Stories from Quick Reads and Middle East & North Africa
Assistant UN Secretary-General, Special Adviser to Secretary-General on Yemen Jamal Benomar's Twitter account has sent out the following message earlier today:
— Jamal Benomar (@Jamal_Benomar) March 29, 2015
Adam Baron, a journalist covering Yemen, remarks 13 hours after the tweet was first published:
Cant believe Jamal Benomar's media team still hasnt deleted this tweet. Could it be because it truly says it all? https://t.co/F2GB5oQ1iX
— Adam Baron (@adammbaron) March 29, 2015
This is BenOmar's second reaction on Twitter since Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes against Yemen on March 26, which continue today. His first was linking to this statement by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Nabeel Rajab is scheduled to be sentenced in a case brought against him by the Bahraini government on March 15, concerning comments about ISIS that he made on Twitter. Convicted of “denigrating an official body” in tweets likening Bahrain's security apparatus to an “incubator” for ISIS fighters, Rajab was initially sentenced to six months in prison. His sentence is being re-issued following a judicial appeal made by his legal defense in early February.
Rajab, who heads the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (dissolved and declared an illegal entity by the government), was released from prison in May 2014 after two years’ imprisonment for “disrupting public order.” Rajab was arrested and jailed following his efforts to investigate human rights violations surrounding Bahrain's popular uprising in 2011.
London based Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad won the 2015 Women's Rights Award at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy for her Facebook page “My Stealthy Freedom” this past week. The page invites Iranian women to post pictures of themselves without a Hijab, in defiance of Iran's Islamic laws that enforce compulsory hijab. With over 750, 000 followers, this page has been considered something of social media movement for Iranian women.
Below is a video from her acceptance speech at the Summit:
Late last year Ghana-based pan-African literary organization Golden Baobab introduced us to a shortlist of talented illustrators, whose work ranged from 3-D Ashanti folktales to intricately drawn Moroccan cityscapes and African barbershop-inspired murals in Durban. Awarded in November, the inaugural Golden Baobab Prize for African Illustrators was one of the foundation’s six prizes recognizing the year’s best African writers and illustrators of children’s stories.
Max Chalmers, from Australian independent online media site New Matilda, welcomes the release of Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste after 400 days in Egyptian prison. He also calls for “the speedy release of Greste’s colleagues who remain behind Egyptian bars”. However, he questions Prime Minister Tony Abbott's support for media freedom in a speech following the news.
[Abbott's] own government has been responsible for a crackdown on press freedoms more generally, and as he moved on to warnings about a new age of terror he laid the groundwork for yet more intrusive and draconian legislation.
A Bahrain court today [March 15, 2015] postponed its verdict in an appeal made by leading Bahraini human rights defender Nabeel Rajab against a six-month prison sentence until April 15.
The case concerns comments he made about ISIS on Twitter. Rajab was initially convicted of “denigrating an official body” in tweets that likened Bahrain's security apparatus to an “incubator” for fighters of the radical group ISIS.
Rajab, who heads the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights – not recognised as a legal entity by the government – was only released from prison in May 2014 after serving two years for “disrupting the public order.”
That sentence came after Rajab was arrested for trying to investigate human rights violations that took place during Bahrain's popular uprising in 2011.
The tweet for which he was convicted suggested that Bahrain's security institutions had a number of staff that had joined terrorist groups, including ISIS.
Following today's hearing, Rajab tweeted to his 260K followers on Twitter:
تاجيل حكم المحكمة الذي كان يفترض صدوره اليوم في قضية تويتر الى 15 أبريل مع استمرار إبقائي ممنوع من السفر #البحرين
— Nabeel Rajab (@NABEELRAJAB) March 15, 2015
The court has postponed its verdict in the Twitter case hearing, which was supposed to be made today, until April 15, while continuing to ban me from travel
Index on Censorship remarked:
.@NABEELRAJAB has court appearance delayed until Apr 15. Travel ban stays in place. Bahrain must end harassment!
— Index on Censorship (@IndexCensorship) March 15, 2015
Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif penned a response to the letter 47 Republican U.S. Senators sent to Iranian leaders. The letter was in opposition to nuclear negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. Zarif was quick to pen the response, and tweet back to the Republican Senator Tom Cotton who originally tweeted the letter to Zarif, President Hassan Rouhani, and the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) March 9, 2015
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) March 10, 2015
Wekesa Sylvanus hopes that 2015 will be a year of free and fair elections in Africa:
Since the advent of multi party democracy in Africa, electoral contests have become a do or die affair in majority of African countries. Elections in Africa are a high risk affair and in the recent times, they have been a trigger of conflicts. Kenya and Ivory Coast are good examples of how mismanaged elections can plunge a country into a conflict. Half a century after gaining independence, majority of African states have not got it right in terms of conducting and managing free and fair elections. The year 2015 will see a host of African countries go through elections. Presidential elections and/or legislative elections will be held in Nigeria, Sudan, Ethiopia, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, Togo, Ivory Coast, Mauritius, Central Africa Republic, Burkina Faso, Niger, Guinea, Chad, and Egypt and may be South Sudan depending on the peace deal to be signed. Most of these countries have struggled to institute the practice of democracy in recent times. 2015 therefore presents a great opportunity for them to show the world that they have matured democratically.
The Convention was originally scheduled to pass in January 2014, but was delayed for modifications after protests by the private sector, civil society organizations, and privacy experts—all of whom had very little involvement in the drafting process. But a number of countries promulgated harmful new cybersecurity legislation after it was improved in June.
As Access noted in analyzing both versions of the Convention, the Convention has some positive provisions but still needs strengthening. It requires states to consider human rights in implementing cyber security legislation, but it also supports greater government control of private user data. For example, the Convention permits governments to process private data when “in the public interest,” a confusingly vague standard.
Kurdish media outlets are abuzz with a photograph of a Peshmerga woman, sitting beside an automatic weapon, breastfeeding her child. The picture has been widely distributed on social networking sites, highlighting the strength of Kurdish women and the resilience of female combatants in the ongoing fight against ISIS.
In contrast to the contentiousness of breastfeeding in many Western countries (most recently in the United Kingdom), Kurdish media outlets have largely welcomed this Peshmerga woman breastfeeding her child, celebrating how the photograph captures her dual roles as a “warrior” and a “nurturer”.
Kurdish Internet users have also praised the Peshmerga woman, whose identity remains unknown. Kemal Taher from Erbil remarked, “I don’t know what to say about this lioness of Kurdistan, wishing them success on the battlefield, May God protect you all”. Shakar Sndy from Sulaymaniyah said, “An example that we’re proud of”.