#NotYourRescueProject: Hundreds of sex workers took to Twitter to express their thoughts about their victimization by organizations and individuals looking to help them. It all started when a sex worker, Pasta, tweeted, “I feel like SWs are always being put into boxes by no-SWs in a way that flattens complexity.” The hashtag has rocketed into popularity since, with poignant, surprising, even humorous remarks accompanying the tweets from sex workers and supporters.
This protest is interesting in light of recent anti-prostitution laws that passed in France last month, which will fine a prostitute’s clients up to $2,100 if they’re caught. While some claim this will help curb the trafficking of the Easten European, African, South American, and Chinese women that are brought to France every year, some declare it will only drive the industry dangerously underground, making sex workers unlikely to report victimization and crimes. Even if it’s not what Agustín meant in her description of empowering sex workers, the power of social media platforms like Twitter and grassroots driven movements like the Sex Workers Outreach Project and the Red Umbrella Project give actual sex workers what they deserve in the highly complex rescue conversation: a voice.

#NotYourRescueProject: Hundreds of sex workers took to Twitter to express their thoughts about their victimization by organizations and individuals looking to help them. It all started when a sex worker, Pasta, tweeted, “I feel like SWs are always being put into boxes by no-SWs in a way that flattens complexity.” The hashtag has rocketed into popularity since, with poignant, surprising, even humorous remarks accompanying the tweets from sex workers and supporters.

This protest is interesting in light of recent anti-prostitution laws that passed in France last month, which will fine a prostitute’s clients up to $2,100 if they’re caught. While some claim this will help curb the trafficking of the Easten European, African, South American, and Chinese women that are brought to France every year, some declare it will only drive the industry dangerously underground, making sex workers unlikely to report victimization and crimes. Even if it’s not what Agustín meant in her description of empowering sex workers, the power of social media platforms like Twitter and grassroots driven movements like the Sex Workers Outreach Project and the Red Umbrella Project give actual sex workers what they deserve in the highly complex rescue conversation: a voice.

You want demands? Istanbul has got ‘em - Ankara, Hatay, Istanbul RESIGN!
June 6, 2013

With a measure of calm returning to a city that for days has been a cauldron of antigovernment passions, representatives of a group that helped incite protests that have been roiling Turkey opened dialogue on Wednesday with the government.

It gave a list of demands to the country’s deputy prime minister as the police expanded security operations and detained several dozen people accused of provoking illegal acts on social media networks.

The demands include: the dismissal of the governors of Istanbul, Ankara and the city of Hatay; as well as the heads of the security forces in those three cities, the release of detained protesters, an end to the use of tear gas by the police, as well as the cancellation of the project that started the protests: the construction of an Ottoman-era replica that would destroy a park in Taksim Square in Istanbul.

At least two people have been reported killed and at least 2,300 injured in protests that spread to about 60 cities across the nation as people inspired by the protests at Taksim Square took to the streets to air broader grievances against the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been out of the country since Monday on a good-will tour of North Africa.

At Taksim Square, a popular occupation that began Saturday took on a sense of permanence with another day of gatherings that felt festive, with music, food and the steady bursts of chants against Mr. Erdogan’s government. But many were anticipating Mr. Erdogan’s return to the country, due on Thursday, and what he might say to either calm or inflame the situation.

A spokesman for Taksim Solidarity, which led the protests to save Gezi Park in Taksim Square, held a news conference that was broadcast live after meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc.

“Mr. Arinc received our list of demands and said they would assess it,” said the spokesman, Tayfun Kahraman. The government made no comment.

Turkish police officers have already interrogated more than 1,700 people in connection with the protests. The bar association in the Aegen town of Izmir said Wednesday that 36 high school and college students there had been detained for investigation on charges that they provoked illegal acts via Twitter.

Twitter became the leading platform for information about the protests, in part because the country’s mainstream media (like corporate media around the world often are about human rights & protests) were silent as the protests broke out on Friday.

Ozkan Yucel, a member of the Izmir Bar Association, said that the police had given no information to the families of those detained, and that parents were left to simply wait anxiously in front of various police stations. “There is nothing lawful about these detentions,” Mr. Yucel said.

On Wednesday evening, undeterred Turks converged for a sixth day on Gezi Park for a gathering that has become the symbol of civic resistance, bringing together many strata of society in a showcase of anti-government solidarity.

Volunteers walked around with trays of Turkish bagels, part of a local Muslim tradition which millions celebrated Wednesday as one of the sacred days leading up to the holy month of Ramadan.

Artists lettered T-shirts, bags and pants with “capulcu” (meaning “looter,” the dismissive term Mr. Erdogan used for the protesters), and “Everyday I’m Capuling,” a formulation that rhymes with a line from the popular dance pop song “Party Rock Anthem.”

