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Major international digital activism forum to take place in Palestine

December 19, 2017 at 2:17 pm

Palestine Digital Activism Forum 2018 flyer [7amleh – Arab Center for Social Media Advancement/Facebook]

A major international digital activism forum is set to take place in Palestine next month, with panellists to include representatives from Facebook and leading global organisations such as Oxfam, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Wikipedia.

Following the success of the first Palestine Digital Activism Forum, 7amleh – the Arab Centre for Social Media Advancement announced that a second Forum will take place on 17 January in Al-Bireh, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

According to organisers, the day-long event will aim “to provide a platform for discussions around issues affecting digital activism in Palestine and the wider international community”.

Panel discussions and Q&A sessions will “look at innovation in digital activism in Palestine; the protection of digital rights in the country and beyond; and global trends in digital activism.”

Specifically, organisers say, issues to be explored under these headings include “digital rights within a human rights framework; Israeli violations of Palestinian digital rights; Facebook’s policy of moderating content in conflict areas; and using video blogs for documentation.”

Palestinian “movers and shakers” will be joined by Aibhinn Kelleher (Facebook), Farah Mustaklem (Levant Wikimedia User Group), Omar Shakir (Human Rights Watch), Dr. Issam Abdeen (Al-Haq), Mahmoud Hassan (Addameer) and Matthias Spielkamp (AlgorithmWatch).

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Nadim Nashif, 7amleh’s executive director, said: “Recent global events, and those closer to home in Palestine, have made it clear that we need to be more proactive in fighting for and claiming our rights. The digital world provides opportunities to think outside the box when it comes to traditional activism but we need to work together to be as effective as possible”.

He continued: “7amleh’s second Palestine Digital Activism Forum will bring leading experts and practitioners from all over the world together to share best practice and, crucially, to discuss key issues and developments affecting digital activism and digital rights in Palestine that have implications for the wider international community.”

Omar Shakir, Human Rights Watch Israel and Palestine director, said he looked forward to the event.

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“Recent years have seen all authorities on the ground, including Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, arrest Palestinians based on social media posts and otherwise use the digital space to restrict rights. This forum provides a needed space to grapple with these pressing challenges and consider how best to safeguard the rights to free expression, privacy and protection of data.”

7amleh describes itself as “a non-profit organisation aimed at enabling Palestinian and Arab civil society to effectively utilise tools of digital advocacy through professional capacity building, defending digital rights and building influential digital media campaigns.”