There was an interesting article in today’s New York Times about how important cellphones are in Iraq, not just for communication, but as a tool for self expression. Iraqis use their cellphones to pass around viral videos that poke fun at the Iraqi government, the US military, and energy shortages among other things.
Here’s how cellphones are being used in a Human Rights context:
For human rights workers in Iraq, cellphones play a darker role. Omar al-Jabouri, who heads the human rights office for the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party, said he often received pictures of men tortured or killed by death squads, many of them taken with the cellphones of witnesses or the victims’ relatives. At bombings, Iraqis are often seen recording the carnage in pictures or short videos.
Cellphone technology seems to be relatively affordable:
The prices the phones command are rather high for Iraq, of course. But with a booming aftermarket in cellphones, people can sell their old ones for nearly the original price and move up to a fancier model. Service is relatively cheap, with most people relying on $10 and $20 prepaid cards rather than the more expensive monthly plans.
Here’s a link to some popular Iraqi viral videos.