Archive for the ‘ World ’ Category

Being An Activist

If the last three years of my life taught me something, it would be the toughness of being firm in what I believe in and standing up for this as long as it’s needed.

During recent events in Egypt many people around would ask me and my friends why we cared about it so much to write posts and tweet and facebook about it. We couldn’t explain, that their victory will affect all of us. And, apparently, it did.

Now that Jabbar Savalan’s case is happening, I know exactly what those close to him feel. When Emin and Adnan got arrested in July 2009 it was also a start to a whole new page of my life – the one when I had to pick a side and stick to it. I did and have never regretted it. I was most certainly sure that my friends were not guilty and did not deserve what they got. It was also the time when I realized that most of the things I cared about before didn’t mean a thing.

Ever since, among my oldest friends I was perceived as a “dissident” and would often be asked: “Are you still not arrested?” by the most sarcastic of them. On Facebook, where most of our activity was concentrated, many unfriended or hid me. Losing some of them, was pretty painful, but the cause was worth it. Especially, given that it introduced me to the whole new dimension – the world of activism.

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Admitting inconvenient truth is not easy by definition: first you need to learn to be objetive about yourself and your family. Then, you learn to do the same about your country, which, trust me, is the toughest one. You have to see both good sides and the ones people around you prefer to forget about. You have to admit that your country is NOT perfect. Then you start acting.

If life was a high school – activists would probably be these crazy kids who give away flyers and care about an old tree to be cut. They make it seem as if they don’t care what others think. They have secret crushes on cool kids, they want to go to parties, but usually don’t get invited.

But life is not a high school. And they’re not pathetic weirdos.

Activists, are the ones to start telling the truth, when others prefer to ignore it. They go against the flow, when many settle for what’s given. They go to prisons, for those who are not ready to stand for their rights. Activists are the ones to advocate for those who are not ready to speak up. They experience fear for themselves and their families. They lose some friends to prisons; they understand when others stop saying “Hello” because of fear. They patiently wait until these people come back, and in most of the cases, act as if nothing happened. But the main thing to understand about activists is that their goal is to make people think, while people are the ones to eventually go out to the streets and demand the justice.

Activists are activists not because they’re bored, not because it’s cool to be ones and certainly not because it’s easy. Most of them suffer personality disorders and periodically doubt themselves. But every morning they wake up to do what they do.

Simply because someone has to do it.

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There are two women among many of my friends who I admire and adore in a very special way. Both happily married, both having pretty much everything a person needs to have a stable and careless life. Nevertheless, both among the most passionate activists of our country. Arzu and Mehriban, this post is for you, for all the other activists around the world and for those who don’t, and probably, will never get us.

A Week of Egypt

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A collection of pictures and videos I collected from the protests this week. I’ve put the names of the authors that were available. If you know the authors of other pictures, please inform me in comments.

 

Cairo yesterday:

Feb 2nd. Egyptian Christians protecting Muslims during the prayer. By NevineZaki

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“5 years ago I was a minority opposition, today – I am the people.”

He was the first person I called when I saw news from Egypt. “I can’t talk, dear, I’m pretty teargased right now”, he said.

I met him in Berlin. It was a blogger conference with participants coming from all around the world. For him it wasn’t the first official international event he was invited to because of his activity. Very soon, we found a lot in common – he would tell me about his society, I would tell him about mine. When the uprise in Egypt began, I couldn’t think of a better person to interview about it.

My interview with him for RFE/RL:

“Sandmonkey” is one of a number of bloggers and activists in Egypt getting the message out of the country through Twitter (he is sending his tweets via a friend in Jordan). RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service correspondent Nigar Fatali spoke with him about Internet activism in Egypt and its role in the country’s uprising.

RFE/RL: What does it feel like to live in a country where Internet and mobile phone connections can be shut down by the government at any time?

Sandmonkey: It is not fun [laughing]. It clearly affects you. People are being transported back to 1980; they have to go back from technological progress to using landlines. And most of them don’t even know the landline numbers of their friends to call and check on them. Having no access to the Internet and a curfew are driving people insane. For activists it means the inability to upload pictures and videos of the horrors that are taking place here, while for many other people it basically means the inability to do their job. No one goes to work because there’s no Internet. The banks don’t work because of that; the country in general is in paralysis. The fact that the government can shut down the Internet and phone connection anytime they want is simply unnerving.  

