Global Voices

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Egyptian Activists Arrested Under New Anti-Protest Law

Eighty-nine activists who are part of the No Military Trial campaign have been arrested by the Egyptian Ministry of Interior on November 26, 2013 following the new anti-protest law issued by interim president Adly Mansour on Sunday (November 24).

Hundreds of activists protested yesterday against the constitutional article draft earlier this week allowing the army to bring civilians in front of a military court, denying them the opportunity to appear in front of an ordinary court. This campaign has been going on since the beginning of the revolution. Thousands of people have since been subjected to military trials. On social media, the campaign is run under the hashtag #NoMilTrials.

On their Facebook page, the activist group posted a large number of photographs, showing the violence of yesterday's arrests by the police.

Mosireen, the citizen journalist and activist collective, has been the first to post video of the arrests, with English subtitles: has posted a list of the detainees, which is getting longer by the minute. Among the detainees are the “usual suspects” and long standing activists such as Mona Seif, Nazly Hussein, Salma Said, Ahmad Ragaab and Jika's father (the iconic teenager that was shot during Morsi stay in power).

Famous blogger Zeinobia has done a great job by compiling all the events since the beginning of the protest earlier yesterday afternoon.

Journalist Hazem Abdel Hameed has posted some pictures of the arrests, with a coarse comment:

“you who arrest women… you're just a bunch of a******s”

Egyptian arrests

Egyptian arrests. Hazem Abd El Hamed Facebook page

Feminist webpage, Bahheya ya Masr, uploaded this poster “freedom to the revolutionaries”:

Egyptian protest

Egyptian protest. Bahheya ya Masr Facebook page

Mariam Kirollos noticed that lawyers were not allowed to visit the detainees:

Some political and media figures have shown solidarity with the protesters:

Among them are TV presenter Reem Magued and an assistant to the deputy prime minister:

The latest news came that the female detainees were released later that night. Sarah Carr and Leil Zahra Mortada have commented on Facebook on conditions of their release. Sarah's comment is not currently available but Leil writes:

The police dropped off all the women detainees on a far away road heading to Upper Egypt in the middle of the desert. They have been located and activists/friends are on their way to pick them up. Few of the male detainees have been released and news that the rest will be released shortly. This is the usual practice from Mubarak´s regime. For example both Salma Said and Rasha Azab have been through this under Mubarak in 2008. They were arrested then dropped off far away on some national highway. Yet another evidence that the same repressive practices remain solid in Sisi´s Egypt. Today we witnessed the same old same, police violence, sexual assault against female protesters, humiliation and beating of the detainees, and then kidnapping them only to drop them off on some deserted road. The struggle continues. They will not silence us.

Mostafa Bassiouny had a clear and poignant analysis of the situation [link not currently available]:

“Sir, you have to understand… I beg you and beg the Prophet… This generation is not like the ones you know… They attended more friends funerals than weddings. Their backs have been stretched on the streets, that's why they'll never kneel. Don't you realize that when you build a wall, they draw an open window on it. When you shoot them with pellets, they collect them and play with them. When you pub barbwire, they use it to dry their socks and underwear. When you drag one lady naked in the square, you have 10 000 others who come back to set the score. You build a memorial for martyrs they pee on it and destroy it. What are you going to do with them since you can't afford a job for them to get busy nor a house to live in nor a piece of bread to shut their mouths so that they stop shouting slogans. For the love of the Prophet, please use your head and stop this stupidity. None of Moubarak, The Marchal (Tantawi), nor the Guide (Muslim Brotherhood guide, Badie) could tame them. Be smart and act now before it's too late. And you're still the light of our eyes (sarcastic come back at Al Sissi's famous comment about the people of Egypt being the “light of his eyes”)”

Salma Said, one of the activists who was detained tweeted just as she got out:

via Global Voices » Feature

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Thailand Catching Fire as Anti-Government Protests Intensify

Thousands of anti-government protesters continued to hold rallies and marches across Bangkok. Photo by George Henton, Copyright @Demotix (11/26/2013)

Thousands of anti-government protesters continued to hold rallies and marches across Bangkok. Photo by George Henton, Copyright @Demotix (11/26/2013)

More than 100,000 anti-government protesters stormed the streets of Bangkok which has further intensified political tension in Thailand. There are 13 protest sites which included several government buildings and media stations. Siam Voices summarizes the impact of the rally in the nation’s capital:

…anti-government protests in Bangkok, Thailand began again after crowds estimated at crowds estimated at 100,000-plus rallied in the city on Sunday. The protesters marched to 13 separate protests across the city early Monday with the situation has become increasingly tense in the early afternoon.