On Twitter, people exchanged the Turkish adaptation of the song and a short recording of Noam Chomsky, the American linguist and left-wing figure, saying in Turkish, “Taksim everywhere, resistance everywhere.”

Many young people in the park criticized the detentions of Twitter users as “scary” and “a violation of freedom of expression.”

Orhan Pamuk, the internationally acclaimed Turkish novelist and a Nobel laureate, came out in favor of the protests against the government-backed project to restructure Taksim Square.

“Planning major changes in this area that holds memories of millions and in the park behind it without any consultation with Istanbullites and hastily bringing it to a stage that involved cutting trees was a major mistake by Erdogan’s government,” he said, in an article posted by various Turkish publications on Wednesday. “Seeing that Istanbullites would not easily give up their right to political protest and memories gives me trust and hope for future.”

Source

Occupy Gezi: International solidarity for Turkey’s uprising
June 3, 2013

A relatively small protest at Turkey’s Gezi Park to prevent the ripping out of trees to make way for the building of a shopping mall has erupted into an uprising in which over 1,900 people have been arrested and reports of 1,700 more injured. Protesters say the harsh treatment by police, such as shooting tear gas and water cannons at protesters, is just one more symptom of Prime Minister Erdogan’s authoritarian rule.

Iconic images of Turkey’s uprising quickly appeared on the Internet. There was the image of a young woman defiantly kicking back a tear gas canister toward police, and a young man casually strumming his guitar as he approaches a wall of officers. Then there was the incredible photo of another youth standing upon a flattened improvised barricade, waving Turkey’s flag, reminiscent of Enjolras’ last stand. Occupy Wall Street showed its support when hundreds of protesters gathered at Zuccotti Park, a k a Liberty Park, over the weekend. The “peaceful international solidarity event” is being held “with the goal to direct public attention to Istanbul Gezi Park protests and consequent police brutality of AKP/Erdogan government!” Occupy Wall Street announced.

Overall, the social media response to the protests has been staggering. Between Friday and Saturday, at least 2 million tweets mentioning hashtags related to the protest (#direngezipark, #occupygezi, #geziparki) were sent. At one point, more than 3,000 tweets about the protest were published every minute. Even Erdogan weighed in on the Twitter factor, calling the social media tool a “menace.” “There is now a menace which is called Twitter,” Erdogan said. “The best examples of lies can be found there. To me, social media is the worst menace to society.”

Making a small concession, Erdogan did admit the police had made “mistakes” in their initial response. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu took to Twitter to warn citizens: “The continuation of these protests…will bring no benefits but will harm the reputation of our country which is admired both in the region and the world.”

What’s clear is that Twitter is certainly a menace to unchecked power, and those who wield that power against citizens.

Al Jazeera reports that what makes this social media phenomenon especially unique is that unlike some other recent uprisings, around 90 percent of all geo-located tweets came from Turkey and about 50 percent from within Istanbul. For comparison, only 30 percent of those tweeting during the Egyptian revolution were actually in the country. Approximately 88 percent of the tweets are in Turkish, suggesting the audience of the tweets are other Turkish citizens and not the international community.

Al Jazeera speculates that Turkish protesters are replacing traditional reporting with crowd-sources accounts of the protest due to being unsatisfied with the local media’s coverage of the uprising. In addition to being a tool for reporting, Twitter has allowed activists to share information about resisting police brutality. Under the Turkey subcategory on Reddit, a user posted an Occupy Wall Street guide to defending against teargas for Turkish activists.

Over the weekend, numerous countries expressed support for Turkey’s protesters. Turkish nationals gathered in front of the EU Parliament in Brussels to protest against police violence in Turkey, many chanting anti-government protests and holding up banners. Similar rallies took place in London, Egypt, Canada, Helsinki and outside the Turkish Embassy in Nicosia, Cyprus. The ripple effect continued to Amsterdam and Germany, with its significant Turkish population.

“The police were too violent with the demonstrators,” said Hakan Tas, a local councillor. “There is talk of a thousand injured, some seriously. There are unconfirmed reports of deaths. We are here to show our solidarity with the people in Turkey and in Taksim Square, and that is why we are here today in Berlin.”

Overnight in Istanbul, the situation appeared to escalate again in what the BBC called “some of the worst violence since unrest erupted three days ago.”

Protesters in Besiktas district tore up paving stones in order to build barricades, and police responded with tear gas and water cannons. Mosques, shops and a university in Besiktas have been turned into makeshift hospitals for those injured in demonstrations. Witnesses say the protesters were coughing violently and vomiting after police fired tear gas canisters into the crowd. Akin, a protester who spoke to Sky News as he camped overnight at Istanbul’s Taksim Square, said, “We are not leaving. The only answer now is for this government to fall. We are tired of this oppressive government constantly putting pressure on us.”

