USIP's Media, Conflict & Peacebuilding Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, March 29 - April 4, 2012

Media and Journalism

Internet and Social Media

What's New from PeaceMedia

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Media and Journalism

AFP Kashmir Bureau Chief Izhar Wani Dies
Izhar Wani, who reported on the separatist conflict in the region for more than two decades, died Wednesday of cancer. He was 46. He covered conflict in difficult and often dangerous conditions, all the while maintaining a scrupulous impartiality that was recognised by all sides to the dispute. A well-known and deeply respected figure in the Kashmiri journalistic community, he was also a much sought-after source of information and advice for the many foreign correspondents who visited the region over the years.
See the full article (AFP, 4/4/12)
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Conflict Recorded on the Infrared Spectrum
Richard [Mosse]'s photographs depict a nation during a time of conflict, from landscapes to rebel groups, against the backdrop and trauma of war. "[Congo's] endless cycle of wars seem essentially intangible. It is a protracted, complex and convoluted conflict, fought by rebels of constantly switching allegiance. These narratives, though brutal and tragic, are not tales that are easily told.
See the full article (BBC, Phil Coomes, 4/3/12)
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Turkish Court Agrees to Try Kurdish Militant Case
A Turkish court on Tuesday agreed to try 193 people accused of having links with Kurdish militants in a high profile case that has seen Ankara's attitude towards freedom of speech criticised internationally. State prosecutors have accused the defendants of aiding and abetting terrorism, but their supporters have alleged the suspects - who include politicians, academics and journalists - are being persecuted for non-violent freedom of expression.
See the full article (Reuters, Ece Toksabay, 4/3/12)
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Bomb Kills TV Presenter in Central Iraq: Spokesman
A "sticky bomb" killed a television presenter working for a local station in Salaheddin province of central Iraq, a provincial spokesman said on Tuesday. Kamiran Salaheddin, a presenter for Salaheddin Channel, was killed in central Tikrit by a magnetic bomb attached to his car as he drove home from work late on Monday. Salaheddin, a 34-year-old father-of-two, was the second journalist killed in Iraq this year.
See the full article (AFP, 4/3/12)
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Colombian Journalist Shot Dead
A Colombian community radio reporter has been shot dead. Jesús Martínez Orozco, 42, was killed by two men riding a motorcycle in Sabanalarga, in the province of Atlántico. A respected voice on music, he broadcast on culture for La Nueva radio and wrote occasionally for a newspaper, La Opinión de Sabanalarga. Martínez Orozco is the fifth journalist to be killed in Latin America this year.
See the full article (Guardian, Roy Greenslade, 4/2/12)
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Generation Iraq: The Journalists Who Covered America's War
From the American invasion of Iraq nine years ago this spring through occupation and the official end of the U.S. mission last December, a generation of news professionals - reporters, photographers, translators and fixers - told the story of the Iraq war for the rest of us.
See the full article (New Yorker, Elissa Curtis, 4/2/12)
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Citizen Journalist in Syria Is Captured and Tortured, Activists Say
A citizen journalist in Syria who has been instrumental in assisting those covering the conflict in Homs, helping evacuate wounded journalists from inside the city's neighborhood of Baba Amr, has been seized and perhaps tortured by the Syrian government, an activist told CNN on Saturday. The citizen journalist, Ali Mahmoud Othman, was the head of the media center in Homs, according to CNN, and was thought to be at a secure military unit in Aleppo.
See the full article (New York Times, Matt Flegenheimer, 4/1/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Imagery and Atrocity: The Role of News and Photos in War
Among the topics discussed [at a U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum workshop] were the current and potential use of journalists, victims' reporting, satellites, aircraft, and drones to reveal to the outside world what is happening on the ground. It was remarkable to hear from a wide range of dedicated people who utilize innovative technologies and collaborative arrangements to document prospective war crimes.
See the full article (Atlantic, Micah Zenko and Emma Welch, 3/30/12)
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Gallup Press Freedom Poll: Two-Thirds of World Believe National Media is Free
Gallup found that countries in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, and the former Soviet Union have the least perceived press freedom. Belarus ranked at the bottom, with just 23% of people reporting that their media has "a lot of freedom." The organization also reported that fewer than 40% of adults in eleven countries -- including Gabon, Armenia, Palestinian Territories, and Iraq -- believe that their national media is free.
See the full article (Huffington Post, 3/29/12)
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Cautious Hope for Freedom of Information in Burma
A week out from special elections that are likely to see opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi take a seat in the country's parliament, Burma's long-straitjacketed journalists sat with local and foreign officials to discuss a new press law that could see the country's censorship regime abolished. Right now in Burma, daily newspapers are banned and existing weeklies must run their content by the censorship board for approval before publishing. But change is nigh, it seems.
See the full article (PBS, Simon Roughneen, 3/29/12)
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Reuters Says Iran's Government Suspends Media Accreditation of its Staffers in Tehran
Reuters says it had corrected a headline that accompanied the video from "Thousands of female ninjas train as Iran's assassins" to "Three thousand women ninjas train in Iran" after the martial arts club where the video was filmed made a complaint. The news agency said Thursday that Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance had contacted its Tehran bureau chief about the video and that Reuters' 11 staffers were later told to return their media cards.
See the full article (AP, 3/29/12)
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Internet and Social Media

