somehow, that feeling has never occurred for Facebook.”
The website of Myanmar's Ministry of Communications and Information Technology was hacked on Friday morning, July 4, 2014. The hackers replaced two government seals with turtles alluding to the country's slow internet connection. The hacking also coincided with the Facebook blocking which many people believe was done by the government to prevent the spread of hate speech after violent riots erupted in the city of Mandalay.
The government was able to fix the website in the afternoon.
Email Self-Defense, a beginner's guide to email encryption by the Free Software Foundation (FSF), was released in six new languages [fr, de, jp, ru, pt, tr] on June 30, 2014. More languages are underway.
Even if you have nothing to hide, using encryption helps protect the privacy of people you communicate with, and makes life difficult for bulk surveillance systems. If you do have something important to hide, you're in good company; these are the same tools that Edward Snowden used to share his famous secrets about the NSA.
FSF's guide was originally launched as part of the Reset The Net campaign on June 5, 2014 — a global day of action against bulk surveillance that marked the first anniversary of Edward Snowden's revelations about the US National Security Agency's (NSA) massive and indiscriminate global spying machine.
“Email Self-Defense is only one important piece of the solution to bulk surveillance,” FSF states:
While we learn email encryption tools, we also need to push politically to reign in surveillance, build a safer Internet, and force governments and companies to reduce the amount of data they collect about us in the first place. We hope translated versions of Email Self-Defense can be the entry into this multifaceted movement for people all around the world.
Property ownership is a critical ingredient of the society we are trying to build. No one can deny that. The wealthiest people and companies in this society have made a great part of their wealth through property dealings – buying, leasing, sub-dividing, selling, renovating and so on….property is critical to amassing and holding wealth.
With the state being “the single largest owner of all classes of property” in Trinidad and Tobago, blogger Afra Raymond is interested in how public property is allocated, noting that because of its value, all dealings involving state lands must be transparent.
More and more people are sharing their content on Medium, and Ximena Arrieta, consultant in Strategic Communications, is using her content as an additional medium and coverage for the connection between communication, citizen participation and technology, as does the “Movement for the Earth” in Santa Catarina Yecahuízotl, that with its “Festival for the Sierra”, held on July 12, aimed to promote and build connections of coexistence and social cohesion within its community:
El objetivo del Festival es construir un espacio de colaboración, expresión y sobre todo, reflexión de las problemáticas que afectan a la Sierra de Santa Catarina, espacio natural y reserva ecológica del Distrito Federal, constantemente amenazada por proyectos mineros, inmobiliarios, contaminación y sobreexplotación.
Está dirigido a la población infantil y joven de la comunidad, sin embargo, también es un mensaje concientizado para el público adulto.
The aim of the Festival is to build a space for collaboration, expression and, above all, reflection on the issues that affect Santa Catarina highlands, a natural space and ecologic reserve of Mexico City, constantly threatened by mining, real estate projects, pollution and overexploitation.
This is meant for the children and youth of the comuunity, but it's also an awareness message for the adult audience.
Corruption is a well-documented issue in Cameroon. For decades, political scandals have infamously stained the public administration due to multiple embezzlement charges, which in turn led to the creation of a special task force to fight corruption named ”Operation Epervier“.
The outcome of the task force has been mixed so far. Therefore, Cameroonian citizens have taken it upon themselves to report and combat corruption more effectively. A group of IT programmers created an app called NoBakchich that crowdsources all the information related to administrative procedures so that citizens have a clear picture of how to get paperwork done and how much it should cost. The app also allows citizens to report any bribes that they have had to face:
Ainsi, chacune d'elles est gratifiée d’une notation, baptisée «compteur de tchoko»,informant les autres usagers des bonnes ou mauvaises pratiques.
Each administrative procedure will be given a notation, called “Tchoko (bribe in local language) counter” informing other users of public services involved in bad practices.
Le Griot reports that $600 million US dollars are lost annually because of corruption, one-third of which is from illegal logging of the national forests.
Messages of support continue to pour in for Alexander Sodiqov, the Global Voices community member wrongfully detained by local authorities in Khorog, Tajikistan on June 16, while carrying out academic research. Global Voices is grateful to Dr. Marc Herzog and the Ankara Segmenler Forumu who contacted us via email today with the following message of support:
Attached are solidarity pictures for the release of Alexander Sodiqov from the Ankara Segmenler Forumu (a local neighborhood assembly in Ankara which meets every week). I talked about Alexander Sodiqov's detention and we took a group foto with ‘#FreeAlexSodiqov’ poster and I also encouraged people to sign the online petition and gave out print-offs from AI's information. I hope it helps perhaps to indicate the global nature of solidarity with Alexander's case and [pressure] for his immediate release.
Best from Ankara,
El humor siempre ha sido una táctica exitosa para transmitir causas de manera empática (sí, que alguien que no seas tú o tus colegas activistas entiendan la problemática) y llegar a públicos más amplios (sí, más allá de lxs [sic] grupos de sospechosos comunes que siempre te retuitean). El activismo mexicano de 2014 ha tenido una muy buena dosis de humor por parte de comediantes que han aprovechado sus talentos, agudeza y compromiso social para buscar impactar en la sociedad.
Humor has always been a successful tactic to transmit causes in an empathetic way (yes, someone who is not you or your fellow activists understands the problem) and reach larger audiences (yes, beyond the lxs [sic] groups of usual suspects that always retweet you). Mexican activism in 2014 has had a good dose of humor by comedians that have used their talents, keenness and social engagement to impact society.
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