Perhaps offering the best summary of the events of the past few days, he added, “This is no longer about these trees.”

Source & Photosources at The Nation Magazine

Kuwait gives tweeter two years in jail for ‘criticizing’ rulersJanuary 8, 2013
A Kuwaiti court has sentenced a youth activist for allegedly defaming the country’s ruling emir on Twitter. The opposition tweeter is the second person to fall foul of a recent government crackdown on social networking sites in Kuwait.
The court claimed that although the offending tweets written by Ayyad al-Harbi last October did not explicitly mention the emir, it was understood they were meant to insult him. The court sentenced the opposition activist who has over 13,000 followers on Twitter to two years in prison for his supposed crimes.
Al-Harbi categorically denied that the tweets had anything to do with Kuwait’s ruling family. He tweeted on the eve of the court hearing that “tomorrow morning is my trial’s verdict on charges of slander against the emir, spreading of false news.”
The defendant’s lawyer, Mohammed al-Humidi commented on the ruling following the trial, saying that the judge’s decision had taken them by surprise.“Kuwait has always been known internationally and in the Arab world as a democracy-loving country,” Humidi said in a phone call to Reuters. "People are used to democracy, but suddenly we see the constitution being undermined."
Just a day earlier another offending tweeter, Rashid Saleh al-Anzi, was also sentenced to two years behind bars for an incendiary tweet that allegedly "stabbed the rights and powers of the emir."
Under Kuwaiti law, those who defame or criticize the ruling emir are committing a state security offense and as such are liable for a jail term of up to five years. Currently, a number of important opposition figures are awaiting trial on similar charges of insulting the country’s ruler.
The back-to-back rulings drew the attention of the US, which appealed to the Kuwaiti government to respect human rights and freedom of speech.
"You know how strongly we feel about locking people up for their use of Twitter," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. "We call on the government of Kuwait to adhere to its tradition of respect for freedom of assembly, association, and expression."
Public malcontent over Kuwait’s ruling government has increased recently following the parliamentary elections in December. Activists claim that the country’s parliament is dominated by royalist-sympathizers and members of the ruling family.
In an effort to quell protest after the elections, lawmakers passed a bill that requires all public demonstrations to have written permission from the authorities.
The bill sparked protester ire as more than 1,000 anti-government activists took to the streets, disobeying the new decree. Riot police were deployed with teargas and stun grenades to disperse the angry crowd.
Source

Kuwait gives tweeter two years in jail for ‘criticizing’ rulers
January 8, 2013

A Kuwaiti court has sentenced a youth activist for allegedly defaming the country’s ruling emir on Twitter. The opposition tweeter is the second person to fall foul of a recent government crackdown on social networking sites in Kuwait.

The court claimed that although the offending tweets written by Ayyad al-Harbi last October did not explicitly mention the emir, it was understood they were meant to insult him. The court sentenced the opposition activist who has over 13,000 followers on Twitter to two years in prison for his supposed crimes.

Al-Harbi categorically denied that the tweets had anything to do with Kuwait’s ruling family. He tweeted on the eve of the court hearing that “tomorrow morning is my trial’s verdict on charges of slander against the emir, spreading of false news.”

The defendant’s lawyer, Mohammed al-Humidi commented on the ruling following the trial, saying that the judge’s decision had taken them by surprise.

“Kuwait has always been known internationally and in the Arab world as a democracy-loving country,”
 Humidi said in a phone call to Reuters. "People are used to democracy, but suddenly we see the constitution being undermined."

Just a day earlier another offending tweeter, Rashid Saleh al-Anzi, was also sentenced to two years behind bars for an incendiary tweet that allegedly "stabbed the rights and powers of the emir."

Under Kuwaiti law, those who defame or criticize the ruling emir are committing a state security offense and as such are liable for a jail term of up to five years. Currently, a number of important opposition figures are awaiting trial on similar charges of insulting the country’s ruler.

The back-to-back rulings drew the attention of the US, which appealed to the Kuwaiti government to respect human rights and freedom of speech.

"You know how strongly we feel about locking people up for their use of Twitter," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. "We call on the government of Kuwait to adhere to its tradition of respect for freedom of assembly, association, and expression."

Public malcontent over Kuwait’s ruling government has increased recently following the parliamentary elections in December. Activists claim that the country’s parliament is dominated by royalist-sympathizers and members of the ruling family.

In an effort to quell protest after the elections, lawmakers passed a bill that requires all public demonstrations to have written permission from the authorities.

The bill sparked protester ire as more than 1,000 anti-government activists took to the streets, disobeying the new decree. Riot police were deployed with teargas and stun grenades to disperse the angry crowd.

