Earlier this September, Mohammed Erraji, a Moroccan blogger, was arrested following the publication of an online article criticizing the King. As soon as he was detained, Digiactive started an online “Action Alert” campaign to free Mohammed. Various international organizations such as Reporters without Borders, Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and IFEX also issued statements calling for his immediate discharge.
On September 18, Erraji was acquitted and set free. Whether the decision of his release was related to the online fight to set him free, we cannot know for sure. What we do know is that information can be a life-saver, and once it gets out to the public, local and international, it can create impact and initiate change. The beautiful thing about Web 2.0 is that anyone can become an activist from their own computer. We’ve learned a few lessons from Digiactive’s call for action in the Erraji case. Becoming a cyber-activist is not as difficult as you might think; it just takes time and devotion.
Here’s what you can do if you want to initiate change from home:
One, Identify your issue. Do you think that something happening around you is unjust? Think of how speaking your mind and calling for change will help this certain issue that you’ve identified.
Two, Research the facts. No one wants to go into battle unarmed. Seek out facts and opinions that support your position. Think about how change can be implemented and at which level.
Three, Start networking. Identify local and international organizations that care about a similar issue. Look for online discussion forums, advocacy groups, specialized newsgroups, and activist web sites. Write to the staff or webmaster, asking whether your specific concern fits within their organization’s agenda.
Four, Define your plan and call for action. Think of what you want to achieve and what is feasible. Put a realistic goal and find out who’s working on what so that you can duplicate efforts. Who can you reach out too and how can your online community help?
Five, Learn and build on what you’ve achieved. Notice patterns of what worked and what did not and use it for future proposals.