Tag Archives: activism

Spain’s hologram protest: Thousands join virtual march in Madrid against new gag law

15 Apr
Getty/Pablo Blazquez Dominguez

‘You will only be allowed to express yourself if you become a hologram’

Late last year the Spanish government passed a law that set extreme fines for protesters convening outside of government buildings.

In response to the controversial Citizen Safety Law, which will take effect on July 1, Spanish activists have staged the world’s first ever virtual holographic political demonstration.

After months of massive flesh-and-blood protests against the so-called ‘gag law’, thousands of holograms last night marched in front of the Spanish parliament in Madrid.

Organised by the group Holograms for Freedom, ghost-like figures holding placards took aim at the imminent draconian measures, arguing that holographic people are now afforded greater freedoms than their real-life counterparts.

Getty/Pablo Blazquez Dominguez

The ‘NoSomosDelito’ (meaning: ‘We are not crime’) movement – composed of more than 100 different organisations – called upon sympathisers around the world to participate in the landmark event by simply webcamming their face via the campaign website.

More than 2,000 virtual images were sent and used in the hour-long hologram demonstration, El Pais reported.

Under the Citizens Safety Law, it is illegal to gather in front of government buildings without permission from authorities; this includes everything from universities to hospitals.

Organisers of unauthorised demonstrations could be fined up to €600,000, with further €600 fines for disrespecting police officers, and €30,000 for filming or photographing them.

Getty/Pablo Blazquez Dominguez

In a video promoting the protest, a spokeswoman said: “With the passing of the Gag Law, you won’t be allowed to assemble in public spaces without risking a fine.

“Ultimately, if you are a person, you won’t be allowed to express yourself freely. You will only be able to do it if you are a hologram.”

Spokesman Carlos Escano told Spanish newspaper El Mundo: “Our protest with holograms is ironic.

“With the restrictions we’re suffering on our freedoms of association and peaceful assembly, the last options that will be left to use in the end will be to protest through our holograms.”

via The Independent.


Digital Image Identification: Sharing isn’t always caring

5 Oct

Why we should always blur faces in videos and photographs from protests inside Iran and any similar totalitarian regimes where the slightest sign of dissent – real or imagined – has serious, often life-threatening implications.


Babak (Rajabalu) Dashab, first arrested in Feb 2009 and sentenced to 6 years, then re-arrested after being identified from video showing him burning a log during an Ashura protest in December 2009, has been freed from prison in Iran after serving 3 years. Three years for making a bonfire. Look at his son. Three years is a lifetime to a child of his age.

We are responsible

Before the “Arab Spring” there was the equally exhilarating “Green Wave”. Social media was our new playground; we were transformed from no-life couch-potato geeks to “citizen journalists”. The buzz of finding and sharing news about massive street protests in an increasingly paranoid and isolated country like Iran was intoxicating. Iran kicked out the foreign press. “We are the Media!” became our battle cry.

On reflection it could just as easily have been “We Are Rank Amateurs!” or “We Are Gullible Idiots!”. Most of the time news was shared regardless of source. Some of us tried to “police” the torrent, but it was largely a losing battle against an ever-rising tide of misinformation and disinformation. Photos and videos were gobbled up by an insatiable appetite for “online activism”. We were going to post our way to freedom for Iran and poke CNN et al in the eye on our way up. In those days, the “media” were slow-witted and partisan, YouTube a petty censor. Our videos were removed on a whim, so we learned to copy, clone, remix, save, re-post, find new hosting venues. In so doing, we spawned thousands upon thousands of photos and videos.

This addiction to quantity without regard for quality or fact-checking quickly revealed its dark inner core. The risks to protesters of being arrested increased exponentially because of the photos and videos we were sharing. The regime countered this green wave of social media evidence of the unrest in Iran, and turned the green tide against the green movement. Images became evidence of crimes against the state. Evidence of terrorist acts. Evidence of insulting the Supreme Leader of the glorious revolution.

My reaction was horrified guilt. I had done this. I had shared without realising what could happen as a result of my actions, and now I was an unwitting accomplice in the arrest and torture of thousands of people. I had to do something, to redeem myself, to assuage the guilt, to convert the remorse into positive action. I started trying to raise awareness of this risk, and to demand that faces in videos be blurred, which is how I found  WITNESS – a fantastic team, they firmly hoisted that banner and ran with it. I credit them with getting YouTube to add a feature which will automatically try to find and blur all faces in a video.


I recall being asked by someone what they should do if they didn’t know how to blur faces? The simple answer is: ask the original poster to do it or get someone else to do it. If you can’t do that, then do nothing, don’t share. That person felt this was infeasible: they they were compelled to share, because it was so important to show “the world” what was happening in Iran. To this response, I asked: who is there to take photographs of what happens to people you helped to identify after they are arrested?

