Category: News

Social Media is a gift to us, Father. Luis Tony Okot ,#defyhatenow

cultural dance #defyhatenow

I am Maura Ajak, I report on gender-based violence in South Sudan

South Sudan will be rebuilt by the South Sudanese people. Everyone is passionate about building a little piece of their South Sudan and impacting the country in their own little big way.

This is the first article in our “I #defyhatenow “series. we will be featuring South Sudanese citizens talking about their daily lives and how they defy hate and opt for peace through their work. 

We caught up with the courageous Maura Metbeni Paul Luigi Ajak, an award-winning reporter working for The Catholic Radio Network in Juba, South Sudan.

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Here is our chat:

Have you lived in South Sudan all your life?

I was born in Wau but I grew up in Khartoum, Sudan. I came back to South Sudan in 2008.

I started my studies in Khartoum, where I did both my primary and secondary school certificate at  Combonian Catholic Schools.

What inspired you to become a journalist?

I have witnessed a lot of gender-based violence. I have heard of massive rape done by uniformed men where women/girls are randomly raped by two or three men at a go. Underage girls between the ages of 11-15 are gang raped like they are toys to play with. They lose their innocence and are scarred for life because of such experiences. Being a woman in South Sudan I knew I had a voice and an opportunity and I knew I wanted to tell these stories, so that maybe someone can help. It was my way of helping my fellow women.

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I also happen to speak both English and Arabic which helps in communication and reporting.

Tell me a gender-based violence experience you have witnessed.

One time, early in the morning at around 6:30 AM I heard a woman screaming, “HE WILL KILL ME, HE WILL KILL ME” I dressed in a hurry and I rushed outside. I found a husband beating his wife with a black leather belt, at first I thought it was the guy who sells water as the whips sound similar when applied to a donkey. Looking closer I saw a woman wailing and a man hurling insults at her while beating her, as the men surrounding them watched laughing and encouraging the husband.

Our neighbor grabbed the leather belt and shouted at him to stop it. That’s when everyone left in a hurry. As a woman there was nothing I could do to stop him. I stood there and painfully watched because if I dared to interfere I would be harassed endlessly but it was painful to stand by.

Has someone been violent towards you directly?

Not physically, just verbally and mostly from men. I think for just being a woman with a job and also being a journalist is enough to warrant some form of violence here.

Most of your work is based on human rights and transparency issues and South Sudan, why is that?

I am a woman and most of the cases concerning human rights violations involve women being abused in one way or another. Not many people want to talk about these issues but they need to be told openly to the world.

Underage girls and women who are gang raped need someone to tell their stories to, even if it’s anonymously. I had a case where a girl had been brought to the hospital by the Bishop. She had been gang-raped; her clothes were soiled and bloody. Her body was swollen; she was crying and was inconsolable. I was so angry and bitter with the world. If I was alone I might have punched the air to release the tension but I remained calm because I had to do the story and give that girl strength.

 

What challenges do you face because of your work?

It can be scary especially in South Sudan but I like my work so I always ensure I get my information from trusted sources to avoid complications. It’s also hard to gather sensitive information, especially when it is fresh so I give it time to cool down then I start digging for information afresh.

Maura Ajak

You have been recognized and awarded for your reporting on transparency and gender issues in South Sudan;  how did that feel and what does this award mean to you?

I really felt honored, it is a lift up stage for me to do more as a human rights defender. The award has given me the courage to bring up the unheard voices In terms of issues that considered a taboo in some communities.

 

 

 

What are your hopes for journalism in South Sudan?

I hope we have an institution where journalists can gather and get updates on the happenings routinely. I also hope we have a space where human rights issues and sensitive issues e.g conflicts and gender-based violence can reported with the openness they deserve.

How do you think  South Sudanese nationals can use social media to defy hate and preach peace?

We should feel free to share our experiences in a way that impacts the world positively. Childhood stories, old stories from our ancestors and day to day stories showing the progress and steps we have made as a country. These stories would help to achieve peace by creating awareness about the consequences of war.

What would you tell anyone reading this?

No one thrives in war. Most people love peace and peace begins with you and me. Let’s not incite each other and especially with this era of social media let’s thrive to preach peace. #defyhatenow

 

 

This interview was conducted & written by Kendi Gikunda  . The opinions expressed in this article are the Interviewee’s own and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of #defyhatenow.

Countering Social Media as a Weapon in South Sudan

Hate Speech in South Sudan: Social Media as a Weapon of War

PeaceTech Lab, 03 May 2017

In 2016 PeaceTech Lab conducted research to better understand the connection between online hate speech and violence on the ground in South Sudan. The Lab created a lexicon of hate speech terms and monitored social media in support of local initiatives combating hate speech.

What’s the connection between online hate narratives and violence on the ground in South Sudan? How do we begin to understand those connections?

PeaceTech Lab Lexicon of Hate Speech Terms combines cutting-edge social media analysis with in-country expertise to identify both the terms likely to incite violence, and their social and political context. The Lexicon also identifies alternative language that would mitigate the impact of this speech.

The goal of this research is to inform organizations and individuals combating hate speech and building peace in South Sudan, as well as to raise awareness among social media users on the dangers of specific inflammatory language.