RFE/RL: Why do you blog under a nickname? Do you plan to reveal yourself?

Sandmonkey: I’ve always kept my identity anonymous and I’m not planning to reveal it because some members of my family are affiliated with the ruling NDP party and I don’t want to put them at risk. 

RFE/RL: What is it like to be an activist in Egypt? Do you get oppressed or threatened?

Sandmonkey: These days it actually feels strange; scarier and more exciting. One day you’re breaking barricades, the next day you get tear gassed, and the day after that you try to escape the gunshots of street thugs. But it’s very rewarding because we see ourselves and our people being validated. We’re proud of them for taking responsibility for their destiny and saying “No” for the first time in their lives. Everything about being an Egyptian got redefined in the last days. Before, many people would not agree with us. No one would believe that we could take action or do anything together, as a nation. Today, everybody is with us. Now people believe it’s possible. Five years ago I was a minority opposition. Today, I am the people. And this feeling is indescribable.

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Быть египтянином сегодня…

My interview with Egyptian blogger and my friend Sandmonkey for Radio Liberty in Russian. Soon to be published in English.

Sandmonkey – никнейм, который выбрал для себя один египетский блоггер и активист, начавший вести свой блог в 2004-м году. Он взял себе ник и скрывает свое настоящее имя из соображений безопасности.

На сегодняшний день sandmonkey является одним из самых популярных блоггеров в Египте – его блог насчитываыет более 5 300 000 просмотров, а его страничку на Twitter отслеживают почти 6 000 человек.

В Египте почти с начала событий введены ограничения на Интернет, а с понедельника прекратил работу последний провайдер. Нигяр Фатали взяла интервью для РадиоАзадлыг у sandmonkey по телефону вечером 31 января.

– Каково это – жить в стране, где правительство может отключить интернет и мобильную связь в любое время?

– Это невесело (смеется). Воздействует на человека. Сейчас люди перенесены обратно в 1980, из технологического прогресса им приходится возвращаться к наземным линиям связи, проще говоря, к городским телефонам. И большинство из них даже и не знает домашних номеров своих друзей и близких. Комендантский час и отсутствие интернета сводит людей с ума.

Активисты лишены возможности загружать фотографии и видео тех страшных событий, которые здесь происходят. Для других отсутствие интернета означает невозможность работать – люди просто перестали выходить на работу. Банки тоже не работают, страна в подвешенном состоянии. Сам факт, что правительство может отключить нашу связь с миром в любой момент настораживает и откровенно нервирует.

– Почему Вы пишите под псевдонимом? Вы планируете раскрыть свое имя своим читателям в свое время?

– Я всегда писал под никнеймом и не собираюсь раскрывать свое имя, потому что некоторые мои родственники тесно связаны с правящей партией и я не хочу подвергать их опасности.

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Democracy Freedom and Dignity

Creative poster of an Egyptian protester

As the resistance in Egypt continues today, these are today’s updates.

Egypt in Tweets:

@alfredoboca: If your government shuts down the internet, shut down your government.

@hasanalikhattak: women expected to take active role in protests today after men spent the night protecting neighborhoods #Egypt #Jan25

@samihtoukan Arab people are not extremist nor terrorists.Our time has come.We deserve democracy and to live with freedom and dignity #jan25 #egypt

‎@sandmonkey: 5 years ago my beliefs made me a minority opposition, today I am the people #jan25

@chrisalbon: AJE in Egypt is shut down. If there was ever a time for citizen journalism, this is it.

UPD: Dan Nolan updates information on the closure of Al Jazeera on his Twitter.

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I Met the Walrus

In 1969, a 14-year-old Beatle fanatic named Jerry Levitan snuck into John Lennon’s hotel room in Toronto and convinced him to do an interview. 38 years later, Levitan, director Josh Raskin and illustrators James Braithwaite and Alex Kurina have collaborated to create an animated short film using the original interview recording as the soundtrack. A spellbinding vessel for Lennon’s boundless wit and timeless message, I Met the Walrus was nominated for the 2008 Academy Award for Animated Short and won the 2009 Emmy for ‘New Approaches’ (making it the first film to win an Emmy on behalf of the internet).

