As we curate citizen videos from around the world, we not only learn about human rights issues that otherwise go untold. We also discover innovative ways activists are documenting abuse and using video for change.  In Venezuela, for instance, developers have created a mobile app for citizen journalists that adds metadata to photos, so that their footage can be trusted by third parties. Bookmark the WITNESS blog for more on the technology, ethics, and uses of citizen video around the world.

Here are highlights from recently featured videos on the channel: 


The attack on Kafr Zeita, Syria, late last week appeared to be the largest chemical weapons attack since the notorious strike in East Ghouta last August, judging from videos and other reports from the scene. However, it was by no means the first alleged instance of toxic agents being deployed in the Syrian War since an internationally brokered deal intended to remove the state’s chemical weapons stockpile. As the government and opposition forces blame each other for the attack, videos from local media groups of weaponsaircrafts, and the injured–predominantly children and infants–are being analyzed to piece together what weapons and toxic agents were used, and who was behind the attack.  

This week, we’re keeping our eyes on:


The government of Abdelaziz Bouteflika has worked for months to suppress criticism ahead of Thursday’s presidential election. A report released this week by Amnesty International outlines various human rights concerns in the country, including repression of peaceful protesters and independent media. We have already seen a TV channel shut down and a blogger and cartoonist imprisoned, making citizen and activist reports even more critical in documenting civil society. In our recent report on video activism in Algeria, we found that despite the danger facing reporters, and citizen journalists, many Algerians are willing to take the risk to film human rights abuses.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, where the state has matched increasingly bold online activism with arrests and imprisonment. In this 32-second video titled, “Letter to King Abdullah,” a young man complained that the kingdom squandered its budget, and neglected the needs of its people. The video, posted just before President Obama’s visit to Riyadh last month, was followed by other video testimonies of young Saudi men, speaking out in solidarity against corruption and other grievances. 

In an act of defiance to Saudi policies that restrict criticism of the king, each man ends his video showing his identification card, and stating his name. For that, Abdulaziz Mohammed Al-Dosari, the first “ID card critic” and others have been arrested and thrown in jail, but the videos have not let up. In the use of YouTube to express criticism and garner solidarity, the campaign resembles another one we have followed from Saudi Arabia since last year–a struggle to end the ban on women drivers

Central African Republic

The UNHCR last week reported on attacks on refugees in Cameroon by anti-Balaka militias. We’re monitoring the situation in CAR and refugee settlements in neighboring countries.

Western Sahara

The mandate for UN peacekeepers (MINURSO) in Western Sahara comes up for renewal later this month, and the opportunity brings to the fore calls for an expansion of MINURSO’s mandate to include human rights monitoring in the occupied territory. Last week Ban Ki-Moon expressed his support for human rights monitoring, though Moroccan authorities have repeatedly rebuffed such calls. Reports indicate that protests over the weekend in Western Sahara in support of human rights monitoring were violently suppressed by Moroccan forces. We’re on the lookout for videos of those protests, and anticipate more in the coming days and weeks.


The Democratic Voice of Burma reports that the arrival of troops to accompany census workers in Kachin State resulted in clashes with rebel groups. The violence caused many IDPs to flee once again, with some seeking sanctuary at the Burma-China border.

We’re nominated for a Webby

In case you missed it, the Human Rights Channel has been nominated for a Webby Award for the second consecutive year! If you appreciate the HRC’s curation and analysis of citizen videos, please take a moment to cast a vote for the Human Rights Channel for a Webby People’s Choice Award

More human rights citizen videos

The most recent citizen videos of human rights issues can always be found on our Citizen Watch and Watching Syria video playlists. Both are updated daily. You can also find the latest videos from Venezuela and Ukraine on our special playlists devoted to the ongoing conflicts in those countries.

Catch the latest citizen videos by following the Human Rights Channel on Twitter (@ythumanrights).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *