In the wake of the killings of French cartoonists last week, international attention has focused on free speech. In many countries it is not terrorists but the government itself which seeks to repress the opinions it disagrees with. Last week, Saudi Arabia took punitive measures against a blogger charged with insulting Islam–punishment captured on video. Also this week, citizen journalists in the Nuba Mountains report that December was the most violent month in the war in South Kordofan, and the anniversary of Haiti’s devastating quake is marked with a protest against political gridlock.
Blogger Flogged for “insulting Islam” in Saudi Arabia
Last May, a Saudi Arabian activist and blogger, Raif Badawi, was convicted of founding an online forum for public debate and insulting Islam. Despite international outrage, Badawi was publicly flogged outside of a mosque last Friday, part of a sentence that also includes jail time and a hefty fine. According to Amnesty International, his sentence of 1,000 lashes will be carried out every Friday for 20 weeks.
Despite the warning from authorities to that “cellphone use is prohibited,” at least one witness captured a glimpse of Badawi’s punishment in the video above.
Most Violent Month of War in Sudan
In the Nuba Mountains in the southern border region of Sudan, the government has waged a bombing campaign against civilian communities it accuses of supporting a rebel militia. According to Nuba Reports, more than 450 bombs, rockets and artillery shells were dropped on civilian targets in December–the highest number since the war began.
This video contains striking footage of civilians hiding behind boulders while bombs fall on the horizon, an interview with a field commander of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA-N), and civilian victims of the bombing.
Boko Haram Attack in Northeast Nigeria
Nigeria is still asking questions about a horrific attack by Boko Haram last week. How many were killed, and what has happened to those who did not escape? Clear answers are hard to find, in part because of the danger of going to the region, and also due to the Nigerian government’s pattern of downplaying terrorist activity. But testimony from those who escaped help paint a picture of last week’s attack. “I saw five bodies, three women and two children,” one survivor told France 24’s The Observers. “I heard that women and children in particular were killed in large numbers. With their rocket launchers, they killed a lot of people who just weren’t fast enough to run away in time.” Click here for more of this witness’s account, as well as eyewitness images from the town of Maiduguri where many have fled.
Political Unrest in Haiti
As Haiti marked the 5 year anniversary of the devastating earthquake, Haitians expressed frustration with the political deadlock that has kept the country from holding elections in three years. On Sunday, critics of President Michel Martelly protested outside Parliament, calling for his resignation.
But two days later, the Haitian parliament was dissolved, leaving Martelly to rule by decree.
And for resources on citizen video verification and curation, visit the Human Rights Channel’s website.