Among the 13 rally sites, the protesters have targeted various free-TV stations – including the army-owned Channel 5, state-owned NBT (aka Ch 11) and Channel 3 – as they think that their rallies have been underreported or flat out ignored in the last few days and demand media to report “truthfully”.

Protesters occupied the Budget Bureau and the Finance Ministry compound, the Foreign Ministry and the Public Relations Department. In response, the government expanded the scope of the Internal Security Act as protesters vowed to hold more protests across the country in the next few days.

This video shows the size of the rally in Bangkok last Sunday, the biggest anti-government rally so far.

Protesters wanted the dissolution of the government headed by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra whom they accused of being a puppet of her elder brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Thaksin was removed from power in the 2006 coup. He is in exile after being found guilty of plunder by a local court.

Protest actions have been organized in the past few weeks after the passage of the controversial Amnesty Bill which would allow Thaksin to return home. Due to public pressure, the measure was voted down by the senate.

But the ongoing protests in Thailand indicate the continuing deep political divisions in the country. The situation is reminiscent of the 2008 crisis when protesters occupied the airport, and other key facilities of Bangkok.

On Twitter, protesters were accused of spreading misinformation and using terror tactics

Tourists are advised to avoid protest sites:

This Google Map shows the major protest venues in Bangkok:

View Protest Areas in Bangkok in November 2013 in a larger map

Police are deployed in many parts of the city while protesters continue to occupy some government buildings:

Thorn Pitidol thinks Suthep Thaugsuban, the opposition leader who is organizing the protest actions, has not made clear his political demands:

As many others have noted, what’s odd about this protest is that, despite the number it has managed to gather, the protest has not really spelled out any clear objectives

As far as I can understand, the blank rhetoric he threw out was not to propose any solution, he just wants to mobilise those who hate the government.

Meanwhile, media groups denounced the reported assault made by some protesters against a foreign journalist. The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand issued this statement:

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand deplores this in the strongest possible terms, and calls upon protest leaders to unequivocally and publicly state that the rights of journalists, foreign or Thai, should be respected.

The Southeast Asian Press Alliance interpreted the protests around media stations as a threat to media freedom:

…the protests in front of TV stations can be interpreted as a direct coercion for media to report matters according to protesters’ views. These are no different from pressures faced by journalists from media owners and the state to slant news in their favour. It really does not matter from which group the pressure is coming, what is important is that these acts ultimately harm the professional media from keeping the public informed and channeling diverse political views.

Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch, urged both government forces and protest groups to avoid violence:

Opposition groups have a right to protest peacefully, but that doesn’t mean assaulting journalists or anyone else. At the same time, the Thai authorities need to allow antigovernment demonstrations that are secure and don’t degenerate into violent confrontations.

Prime Minister Yingluck explained why she expanded the Internal Security Act:

I ask my fellow citizens not to provide support for protests that violate the law and not to believe rumours. Please cooperate with officials in operations to maintain the law so that the situation may quickly return to normal. I ask those with opposing views to use the parliamentary means of a censure debate.

via Global Voices » Feature

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Will Yemen's Romeo and Saudi's Juliet Have a Happy Ending?

Yemen's twittersphere, which is usually filled with disturbing news of assassinations, drone strike attacks or political turmoil, has been overtaken lately with a modern day version of Romeo and Juliet's love story. But the story is more complex and has an international twist. Juliet is Huda Abdullah Al Niran, a 22-year-old Saudi, who fell in love with her Romeo, 25-year-old Yemeni migrant worker, Arafat Mohammed Taher Al-Qadhi.

Huda met Arafat for the first time when she went to purchase a mobile from the shop in her village where he worked. They fell in love and after several attempts to officially ask for her hand in marriage were refused by her family, Huda decided to escape a forced arranged marriage. She eloped to Yemen last month to get married to her Yemeni sweetheart Arafat. However, she was arrested at the border and put in jail. Today, she faces charges for entering the country illegally and so does Arafat, who is charged with assisting her do so, although he crossed the border nine hours after her.

