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Posts tagged with: Activism

Op-Ed: Slacktivsim, The birth of the drawing room politician

Facebook activism is a new buzzword making its way into the public sphere and discourse in Pakistan. As excited as I am by its power, I am worried at the exponential increase in the number of people giving all kinds of opinions. As a result, I find that it is increasingly becoming easy to lose track of genuine content in an ever-expanding web of social gossip chatter. The positive side in this is that more people are becoming independent digital journalists, some of them displaying as much influence as a media house.

The world, we are told, is in the midst of a revolution. Social media has reinvented activism. With Facebook and Twitter and the like, the traditional relationship between political authority and popular will has been upended, making it easier for the once powerless to collaborate and coordinate in order to give voice to their concerns.
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SWO & UNIFEM – Celebrates 16 days of Activism Against Gender Violence

Take Back the TechSWO with UNIFEM Pakistan celebrates ‘16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence’ Campaign 2009 with youth of Pakistan – Thinking about Women – a little differently!

These are testing times for women in Pakistan. The country ranks 106th out of 137 on the Gender-related Development Index and 66th out of 75 on the Gender Empowerment Measurement Index. Despite religious, constitutional and legal rights, women’s position in the society is weak.

With each passing day, conditions are getting miserable as women are subjected to more extreme forms of violence and exclusion. Incidents of honour killing, rape, fire and acid burning, domestic violence, dowry-abuse, trafficking, under-age marriage and trade of young girls among tribes for dispute settlement are gruesome and frequent. Women in rural and poor communities are more vulnerable to violence and crime, committed most often by their own family members, in the name of law, religion, customs and tradition. It is sad that incidents of physical and psychological torture upon women are increasing but grossly under-reported in the media or other public reporting systems.

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Murree Peace Statement: Aman Ittehad

Pathways to PeaceAman Ittehad: insaf, adm tashadud aur barabari ki jiddojehad

Representatives of 35 organizations from across Pakistan belonging to trade unions, media, youth organizations, minority groups, NGOs, academia, business, and the legal profession, gathered in Murree from 9 to 11 October to deliberate over the current situation in the country and to discuss pathways to peace. They unanimously agreed on the indivisibility of peace for all citizens, irrespective of gender, class, nationality, religion, occupation, age, etc.

They agreed to work together for peace by redefining the state’s relationship with citizens, making a paradigm shift from a security state to a benevolent state responsive to the needs of all its citizens, especially the socially, politically, and systemically excluded. They rejected all forms of religious extremisms and the use of violence.
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GO GREEN & Twitter Hashtag #Pakistan for 14th August

Awab on TwitterIts exciting to see a very vibrant and motivated community of Pakistanis online, spreading from twitter to facebook and even the age old community on Orkut. Young energetic Pakistanis are doing their best to be the new face of Pakistan on the digital sphere. This comes more as a counter to the depressing situation that we see daily in Pakistan where our elected leaders are generally embroiled in taking this country down into the doldrums.

People have ever so slowly have lost their patriotic spirit and careless about their nationality, its a sad site and a situation that continues to get worse day-by-day. The upcoming 62nd Independence Day is definitely an event to evoke that national spirit and the online community has already started gearing to literally shake the world
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DigiActive Guide to Twitter Activism

digiactive-guide-to-twitter-activismDigiActive, a community of people who care passionately about digital activism, and are actively creating a world of activists empowered by digital technology, has recently published an E-Book on Twitter Activism, which explains in simple layman terms on what twitter actually is while shedding light on how it can be used for activism. We here in Pakistan do get a mention in this E-book for our efforts on twitter. I believe if they were impressed by our efforts back in December 2007 well then they still have to evaluate our combined efforts in the Long March in 2008 [here] and subsequently the Long March in 2009

In December 2007, Benazir Bhutto, then leader of the Pakistani opposition party Pakistan People’s Party was killed in an attack during a political rally (BBC News 2007). For the first time, the news coverage on established media was not only accompanied through news coverage on blogs, but also on Twitter feeds. Local Twitterers, like Dr. Awab Alvi (@teeth) or social media consultant Dina Mehta (@dina, Mehta 2007) started to monitor local and international media outlets and posted their observations and comments on their personal Twitter feeds and blogs. Prominent Twitterers like Dave Winer (@davewiner), Laura Finton (@pistachio) and Dennis Howlett (@dahowlett) also started to post snippets of different news sources to their respective Twitter feeds. From then on the Twitterverse was abuzz with discussion on the events in Rawalpindi and their possible repercussions (Howlett 2008).

