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Posts Tagged ‘Bassel Khartabil’

Bassel wins Index on Censorship Digital Freedom Award

March 21, 2013 Leave a comment

[This is a reprint of a press release sent out upon Bassel Khartabil's garnering the Index on Censorship Digital Freedom Award. Bassel is still imprisoned in Syria, and if you haven't yet done so, sign the letter of support at the bottom of this site.]

Palestinian-born Syrian software engineer Bassel Khartabil is the winner of this year’s Index on Censorship Digital Freedom Award, sponsored by Google. Khartabil is a free internet pioneer who has spent his career advancing open source technologies. On March 15, 2012, he was illegally imprisoned in Syria. His family were given no official information about why or where he was detained but have since learnt that he is being held at the security branch of Kafer Sousa, Damascus.

Index CEO Kirsty Hughes said, “Following courageous and peaceful protests in 2011, Syria descended into violence with appalling attacks on civilians across the country – and with over 60,000 people killed over the last two years. Up until his arrest last March, Bassel Khartabil bravely continued to work for a cause he passionately believes in – an open and free internet that is available to all. In a country torn apart by violence, he is a brave advocate for peaceful change.”

Bassel’s friend Dana Trometer, who is collecting the Index award on his behalf said, “Bassel deserves to be out of jail celebrating his real freedom and digital freedom. On this Mother’s day in most of the Arab World, and as a mother myself, my heart goes out to Bassel’s Mom. Bassel is a kind and gentle friend. A loving husband and son. He did not fear being targeted as he knew his love for Syria would save him from being persecuted by the authorities. Bassel is aware of this award and he would like to thank the judges and audience for trusting him with such an honour. He would also like to pay respect to all the victims of the struggle for freedom of speech, and, especially for those non-violent youths who refused to carry arms and deserve all the credit for this award.”

Another close friend of Bassel’s, Jon Phillips, stated, “Lock-up, Lock-out fails. Locking-up Bassel, only locks-out his personal freedom. By locking-up Bassel, his Syrian captors are accidentally locking-out themselves from the future. From launching Creative Commons Syria, building the Arabic Wikipedia and bringing Internet leaders to Syria, he knew that his free participation in global web communities required concrete contributions locally. For these acts would make Syria a better place. One year later, Bassel is under harsh lock-down. Now, thousands of people that Bassel’s work helped, now help him by spreading the message #FREEBASSEL. This is what truly builds Syria and connects it to the global connected future. This award proves that his lock-up, is NOT a lock-out of his digital freedom.”

Bassel is known worldwide for his strong commitment to the open web, teaching others about technology, and contributing his experience freely to help the world. Bassel is the inventor of an open source software that powers the Open Clip Art Library. He is an original contributor to the Arabic Wikipedia and launched Creative Commons Syria. He is well known in online technical communities as a dedicated volunteer to major Internet projects like Creative Commons, Mozilla Firefox, Wikipedia, Open Clip Art Library, and Fabricatorz.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang 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 individual consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Member of The Internet Defense League

Free Bassel, Mr. Ambassador

March 14, 2013 Leave a comment

A few days ago, when talk started about activities around observing the first anniversary tomorrow (March 15) of Bassel Khartabil’s imprisonment in Syria, I thought about what more could be done. First, let me be clear about this. I am not saying that the tireless work people have put in around the world has come up short. On the contrary: Clearly bringing Bassel’s plight to the forefront has gained momentum as an increasingly successful endeavor, which will become fully successful once he is given his freedom.

But I wondered if there wasn’t more that could be done.

Thinking back to my days as a peace activist in decades past (several decades past), I recalled petitioning various members of the U.S. Congress to advocate for our positions. The drill was simple: A “delegation” — the fancy term for a group of people representing a group or even themselves — would ask for time with a member of Congress and, in every case, end up speaking with an aide, and we would present a letter and a short outline of why we were there and ask for action to be taken.

So it occurred to me: Why not take the same steps with the Syrian embassy? Oh wait: The United States doesn’t have diplomatic relations with Syria, so there are no embassies or consulates to visit. However, which country is Syria’s most powerful ally which has diplomatic relations with the U.S.? That would be the Russian Federation which, conveniently for me, has a consulate in San Francisco.

As such, I’ve taken up the hospitality of the Mozilla Foundation in using Etherpad to draft a letter/talk to give to consuls and diplomats, should I or anyone else choose to meet with them. Meanwhile, I am looking for folks in the San Francisco area to join me in visiting the Russian Federation consulate sometime soon and present a letter seeking their help in urging the Syrian government to release Bassel.

Please help me write it: The etherpad is here and you’re welcome to submit your input.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang 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 individual consultancy that provides 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!

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