In an audio interview posted on YouTube by Saudi Okaz Alyoumon on November 3 , 2013, Huda recounts how she met Arafat, fell in love with him and decided to elope after her family had refused his request to take her hand in marriage – just because he is Yemeni.

Belkis Wille, researcher at Human Rights Watch, tweeted:

Today the UNHCR agreed to grant asylum to Huda, who risks facing victimization by her family should she be deported back to Saudi Arabia and returned home. A Yemeni court postponed issuing a ruling in her case on Sunday (Nov. 24) until December 1.

Yemeni journalist Nasser Arrabyee tweeted:

Journalist Saed al-Batati gives us an update:

There are many sympathizers and supporters following the couple's ordeal in Yemen, including cartoonist Carlos Lattuf who showed his support:

Meanwhile, on the ground, hundreds of people gathered outside the courtroom chanting: “Love before borders and citizenship.”

Yemeni supporters of the couple gathered in front of the court room to show their solidarity

Yemeni supporters of the couple gather in front of the court room to show their solidarity

The crowds demonstrated demanding the judge to dismiss the case and wed the couple. A Facebook page, entitled “We are all Huda and Arafat”, has been created to lobby their case. It has more than 12,000 likes so far. It has also been reported that a Sheikh from Yemen has offered them a home and another one some furniture.

There are also those who oppose what Huda did; crossing so many lines, that of her family, society and country in order to be reunited with whom her heart chose.

Some even wondered what would the Yemeni reaction be should the circumstances be reversed.

One reply was:

Another reply was:

So will we witness a happy ending to the Yemeni-Romeo and Saudi-Juliet love story? Or will it be another sad and tragic ending?

via Global Voices » Feature

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After Haiyan Disaster, Philippines Calls for Relief and Justice for Climate Change Victims

North Cebu was also hit by typhoon Haiyan. Photo by Act Regionseven, Facebook

North Cebu was also hit by typhoon Haiyan. Photo by Act Regionseven, Facebook

Also see our Special Coverage Haiyan Devastates the Philippines

The massive destruction wrought by super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in central Philippines has intensified the call for greater global action to address the harsh impact of climate change in the world especially in vulnerable small island nations.

Yeb Sano, the Philippine government’s lead negotiator at the Warsaw climate talks, became the voice of many poor nations which have been demanding the ratification of more effective pollution controls. Aside from delivering a well-applauded speech at the UN conference, Yeb also created an online petition asking netizens to stand in solidarity will all victims of climate change. As of this writing, the petition already has more than 700 thousand signatures:

Stand in solidarity with the people of the Philippines and all victims of climate change worldwide. Together our voices can push the governments meeting at the UN climate summit happening now to ratchet up pollution controls and help poorer communities with funding.

The question that will determine our survival is: can humanity rise to the occasion? I still believe we can.

Haiyan wiped out entire villages in Samar and Leyte provinces and displaced more than eight million people in the Visayas islands. It caused a storm surge killing thousands in an instant.

Many Filipinos are already urging the government to take decisive actions in relation to the country’s preparation for bigger natural disasters caused by climate change. Tony La Vina of Ateneo University believes that adaptation is not enough:

Yolanda’s message is that we can never adapt adequately to climate change. But still, we do not want to have many of our islands decimated regularly and for our people to continually start from scratch losing homes and livelihoods.

Adaptation clearly is not enough and we have to make sure that the human causes for climate change – greenhouse gas emissions coming from the use fossil fuels and land use activities – are mitigated. And while mitigation must be global, we in the Philippines must do our share if we are to have the moral high ground in asking rich countries to reduce their emissions and to help us adapt and in times of disaster.

Environment crusader Macky Lovina reminds the United States government that more than sending humanitarian assistance to the Philippines, it must prioritize the reduction of its carbon emissions:

Now we love the US? I have nothing against Americans, after all I've lived there practically half my life, and I'm grateful to all the men and women who have gone out of they're way to bring relief to disaster struck areas, but let's not forget one thing… The reason Typhoon Yolanda is here, and it will be here again and again, is largely because of US govn't policy that encourages and aggressively promotes the fossil fuel, mining and conventional agriculture industries. So when I see American politicians making sentimental speeches about the long friendship between the US and the Philippines, I know it's not real. After all if they really had the Philippines well being in mind then they would do their best to slow down Climate Change. In fact they're doing the opposite, knowing full well that islands like the Philippines will be the hardest hit.

