Rights, camera, action!

Mobile phones are ever-present in our lives. In fact, smartphones have become synonymous as “device” itself. Phones and social media go hand in hand, and unless you make an effort to keep yourself off the grid, social media is a significant part of life today.

Image is everything on there. The images that we are flooded with and the images that are absent or erased both say a lot about who we are and where we’re going. What does the camera on phones mean for human rights? It can do a lot of good, or it can be a tool that authorities use to control people. Here are three posts discussing how record keeping and human rights go together.

The Rohingya lists: refugees compile their own record of those killed in Myanmar

The Rohingya live in refugee camps. Since they are a stateless people, there are no official historians documenting what happens to them. Last week, the ICJ took Myanmar to court for its atrocities against the Rohingya. But justice is not only seeing your perpetrator in court but also getting to tell your own story.

Now in Bangladesh and able to organize without being closely monitored by Myanmar’s security forces, the Rohingya have armed themselves with lists of the dead and pictures and video of atrocities recorded on their mobile phones, in a struggle against attempts to erase their history in Myanmar.

In this case, documenting who is dead, what they look like, and who they were, is an act of dissent. It’s saying that the Rohingya have history. Giving them record keeping tools is empowering.

Here’s How Some People Think Tech Is Affecting Our Free Speech

Even though social media feels like a place where anything goes, there are actually plenty of rules governing it. Some of those rules make the internet a more restrictive place to express your opinions than in the real world.

If people lose their willingness to research source material, whether through Google, Wikipedia or other sources, and if they are robbed of the freedom to speak out online, free expression as we know it will surely be affected.

The other aspect of technology that has proven harmful for democracy and free speech happens on the receiving end — tech is being used to share hateful, nationalist and

Uprooting Democracy: The War of Memory and the Lost Legacy of the People’s Party

When there are no celebrations of the constitution or festivals connected to constitutional monuments, people in the locality forget how they are important to the point of forgetting that they exist, so many of them are removed, replaced or destroyed.

The last and perhaps most eerie part of image-making and record keeping is erasing it. Erasing history, such as monuments of democracy and progress, means changing the reality. Who will bear witness to the truth? Who will remember how things really happened?

If you have a phone and camera, it’s in your power to remember and bear witness. Don’t look away.