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Happy Birthday, Bassel

May 22, 2014 Leave a comment

Today marks 799 days that Bassel (Safadi) Khartabil has been detained by the Syrian government. It is also his 33rd birthday today, and as this EFF article — one of many good ones floating around today — aptly points out, “Bassel has not been able to write code, or tweet, or hug his family, or do any of the other things that he should have been doing over the past few years.”

A recap: On March 15, 2012, Bassel was detained in a wave of arrests in the Mazzeh district of Damascus, Syria. As I wrote back some time ago, Bassel is the project leader for an open source web software called Aiki Framework. He is well known in online technical communities as a dedicated volunteer to Creative Commons, Mozilla Firefox, Wikipedia, Open Clip Art Library, Fabricatorz, and Sharism.

The EFF link above can guide you to some valuable resources in finding out more and/or particpating in helping to make the wider public aware and to ultimately work to free Bassel.

Bassel has contributed much to the FOSS paradigm, and we look forward to the day when he can continue.

He’s one of us.

Let’s get Bassel back home to his loved ones, so he can resume his life and, once he’s ready, let’s get him coding again.

[P.S. -- An afterthought, because I'm not tooting my own horn, surprisingly: A while ago -- maybe a year -- there was a move to have people fast on behalf of Bassel's plight. The link is no longer active, but I still fast on Fridays.]

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy, Fosstafarian, Larry the Korora Guy, and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software in his home office as a consultant providing FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Eliminate DRM!

A fast for Bassel

December 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Many of you who know me know that — how can I put this tactfully? — I’m a bit on the rotund side. More specifically, I’m a little short for weight; short by about, oh, at least a foot or so. I weigh about the same as most power forwards in the NBA but lack the height they have. You get the picture.

I bring this up because supporters of Bassel Khartabil (also known as Bassel Safadi), who have been working tirelessly to have him freed from a Syrian jail, have come up with a one-day fast for people to do to raise awareness of Bassel’s plight. I fasted on Friday and will do so each Friday going forward until Bassel is freed. It’s not hard: For me, I just get a gallon of purified water and drink that throughout the day (sorry, but I can’t not have water, my age being what it is and all that).

The schedule, if you want to participate, can be found here. Incidentally, I can’t seem to mark each subsequent Friday on the schedule for some reason, but I’ll be fasting anyway.

Al-Jazeera has done a very good piece on the fast, and on Bassel’s plight, here. In addition, Foreign Policy Magazine calls Bassel one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers in 2012.

A recap from the July blog item: On March 15, 2012, Bassel was detained in a wave of arrests in the Mazzeh district of Damascus, Syria. As I wrote back in July, Bassel is the project leader for an open source web software called Aiki Framework. He is well known in online technical communities as a dedicated volunteer to Creative Commons, Mozilla Firefox, Wikipedia, Open Clip Art Library, Fabricatorz, and Sharism.

Since Bassel’s arrest, his family has received no official explanation for his detention or information regarding his whereabouts. However, his family has recently learned from previous detainees at the security branch of Kafer Sousa, Damascus, that Bassel is being held at this location.

As updated on the Free Bassel site, “Bassel has been transferred from a civilian (Adra) to a Military Field Court, which denies him a lawyer and witnesses. This is bad. Please act now.”

Also, this from Amnesty International paints a bleak picture of Bassel’s current plight, but provides information about who to contact with messages to leaders to appeal for Bassel’s freedom.

Bassel contributes much to the FOSS paradigm. He’s one of us. Let’s get Bassel back home to his loved ones, and let’s get him coding again.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Eliminate DRM!

Free Bassel Khartabil

July 15, 2012 4 comments

Forgive me for being a little late with this, but it’s a matter of grave importance that needs your attention and action, if you haven’t acted on it already.

On March 15, 2012, Bassel Khartabil (also known as Bassel Safadi) was detained in a wave of arrests in the Mazzeh district of Damascus, Syria. Bassel is the project leader for an open source web software called Aiki Framework. He is well known in online technical communities as a dedicated volunteer to Creative Commons, Mozilla Firefox, Wikipedia, Open Clip Art Library, Fabricatorz, and Sharism.

In short, Bassel contributes much to the FOSS paradigm. He’s one of us.

Since Bassel’s arrest, his family has received no official explanation for his detention or information regarding his whereabouts. However, his family has recently learned from previous detainees at the security branch of Kafer Sousa, Damascus, that Bassel is being held at this location.

A side note: Human Rights Watch outlines what’s happening in Syria in an interactive map here. This does not bode well for Bassel being detained, incommunicado, for the last four months, and adds geometrically to the urgency of this matter.

EFF is on it, as is the Mozilla Foundation’s Mitchell Baker, who wrote this piece on her blog. C|Net Donna Tam also wrote an article here outlining the situation.

Now it’s your turn.

If you haven’t done so already, visit http://freebassel.org, read up and sign the letter of support. The facebookers among you can go here to do the Facebook thing.

Hashtag for Twitter/identi.ca: #freebassel

Wait. You’re not finished yet.

This is not a criticism of the great work these organizations do, but the International Committee of the Red Cross and Human Rights Watch unfortunately don’t take up the cause of freeing imprisoned individuals — I would be happy to be wrong about this, if someone knows who to contact in these organizations. However, I did find a contact address for a program at Amnesty International called Eyes on Syria which, in effect, is taking names. There’s a link on that page, “Tell Us,” that provides an address to drop them a line.

I wrote the following to Amnesty International and I would urge others to write to AI in your own words (copying my message and sending it as your own is spamming, and I do not encourage that) something along the following lines:

+start+

Dear Amnesty International –

I am writing on behalf of Bassel Khartabil, a free/open source software developer in Syria who has been arrested and detained since March in Damascus. Bassel has been instrumental in various open source software projects like Creative Commons (www.creativecommons.org), Mozilla Firefox (www.mozilla.org), Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org), Open Clip Art Library (www.openclipart.org), Fabricatorz (www.fabricatorz.com), and Sharism (www.sharism.org).

On March 15, 2012, Bassel Khartabil was detained in a wave of arrests in the Mazzeh district of Damascus. Since then, his family has received no official explanation for his detention or information regarding his whereabouts. However, his family has recently learned from previous detainees at the security branch of Kafer Sousa, Damascus, that Bassel is being held at this location.

More information on Bassel can be found at http://freebassel.org/ which is a Web site set up to help free Bassel.

Ultimately, my hope is that Bassel is freed as soon as possible, and like many in the free/open source software community concerned about his well-being, I am very troubled that he has been held incommunicado for four months. I hope Amnesty International can bring some of the facts of his detention to light, and ultimately can assist in freeing
Bassel.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,
Larry Cafiero
Felton, California, USA

+end+

Now let’s get Bassel back home to his loved ones, and let’s get him coding again.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Eliminate DRM!

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