A Poem for the Surveillance State

Written by Jillian C. York and first performed at AB14 by Wafa Ben Hassine

Have you ever cried for the world?
What, then, can you say for what you’re doing?
attempt at creating a country that never existed.
all frozen in time
when you tell me my
love is unnatural my
privacy is unimportant my
heart doesn’t matter I
want to ask you:
what about your tears?
have they dried up
crusted with a film that allows you to
ignore my needs
pretend this is a land for your people only
not you
not mine.

“go back where you came from!”
I heard one night
shouted with might at a pretty girl
whose heart is Carolina through and through but whose
skin and politics don’t match yours, your perception
match what you dream this land to be and
so you
set up cameras, infiltrate, you
watch us, parse our metadata
read our files and you
shun us.

But we are
strong, we are
not wrong, our silence is
not unintentional.

But fear we know, and
fear we show
when we stand down, don’t
stand our ground, reclaim our

First they came for the poor,
the queer, the Black, the Muslim, the immigrant, the Palestinian.
But I was not silent because I am more them than I will ever be you.
I am angrier, louder, and I will not stand down,
I will not stand down
I will not. stand. down.

Digital Citizen/المواطن الرقمي – Keeping tabs on digital rights in the Arab world

Digital Citizen, or المواطن الرقمي is a monthly newsletter that aims to cover all sorts of issues related to technology, policy, and human rights. The project came about when friends and colleagues from several organizations—at first SMEX, Access, and EFF—realized that there was a gap in coverage about Internet governance issues in the Arab world and decided to do something about it. Realizing any such project would have to be bilingual (if not trilingual), they enlisted Global Voices to join the team and thus Digital Citizen was born. The wonderful Jordanian team at 7iber joined shortly thereafter.

The newsletter is very much a team effort, with volunteers working from Tunisia, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, the United States, and elsewhere, and the team is constantly growing. We met at AB14 this week to discuss our process, hoping that by announcing the meeting publicly, we might gain a few new members…we were very surprised, then, when at least eight people joined our meeting, excitedly sharing their ideas for the project.

From the meeting emerged several important ideas: First, syndication. Most of the subscribers to our newsletter seem to be based in the United States, but the analytics for the published version on Global Voices indicate that our Arabic version is more popular than the English (and Spanish!) versions. So, in order to ensure greater distribution, we're seeking syndication with publications that will re-publish and spread our content. Partners will be encouraged to publish Digital Citizen as a whole, but are also welcome to publish only the sections relevant to their country or context (Digital Citizen is licensed under Creative Commons!).

Furthermore, we also managed to recruit some new faces to the project, from Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Lebanon. One struggle we've faced is ensuring good, accurate content from countries where we have no local contributors, and so these partnerships are key to the project's survival. We're also going to begin publishing the newsletter in French as well as English and Arabic.

Finally, like any good project, we've experienced growing pains that have sometimes delayed publication or made the contribution process painful. To that end, we're working to find ways to create better internal processes and hard deadlines.

We're excited to see Digital Citizen grow and hope you'll join us on the journey!

مدونون عرب يطالبون بالإفراج عن النشطاء الحقوقيين في سوريا — بيان

ab14 original logoيدعم مشاركو ملتقى المدونين العرب الجهود المبذولة من أجل الإفراج عن رزان زيتونة، محامية حقوقية والمؤسسة المشاركة في مركز توثيق الانتهاكات في سوريا — وهو عبارة عن حركة سلمية تؤمن باللا عنف تعمل على توثيق انتهاكات حقوق الإنسان في سوريا منذ عام 2011. رزان زيتونة، ذات الستة وثلاثون عامًا، والحاصلة على جائزة سخاروف المقدمة من الاتحاد الأوروبي لجهودها في مجال حقوق الإنسان، اختطفت في التاسع من ديسمبر / كانون الأول على مشارف دمشق ومعها سميرة الخليل، وائل حمادة، ونظيم حمادة، بالإضافة إلى أعضاء عاملين بالمركز.

خلال الثلاثة وثلاثين شهرًا منذ بدء الثورة السورية، أصبح عمل رزان وزملائها في المركز مصدرًا مهمًا للمعلومات للمجتمع الدولي حول انتهاكات حقوق الإنسان في سوريا. والآن مع قرار الأمم المتحدة المؤسف بوقف إحصاء عدد القتلى في سوريا، فإن عمل مركز توثيق الانتهاكات في سوريا أصبح من الأهمية بمكان.

عملت رزان وزملائها في ظروف شديدة الصعوبة، معرضين أنفسهم للكثير من المخاطر لسد الحاجة الملحة لفهم ما يحدث للشعب السوري، كما أيضًا آخرين مثل زميلنا المعتقل باسل الصفدي – المعتقل منذ مارس / أذار 2012 – والذي عمل على دعم وترويج المحتوى المجاني المفتوح المصدر، والذي نفتقده بشدة في ملتقى المدونين العرب الرابع، والمقام حاليًا في عمّان.

نؤمن أن من مسئوليتنا التضامن مع النشطاء المنادين بالحرية وكشف انتهاكات حقوق الإنسان لخدمة الإنسانية.

نحن في ملتقى المدونين العرب الرابع، نطالب الأمم المتحدة وكل الدول المشاركة في مؤتمر جنيف 2 للسلام في الشرق الأوسط ببناء آليات يمكن التحقق منها لحماية وضمان الإفراج عن معتقلي الرأي والمختَطَفين في سوريا.

Arab Bloggers Call For The Release Of Rights Activists in Syria – Statement

 ab14 original logoThe 4th Arab Bloggers Summit participants support the release of Razan Zaitouneh, a human rights lawyer and the co-founder of the Syria's Violations Documentation Center (SVDC) — a non-violent civil group documenting human rights abuses in Syria since March 2011. Ms. Zaitouneh, 36, who is a co-awardee of the European Union's Sakharov Prize for her human rights work, was kidnapped on December 9, 2013 in the outskirts of Damascus along with Samira al-Khalil, Wael Hamada and Nazim al-Hamadi, also members of SVDC.

In the 33 months since the outbreak of the Syrian uprising, Razan Zaitouneh's work with her colleagues at SVDC became a vital source of information for the international community on the violations of human rights in the country. Now that the UN has made the unfortunate decision not to track the death toll in Syria, the work of SVDC has become more crucial than ever.

Razan and her colleagues worked in extremely difficult conditions, taking great risks in order to fulfill the vital task of enriching our understanding of the plight of the Syrian people. So were many others, like our colleague blogger  Bassel Safadi – in detention since March 2012 – who worked on promoting freely available and open-source technology, and who is highly missed at the 4th Arab Bloggers Summit, which took place from January 20-23 in Amman, Jordan.

As a community, we have a responsibility to stand in solidarity with activists promoting freedom and exposing human rights violations in service of our shared humanity.

We, at AB14, demand that the UN and all countries involved in the Geneva II Middle East Peace Conference establish verifiable mechanisms to protect and secure the release of opinion detainees and kidnappees in Syria.