GCHR Iraq Mission: Human Rights Defenders and Journalists in Iraq: Challenges and Hopes

This is a part of the report was conducted on behalf of GCHR by the independent journalist Racha Abi Haidar who focused in her mission on the current situation of human rights defenders and journalists in Iraq.
Blogs and internet: two new cultures
Despite the significant role played by the internet and blogs in many Arab countries where they were used in the first place during the Arab spring revolutions, Iraq remained far away from this usage compared to those countries.
There must be many reasons for this, especially if we know that the internet entered fully and without restrictions Iraq in the year 2003. We can say that interest has increased today in the internet as well as the bloggers whose work spread especially with the beginning of the demonstrations that demanded the improvement of living conditions last year, 2011.

Human rights defender and blogger, Haidar Hamzouz, who was beaten up several times during his participation in the 2011 demonstrations, runs several web pages on "facebook" that look at 
the daily matters that are the talk of the people. He says that "the problem is that the blogger is not recognized by the police or government, and basically the government does not know the meaning of blogger, blogging or the internet, therefore the blogger is not protected," he added that “many bloggers were subjected to battering while covering demonstrations, plus all their tools were confiscated, like camera or a cell phone.”
Dina Najem, a female rights activist and blogger, said that for these reasons there is today a lawyer specializes in defending the bloggers after they established the “Iraqi Network for the Social Media” which is the bloggers' network.

This network carried out its first annual conference for the Iraqi bloggers under the motto of "a step of hope" in the city of Sulaymaniya in February, 2012 with the presence of 70 bloggers from different districts of Iraq, sponsored by the international media support (IMS), and they discussed the aspects of blogging movement in Iraq and how to activate it. 
Activist, Hamzouz, explained that according to the "facebook", there are one million and a half users to this social media tool in Iraq including 24% of females and 75% of males; their age ranges between 18 and 35 years old, and this numbers is so little. As for the "twitter", its users do not exceed the hundreds.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights


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