Al-Qaeda Forum Back Online After Blackout
One of al-Qaeda's primary Web forums was back online Wednesday after a lengthy blackout that analysts said appeared to have the hallmarks of a cyberattack. No one has claimed responsibility for the outages, and U.S. officials have said that no U.S. agency, including the military's Cyber Command, was involved.
See the full article (Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima, 4/4/12)
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Iranian Website Pulls Interview With U.S. State Department Official
The online publication of an interview with the U.S. State Department's Persian spokesman by a conservative Iranian website appears to have been pulled following official criticism and condemnation. Iran's Culture Ministry said in a statement on April 4 that there was no justification for the Alef website to allow what it called a U.S. "intelligence officer" the opportunity to respond to questions from Iranians.
See the full article (RFE/RL, Golnaz Esfandiari, 4/3/12)
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'We Don't Know of Any Kony Video': Villagers Tell of Reality of Violent Attacks
Invisible Children's highly emotive plea for the international community, and the US military in particular, to intervene to arrest Kony has attracted praise for raising awareness. [But] not many of the millions who have watched Kony 2012 are in Dungu. There is barely any mobile telephone reception and access to the internet is limited. When asked whether they have heard of the video, the villagers shrug and shake their heads.
See the full article (Guardian, Pete Jones, 4/3/12)
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China Punishes Social Media, Websites on Coup Talk
China is closing a dozen websites, penalizing two popular social media sites and detaining six people for circulating rumors of a coup that rattled Beijing in the midst of its worst high-level political crisis in years. The extensive clampdown, announced late Friday by state media, underscores the authoritarian government's anxieties over a public that is wired to the Internet and eager to discuss political events despite censorship and threats of punishment.
See the full article (AP, Charles Hultzer, 4/3/12)
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Kony 2012: Activists Prepare Follow-up to YouTube Hit
US activist group Invisible Children is to release a sequel to its video highlighting the activities of Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony. The first 30-minute film attracted more than 100 million views on YouTube and proved popular with young people. The follow-up has been made without input from the group's co-founder, who suffered a mental breakdown following publicity generated by the film.
See the full article (BBC, 4/3/12)
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Angolan Rights Activists Say Young Protesters Lead Pro-democracy Push Using Internet
Young Angolan protesters who have been able to mobilize online have invigorated anti-corruption and pro-democracy campaigns, traditional political activists in the southern African nation said Monday. Young protesters have circumvented censorship by using Facebook to spread word of gatherings, and have posted videos of their demonstrations - and the often brutal police response - on YouTube.
See the full article (AP, 4/2/12)
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'I am Also an Afghan' -- Iranians Condemn Racism on Facebook
Afghans living in Isfahan were banned from a mountainous park in the city on April 1, the 13th day of Norouz festivities, which Iranian tradition says should be spent outdoors. But it was Iranians who quickly condemned the decision on Facebook and other social media. "I am also an Afghan," some wrote as their Facebook status update. Others slammed the decision as "racist" and an "insult" to Afghans living in Iran.
See the full article (RFE/RL, Golnaz Esfandiari, 4/2/12)
Click to read "Innovative Transformation: An Evaluation of the Ministry of Defense Advisors Program in Afghanistan," a USIP report by Victoria Stattel and Robert Perito.
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World War 3.0
When the Internet was created, decades ago, one thing was inevitable: the war today over how (or whether) to control it, and who should have that power. Battle lines have been drawn between repressive regimes and Western democracies, corporations and customers, hackers and law enforcement. Looking toward a year-end negotiation in Dubai, where 193 nations will gather to revise a U.N. treaty concerning the Internet, Michael Joseph Gross lays out the stakes in a conflict that could split the virtual world as we know it.
See the full article (Vanity Fair, Michael Joseph Gross, 4/2/12)
