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The Third Wave, The Fourth Screen, The Fifth Power, And Beyond

Caught On Camera: Human Rights Videos on GV [via GV/WITNESS]

[Originally published here as part of WITNESS’s collaboration with Global Voices Online]

You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s been Saddam, Saddam, Saddam, in recent weeks, but GV has covered other human rights videos that deserve a bit of limelight – so, in this regular new feature, I’m going to round up the best of those recent stories.

Something for WITNESS’s Amazon Wishlist [via Veronica]

First to Pawlina, host of a Ukrainian radio show in Vancouver, Canada, who blogs about human trafficking at The Natashas. After her post in late December commending Ukrainian pop star Ruslana for releasing a video condemning human trafficking, Pawlina praises another musician, Peter Gabriel, for founding WITNESS, but, under the title “Some human rights abuses harder to expose than others”, offers some advice:

It’s very commendable of rock stars to help expose human rights abuses around the world.

British rock legend Peter Gabriel has formd an organization called Witness that provides video equipment to human rights activists to record such abuses.

I suspect he may not be aware of the horrific abuses suffered by hundreds of thousands of young women and even children, at the hands of human traffickers pandering to men seeking instant, no-strings-attached sexual gratification.

In which case, someone should send him a copy of The Natashas: Inside the New Global Sex Trade.

Then again, no doubt it would be extremely difficult to film what goes on behind the closed doors and barred windows of brothels and “breaking grounds”, much less expose it to public view.

In fact WITNESS did produce a documentary about trafficking in 1997, Bought And Sold, but Pawlina’s right – it’s proving quite difficult to find footage from behind those “closed doors and barred windows” – so if you have seen, or even filmed footage of that kind, please email me (email address at the end of the article) to let me know.

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Filed under: Cellphone, Dalits, Elections, Governance, Human Rights, Internet, Law, Military, Online Video, South Asia, Technology, Trafficking, Violence, WITNESS, Women

Saddam execution video re-ignites death penalty debates worldwide [via GV/WITNESS]

[Originally published here as part of WITNESS‘s collaboration with Global Voices Online]

Over the past four months, we’ve tried to feature and contextualise videos we felt should be seen and debated by a wider audience. Today’s featured human rights video is something completely new.

You may be one of the millions who have sought it out online – or you may have decided to avoid it. Someone – a friend, a colleague, a relative – may have emailed it to you, or called you up to tell you about it. You may have seen a clip of it on the TV news. One way or the other, you’re likely to have an opinion on it, because it’s made for a memorable start to 2007, as political cartoonist blackandblack’s cartoon illustrates:

2007 - a cartoon by http://black-blackandblack.blogspot.com

Click here to launch blackandblack’s blog in a new window.

If anyone was still in any doubt that sousveillance was one of the ideas of the year, then the Saddam video should put that beyond doubt. What’s different about the cellphone footage of the execution of Saddam Hussein, former dictator of Iraq, is that, aside from being probably the most watched web video in history, it has re-ignited a global debate on a perennial human rights issue: capital punishment.

Iraqi blogger Raed Jarrar links to both the official and unofficial videos here – on a personal note, I found it one of the most disturbing videos I have yet had to watch, so viewer beware…

Judging by the Iraqi government’s indignation at the unofficial footage, and the ambivalent reaction of many major media outlets (as detailed by Armenia-based Onnik Krikorian here), they were the only ones genuinely surprised that a cameraphone was smuggled past the security checks into the death chamber. If whoever filmed it had surrendered his cellphone before the hanging, the world may never have seen beyond the mute, carefully-edited, tastefully-faded-out official video of the proceedings.

The real story emerging from the Saddam video is that, in laying bare the huge gap between the managed official account of his execution and the far messier reality, it has provoked people – and many bloggers – to reflect less on whether Saddam merited his fate, and more on the nature and appropriateness of that fate for the age we live in.

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Filed under: Africa, Caribbean, Cellphone, Central Asia & Caucasus, Citizen Journalism, Death Penalty, East Asia, Governance, GV, Human Rights, Internet, Journalism, Latin America, Law, Mobile, Online Video, Politics, REGION, Religion, South Asia, Technology, War & Conflict, WITNESS