On Twitter, Jason appeals to other countries:

This useful map of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs shows the devastated areas and relief efforts in the Visayas

This useful map of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs shows the devastated areas and relief efforts in the Visayas

Meawhile, Enteng Bautista links the slow response of the government in mobilizing relief and rescue operations to the private control of the transport and heavy industry sectors:

In times of national disaster or emergency the government should have the power to mobilize and direct the assets and resources to help the people such as ships, planes, power barges, mobile communication and medical facilities. But why it could not and just hoping for the ‘soft heart’ of select few? Precisely because it is privately owned and controlled by the select few and powerful.

Tacloban City, the ground zero of the typhoon disaster. Photo by Gerg Cahiles

Tacloban City, the ground zero of the typhoon disaster. Photo by Gerg Cahiles

This video shows houses being swept away in Hernani, Samar during the storm:

via Global Voices » Feature

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Friday, November 22, 2013

‘Kill the Man, Rape My Girlfriend’ Singapore's Army Removes Violent Lyrics from Marching Song

The Falcon Company of the Singapore army. Image by cyberpioneer, Singapore Ministry of Defence, Flickr.

The Falcon Company of the Singapore army. Image by cyberpioneer, Singapore Ministry of Defence, Flickr.

The Singapore Armed Forces has banned the lyrics from the marching song Purple Light after a feminist group pointed out that it promotes sexual violence against women. The controversial verse of the song which is popular in the National Service makes reference to rape:

Booking out, see my girlfriend

Saw her with another man

Kill the man, rape my girlfriend

With my rifle and my buddy and me.

The army immediately responded to the complaint of the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE):

We understand that there have been some concerns about a ban on the popular marching song Purple Light because of an offensive verse. We would like to clarify that Purple Light has not been banned. However, steps have been taken to stop the offensive verse from being sung in the SAF, as it runs contrary to the values of our organisation and should not be condoned.

Aside from clarifying that the Purple Light song is not banned, the army also published the original version of the song:

Booking out, saw my girlfriend / Saw her with another man / Broken heart, back to Army / With my rifle and my buddy and me

The issue generated an intense online debate. Many people applauded the ban while others derided the ‘exaggerated’ reaction of feminist groups. AWARE addressed several of these criticisms:

Words are powerful. They shape social norms and our collective sense of what is acceptable. Our contention has never been that singing “rape my girlfriend” will by itself cause anyone to commit the deed. Rather, a society which treats mocking references to rape as entertainment then encourages rapists to view their acts as acceptable and causes rape victims to feel unsupported.

Typical, Really agreed that the song trivializes rape:

If singing about it “for fun” doesn’t trivialise rape, then what does? It’s worth keeping in mind that this is a song sung by thousands of men who don’t interact with anyone except other men for most of their waking hours for two years, and it’s very, very easy for even the most compassionate of people to lose sight of the humanity of those who aren’t actually in their sight.

Bay Ming Ching urged Singaporeans to fight patriarchy:

I seriously think that army misogyny does not just arise from the bottom; it is sponsored by state narratives on the in-viability of women's bodies to serve in the army and are more suited to stay at home and raise kids.

I see this as a minor victory for gender equality but I'm not celebrating because by banning the stupid verse, it doesn't address the root cause of the problem which is patriarchy.

I On Singapore appreciated the ban as a small step to change a culture which is biased against women:

National Service is a phase that all Singaporean men go through. It is important that the right values are instilled in young men while they are in service. In addition to values such as loyalty to country, leadership and discipline, effort should be made to instil respect for women as well.

Small steps like these help to shape culture and address wrong attitudes towards women at their root.

To sing songs with lyrics that advocate violence and sexual assault is an intrinsic wrong and deeply unbecoming of our young men. It is also deeply insensitive to victims of such sexual violence

Visa learned about the song during his National Service days and he supports the decision of the army to ban the controversial lyrics:

I served National Service (NS) too, I remember singing along to “kill the man, rape my girlfriend.”

To be honest, I didn’t think very much of it then. I was in a happy, healthy relationship, and rape just seemed too “far out” to possibly matter. Army boys joking about raping unfaithful girlfriends…it’s like girls joking about castrating unfaithful boyfriends, right? Harmless fun? Nobody gets hurt?

