USIP's Media, Conflict & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, April 5 - 11, 2012

Media and Journalism

Internet and Social Media

What's New from PeaceMedia

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Media and Journalism

Lebanese TV says Syrians Shot Dead Cameraman
Lebanon's Al-Jadeed satellite television on Monday accused the Syrian army of shooting dead its cameraman Ali Shaaban, saying it opened fire at its team which was on Lebanon's side of the border. The Syrian state news agency SANA said the Al-Jadeed team came under fire as border guards opened fire in retaliation to an attack by "terrorist groups."Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemned the attack, while President Michel Sleiman demanded a Syrian probe.
See the full article (AFP, 4/10/12)
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Kyrgyzstan Reopens Case of Murdered Journalist Critical of Uzbekistan's Government
Kyrgyzstan's highest court has overturned a murder conviction in the case of a prominent journalist who was shot in the turbulent former Soviet nation in 2007, and ordered a new investigation in the killing. Saipov, who was 26, edited a newspaper that harshly criticized neighboring Uzbekistan's authoritarian policies. He also worked for the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America. Many analysts and activists believe [he] was targeted by Uzbek security services.
See the full article (AP, 4/9/12)
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Afghanistan Announces Satellite Tender
Less than two decades ago, the Taliban made bonfires of film reels outside Kabul's cinemas, banned television and condemned weather forecasting as sorcery. Now, the government that replaced them is seeking a partner to take the country's communications industry into space. Afghanistan hopes its first satellite will improve television coverage in rural areas and internet access across the country, a project that is political as much as commercial as insurgents and the government vie for influence and support.
See the full article (Guardian, Emma Graham-Harrison, 4/9/12)
Click to read "Myths and Misconceptions in the Afghan Transition," a USIP Peace Brief by Shahmahmood Miakhel and Noah Coburn.
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Tiny Mexican Newspaper Leads the Fight for Truth Amid the Drugs War
Run on a shoestring from a few rooms above a dentist's office in Culiacán, Río Doce is one of the last redoubts of investigative journalism on the frontline of Mexico's drug wars that have killed more than 50,000 people since President Felipe Calderón launched his crackdown on organised crime five years ago. The deaths or disappearance of more than 40 journalists mean most regional media limit their coverage to superficial reporting of violent events and arrests.
See the full article (Guardian, Jo Tuckman, 4/8/12)
Click to read "Summit of the Americas," a USIP On the Issues by Virginia M. Bouvier.
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Female Arab Singer Captures Israeli Hearts by Performing Jewish Songs in TV Contest
A young Arab woman who won a popular Israeli music competition has become an unlikely star, capturing hearts in a country where suspicion and hostility often mark relations between Arabs and the Jewish majority. 25-year-old [Nissren] Kader touched on the nostalgia that many first and second generation Jews of Middle Eastern origin feel for their ancestral homelands, even though most proudly identify as Israeli.
See the full article (AP, 4/5/12)
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20 Years Later: The Bosnian Conflict in Photographs
The photographs in the gallery are from the book Bosnia 1992 - 1995, available July 2012. The book will be self-published by the photographers who covered the Bosnian conflict - which began 20 years ago today - and printed in Bosnia. The captions below these photographs are the personal reflections of the photographers on their experiences in the region.
See the full article (TIME, Massimo Calabresi, 4/5/12)
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10 Journalists Injured in Somalia Bombing
At least 10 journalists were injured, several of them seriously, when a bomb ripped through Somalia's national theatre in Mogadishu. The blast, for which the militant insurgent group Al-Shabaab took responsibility, occurred five minutes into a speech by the prime minister, Abdiwelli Mohamed, at a ceremony marking the anniversary of Somali national television. The CPJ's east Africa consultant Tom Rhodes said: "Somalia remains the region's most dangerous nation for the press."
See the full article (Guardian, Roy Greenslade, 4/5/12)
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Internet and Social Media