Hate Speech Lexicon in South Sudan

‘El Pais’ article by Gloria Pallares, 11 April 2017
Translated by Johanna Schnitzler

Social Media fuels war in a country on the brink of genocide. The Hate Speech Lexicon is the first to identify the terms used to incite violence.

[READ FULL ARTICLE]

There are words that kill. In the case of South Sudan, social media has emerged as a new source of ethno-political conflict. According to the United Nations and international experts, South Sudan is at the brink of genocide and has been plagued with famine throughout the region this year. Ethnic conflict has erupted since December 2013 amongst parties that are aligned with President Salva Kiir of the Dinka tribe, against those aligned with Former Vice President Riek Machar, of the Nuer tribe. Although South Sudan is among the world’s least developed countries and about 70% of its population is illiterate, hate speech and fake news disseminates through the internet and spreads violence to regions that don’t even have electricity. Local and international organizations have responded to the gravity of situation through their work. One result of this collective effort is the Lexicon of Hate Speech Terms which is the first of its kind to identify the vocabulary used to incite violence of social media.

#defyhatenow #anataban #peace4all #SouthSudan #PeaceTechLab

re:publica & GIG, Berlin

Dear Friends,

We’d love to welcome you to our second annual r0g_agency ‘Meet ‘n Greet’ at our new location in Charlottenburg! We’ll take the opportunity to introduce three of our project colleagues from South Sudan, our guests at a series of events including the 11th edition of re:publica, Global Innovation Gathering (GIG), and the 1st Berlin Offline Camp…

Achol Jok Mach
#defyhatenow project manager and cultural podcaster

Jaiksana Amarüda José
cultural activist, songwriter and open tech community trainer

Hakim George Hakim
freelance photo-journalist, film maker and social media activist

Thursday May 4th, 2017
18.00 – 22.00

r0g_agency for open culture and critical transformation gGmbH
Knobelsdorffstrasse 22
14059 Berlin-Charlottenburg

The evening will feature a special sneak preview screening of ZAWAJA GALI (‘Marriage is Expensive’) the new film by Sam Lukudu and Cont de Monk, starring Joyce Maker, shot and produced entirely on location in Juba, South Sudan!

re:publica 2017

Monday May 8, @ 19.45 – 20.45 (Stage 2)

Since gaining independence in 2011 the Republic of South Sudan has become embroiled in a protracted civil conflict claiming thousands of lives and displacing over a million people. When violent clashes between government and opposition forces erupted in the capital Juba on the eve of its fifth anniversary in July 2016 the role played by social media in stoking violence, fear and ethnic hatred came to the fore. Initiatives such as #defyhatenow, working with local communities to identify and mitigate social media hate speech, along with the surveying and monitoring of ethnic hate terminology by the Peace Tech Lab seek to create mechanisms to curb conflict rhetoric as urgent peace-building measures.

Wednesday May 10, @ 10.30 – 11.00 (Stage 2)

Clemantine Wamarya and Achol Jok Mach are honoring this year´s theme “Loving out Loud” by defining what love might be in respect for oneself, for community, for country and for the world; discussing the importance of being aware of what is in our way of loving outloud as opposed to hating in silence, rooted in their personal lived experience.

Global Innovation Gathering (GIG) 2017

GIG Makerspace & Program @ re:publica

The Global Innovation Gathering (GIG), a sub-conference developed by re:publica, brings together innovation hub managers, makers, hackers and entrepreneurs from across the world. In the last four years GIG has become a central part of the conference programme, showcasing tech innovation and maker projects from Asia, Africa and Latin America. At re:publica 2017 GIG will come together for its fifth annual gathering; its members will take over the #rp17 stages on numerous occasions during the three re:publica days and GIG will host a pop-up Makerspace together with the FabLab Berlin.

2017 GIG is taking place in collaboration with the StartHubs Asia Berlin project, initiated by the City of Berlin, and GIZ. Over 20 different nationalities will be hosting talks and workshops ranging from using the open-source software Ushahidi for reporting extra judicial killings in the Philippines, to open citizen data projects in Indonesia, Columbia and Brazil, and self-made ISPs in the Amazon jungle. The programme also covers current and global political developments and discusses various issues such as the prevailing debate on online hate speech and how to mitigate it, in particular in conflict regions such as South Sudan.

#defyhatenow
#zawajagali
#Peace4ALL

Online hate speech and incitement is on the rise in South Sudan

Published on Jan 1, 2017 on Al Jazeera English

Online hate speech and incitement is on the rise in South Sudan – running parallel with an increase in tension from the country’s civil war. Social media users are increasingly facing threats after posting online. It’s part of a bigger problem with the United Nations warning it could lead to mass atrocities.
Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan reports from Juba

خطاب الكراهية والتحريض على الانترنت آخذ في الارتفاع في جنوب السودان بالتوازي مع زيادة التوتر بسبب الحرب الأهلية في البلاد ، ويواجه مستخدمي وسائل التواصل الاجتماعى على نحو متزايد تهديدات بعد النشر على الانترنت، انها جزء من مشكلة أكبر والتى تحذر الأمم المتحدة  من أنها قد تؤدي إلى الفظائع الجماعية

تقرير هبة مورغان، الجزيرة من جوبا

 

 

 

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