Not quite.

You see, Singaporean women do get raped. This happens way, way, WAY more regularly than most of us realise. We don’t often hear about this, because rape victims are silent and silenced. Many of us actually blame them for getting raped.

This isn’t a just-for-fun debate, we’re talking about something with real consequences, with real victims, with real pain and suffering.

But Benjamin Chiang is not quite happy with how AWARE raised the issue. He remembered how the song Purple Light inspired many soldiers:

Purple Light actually has rather moving lyrics. Crudness aside, after marching for 16km and singing these lyrics, I never felt more a soldier.

Purple Light,

At the warfront,

There is where,

My Buddy dies,

If I die,

would you bury me?

With my rifle and my buddy and me….

And when it comes to protecting our women, we will do so even if it means giving up our lives.

Think about that AWARE.

Darryl Kang insisted that the song does not normalize rape:

I respectfully disagree with AWARE. I think AWARE, and a lot of people, are reading too much into this song. It is just a song. A nonsense song that soldiers sing during marching and route march to take their mind off their tiredness. It means nothing.

Singing this song does not mean that the men tolerate and normalise the violent sexual abuse of women. It does not justify rape as a punishment for infidelity.

For goodness sake, it is just a song. By saying that this song normalise rape is like saying First Person Shooter game normlise killing. And if that is the case, then maybe we should ban all violent games. And don’t stop there. There are tons of movies and TV series that have rape or violence in the story line.

Is this the kind of nanny state that you want to live in? Is this going to do anything to solve the problem? Wake up!

Natalie KSL got frustrated with Facebook comments that criticize the decision to ban the lyrics:

I wouldn’t be upset if there were the occasional dissenting voice about freedom of speech and censorship. But it honestly scares me that the side supporting the use of the song overwhelms the other by a drastic amount.

It just makes me so incredibly sad.

via Global Voices » Feature

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Monday, November 18, 2013

China, Stop Calling All Uyghur Muslims Terrorists

Please don't put terrorist label on Uyghur people. Image from Flickr user @Todenhoff under CC: AT-SA

Please don't put terrorist label on Uyghur people. Image from Flickr user @Todenhoff under CC: AT-SA

Ethnic Uyghur Muslims are more and more often associated with the term “terrorist” in China. Local authorities and media outlets often define violent incidents in border regions where there is ethnic conflict related to a separatist movement, as terrorist activity. This official definition has turned random individual criminal acts into the collective responsibility of an ethnic minority and resulted in the labeling of its members as terrorist suspects.

The latest officially defined “terrorist case” happened on November 16 2013 in Xinjian Bachu county. Eleven people were killed in a police station, two were local police officers and nine were Muslim Uyghurs from Bachu county.

The Xinjiang local authorities quickly defined the incident as a violent terrorist attack and claimed that stability was effectively restored as the 9 violent assaulters were shot dead. However according to Radio Free Asia, people who surrounded the police station had managed to capture the young attackers alive while the police officers chose to shoot them dead on the spot. As all the witnesses aside from the police are dead, it keeps people wondering what had exactly happened inside the police station.

Chinese dissident Hu Ping raises a number of questions about the incident:

What is the nature of the November 16 Bachu incident? It doesn't look like a guerrilla attack as they didn't have an escape plan. As the attackers’ weapons such as axes and knives were so primitive and ineffective to hurt the police, it doesn't look like suicidal attack. The nature is clear then. @IIham_Tohti

In reply to Hu Ping, IIham Tohti, an Uyghur university professor stressed the need to revise the Chinese government's ethnic policy:

@HuPing1 What had happened there? What is the truth? Only crazy people would believe that they were terrorists. Similar incidents have happened so many times and we are yet to see any reflection. Nine people entered the police station to find death? The authorities cannot figure out how to prevent that from happening again. Till now there has been no reflection on ethnic policy.

A few months ago in April a similar ethnic clash happened in the same Bachu police station and the violence left 21 people dead, including 15 police officers and government officials. The incident was also defined as a terrorist assault.

Against the background of the establishment of a top-level national security committee (NSC), many believe that ethnic minorities in border areas would become the target of anti-terrorist security control. For example, Kai Lei, a media worker from pro-Chinese government newspapers Wenhui Bao urged the NSC to adopt a hard-handed policy in districts such as Bachu:


[Eradicate the terrorist soil in Bachu] The establishment of NSC has great significance in border security control. Should be more effective in cracking down on terrorists, separatist forces in border areas. Adopt preventive and hard-handed crackdown policies in those areas, such as Bachu, where terrorist assaults have taken place before.