Download the FREE Ebook from here

The Twitter Revolution for Activism

Moldova RevolutionThe twitter revolution is being seen as a tool to help gear up for country changing activism – recently Foreign Policy magazine published an article on how twitter is helping young Moldavian fight for their rights,

Foreign Policy: Ever since yesterday’s announcement that Moldova’s communists have won enough votes to form a government in Sunday’s elections, Moldova’s progressive youth took to the streets in angry protests. As behooves any political protest by young people today, they also turned to Facebook and Twitter to raise awareness about the planned protests and flashmobs. Led by youth NGOs like HydePark and ThinkMoldova, the protests began very peacefully – as a flashmob, where young people were simply supposed to hold lit candles in the vicinity of the square.

However, things got out of hand – and, with or without Twitter’s help, the crowd got much larger, reaching as many as 10,000 people, who first picketed Election Commission headquarters, the president’s residence (windows are reported to be broken – and there are also reports that this building has been stormed), and other government buildings before storming the building of the Moldovan Parliament, which happens to be just across the road.

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An evening on Media and Activism – Goethe Institute, Karachi | 7th April

DATE: 07 April 2009,
TIME: 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm
LOCATION: Goethe Institute, Karachi

Do media and activism always go together. How does an activist media fill the gaps. How do the new technologies fit in this picture. What does this increased access to information mean for our complex culture and society.

  • Rob van Kranenburg observes the present age of acceleration. Concerning the role of the artist in an ever more complex world full of radicalism, he dares to ask: what does this mean for the disruptive qualities of art if disruption becomes the default
  • Suzanne Hogendoorn presents her film on European activists at the G8 Summit 2007.
  • Awab Alvi gives us a behind-the-web look at citizens covering the Long March in March 2009 using internet & cellphones.
  • Faisal Qureshi will ponder the important question of what we out to to gain from the new technologies along with every other thing, in order to get somewhere.
  • Faisal Hasnain Zaidi will talk about how journalists actually use new media in their work – while looking at possibilities not yet taken.

Discussion on linkages on these themes will follow.
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Teeth Maestro on Wired and Active

wired-and-active-dawn-news-tvIn the past few weeks I had been invited by Dawn TV to be interviewed for their show Wired and Active. I have been interviewed by the host Rabia Garib thrice, first was basically in light of my activism since 2005, the second show immediately after the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team while the latest was after our Long March effort. For those who missed the telecast can watch it online on PkPolitics. I am hopeful that the online activism will help lead Pakistan into better days ahead since citizen powered accountability is far better then a dormant and sleeping society. Truly there is no stopping us now.

The Beginnings’ End

Guest blog by Kamil Hamid

While celebration is in order, the civil society movement and Pakistanis in general must understand that it is crucial this be used as a beginning for a new era of activism and the drive for justice. Sitting back at this point, and allowing “appropriate parties” to handle matters would be nothing short of disastrous.

As I write this, the general atmosphere among many of us is one of jubilance, celebrating our victory. After a two-year struggle, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudry has finally been restored. Over the course of these years, Pakistan has faced some of its darkest times, the circumstances of which have still not changed greatly. We face a growing religiously motivated insurgency, not confined to the North but breaking out like an epidemic across the country. We also face a severe energy and food crisis, as well an economy that has nearly imploded; thanks largely to the reckless and irresponsible way it was handled for the past decade. Our largest city, the hub of our economy, is ruled by ethno-fascist thugs who have garnered genuine support among some of its citizens due to their frustration with the government’s lackadaisical attitude. The continual pounding of American drones on our Northwestern borders, as well as a bristling India to the East only makes matters worse.

Yet it would be incorrect to say that we have not come a long way: Musharraf has been forced out of power, and the military has been forced back into the barracks (hopefully, for the last time). A vibrant and energetic civil society has formed and proven to the world that Pakistan is not the nation of sleepers that it has often been mockingly called.
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Cyber Crime Law promulgated by President Zardari

It has just been reported that President Asif Ali Zardari has promulgated the Cyber Crime Law with effect from September 29th 2008. Though this is may surely be an important law but the problem with the initial draft as it was presented in 2007 by the Ministry of Information that it literally did not safe guard the interests of the innocents and gave holistic powers to the FIA to implement this law at free will.

One now just has to figure out which version of the law has been introduced, are we simply being served up with the old draconian draft or a revised version which was extensively hashed out by Jehan Ara, P@SHA President and Cyber Crimes specialist Barrister Zahid Jamil, when they met with the ministry in October 2007 to smooth out the kinks. A cursory glance at the news report as published in Daily Times one feels that it may actually be the old draft with absolutely no revisions to protect and safe guard the rights of the innocent digital savvy surfer.

