At the Arab Bloggers Conference in Tunis. October 4, 2011
“Welcome to free Tunisia”: This is how Tunisian activist Sami Ben Gharbia introduced the 3rd Arab Bloggers meeting that is taking place in Tunis. Being here, in the first Arab country that has toppled its own regime, is quite meaningful for everyone attending in this year of the Revolutions. Participants from 15 Arab countries, together with others from countries like the US, Trinidad and Tobago and Ghana, are sharing insights and experiences on issues that go from net neutrality and net freedom to coverage and monitoring of the upcoming elections in some of the countries of the region. We are all missing the Palestinian participants, who could not make it because of VISA concerns. Apparently the Tunisian government denied them access to the country, which has deprived us, once again, of the voices of these very crucial actors in the Middle East and North Africa region. We have issued a statement expressing our concerns about this to the Tunisian government. These are the tweets that started it:
I´ll post more on the contents of the conferences and workshops soon. Meanwhile, here´s an Aljazeera piece covering the first sessions: Bloggers say Arab Spring has gone global. And follow us on the #AB11 hashtag on Twitter.
Last week I had the opportunity to take part in a conference with a very challenging title: “Social Media Heroes”.
It was organized by Fundación Telefónica and Aerco, which did an amazing job, providing us with live streaming and simultaneous deaf-mute translation. I admit that I was hesitant about the title in the beginning, but then I realized that I was going to have a unique chance to present a large audience with some very real heroes: the Syrian activists who are risking their lives on a daily basis to make a difference in their country, to bring freedom and justice to a context of institutionalized unjustice and repression.
Syrians are doing an outstanding job trough their use of technology and the Internet to register and share what is happening in one of the most closed and repressive countries in the world. They´re not only working on making change happen but they are also narrating and sharing their own history. In my presentation, “Activism in Syria: the Internet and decentralized communications for social change”
I went through some of the threats activists face, how they protect themselves and the continuing battle between freedom and repression online and offline. Please let me know what you think!