The other, more common and weakest of all excuses is that the image is “already out there”. So is AIDS – does that mean everyone should have unprotected sex? We should regard blurring faces as a prophylactic to protect against the lethal disease of brutal repression.

It’s not easy

Instinct takes over and before you know where you are, you’ve clicked! Because it only takes a click.. so really,the blurring needs to spread to the original content posters, our “enablers”. This needs massive, sustained loft to become an enduring, instinctive habit.

Apart from those misguided souls who are so fixated on their popularity that they would rather count likes and re-tweets of the content they post than actually help prevent innocent protesters from being targeted, there is also a subtle pressure from the social networks to share visuals. Just look at the “success” of the meaningless and crappy Instagram. Photos and videos are the media of social media content – which is far more interesting if it includes visuals. There are financial pressures on developers: more interesting content is an advantage in promoting social media platforms to advertisers and investors. But is it essential: surely you’ve heard about events that did not include images, but which nevertheless are broadcast wholesale by established media? The first examples that come to mind are President Obama declaring that he would not release images of  “the killing of Osama Bin Laden” and the alleged stoning of a young couple in Mali in July 2012. Not only were there no photos or videos of the reported stoning, it’s unlikely that any exist. Yet you will see these “facts” repeated ad nauseum in established media.

The reality about what gets covered in the press belies the worn-out excuses: traditional media outlets prefer to have images but they do publish controversial news without evidence, and they do accept these stories from citizen reporters or people claiming to be witnesses.

It is never too late to do the right thing

Go blurry:

How to Blur Faces in Photos Using GIMP free image editing software

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AL49Ox-zetA]

Reblogged from I wish I’d never seen Babak Dashab « @lissnup.

Large number of Kurds on Iran Prisoner Database

14 Jan

political prisonersby AKR – Alliance for Kurdish Rights

A database of political prisoners in Iran has been compiled by online activists using the social media tool, Hyper Activist. The database names the prisoners, information including charges and their activity/occupation, along with their ethnicity. Verification for each prisoner is provided by a source inputted by online activists to the site. The database is currently incomplete and is constantly being updated by online activists with new names. Also adding to its incompleteness is the fact that many political prisoners in Iran are reportedly regularly charged with other crimes in show trials, and thus, are not counted as political prisoners. Through Hyper Activist, anyone may provide information on political prisoners that are not currently in the database.

In the database provided through Hyper Activist, a very large number of political prisoners listed are of Kurdish descent. In the past couple of years, the number of arrests against activists inside Iran, and in particular Kurdish activists, has increased dramatically. Several Kurdish political prisoners have also been executed after being charged with “moharebeh” or “waging war against God”.

Among those executed in recent years are Kurdish political prisoners, Mr. Farzad Kamangar, Ms. Shirin Alam Hooli, Mr. Ali Heydarian, Mr. Ehsan Fattahian, Mr. Farhad Tarom, Mr. Hossein Khezri, and Mr. Farhad Vakili. The lives of many more Kurdish and non-Kurdish political prisoners remain at risk. Among those at risk is the well-known former head of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan and an editor and writer, Mr. Mohammad Seddigh Kaboudvand. Mr. Kaboudvand is reportedly in bad health and may have suffered a stroke while in prison. Iranian authorities have denied him proper medical care and his current health status is unknown as his family has also been denied regular visits with him. Like many others, Mr. Kaboudvand has suffered torture at the hands of Iranian authorities.

You can view the database of political prisoners in Iran through Hyper Activist at http://hyperactivist.info/ipr.html

Database of Political Prisoners in Iran lists a large number of Kurds and other activists at risk | Alliance for Kurdish Rights.

Detainees Released After #GlobalRev HQ raid

5 Jan

“We can do all of this from laptops”—Vlad Teichberg, GlobalRevolution.TV, after the #OccupyWallStreet and global protest news livestream channel was evicted from its NYC base


The Global Revolution collective has been covering Occupy Wall Street via live stream since Day 1. Originally based in Zuccotti Park, Global Revolution’s base of operations have relocated as the Occupy movement’s locations have changed. Most recently, a base of operations was established in Bushwick, Brooklyn, at 13 Thames Street.

JAN 2ND, 8PM EST — a notice was posted at the property stating that the production space is “imminently perilous to life,” and adds, “Violators of the Commissioner’s Vacate Order are subject to arrest.” No one else in the building was evicted.

JAN 3RD, 9PM EST — Six people in total were arrested at 13 Thames between 2-3pm on January 3rd and charged with Trespass, Obstructing Governmental Administration and Resisting Arrest. They are likely to remain in jail overnight.

JAN 4TH, 10AM EST — Video of arrests at 13 Thames added to Video Journal below.