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In Afghanistan, Learning to Use Facebook to Protest
The internet meme of Afghan youth mourning the loss of family and neighbors after 17 Afghan civilians were murdered in Panjwai district on March 11 - allegedly by U.S. Army Staff Sgt Robert Bales - spread rapidly on social media networks among Afghans in and out of the country. It encapsulated the frustration of a generation that has grown up during the 10 year war that is finding its voice - albeit, on the internet.
See the full article (TIME, John Wendle, 4/1/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Prospects for Peace in Afghanistan" on April 10 at 10:30am.
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Internet Freedom: Diplomats Join the Dissidents, Geeks and Censors
It is clear what many autocratic regimes want in the Internet: a controlled space, one that ideally permits their citizens to use online tools for economic activity and basic communication, but that will not permit the kinds of expression that might undermine government authority. The effort to build such a controlled space is no longer restricted to domestic measures, and for several nations it now comprises a significant diplomatic effort.
See the full article (TechCrunch, Richard Fontaine, 4/1/12)
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Myanmar Media use Twitter, Facebook to Report Vote
Myanmar's journalists will take to Twitter and Facebook in their battle to beat press restrictions and deliver breaking news of Sunday's by-elections that for many will be the biggest story of their careers. The vote -- the first contested by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and likely to propel her into parliament -- is set to pose a host of challenges for news editors from the country's long-censored media.
See the full article (AFP, Kelly Macnamara, 3/31/12)
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Viral Videos, Activists Discussed as Tools to Prevent Atrocities
[A recent Clinton Global Initiative University Meeting] discussed viral videos, empowering local activists and setting international moral values as means to prevent future mass atrocities against civilians. Despite massive attention to the problems in Sudan's Darfur region, the violence there, which began nine years ago, continues. In such situations, Juliana Rotich, the executive director of Ushahidi, a non-profit technology company managing crisis information, recommended empowering local activists.
See the full article (Voice of America, Nico Colombant, 3/31/12)
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Crowd-Mapping Sexual Violence in Syria in Real Time
What would it mean to document instances of sexual violence in real time, as these assaults are unfolding? And what would it mean to do this for an area of the world that is currently restricted to outsiders, including journalists and human rights workers? That's exactly what the organizers of Women Under Siege Syria are asking, and are attempting to answer with their groundbreaking crowd-mapping initiative.
See the full article (Mashable, Sonia Paul, 3/30/12)
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The Arab Spring's Online Backlash
A bill on "information-technology crimes" with extraordinarily broad wording and harsh punishments is due to come before Iraq's parliament in April. According to an English translation, it includes mandatory life sentences for using computers or the internet to "compromise" the "unity" of the state, promote "ideas which are disruptive to public order", or engage in "trafficking, promoting or facilitating the abuse of drugs", which could include merely blogging about them.
See the full article (Economist, 3/29/12)
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Open Door Policy
Last year, when Internet users in 12 authoritarian states tried to navigate to the social networking sites we take for granted in the West, they encountered the usual government firewall blocking their access. But there was a twist. Many of them also saw an advertisement alerting them to the fact they could download free tools to circumvent this censorship. Almost half a million users did just that. The organization funding the campaign was none other than the U.S. Department of State.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Fergus Hanson, 3/29/12)
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What's New from PeaceMedia

"Ishmael Beah Calls for Protection of Children in Armed Conflict" - UNICEF
Ishmael Beah, UNICEF Advocate for Children Affected by War, speaks about the devastating effects of armed conflict on children.
See the full video
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