Yet the definition of terrorist assault is highly problematic in China as anonymous writer from, “Little grand father_Aike” pointed out. The writer compared two sets of incidents in 2013 to indicate the arbitrary definition of violent terrorist assault. The June 7 Fujian bus station arson vs. October 28 Beijing Tiananmen Jeep cash incident and August 25 Chengdu hospital assault vs. November 16 Bachu police station assault.

The arson case in Fujian caused 47 dead and 34 injured and the police said it was committed by an angry and desperate individual and defined as a criminal case. The Beijing case resulting in 5 dead and 38 injured was defined an organized terrorist attack. Among the dead were the 3 Uyghur sitting inside the Jeep.

The writer pointed out that the very definition of the nature of the crimes has instigated different reactions to the criminals, in the first case people see it an individual act of insanity, but in the latter case an ethnic based organized terrorist act:

因为新闻媒体和司法机关的定性不同让数千万维吾尔族一起背上了恐怖分子的名声,作为中国人来说大家觉得公平吗?[…] 全中国现在一说到新疆不是谈虎色变而是嗤之以鼻,总体评论就是:杀光他们,赶出去、杀几个就老实了,忘恩负义等词汇,我想说的是媒体你们有没有良心?你们的操守去了哪里?你们对全国中国人民的误导难道不是犯罪?

Because of the media and judiciary definition of the crime's nature, millions of Uyghur have to bare the terrorist label. If we are all Chinese, do you think this is fair? […] Now all over the country, whenever people talk about Xinjiang, they change their tone of voice. In summary they would say: Kill them all, kick them out, kill them and they would be humble. They are just a bunch of ungrateful people. Where is the conscience and ethics of the media? Doesn't such kind of misleading [label] constitute a crime?

When comparing the Chengdu assault and the Bachu assault, even though the Chengdu one was well-planned and specifically targeted at the medical workers in the hospital, the case which resulted in 5 dead and 11 injured was defined a random act of individuals while the Bachu case was defined as a terrorist act and the 9 assaulters were shot dead on the spot.


[in the case of Chengdu] how come there isn't any ethnic reference and thug label? How come when similar incidents happen in Xinjiang, they have special treatment? How come Uyghur enjoy such special treatment. Sichuan also benefits from the Western Development Project but people there are not viewed as ungrateful beneficiaries of national policy who are good for nothing but creating chaos.

He urges the authorities to reflect on the ethnic policy and help the minorities to establish a positive image of the ethnic group:


China is a multiethnic country. In order for the state to establish its legitimacy, you have to help different ethnic groups to establish healthy and positive ethnic cultures and beliefs. I am a Uyghur, a Muslim and a Chinese. I spread a positive image for Xinjiang while I speak for Uyghur. I am not a thug, I am Chinese.

via Global Voices » Feature

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Why CNN is Getting Praise and Flak for its Philippine Storm Coverage

CNN's Anderson Cooper reporting from Tacloban, Philippines. Photo from CNN website

CNN's Anderson Cooper reporting from Tacloban, Philippines. Photo from CNN website

CNN was among the first global media teams which arrived in the Philippines to cover the destruction left behind by super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). Many Filipinos recognized the extensive reporting made by CNN during and after the storm hit the central part of the country.

Many also appreciated the arrival of CNN anchor Anderson Cooper who reported live from Tacloban City, the ground zero of the disaster.

Anderson cited the complaints of survivors about the slow delivery of relief and other forms of assistance from the government. Filipino journalist Gel Santos Relos believes Anderson was objective in his reporting:

I personally think Anderson and the reporters and experts have been objective in the way they have covered the situation in Leyte — pointing out the intensity and magnitude of Yolanda, the effect of storm Zoraida on relief operations, the challenges brought about by geography, etc.

CNN is not there to “demolish” the image of the Philippines. They are in fact helping our kababayans by reporting things as they see them, so the international community can respond accordingly.

But her colleague and media personality Korina Sanchez disagreed. She reportedly criticized Anderson in her radio show:

Itong si Anderson Cooper, sabi wala daw government presence sa Tacloban. Mukhang hindi niya alam ang sinasabi niya.

