Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Egyptian anti-torture activist suspended from YouTube

Wael Abbas, a leading Egyptian anti-torture activist has now been suspended from the Web site YouTube after sharing videos that showed police brutality, Reuters reported Tuesday.

According to the article “Wael Abbas said close to 100 images he had sent to YouTube were no longer accessible, including clips depicting purported police brutality, voting irregularities and anti-government demonstrations. YouTube, owned by search engine giant Google Inc , did not respond to a written request for comment. A message on Abbas’s YouTube user page, http://youtube.com/user/waelabbas, read: ‘This account is suspended.’”

“They closed it (the account) and they sent me an e-mail saying that it will be suspended because there were lots of complaints about the content, especially the content of torture,” Abbas told Reuters in a telephone interview. Abbas won an international journalism award for his work earlier this year. He said that of only 12 or 13 of the images he sent to YouTube depicted violence in Egyptian police stations.

“Abbas was a key player last year in distributing a clip of an Egyptian bus driver, his hands bound, being sodomised with a stick by a police officer – imagery that sparked an uproar in a country where rights groups say torture is commonplace,” the article says. “That tape prompted an investigation that led to a rare conviction of two policemen, who were sentenced to three years in prison for torture. Egypt says it opposes torture and prosecutes police against whom it has evidence of misconduct.”

The article later adds that: “YouTube regulations state that ‘graphic or gratuitous violence’ is not allowed and warn users not to post such videos. Repeat violators of YouTube guidelines may have their accounts terminated, according to rules posted on the site.”

According to the article: “Elijah Zarwan, a prominent blogger and activist in Egypt, said he thought it was unlikely that YouTube had come under official Egyptian pressure, and was more likely reacting to the graphic nature of the videos.”

“I suspect they are doing it not under pressure from the Egyptian government but rather because it made American viewers squeamish,” he said. “But to shut them down because some people might find the truth disturbing is unconscionable.”

For the full article, click here.


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