For most of us, the epicenter of video for change work that we’ve seen throughout 2011 has been in the Middle East and North African region (MENA). The Arab Spring has illuminated the reality of what “Cameras Everywhere” looks like, and what the power of instant video capturing and sharing can yield to inform and mobilize for truly incredible social change. All of us trying to harness the power of video to create change have a lot to learn from our MENA allies working on the front lines recording, remixing, curating and sharing human rights video.

As part of our one-year focus on MENA, WITNESS will host a convening next week with 23 of the region’s most innovative and prominent video activists from six countries in transition: Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt.

Most of our work at WITNESS is supporting and training human rights activists, groups and organizations through our partnerships, in-person trainings and via our new Video Advocacy Planning Toolkit.  However, this time we are returning to the region to mostly listen, learn and determine how best to share how these pioneers of the region are optimally using video – and how better to support the video for change community.

The convening will be a space for allies to train and learn collectively: to share what’s working, what’s not and to identify and prioritize actions that the video for change community, and even technology providers and media, could take to better support human rights activists using video. It is an unprecedented time for video advocacy, and we’re thrilled to be able to go a thriving region to learn, share and report-back as much as possible from the room.

But, before we go, I ask you one question: What would you ask the leading video activists in the MENA region?

Please list your questions — from safety and security issues and working with traditional media to filming tips and distribution —  in the comments and we’ll incorporate them into our discussions next week.

After the convening, I will write a blog series featuring:

  • Video Creation Best Practices & Needs
  • Video Editing and Distribution Best Practices & Needs
  • Social Media Best Practices & Needs
  • Safety and Security Best Practices & Needs
  • Another post that I’m confident will bubble-up while we’re there…

Please add your questions and comments below. And thanks!

5 thoughts on “What Do You Want to Learn from Video Activists in the Middle East and North Africa?

  1. I would be interested to know how they obtain the help of people in such a fearful environment. What is it that makes someone break out of their fears and into action?

  2. I’d love for you to ask activists what about Arabic rap and hip hop music.
    -What was hip hop’s role and influence in the recent Arab uprisings and revolutions?
    -What potential does it have to give young, dissident, and marginalized people in the Arab world an effective medium for social and political expression?
    -Who are their favorite hip hop artists (either Arab or Western)?
    -What does their parents’ generation think of hip hop? Do they even know much about it?


  3. I’ve been receiving emails from for at least a year now, and one area that’s nakedly missing from any mention on the site or in the emails is Palestine.
    Being an American citizen acutely aware of my nation’s highly skewed Middle East policy, I yearn for exposure of reality in Palestine. Everything I see in public media is whitewashed in regards to oppression in Palestine, as well as Yemen and Bahrain.
    I wonder why seems to avoid the same places? I see nothing here to offset strongly skewed national policy and media influence of the “news” in these regions. Instead I see the same propaganda my government espouses.
    I therefore have a tendency to delete any emails from as I see it as just another extension of the propaganda. I’m not saying my truth is the truth. I only state how it appears to me as an individual. And I wish for the same video feeds from Palestine, and Yemen, and Bahrain as there are in other oppressed areas.
    I feel it’s important to tell you that there’s something missing in your reporting if you sidestep the same nations (or occupied territories) that my government does in the name of imperialism.
    Oppressed people are oppressed people no matter who is the oppressor. Treat all with the same desire for light and I’ll treat as a truly authentic light in the world.

  4. Hello,

    Thanks for your e-mail.
    As a Belgian director and producer for Grizzly Films, I’m working on a webproject called “Connected Walls”, which intends to increase solidarity and and build capacities between separated communities. You can watch our trialer followinf this link:

    For the moment, we are working with our own budget, and we are trying to have contacts with local producers and directors, living along borderwalls in the West Bank, Israël, Morocco, the Spanish enclaves, the US and Mexico.
    In parallel, we are looking for NGO’s which could provide any kind of support (fundings, informations concerning the areas, and which could communicate our project through blogs, the press and social medias).
    Do you think you could help us out somehow? I’ve already met Kelly Matheson in Romania during the Esodoc seminar.
    She told me a lot about what you are doing.
    Thanks in advance for your help!
    Sebastien Wielemans

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