bassel safadi

Show your support for imprisoned CC community leader Bassel Khartabil

Elliot Harmon, May 21st, 2014

Bassel
Kalie Taylor / CC0 / Download all posters

If you follow this blog with any regularity, you’re likely already familiar with Bassel Khartabil, the Syrian CC community leader who has been in imprisoned since March 2012 without having had any charges brought against him. Thursday, May 22, is Bassel’s birthday, and the third birthday he’ll be spending in prison. This Saturday, he will have been in prison for 800 days.

Today, join CC and the open community in honoring our friend Bassel:

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Free Bassel Day

Elliot Harmon, March 15th, 2014

#FREEBASSEL
#FREEBASSEL / Kennisland / CC BY-SA

As of today, CC Syria community leader Bassel Khartabil has been in prison for two years. Today, we join the worldwide open community in honoring Bassel and insisting that he be freed.

Amnesty International and Front Line Defenders have produced this excellent video about why Bassel’s story is important to our community, featuring interviews with CC co-founder Lawrence Lessig and the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Jillian York.

“Bassel could have gotten out, but he chose to stay. And that decision was very costly for him, and it was an important decision for us. It symbolized his commitment to making this democracy possible, and to continuing the work to spread that message. And we owe him for that, and we have an obligation to do as much as we can to keep the world aware of this incredible person.” – Lawrence Lessig

In honor of Free Bassel Day, our friend Niki Korth has compiled a cookbook in honor of Bassel, featuring recipes submitted by people who know Bassel or are involved with the #freebassel campaign. You can read the cookbook online or download a PDF (469 KB).

Niki is planning to release a Version 2 of the cookbook, so it’s not too late to submit a recipe.

We honor Bassel today and look forward to the day he is freed.

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Join us in San Francisco for Free Bassel Day

Elliot Harmon, March 7th, 2014

Bassel Khartabil is a Syrian-Palestinian computer engineer who, through his innovations in social media, digital education, and open-source web software, played a huge role in opening the internet in Syria and bringing online access and knowledge to the Syrian people. Many people reading this blog know Bassel through his work as lead for CC Syria. He was arrested in March of 2012 in Damascus, and has been detained ever since.

The second #FreeBassel Day will be held globally on March 15, marking the second anniversary of his imprisonment and the third anniversary of the beginning of the Syrian uprising.

If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, come join the SF open community on #FreeBassel Day SF at the Wikimedia Foundation offices in downtown San Francisco. In addition to sharing art, music, food, and stories about Bassel, we will be hosting a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon in honor of him. Bassel is a Wikipedian himself, so we’ll be working on writing and improving articles on topics that he cares about (and might be editing now if he weren’t in prison). Such topics include: Syria, computers, technology in the MENA region, open source web development, and peace (to name a few). Learn more about Bassel in his own words and the words of friends here and here.

No Wikipedia editing experience is necessary – just bring your laptop, and seasoned Wikipedians will be there to provide guidance in copy-editing, article creation, and sourcing. And friends and colleagues of Bassel will be there to tell you more about him and his work.

We’ll have an informal potluck, including food and beverages sourced from the #FreeBassel Cookbook V.1, a collection of recipes from friends and supporters of Bassel, collected by The Big Conversation Space and sponsored by Aerbook. Please bring something to share.

We’ll also be sharing art and media created by #FreeBassel supporters, including Disquiet Junto #FreeBassel and Letters for Bassel.

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Cookbook in honor of Bassel Khartabil

Elliot Harmon, February 24th, 2014

In honor of Bassel Khartabil and Free Bassel Day, artist Niki Korth is putting together a #freebassel cookbook. Bassel, a free software activist and leader of the Syrian Creative Commons community, has been in prison since 2012. In Niki’s words:

The #FreeBassel Cookbook is a collection of recipes from people who care about Bassel and would like to share a meal with him if he weren’t in prison.

Please contribute a recipe to this collection. Submit it before 10 March 2014 to get it included in the first edition of the cookbook. Pick a recipe that is special to you, a recipe that makes you think of Bassel, a recipe that reminds you that the virtual/digital world is only a tool for real world human encounters, and is in no way a substitute for experiences such as sharing a meal, or a recipe for a meal that you think Bassel would enjoy.

The #FreeBassel Cookbook V.1 will be released as a free, digital book on #FreeBassel Day 2014 (15 March)

If Bassel has not been freed by this date, please make a recipe from this collection on this day in his honor and share it with people who you care about. Share pictures of your meal with the #FreeBassel hashtag.

Repeat until Bassel is free.

Submit your recipe here. See our previous post to learn how to get involved with Free Bassel Day.