This Anderson Cooper, he said there is no government presence in Tacloban. It seems he doesn’t know what he is saying.

Many reacted strongly against Korina and accused her of being comfortable in a Manila office in contrast to the ground reporting of Anderson. The following day, Korina travelled to Ormoc City (another badly hit town of Leyte province) where she reported about the situation of typhoon victims.

Apparently, Anderson heard about the criticism of Korina. He defended the accuracy of his report and invited Korina to go to Tacloban:

Ms Sanchez is welcome to go there and I would urge her to go there. I don’t know if she has but her husband’s the Interior minister. I’m sure he can arrange a flight

Anderson was correct when he pointed out that Korina is the wife of Mar Roxas, the secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government and head of the ruling Liberal Party. Netizen reactions were mostly in favor of Anderson.

Meanwhile, Yasmin Arquiza cautions the public not to immediately accept reports made by ‘parachute journalists’:

The problem in reporting a disaster of this magnitude, stretching across a string of islands hundreds of kilometers apart from east to west, is that the stories often resemble the tale of the six blind men and the elephant – depending on who's touching which part of the animal, you'll get a different description each time. Most of the images have been distressing, and it's often hard to tell if the reports from parachute journalists – we haven't seen this many since the days of coup d'etats in these parts – are mostly anecdotal or very much reflective of the reality in the field, given the tendency of foreign correspondents to generalize situations at times.

Criticism should continue against the government’s slow relief operations, writes Professor Gerry Lanuza:

Without CNN Anderson Cooper's criticism of relief operation, Korina Sanchez would have not gone to Tacloban; without the victims complaining themselves, the government would have continued its failed response, without the vigilance and criticism against government bureaucracy the relief good would have been hijacked and used for political purposes.

Law professor Florin Hilbay tweets this reminder to reporters

Ayee Macaraig writes about the mixed reactions in the Philippines about the CNN coverage of the disaster:

CNN’s coverage of the typhoon has divided Filipinos on social media, with some praising the network for its extensive coverage and for calling out the Philippine government over the slow relief efforts. Others though criticized CNN for “parachute journalism” and for resorting to blaming the government instead of understanding the logistical problems involved.

Interestingly, there was a popular meme about the praise made by CNN about the ‘resiliency’ of Filipinos in the wake of the tragedy caused by Haiyan. But the ‘praise’ was actually a comment in a CNN article about the disaster.

A 'CNN comment' which went viral in the Philippines. Image from Filipino FreeThinkers website

A ‘CNN comment’ which went viral in the Philippines. Image from Filipino FreeThinkers website

Seekers Portal explains why many Filipinos believed in the ‘CNN photo’:

I believe that the reason why this “edited CNN photo” went viral was because, we Filipinos want to somehow alleviate the sufferings of our typhoon-and-earthquake-stricken countrymen, by sharing some encouragement.

But CNN did praise the Filipinos when Anderson left this message in his report yesterday:

They’re bowed perhaps, tired and traumatized, but they are not broken. Mabuhay Philippines, maraming salamat (thank you very much) for all you’ve shown us. Maraming salamat for showing us all how to live

As expected, Filipinos appreciated this remark

Meanwhile, some are not happy over the VIP treatment accorded by the government to the CNN news team. Some local media are accusing the office of the president of ‘babysitting’ CNN reporters.

via Global Voices » Feature

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Philippine Typhoon Survivors Ask: ‘Where is our Government?’

Resident of eastern Samar have set up temporary shelters after the storm. Image from Plan Philippines

Resident of eastern Samar have set up temporary shelters after the storm. Image from Plan Philippines

Six days have passed since super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) hit the central part of the Philippines but relief is not yet given to many survivors. Many dead bodies are still lying in the streets, refugees are begging for food, and rescue efforts are not reaching other remote islands of typhoon-ravaged provinces in the Visayas.

Haiyan caused a tsunami-like storm surge which killed thousands in an instant. The provinces of Leyte and Samar are among the most badly-hit areas with many villages reduced into wasteland. According to the latest official report, more than 2,000 have died but the casualties could be higher because many dead bodies have yet to be retrieved.

