Protest - online or in court

Busy day yesterday, launching our new Unsubscribe campaign first in Birmingham, where the bulk of the campaign billboards are posted, and then at a blogger event, Changing the way we change the world at our Human Rights Action Centre in Shoreditch.

It was the latter event that was a bit of an eye-opener for me (which was a good job, given the 6am start to get to Brum and 10.00pm finish for the event). Everyone was so young (or perhaps I was so old) and there was a real feeling of enthusiasm in the room. Heres what one blogger thought of it.

Some great speakers too Johnny Chatterton, whose Facebook petition to Protect the monks has over 200,000 supporters (podcast interview with him here) and Paul Hilder from avaaz.org, another brilliant campaigning site that has attracted even more supporters I think 700,000 to their own campaign for human rights in Burma. Gemma Tumelty from the NUS told the room about their successful campaign to stop the HSBC bank charging student overdraft fees.  Kevin Anderson from the Guardian put their efforts into a wider context and gave his own expert insight into where the social networking/citizen journalism phenomenon might take campaigning in the future.

What seemed great to me was that the optimism wasnt mindless there were some tough questions, such as whether such online campaigns are dependent on offline media coverage to have impact, and whether traditional medias fascination with all things web 2.0 might run out.

You couldnt get a much better example of online campaigning than Dan Hardies campaign for the Iraqi employees of the UK army who have been refused assistance despite receiving death threats, a campaign Ive followed for a while now. The campaign was picked up by the Times and later by parliamentarians, and the government finally made some concessions this week. Not enough says Dan, though it will only affect those whove been employed or 12 months or more. What about all the other refugees, says Amnesty not to mention those internally displaced. The UN has a report out today saying that more and more provinces are refusing entry to Iraqis from other parts of the country.

One Palestinian man has resorted to more a more conventional way to protest against Israels security wall/fence, which has been built on Palestinian land (in this case, his land). Hes bringing a court case arguing that military sales to Israel are illegal, as this military equipment is used to repress Palestinian people. Interesting that this coincides with a Guardian story about Palestinian land being seized around four West Bank villages, purportedly for the expansion of already-illegal Israeli settlements.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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