It all started in September 2007 when we initially discussed the Draconian Cyber Crime Law in Pakistan which lead to an awareness campaign Understanding the E-Crime Bill. In early January 2008 the then President General Pervaiz Musharraf promulgated the Cyber Crime Ordinance but it lapsed after a period of 120 days which was also extensively questioned by Reporters Without Borders
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Say NO to Terrorism – Yeh Hum Naheen

Almost a year back in February of 2007 we had on this blog, participated in campaign launched by Waseem Mahmood, where a number of popular Pakistani vocalists had joined hands to raise their voice on behalf of the Muslim world coming together in the form of an amazing soul touching sound track called Yeh Hum Naheen featuring names like Haroon, Ali Haider, Ali Zafar, Shufqat, Strings, Shuja Haider and Hadiqa Kiani.

With some good dedication on part of Waseem Mahmood’s team this initiative has grown exponentially, he even shares his surprise in his message on the website

I am amazed that what started as a simple song has gone on to become an unprecedented anti terrorism movement

The underlying message is quite simple

We plead the world to hear this cry,
Muslims are NOT Terrorists…

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Authoritarian antics of the Establishment by Arusha Noorani

A truly heartfelt email sent by Arusha Noorani daughter of Kamran Noorani one of the People’s Resistance activists who was arrested outside Justice Bhagwandas’s House two days back. The last paragraph truly reflects the frustrations of practically everyone in Pakistan

My parents were part of a peaceful vigil yesterday outside deposed judge, Justice Bhagwandas’ house, to protest against his virtual house arrest. Police mobiles arrived and picked up some of the men in the group, including my father and Salahuddin Ahmed a close friend (who had previously been arrested in connection with the lawyers movement). They were released late at night after a request was put in, however an FIR was registered against them. They were allegedly disrupting the peace. Sections 147 and 148 of the Pakistan Penal Code deal with rioting and rioting with a deadly weapon (candles???).

Ironic that peace activists are accused of disrupting the peace. What peace? And at what price? Must people barricade themselves in their homes and public figures disappear from the public eye to achieve this peace. I wonder how long this cavalier attitude towards citizens rights will continue.

Pictures of the Peaceful Vigil outside J. Bhagwandas’s House

The People’s Resistance would like to share with the world images from the ‘peaceful’ candle light vigil held outside the house of Justice Rana Bhagwandas who has been placed under house arrest since yesterday. Civil Society members showed up today to show their support and solidarity with the honorable justice during this difficult time. It is during this vigil that police felt the need to arrest eight male members and harrassed the female members.

Report from Darakshan Police Station After the Arrests

I would like to share an email sent into the People’s Resistance network by Abira Ashfaq who managed to sneak inside the poilce station along with Moneeza to help keep an eye on the 8 civil society activsits arrested outside Rana Bhagwandas’s House

So everyone is out. The good news is that many people and the media showed up at the thana. It may not always be a happy ending.

I was inside the police station for at an hour and a half, and they had basically decided they were not going to give us any information or allow Moneeza and myself to see the detainees. We had managed to get in by fluke, and after us they would not let anyone in. In fact they tried to get us out, but we said we’d wait. But they did not allow us privacy when we were on the phone, and followed us around. At one point, the SHO threatened Moneeza that if wanted “vo us ko bahir karah kara de ga.” They maintained that the decision for FIR’s, bail and release would be made at the Clifton thana, and that we should go there. A nice crowd had gathered outside the thana. SHO Ehsan was planning to leave, but when he saw the crowd and our resolve to stay, he decided to stay at the thana.

When we pressed the SHO about why these arrests were made, he was cryptic and said that he knew and I knew why this was happening. And he knew and I knew that I would not be allowed a visit even though that maybe a legal right. He made constant references to invisible hands. We got to talking about the violence after BBs death and he suggested that police did not go out as there would have been bloodshed.
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Update @ 1935: Over 10 arrested outside Bhagwandas House

BREAKING NEWS: At 6:30 donzens of members of People’s Resistance & CMKP staged a peaceful candle light vigil outside the house of Rana Bhagwandas. The members were stationed near the gate of his house holding candles and all off a sudden the lights were switched off in the area and within the darkness the police moved in make arrests to take over 10 particpants into custody. Reports are coming in that they were taken to Darakshan Police station and iwll be released soon.

Arrested include Asad Umar (PR), Lala Hussain (PR), Saad (PR), Kamran Noorani (PR), Danish (CMKP), Faisal (CMKP) & Zafar (CMKP) – more names to follow as we are being confirmed