The frustration about the seemingly slow response of the government is reflected on social media:

Aid is pouring in from all over the world but there is no system for the effective distribution of these resources:

While Tacloban is considered the ‘ground zero’ of the disaster, other islands have been devastated as well and the situation there has not been adequately reported. Ayi Hernandez visited Capiz province and shares his observations:

Houses made of light materials was either flattened on the ground or was heavily damaged. Houses made of concrete materials survived the force but lost their rooof partially or totally. The damages were a bit distrubing when we entered the municipality of Ivisan.

Some families were setting up tents in the highway and maybe because most of the houses were made of light materials, the sight was heartbreaking.

With this kind of destruction, what kept us surprised was the seemingly absence of relief operation in those municipalities. There is no help flowing in.

Below are some photos in Samar, the province which was first hit by typhoon Haiyan:

Filipinos are grateful for the support given by many countries.

Image from Facebook of Jeffrey Cruz

Image from Facebook of Jeffrey Cruz

Ruffy Biazon, a government official, writes what he thinks should be done soon:

While the relief operations are ongoing and everyone is pitching in to lend a helping hand, there should be someone stepping back, taking a look at what has happened and study what went wrong, what should have been done and what to do to prevent the preventable, prepare for the inevitable and provide resources for the doable.

This should be done at the national level and most importantly, at the local level

via Global Voices » Feature

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Tunisian Rap Song Turns into an Anthem for Youth

On 14 September, Tunisian artists Hamzaoui Med Amine and Kafon released their newest song ‘Houmani'. With more than 3.4 million views on YouTube so far, the song has become an anthem for Tunisian Youth.

The video clip which only cost 250 dinars (around 150 USD) to produce, depicts residents of a disadvantaged neighborhood as they go through their daily lives.

In the Tunisian dialect, the adjective Houmani derives from the noun Houma, which could be translated to a ‘working-class district'.

Ahd Kadhem from Iraq explains the term Houmani [ar]:

حوماني: يعني يسكن بمنطقة شعبية والمنطقة الشعبية في تونس يسموها حومة . . . والرآب يتكلم على المناطق الشعبية إلي تجمع الطبقة الفقيرة من الشعب إلي نادر ما يذكرهم مسؤول أو شخصية مشهورة

Houmani refers to someone living in a working class area. A working class area in Tunisia is called Houma…And rap speaks about these districts inhabited by the poor class, which officials and famous personalities rarely talk about

An Alien listening to Houmani. Carticature by

An Alien listening to Houmani. Caricature by ZOOart

In the song, Hamzaoui and Kafon describe how life is like for youth living in working-class neighborhoods in Tunisia. The song lyrics say:

We are living like trash in a garbage can…[life] is suffocating here

Blogger Mehdi Lamloum explains howHoumani has been successful [fr]:

7oumani, une chanson simple, avec un titre étrange et un clip produit a peu de frais a créé des débats énormes ces dernières semaines…Et c’est ce qui est intéressant dans cette oeuvre. Elle est entrée rapidement dans la culture populaire en générant des conversations et débats sur plusieurs sujets…La question des quartiers populaires vs quartiers riches, même si elle n’est pas directement abordées dans la chanson, y est très présente. Une question a émergé a ce propos sur … qui a le droit d'écouter 7oumani?

Est-ce que les habitants des “quartiers riches”… ont le droit de s’identifier au quotidien que relate 7oumani?

Houmani, a simple song with a strange title and a video clip that did not cost much, has generated big debates these recent weeks.The song has quickly blended into the popular culture generating several conversations and debates…The issue of working class neighborhoods vs rich neighborhoods, though not directly tackled in the song, is very present. A question has been raised regarding this: who has the right to listen to Houmani? Do residents of ‘rich neighborhoods’ have the right to identify themselves with the everyday life recounted by Houmani?

He adds:

Ceux qui critique la chanson sur un point de vue musical ont parfaitement raison…

Mais ils devraient voir ce qu’il y a au-delà du morceau lui-même : une oeuvre qui a réussi a transcrire une partie de ce que ressentent les tunisiens, qu’ils viennent des quartiers populaires ou pas, qu’ils vivent le quotidien décrit ou pas…

Those who criticize the song from a musical perspective are totally right. But, they need to see what is beyond the piece: the work has succeeded in transcribing part of what Tunisians feel, whether they come from poor districts or not and whether they are living the everyday life described in the song or not…

via Global Voices » Feature

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