Previously: Disquiet Junto honors Bassel Khartabil

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Free Bassel Day, coming March 15

Elliot Harmon, January 22nd, 2014

Bassel Khartabil is a computer engineer who, through his innovations in social media, digital education, and open-source web software, played a huge role in opening the internet in Syria and bringing online access and knowledge to the Syrian people. Many people reading this blog know Bassel through his work as lead for CC Syria.

Coinciding with the 4th Arab Bloggers Meeting (at which Bassel was sorely missed) and the Geneva II Peace Conference, the #freebassel Campaign is announcing the call for pledges for Free Bassel Day 2014.

The second Free Bassel Day will be held globally on March 15, marking the second anniversary of his imprisonment and the third anniversary of the beginning of the Syrian civil war. We encourage you to join the CC and #freebassel communities and get involved.

For more information or to share your pledge for Free Bassel Day, contact the #freebassel campaign at love@freebassel.org.

Projects already in the works:

For more information or to submit your Free Bassel Day event or project, visit freebasselday.org.

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Disquiet Junto honors Bassel Khartabil

Elliot Harmon, January 22nd, 2014

We’re big fans of Disquiet Junto, a group of Creative Commons musicians who create original works and remixes each week around a different theme.

This week, Disquiet Junto is honoring Bassel Khartabil, the Syrian CC community leader who’s been in prison in Syria since March 2012, with a music project dedicated to Bassel.

From Disquiet Junto:

On Thursday, January 23, a special collaborative sound and music project will help raise awareness about Palestinian Syrian programmer and Creative Commons advocate Bassel Khartabil, who has been detained in Syria since March 15, 2012. As the two-year anniversary of Bassel’s incarceration approaches, the Disquiet Junto music community on SoundCloud.com will spend four days developing original sound works in Bassel’s honor. This week’s project will invite musicians to flesh out a work-in-progress that Bassel has, naturally, not been able to complete due to his imprisonment.

Late in the day each Thursday, a new compositional prompt goes out to members of the Disquiet Junto, who then have until 11:59pm the following Monday to submit a piece of music. The Bassel project will be the 108th weekly Disquiet Junto project. As of this date, over 3,000 original pieces of music have been uploaded to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud by over 400 musicians from around the world. The Disquiet Junto began the first week of January 2012, and has continued weekly ever since. Past Disquiet Junto projects include the interpretation of polling data as a graphically notated score, the use of wind chimes as a percussive instrument, the creation of “goodbye music” for the Voyager 1 space probe made from the sounds of interstellar space, and numerous Creative Commons–inspired remixes of music originally published on netlabels.

The Disquiet Junto was created and is moderated by Marc Weidenbaum, the San Francisco–based author of the book Selected Ambient Works Volume II, based on the Aphex Twin album of that name. Subscribe to the Disquiet Junto email announcement list.

Update (January 24): The challenge has now launched. Submit your project by Monday!

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Letters for Bassel

Elliot Harmon, January 15th, 2014

We’ve written several times on this blog about Bassel Khartabil, the Syrian Creative Commons community leader who’s been imprisoned since March 2012 without having had any charges brought against him.

European Parliament members Charles Tannock and Ana Gomes recently submitted an official question to the Parliament leadership concerning Bassel’s imprisonment:

  1. Is the VP/HR aware of the ongoing imprisonment of Bassel Safadi Khartabil? If so, has she issued any public statement on the matter?
  2. Does she agree that this represents a further abuse by the Assad regime in its attempts to block the free spread of information?
  3. Will the VP/HR use the leverage available to her to press for his release, insisting upon his status as a non-combatant whose only crime has been to oppose censorship and promote the freedom of information?

Our friend Niki Korth recently created Letters for Bassel, a blog that collects letters to Bassel from friends or people who’ve been inspired by his story. She recently published this heartbreaking letter that Bassel wrote to his wife Noura on their first anniversary:

As Cathy wrote in her piece on Bassel for Huffington Post, “For Bassel and others around the world who fight for open, a free internet is not a theoretical matter. Real lives hang in the balance.” Creative Commons’ wish for 2014 is for Bassel to be freed and rejoin our community.

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Imprisoned internet pioneer Bassel Khartabil wins Index on Censorship Digital Freedom Award

Elliot Harmon, March 21st, 2013

Download press release (36 KB PDF)

Palestinian-born Syrian software engineer Bassel Khartabil is the winner of this year’s Index on Censorship Digital Freedom Award, sponsored by Google. Khartabil is a free internet pioneer who has spent his career advancing open source technologies. On March 15, 2012, he was illegally imprisoned in Syria. His family were given no official information about why or where he was detained but have since learnt that he is being held at the security branch of Kafer Sousa, Damascus.

