In the week Malala Yousafzai collects her prize in Oslo, Karima Bennoune writes, "Dear Malala, As you accept the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, please know how many human rights activists around the world -- especially women -- are grateful to you ..."
Since 21st June 2014 Yara Sallam, WLUML networker and award-winning human rights defender has been held under the unconstitutional 'Protest Law', along with six other women arrested on the same occasion. Countless more are being held on similarly spurious charges in a wave of crackdowns on civil society and dissenting voices in Egypt. On 26 October 2014, a Cairo Misdemeanours Court sentenced Yara - along with 22 other human rights defenders and protesters - to three years' imprisonment, a further three years' police monitoring, and a fine of 10,000 Egyptian Pounds each. An appeal has been launched to overturn the sentence, but they remain behind bars.
I still feel the teargas' effects on me... my eyes and my nose are on fire, the voices of people are coming from different sides “wash your eyes with Pepsi”, and the voice in my head “but my face will be sticky”. I still check my Twitter timeline and search for my friends and colleagues tweets or the face book updates; recalling the unspoken code: as long as you are tweeting or facebooking then you are safe and hopefully secure.
In response to the kidnapping by Boko Haram of over 200 schoolgirls in Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria, the world has mobilised around the BringBackOurGirls hashtag, creating an online frenzy and taking to streets and embassies. Among those protesting for the safe return of the schoolgirls have been various friends and partners from around the Women Living Under Muslim Laws network.
While building solidarity between activists in the U.S. and Iran can be a powerful way of supporting social justice movements in Iran, progressives and leftists who want to express solidarity with Iranians are challenged by a complicated geopolitical terrain. The U.S. government shrilly decries Iran’s nuclear power program and expands a long-standing sanctions regime on the one hand, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad makes inflammatory proclamations and harshly suppresses Iranian protesters and dissidents on the other. Solidarity activists are often caught between a rock and a hard place, and many choose what they believe are the “lesser evil” politics. In the case of Iran, this has meant aligning with a repressive state leader under the guise of “anti-imperialism” and “populism,” or supporting “targeted” sanctions.