Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Social Network - a powerful tool in the hands of the opposition

The well-known Iranian blogger Mehdi Mohseni advises Belarusian activists for support of the population clearly identify their goals.
Can the lessons from the Belarusian opposition organizers of mass protests in Iran and North African countries? . During the mass riots in 2009 in Iran, he has used social networks and blogs to spread information about what is happening in the country. Fleeing from repression, Mohseni was forced to leave Iran. He currently lives in Germany.

- As the Belarusian activists can draw more attention to their protests?.

- Organizers of the protests to gain the support of the population. This requires a strong political movement with a huge will to change. Should be designated purpose of demonstrations and formulated the main demand of activists. For example, in 2009 during mass unrest in Iran, we focused on the legal situation and the conduct of fair elections. For example, if now there are political prisoners in Belarus, it is possible to organize a campaign for their release.

It is important that this idea was supported by the broad masses. If people can be mobilized, and they will come to a peaceful demonstration, we can go further: to demand democracy, fair elections, economic reforms. The general public should understand what the activists are making, calling them to protest. If the opposition is fragmented, and the requirements are unclear, people will not understand what kind of alternative to the existing power they offer organizers of the protests, and will not support them.

- How to activists who use the Internet to mobilize like-minded people can protect themselves from the tyranny of the authorities?.

- This is a very serious matter. In Iran, the Internet activists are systematically persecuted by the authorities. If you do not install on your computer protection, the security services can easily crack the e-mail, delete important documents, find compromising information. Therefore it is better to switch to mail services with a secure protocol https, to hide the IP- address to use VPN-connection, and after reading immediately delete important messages.

- And how important is for the protest movement of the English language?.

- It is very important. An effective information campaign in the English language works on the principle of a snowball, thanks to her about the situation in Belarus can be found all over the world. In addition, I would suggest to translate important messages, not only in English but in Arabic or other languages ​​common. It is also important to have on hand phones newsrooms of major media companies like CNN, Deutsche Welle, BBC, Al Jazeera. Still it is possible to seek technical support from international NGOs. Belarusian activists could seek help and non-governmental sector in Russia and CIS countries, especially since they have a common language of communication.

- What role in bringing international attention to the protests can play the video?.

- Judging by the events in Iran, it is safe to say that video, documenting, for example, the use of force against demonstrators, can play a crucial role. To download these files, make better use of servers located outside of the country. Belarusian activists can open a separate channel on Youtube and post their stories there. In the major TV companies have employees that are specifically track such videos to use them to cover the protests.

- Should the Belarusian activists actively use Facebook and Twitter?.

- Through Facebook users can get support from different corners of the planet. Enough to write one or two posts a day in English. The possibility of real-time to learn first hand about the events in such a closed country like Belarus, there is rarely an online community that, for sure, be interested in.

As Twitter to describe the most important, it is important to use not more than three or four hash tags. So subscribers will be easier to monitor the situation. For example, if a protest is scheduled for July 25, it is not necessary to create a hash of it a separate tag. It is best to publish these reports under the tag of a more general nature, such as. Otherwise, the user choking the flow of information and miss important news.