Index CEO Kirsty Hughes said, “Following courageous and peaceful protests in 2011, Syria descended into violence with appalling attacks on civilians across the country — and with over 60,000 people killed over the last two years. Up until his arrest last March, Bassel Khartabil bravely continued to work for a cause he passionately believes in — an open and free internet that is available to all. In a country torn apart by violence, he is a brave advocate for peaceful change.”

Bassel’s friend Dana Trometer, who is collecting the Index award on his behalf said, “Bassel deserves to be out of jail celebrating his real freedom and digital freedom. On this Mother’s day in most of the Arab World, and as a mother myself, my heart goes out to Bassel’s Mom. Bassel is a kind and gentle friend. A loving husband and son. He did not fear being targeted as he knew his love for Syria would save him from being persecuted by the authorities. Bassel is aware of this award and he would like to thank the judges and audience for trusting him with such an honour. He would also like to pay respect to all the victims of the struggle for freedom of speech, and, especially for those non-violent youths who refused to carry arms and deserve all the credit for this award.”

Another close friend of Bassel’s, Jon Phillips, stated, “Lock-up, Lock-out fails. Locking-up Bassel, only locks-out his personal freedom. By locking-up Bassel, his Syrian captors are accidentally locking-out themselves from the future. From launching Creative Commons Syria, building the Arabic Wikipedia and bringing internet leaders to Syria, he knew that his free participation in global web communities required concrete contributions locally. For these acts would make Syria a better place. One year later, Bassel is under harsh lock-down. Now, thousands of people that Bassel’s work helped, now help him by spreading the message #FREEBASSEL. This is what truly builds Syria and connects it to the global connected future. This award proves that his lock-up, is NOT a lock-out of his digital freedom.”

Bassel is known worldwide for his strong commitment to the open web, teaching others about technology, and contributing his experience freely to help the world. Bassel is the inventor of an open source software that powers the Open Clip Art Library. He is an original contributor to the Arabic Wikipedia and launched Creative Commons Syria. He is well known in online technical communities as a dedicated volunteer to major Internet projects like Creative Commons, Mozilla Firefox, Wikipedia, Open Clip Art Library, and Fabricatorz.

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Bassel Khartabil Nominated for Digital Freedom Award

Elliot Harmon, March 19th, 2013

#freebasselday San Francisco
#FREEBASSELDAY San Francisco / Niki Korth / CC BY

If you read Creative Commons’ blog or follow our various social media channels, you’re no doubt already familiar with the story of Bassel Khartabil, the long-time Creative Commons volunteer who’s been detained in Syria for over a year. Last Friday, we participated in a global day of solidarity in honor of Bassel.

Bassel has been nominated for the Index on Censorship’s Digital Freedom Award. The award ceremony will take place this Thursday, March 21, in London.

From the Index’s nomination:

Software engineer Bassel Khartabil has been held in detention since his arrest in Damascus on 15 March 2012. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights believes his arrest is related to his work as a computer engineer, specialising in the development of open source software.

Khartabil, a Palestinian-born Syrian, spent his career advancing open source and related technologies to ensure a freer internet. Internationally, he is known for his voluntary work with open source projects such as Creative Commons and Mozilla Firefox. In 2012, Foreign Policy magazine named him in its list of the top 100 global thinkers.

As yet, authorities have failed to provide an official statement about his arrest, the charges he is facing or his whereabouts. Just weeks before he was jailed, Khartabil tweeted: “The people who are in real danger never leave their countries. They are in danger for a reason and for that they don’t leave.” Khartabil’s arrest was part of the Syrian government’s crackdown against the popular uprising, which has resulted in at least 60,000 deaths since March 2011.

For more information, visit freebassel.org.

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Free Bassel, Free Culture

Elliot Harmon, March 15th, 2013

#FREEBASSEL
#FREEBASSEL / Kennisland / CC BY-SA

Creative Commons CEO Catherine Casserly wrote a blog post for the Huffington Post for the one-year anniversary of Bassel Khartabil’s arrest.

Since March 15, 2012, our colleague and friend Bassel Khartabil has been in prison in Syria, held without charges and not allowed legal representation. Bassel is an open-source coder and leader of the Syrian Creative Commons program. He believes in the open Internet, and has spent the last ten years using open technologies to improve the lives of Syrians. Not only did Bassel build the CC program in his country; he worked tirelessly to build knowledge of digital literacy, educating people about online media and open-source tools.

Our work requires us to spend a lot of time looking at nuanced details — whether a certain piece of legislation supports open access to research, for example, or how to mark creative works for easier search and filtering. Bassel’s imprisonment has been a stark reminder that our work is part of a larger, global ecosystem. For Bassel and others around the world who fight for open, a free internet is not a theoretical matter. Real lives hang in the balance.

Today, there are demonstrations and getherings happening all over the world in honor of Bassel. Learn more at freebasselday.org.

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