Governments Increasingly Targeting Twitter Users for Expressing Their Opinion
In its six years of existence, Twitter has staked out a position as the most free speech-friendly social network. Its utility in the uprisings that swept the Middle East and North Africa is unmatched, its usage by activists and journalists alike to spread news and galvanize the public unprecedented. But some governments have not taken such a positive view of Twitter and freedom of expression. Instead, they've threatened, arrested and prosecuted their citizens for what they express in 140 characters or less.
See the full article (PBS, Jillian C. York and Trevor Timm, 4/11/12)
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From Short Waves to Flash Mobs
Since Mubarak's ouster, hand-held devices armed with Internet access, video cameras, and social media software have challenged the status quo from Beijing to Rangoon, from the pre-election streets of Moscow to the battered Syrian city of Homs. In instance after instance, technologies designed for daily communication or research have adapted to a new task-exposing the malfeasance and incompetence of governments and the increasing irrelevance of traditional media to the average person.
See the full article (Slate, Michael Moran, 4/10/12)
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Syria's Failed Cease-fire and the Limits of Social Media
There was no sign of the planned withdrawal from cities and towns by Syrian forces Tuesday. Activists reported an intensified onslaught by troops, including the use of heavy weaponry, despite claims by the government's foreign minister that a pullout had begun. Hours before, the fighting had even spilled over into neighboring Lebanon and Turkey. Despite support on Twitter, YouTube and blogs for Syria's "zero hour" - a term activists adopted to describe the cease-fire - there was no zero hour at all.
See the full article (Washington Post, Elizabeth Flock, 4/10/12)
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Iran: We're Not Cutting Off Internet Access - Yet
Reports that Iran was planning to shut off Internet access and replace it with a national intranet this summer were lies perpetrated by "the propaganda wing of the West," according to Iran's Ministry of Communication and Internet Technology. But the Ministry did confirm reports that the country will be opening an Iran-only internal network - in March 2013. The original report said that Iran would sever ties to the global Internet and block access to popular websites and services such as Google and Hotmail.
See the full article (Mashable, Alex Fitzpatrick, 4/10/12)
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Fighting the Great Firewall of Pakistan
It takes a strong stomach and a thick skin to be a female activist fighting online censorship in Pakistan. Sana Saleem has both. The 24-year-old founder of a Karachi-based free expression group Bolo Bhi has been accused of supporting "blasphemy." None of this has fazed Sana, who in conjunction with several other young Pakistani blogger-activists had launched a successful campaign that has shamed the government into halting plans for a national Internet censorship system.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Rebecca MacKinnon, 4/10/12)
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Egyptians Flood Obama's Facebook Page in Election Row
US President Barack Obama's Facebook page has been swamped with comments from supporters of a candidate in Egypt's presidential election. It follows news that Hazem Abu Ismail may be barred from the poll because one of his parents held dual nationality. Egypt's electoral commission has said Mr. Abu Ismail's late mother became a naturalised US citizen in October 2006. But his supporters are calling on Mr Obama to support their claim that the immigration paperwork is fraudulent.
See the full article (BBC, 4/9/12)
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Iran 'Blocks' Official London 2012 Olympics Website
Users in Iran have tweeted that they are unable to connect to and are instead redirected to - a site offering stories from Iran's official news agencies. The website confirms that most users in Iran are unlikely to be able to see the Olympics web pages. Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, recently ordered officials to set up a new body to co-ordinate decisions regarding the net.
See the full article (BBC, 4/9/12)
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Syria's Online Army is Simply Playing into Assad's Hands
A few miles from the advancing tanks of President Bashar al-Assad's army, a young Syrian pledged to leave the safety of a Turkish border town and make a perilous return to his homeland. The activist - I'll call him Ahmed - told me that he would tweet, text, blog and Skype, to ensure that the outside world knew the terrible reality of Assad's rule. But if Ahmed does become another citizen journalist, a "networked individual" plugged into the full array of social media, will it really be the best way to loosen Assad's grip on power?
See the full article (Telegraph, David Blair, 4/9/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "USIP Annual Conference on Security Sector Transformation in North Africa and the Middle East" on May 10 at 8:30am.
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China Shuts Leftist Web Sites as Political Strife Continues
China's Communist Party censors on Friday closed several "new left" Web sites, and a pro-reform site run by the Carter Center went offline, as the country's rulers sought to stifle divergent voices and muffle signs of an ideological struggle ahead of a crucial leadership change this fall. The crackdown was the latest step in an ongoing tightening of Internet controls as top party officials seek to contain the public fallout from China's most serious political crisis in decades.
See the full article (Washington Post, Keith B. Richburg, 4/6/12)
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Tunisia's Presidency Backs Conviction of Men for Insulting Islam on Facebook
Two men have been convicted and sentenced to prison in Tunisia for posting Facebook images of the Prophet Muhammad in a compromising position, a court decision that drew support Friday from the presidency of this once staunchly secular country. The verdict, which was made public Thursday, has been condemned by some as an attack on freedom of expression and a mark of the rising tide of religious conservatism in the country since a popular uprising ousted a dictator a year ago.
See the full article (AP, 4/6/12)
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Report: New Surveillance Malware Targeting Syrian Opposition
As conflict in Syria continues to rage despite a looming cease-fire deadline, new research shows how the use of covert surveillance could be helping Bashar al-Assad's regime find and target political dissidents. On Wednesday the Electronic Frontier Foundation published information revealing how a "surveillance malware" disguised as a PDF file is being used to spy on individuals who may be sympathetic to the opposition.
See the full article (Slate, Ryan Gallagher, 4/6/12)
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A Social Network Site for Jihadists?
The advantage and attraction of social networking isn't lost on the jihadist community, apparently. New postings on the Ansar al-Mujahideen Arabic forum have been discussing a proposal by one contributor to create a Facebook-like site for jihadists, according to SITE Intel Group, which monitors jihadists activities online. The idea has surfaced as various jihadi sites have mysteriously gone dark, leaving some to speculate whether there was a covert takedown by a spy agency.
See the full article (CNN, Adam Levine, 4/5/12)
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Twitter Reaches Out to Arabic Speaking Users
The micro-blogging site has created a function to include Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and Hebrew languages in all of its features. Users were already able to tweet in their preferred language, but can now create hashtags in their native language, amongst other new features. This enables microbloggers from the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia to engage in political spheres across Twitter by communicating in the language they are more comfortable with.
See the full article (Al Arabiya, Noora Faraj, 4/5/12)
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What's New from PeaceMedia

"Sarajevo to Mark 20th Anniversary of War " - Al Jazeera
Two decades after the conflict started, the anniversary of the beginning of the Bosnian War is being remembered by the people of the region. The siege of Sarajevo, the longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare, was one of the defining events of the conflict. Lasting nearly four years, the siege left 10,000 people dead, including 1,500 children.
See the full video
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