It has been a bumper few weeks on GV for human rights video, so let’s get straight into it…
Bandh of brothers… [via Neha]
This footage, filmed by Dinesh Wagle, of United We Blog!, shows motorcycle riders being turned backed by members of the National Federation of Nepal Transport Entrepreneurs in Kathmandu. The NFNTE had called a bandh (strike) prohibiting vehicles from running on the streets, after public buses were torched in an earlier protest during the instability in Terai.
I’d love to know what’s actually said in the exchange between the two sides – any offers to post a transcript or to subtitle via dotsub or elsewhere?
Wagle offers a worrying perspective on the unpredictability of life in Nepal at the moment:
“[…] it’s indeed hard to predict the political and other developments in today’s Nepal. The trend of creating anarchy and take advantage of such situation has increased over the past several months. There is a kind of planned competition to exploit the situation. You never know what’s going to happen when. Anyone can call a Nepal banda any time. General public has to face the difficulties caused by such prompt and unnecessary decisions. Public have always become the victim of such bandas in the past. What can they do other than quietly suffer?”
FarsiTube, Alexander Litvinenko, strikes in Lebanon, maids protesting at the beach in Peru, vlogging from UAE, and clashes in Bolivia after the jump…
You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s been Saddam, Saddam, Saddam, in recent weeks, but GV has covered other human rights videos that deserve a bit of limelight – so, in this regular new feature, I’m going to round up the best of those recent stories.
Something for WITNESS’s Amazon Wishlist [via Veronica]
First to Pawlina, host of a Ukrainian radio show in Vancouver, Canada, who blogs about human trafficking at The Natashas. After her post in late December commending Ukrainian pop star Ruslana for releasing a video condemning human trafficking, Pawlina praises another musician, Peter Gabriel, for founding WITNESS, but, under the title “Some human rights abuses harder to expose than others”, offers some advice:
It’s very commendable of rock stars to help expose human rights abuses around the world.
I suspect he may not be aware of the horrific abuses suffered by hundreds of thousands of young women and even children, at the hands of human traffickers pandering to men seeking instant, no-strings-attached sexual gratification.
In which case, someone should send him a copy of The Natashas: Inside the New Global Sex Trade.
Then again, no doubt it would be extremely difficult to film what goes on behind the closed doors and barred windows of brothels and “breaking grounds”, much less expose it to public view.
In fact WITNESS did produce a documentary about trafficking in 1997, Bought And Sold, but Pawlina’s right – it’s proving quite difficult to find footage from behind those “closed doors and barred windows” – so if you have seen, or even filmed footage of that kind, please email me (email address at the end of the article) to let me know.
Over the past four months, we’ve tried to feature and contextualise videos we felt should be seen and debated by a wider audience. Today’s featured human rights video is something completely new.
You may be one of the millions who have sought it out online – or you may have decided to avoid it. Someone – a friend, a colleague, a relative – may have emailed it to you, or called you up to tell you about it. You may have seen a clip of it on the TV news. One way or the other, you’re likely to have an opinion on it, because it’s made for a memorable start to 2007, as political cartoonist blackandblack’s cartoon illustrates:
Click here to launch blackandblack’s blog in a new window.
If anyone was still in any doubt that sousveillance was one of the ideas of the year, then the Saddam video should put that beyond doubt. What’s different about the cellphone footage of the execution of Saddam Hussein, former dictator of Iraq, is that, aside from being probably the most watched web video in history, it has re-ignited a global debate on a perennial human rights issue: capital punishment.
Judging by the Iraqi government’s indignation at the unofficial footage, and the ambivalent reaction of many major media outlets (as detailed by Armenia-based Onnik Krikorian here), they were the only ones genuinely surprised that a cameraphone was smuggled past the security checks into the death chamber. If whoever filmed it had surrendered his cellphone before the hanging, the world may never have seen beyond the mute, carefully-edited, tastefully-faded-out official video of the proceedings.
The real story emerging from the Saddam video is that, in laying bare the huge gap between the managed official account of his execution and the far messier reality, it has provoked people – and many bloggers – to reflect less on whether Saddam merited his fate, and more on the nature and appropriateness of that fate for the age we live in.
‘Extraordinary rendition’ has passed into common parlance over the last year as human rights organisations have accused the US government of exporting suspects to be tortured in regimes like Egypt, Morocco and Syria. But while cases involving international suspects get the headlines, these countries are regularly cited by human rights activists as having a major domestic torture problem, with the police in particular seeming to act with total impunity.
Now in Egypt, bloggers have struck a blow against police torture, by publicising videos shot by police officers of their colleagues beating suspects, and of police cadets receiving training. Add to this articles in the independent press and protests by civil society organisations, what’s fast becoming a national campaign is gathering momentum.
Demagh Mak and Wael Abbas writing in Arabic, and others writing in English, such as Hossam e-Hamalawy, have consistently sought out and brought to light videos of incidents of police brutality on their blogs over the past few months. It’s videos like this one – uploaded by Wael Abbas – that appear to be shifting the debate:
As reported by Hossam el-Hamalawy, an investigation has been launched into the conduct of the officer shown slapping the suspect in the above video, although it has now emerged that the officer in question has not yet been suspended from duty.
The brutality of Egypt’s police is not a new story – Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights have regularly documented and condemned police brutality in briefings and reports.
But sustained pressure from the bloggers, and the publication of an investigative piece into the police torture video in the independent Egyptian weekly newspaper, El-Fagr, have forced the story into the mainstream. On 27th November 2006, El-Fagr published an expose on violence against suspects in the country’s police stations, identifying the officers in the video above, and describing a second, much more brutal video.