JAN 4TH, 2:23PM EST — Streaming from inside the police van after arrests added to Video Journal below. As of now, everyone is still in jail. Update from the Atlantic Wire.

JAN 4TH, 9:30PM EST — We believe the arrestees are being arraigned.

JAN 4TH, 10:15PM EST — Confirmation that all arrestees have now been released. See Video Journal below for footage of the six released.


Democracy Now (Jan 3rd)
Global Revolution, Occupy Wall Street Live Streaming Source, Evicted from Brooklyn Production Studio
A prominent source for Occupy Wall Street’s global outreach and live streaming was reportedly shut down by the New York City Police Department last night. Global Revolution, a website which has broadcast Occupy Wall Street coverage since the movement’s inception in September, claims it received an eviction notice at its Brooklyn studios on Monday night. The notice states the production space is “imminently perilous to life,” and adds, “Violators of the Commissioner’s Vacate Order are subject to arrest.”

The Atlantic Wire (Jan 3rd)
Occupy Wall Street’s Livestream Operators Arrested
Occupy Wall Street is in the middle of one of its day-long marches in New York Tuesday, protesting the National Defense Authorization Act, but for those following along on the Global Revolution livestream, the real action is happening in the broadcast studio itself. That’s because police have apparently just raided the Brooklyn studio of Globalrevolution.tv and taken some of the project’s key volunteers into custody.

The raid Tuesday follows a notice to vacate that police delivered to the Bushwick studio on Monday night. Victoria Sobel, a Global Revolution volunteer, said Vlad Teichberg and a guy named Spike, both of whom maintain the live feed aggregator, had been taken into custody by police, along with four or five others.


Confrontation with landlord, Jan 2nd

Police outside 13 Thames, 8pm on Jan 2nd

Vlad and Nikky later that night, Jan 2nd

Members of the Global Revolution collective and people who live in 13 Thames talking about the situation, even later that night (begins at 4:00 mins)

Arrests of six people between 2-3pm at 13 Thames space, Jan 3rd
Note no sign of anyone “resisting arrest” as charged.

Streaming from inside the police van after arrests, Jan 3rd

Released from jail, Jan 4th





Repeat! @GlobalRevLive all arrested at 13 thames have been released. Jai just called me.  

All “resisting arrest” charges dropped against @GlobalRevLivearrestees. Thanks for that video, Luke! 

New video of  arrests demonstrate that no one was resisting arrest as charged: twurl.nl/uatiar

Former 13 resident Makh posted on their FB page that Jai, Spike, Vlad, Cable, Bill, and Acadia were arrested at 

Just got a text from resident/activist Jay, who is in jail. He said they will be out tomorrow 

Hearing now that Vlad and others of @GlobalRevLive has been arrested and taken to the 90th precinct in BK 

At 2-3pm EST today, 6 arrests at GlobalRevolution.TV’s NYC HQ. More info: twurl.nl/u8lu0w 

Those arrested were charged with Trespass, Obstructing Governmental Administration & Resisting Arrest

Info yet to be pinned down now, legal aid requested for Global Rev plz! 😐 will have more info later 

For those following eviction & arrest of  livestreamers, see also this iwitnessvideo.info/blog/108.html &m.democracynow.org/stories/9631 

Global Revolution evicted from a building for safety issues, no other tenants evicted.   globalrevolution.tv

@GlobalRevLive we have watched a lot of your  coverage in Australia. We love your work. Legally challenge

Damn it, the  needs a hashtag.

via Global Revolution HQ raided in Bushwick

Azadi Square Virtual Protest | Amnesty International USA

16 Oct

Student Activism is a Human Right

In Iran, students continue to face egregious forms of repression and human rights abuses, as the Iranian authorities attempt to exert control over students opposed to their policies. Those who dare speak out do so at great risk and with devastating consequences.

Majid Tavakkoli and Behareh Hedayat are two student leaders who were arrested after they participated in demonstrations calling for social and political reforms.

Now, as they languish behind bars in prison, it is time to stand up for their rights and the rights of all student prisoners in Iran.

Take action for Iran

What is Azadi Square?

Tehran’s Azadi square has been a central point of human rights activism in Iran. Literally “Freedom Square” in Persian, it is a space where contemporary protestors draw on the history of Iranian activism. Majid, Behareh and thousands of other Iranian activists filled the square after the disputed presidential elections of 2009. Today, we encourage activists to bring the significance and symbolism of Azadi to their own communities. By joining this virtual protest in Azadi “Freedom” Square, you’re connecting to those on the ground organizing for a free Iran.


What would any protest be without powerful messages of support? Add your messages of support now!

Azadi Square Virtual Protest | Amnesty International USA.

%d bloggers like this: