Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tweet Storm Project Overview

I am from Iran where a savage dictatorship is raging against reason. Our people are resisting the tide of madness through peaceful and legal means culminating in last years elections; the regime has answered us with bullets and imprisonments.

Iran was the first civil uprising who used the social media as a form of communication and was able to send images of horrific brutality of the recognised the peaceful demonstrations.
At first the world responded by tidal wave of anger and outrage against the regime but soon our problems became lost among many others in the world and our people were left to face the anger or the regime. Worse yet the news media, as the often do, found newer stories and Iran news was relegated to the back pages.
The Iranian ex-pats who were energized at first but soon interpreted the faltering world attention as lack of interest from the world and went back into shadows.

That is all but a small group who continued tirelessly on social media and took on the role of citizen journalists exposing the crimes of Islamic Republic of Iran against our citizens. I am one of them, one of many but what I was able to do with the help of others like me  is nothing short of amazing.

I had an idea one day about taking street demonstrations into the web. I thought what if we all said the same thing at the same time?  I wrote about 40 tweets in defense of jailed human rights activist and child laborer activist Shiva Nazar Ahary. This young woman’s crime was to try to build a shelter, with her own and donated money, for street children and child laborers. For that she  was imprisoned, tortured and kept in a cage so small she could not move her arms and legs for weeks on end. Finally the regime but her on trial on charges of “Mohareb” or war against God which carries only two outcomes; exhoneration or execution. No one was betting on exhonrration.  

So I advertised what I was going to do, picked an hours on Friday evening and sent the tweets out on my blog space, my face book page and twitter. To my amazement about 100people showed up and in one hour we sent over 900 tweets in her defense to UN, Amnesty International, US State Department and EU foreign body law makers.

The next day she was freed on bail and her charges were reduced to a hefty fine. Of course  I thought that it was a fluke and had NOTHING to do with me.  So the next week I picked up another cause for a young Kurdish woman condemned to death and the next week another cause. By this time I had build a steady following who would show up every week. So I formed a leadership group. A Liberal American group contacted us and asked for some tips to have their own tweet storm, exactly like us and they are off and running now but do advertise for us and participate in our storms.

Other results we achieved out of this crazy idea:

1- Shiva was not hanged and is now free.

2- Two weeks  after we started Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a speech in defense of the prisoners and imposed sanctions on IR and put 8 of the IR officials on human rights criminal list , blocked their assets in US banks and put travel restrictions against them.

3- EU did not immediately follow suit. We targeted EU law makers and demanded that they follow US sanction. Two weeks later an EU lawmaker tweeted back to us and pledged to enact sanctions against IR. The very next week the sanctions passed very severe set of restrictions and froze IR leaders assets in EU banks and put travel restrictions on IR members.

4- Hegmaej Shahidi, a young female journalist who suffered torture in prison was denied access to have sugary. We t her cause in every week’s storm and she was finally allowed medical leave.

5- We also target UN. Last week a UN personnel who is a friend of one of our team members told her that not only UN is aware of our tweet storm but they know the time and date and wait for it every week.  She told us to keep on tweeting and that UN is using these tweets in their decision making process.

6- What is most important is that the executions of known prisoners has stopped dead in its tracks. Although, IR still tries and does kill at least one person a day. Unfortunately those are the unknown prisoners . We are making every attempt to find their names and stop the executions.

We have taken a pledge to expose every crime, every brutality and every injustice against the people of Iran and we will continue this path until there is justice for all.  And after the Iran is free, if even one of the IR criminals is mistreated in prison, we will start a tweet storm in his or her defense.  We do mean what we say!

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