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Wed Aug 28, 2013, 01:24 PM

A Tribute to Chelsea Manning from Tunisia

This is a fantastic article written by Tunisian activist Sami Ben Gharbia

Chelsea Manning and the Arab Spring

What we call the Arab Spring was the result of many seemingly small things, butterfly effects. One of them was a courageous woman named Chelsea Manning. If the U.S. will take 35 years from Chelsea Manningís life, may it console her that she has given us, Arabs, the secret gift that helped expose and topple 50 years of dictatorships.

For me, it all started in mid-October of 2010, with a direct message on Twitter from a good friend of mine. He belonged to a circle of digital activists with whom I worked closely with for years on many advocacy projects in the Arab World, from anti-censorship strategies and campaigns to building and training non-violent protests movements. In that DM he urgently asked me to speak over encryption with him. After one single OTR chat session, he sent me an encrypted zip file containing a trove of around 400 texts files organized in about 15 folders. All the folders were named after Arab countries: Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Morocco, Bahrain, etc. I didnít know what was in them. He told me just before ending the chat session: do something with them, I trust you and trust your knowledge and judgment.

At that time I was based in Berlin, after having to flee my home in Tunisia 13 years before to avoid becoming a political prisoner. I had a position as Advocacy Director at Global Voices, a non-profit that supported international citizen media. That gave me the freedom to choose where I lived; I just needed a laptop and a good Internet connection. Iíd also co-founded nawaat.org seven years earlier, a collective political blog focused on Tunisia, and censored in Tunisia by the government of Ben Ali.

I went out with my laptop and sat on the terrace of Morena cafe in the anti-establishment and counterculture neighborhood Kreuzberg. By then, I was one of a handful of people on the planet who had access to this sensitive dataset. I jumped into Tunisiaís folder, opened the first file and lit a cigarette, then the second file, the third, and the rest of the thirty files related to my country, with almost the same number of cigarettes. It was the Wikileaks U.S. State Department Cables, widely known as Cablegate, with all the political scandals, nepotism, and corruption of the disgraced Ben Ali regime. I didnít have time to read the other Arab countriesí files. I knew I had in front of me a valuable set of documents that could be turned into action. This is what we were looking for during the last decade of strategizing and theorizing about citizen dissent media, diaspora media, exiled media, digital activism: the ability to inform and transform. This was momentum.


https://medium.com/republic-of-tunisia/1907fec77df1

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Reply A Tribute to Chelsea Manning from Tunisia (Original post)
Luminous Animal Aug 2013 OP
WillyT Aug 2013 #1
Little Star Aug 2013 #2
Luminous Animal Aug 2013 #3
Luminous Animal Aug 2013 #4
Catherina Aug 2013 #5

Response to Luminous Animal (Original post)

Wed Aug 28, 2013, 01:26 PM

1. K & R !!!

 


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Response to Luminous Animal (Original post)

Wed Aug 28, 2013, 01:26 PM

2. k&r

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Response to Luminous Animal (Original post)

Wed Aug 28, 2013, 02:48 PM

3. Kick

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Response to Luminous Animal (Original post)

Wed Aug 28, 2013, 04:14 PM

4. Kick

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Response to Luminous Animal (Original post)

Wed Aug 28, 2013, 05:59 PM

5. Closing a cell door on a prisoner with a free mind has opened a thousand and one doors

...

A week before the start of the Arab Spring, the Lebanese Al-Akhbar website was hacked by a group supporting the Saudi regime as retaliation for the stories they ran about the cables. As the revolutionary spirit spread, so did a cyber war of propaganda, DDoS attacks, hacking, threats and arrests of activists across the Middle East. The target of that war was the information in the cables and the carriers of that information, people and infrastructure. But despite the efforts to shut the information down, dictatorships started to fall, one after the other.

But it had to start somewhere, and the release of the cables started with Private Chelsea Manning, alone in the Iraqi desert. She, like Assange and Snowden and many less famous and mostly anonymous activists, are the deities of a new mythology that no prison can ever detain. The battle for a transparent and accountable world is spreading, despite all the measures of repression and surveillance. Itís being carried by a worldwide movement exposing secrecy, corruption and human rights abuses, for which Chelsea Manning will be an inspirational and iconic figure, as free as her ideas and dreams while her body is behind walls and bars. After she was sentenced to 35 years in prison Chelsea Manning said in her statement that ďSometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society.Ē I donít know if she knows that she helped us, in this part of the world, to move toward that noble goal. Closing a cell door on a prisoner with a free mind has opened a thousand and one doors for a free society.


Everywhere US officials travel, we need to publicly hound them with demands to "Free Chelsea Manning". Enough people are sick of the hypocrisy and vindictiveness towards people like Chelsea and Snowden who were naive enough to take that "free society" "democracy" shit seriously while politicians the world over twist those words for their sick exploitation of people.

Edit: Thank you for posting this! A HUGE REC! And a huge hurrah for Chelsea!

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