This is without doubt one of the best things I’ve ever seen.

Slightly Violated

What is the difference between Iran and the real wolrd?

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At 1:00am January 1, 2009 I  was in the office of Radio Liberty Azerbaijan, surrounded by youth, intellectuals, public figures and employees of RFE/RL. An hour before that, the radio they were working for was taken off the FM, and from that moment on, they would have to broadcast on SW, Satellite and Internet, losing most of their followers.

We would drink shampaigne, celebrating the Saddest New Year Ever, preparing ourselves for the difficulties 2009 was promising… and sadly kept its promise.

***

Going through the web-page of one of the main Azerbaijani media sources couple of days ago, I saw an article in bold headline, which said: “A Turkish woman severely beaten by the Norwegian police”. So I clicked on it.

A small article told a story taken from CNN Turk, about a woman in Norway, who mistakenly called the police instead of the emergency, for her mother who was having a diabetes attack. When police arrived, the woman was being impatient and rude and for some unknown reason got beaten up by the officers. While the terrible act was happening, the mother died, left without medical care.

Although the article didn’t provide with any more facts, neither did the only mentioning of this fact I could find online – on CNN Turk, the fact itself was quite disturbing. But there also was this last paragraph, added by the author of the local source, which was, not only disturbing, but also ridiculous and in fact, terrifying. It said: “The most surprising here is that Norway, which tends to judge other countries, including Azerbaijan for the slightest (!! remember this word while reading my post) violations of human rights, better take care about its own democracy”.

Now, about the “slightest vilations”. As Flying Carpets and Broken Pipelines says in her blog, this year started even worse than the previous one. Eynulla Fatullayev was ensured not to leave the prison any time soon, Emin and Adnan’s court hearings are being postponed. But the worst happened in a village Beneniyar in Nakchivan region of Azerbaijan, where after marking the Ashura date, more than 150 villagers were arrested and interrogated, including villager Kamal Aliyev, his wife and daughter. His son Yunis, poured gasoline over himself threatening the policeman who was holding his family to set himself on fire. “Do it, if you’re a man”, was the policeman’s response. So he did.

Right after that, 500 Internal Troopers, entered the village, people were taken out of their houses, beaten up, and humiliated. According to the villagers, the exits from the village are blocked, telephone calls are being tracked and get cut, once someone calls to Baku.

Guess what – only couple of news agencies reported it. Most of the work was made by Radio Liberty.

And this is not the end – today the official (!!) statement of Nakhichevan Representative Office in Baku was released. According to it, Yunis Aliyev, as well as his whole family and relatives (thoughtfully counted one by one) are mentally ill, and the “illegal acts” happened in the village were caused by the “illegal armed groups of the Popular Front”. However, both the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Azerbaijan and the one of Nakhchivan DENY anything happening on the area.

So, yes, Norwegian police has killed a woman of different ethnicity and religion and it’s bad. We can start talking about racism among Norwegian police, discuss the oppressions of muslim population in Europe, about the problems they face, but not about the ones they cause. Some of it will be true, some not, new laws will be implemented to make them feel comfortable, more population will be against these laws or visa versa. But the main thing we.. no, not we, THEY forget about is that while we fish facts of racist killings in Europe, people of our own ethnicity and religion are being beaten, humiliated, trapped or missing on our own territory by our own POLICE. And no, we don’t consider it a crime, we don’t talk or write about it. Even when we’re supposed to, as media.

No evil happens here. It simply doesn’t exist.

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Iranian Television aired a documentary film, which tells the “real” story of Neda‘s death. According to the latest “research”, she was an agent of USA and Britain (apparently jointly organized espionage) and her death was faked. The blood on her face came from a bottle (!) she thoughtfully brought to the demonstration in order to organize this pre-planned show.

Yes, no evil happens in Iran either.

And this is the difference between Iran and the real world.

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What is the difference between Azerbaijan and the real world?

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