Source

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Victory for protesters in Shifang, China!
July 08, 2012
Before last Monday, Shifang, a city in southwestern China, was mostly known to outsiders as the producer of handmade cigars enjoyed by Mao Zedong and other top Communist leaders. After Monday, the city’s more traditional reputation was quickly eclipsed by a new one for the 21st century: It became the site of a massive grassroots protest aided by Chinese social media like Weibo, an equivalent to Twitter.
On Friday, June 29,  concerned Shifang citizens, who were reportedly caught by surprise by the announcement, began spreading awareness of the plant, distributing pamphlets across the city:

Citizens of Shifang, please save our hometown!! The city of Shifang is already a ‘cancer village,’ and now they are going to build that heavy metal industrial molybdenum-copper alloy plant. We are strongly opposed to it. This is our home. Protecting it is our responsibility. It is everyone’s responsibility to protect the environment!! (Translation from Ministry of Tofu)

Thousands took to the streets two days later, gathering in the public square and in front of government buildings throughout Sunday evening to express their concern over the chemicals that would be produced by the plant.
On Monday, local riot police were ordered to move in and were caught on film and video doing their job: turning tear gas and batons against defiant participants, some of whom reportedly grew disorderly in response. The police returned again the next day, and continued their attempts to disperse the growing crowds.
On Tuesday evening, the local government conceded by posting a message saying that the refinery project would be shelved. At 11 p.m. that night, the majority of arrested protesters were released, and on Wednesday, explicit criticism of the local officials and support for the protesters came in the form of an editorial in the official state-run English newspaper, The Global Times:

It is in such circumstances that local governments should earnestly deal with every single industrial project that carries environmental concerns. They should tell the truth to the public, rather than harbor the illusion that public opinion can be controlled when it comes to environmental issues.

On Thursday, the vilified top official in Shifang was officially punished with a demotion, and a new party secretary was announced as his replacement, a mere four days after the start of the protests. This was a decided victory for what had begun as a seemingly simple “not in my backyard” protest but eventually became a symbol for China’s complex balancing act between economic growth and environmental concerns, as well as another positive sign that Chinese leadership is becoming more responsive to local concerns — so long as the story makes it to Weibo. Time will tell, however, whether the refinery project has been permanently cancelled or whether it will be re-started once the furor dies down, as has apparently happened in other cities.
Source

Victory for protesters in Shifang, China!

July 08, 2012

Before last Monday, Shifang, a city in southwestern China, was mostly known to outsiders as the producer of handmade cigars enjoyed by Mao Zedong and other top Communist leaders. After Monday, the city’s more traditional reputation was quickly eclipsed by a new one for the 21st century: It became the site of a massive grassroots protest aided by Chinese social media like Weibo, an equivalent to Twitter.

On Friday, June 29,  concerned Shifang citizens, who were reportedly caught by surprise by the announcement, began spreading awareness of the plant, distributing pamphlets across the city:

Citizens of Shifang, please save our hometown!! The city of Shifang is already a ‘cancer village,’ and now they are going to build that heavy metal industrial molybdenum-copper alloy plant. We are strongly opposed to it. This is our home. Protecting it is our responsibility. It is everyone’s responsibility to protect the environment!! (Translation from Ministry of Tofu)

Thousands took to the streets two days later, gathering in the public square and in front of government buildings throughout Sunday evening to express their concern over the chemicals that would be produced by the plant.

On Monday, local riot police were ordered to move in and were caught on film and video doing their job: turning tear gas and batons against defiant participants, some of whom reportedly grew disorderly in response. The police returned again the next day, and continued their attempts to disperse the growing crowds.

On Tuesday evening, the local government conceded by posting a message saying that the refinery project would be shelved. At 11 p.m. that night, the majority of arrested protesters were released, and on Wednesday, explicit criticism of the local officials and support for the protesters came in the form of an editorial in the official state-run English newspaper, The Global Times:

It is in such circumstances that local governments should earnestly deal with every single industrial project that carries environmental concerns. They should tell the truth to the public, rather than harbor the illusion that public opinion can be controlled when it comes to environmental issues.

On Thursday, the vilified top official in Shifang was officially punished with a demotion, and a new party secretary was announced as his replacement, a mere four days after the start of the protests. This was a decided victory for what had begun as a seemingly simple “not in my backyard” protest but eventually became a symbol for China’s complex balancing act between economic growth and environmental concerns, as well as another positive sign that Chinese leadership is becoming more responsive to local concerns — so long as the story makes it to Weibo. Time will tell, however, whether the refinery project has been permanently cancelled or whether it will be re-started once the furor dies down, as has apparently happened in other cities.

Source