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A person holds their phone during a research session in Lagos, Nigeria, September 2016. Photo by ARipstra (WMF) via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0.

The real impact of COVID-19 goes beyond the death toll

By Boye Adegoke

During the COVID-19 pandemic, governments took extraordinary measures to leverage technology to fight the virus. In addition to lockdowns, many African countries, including Nigeria, followed a global trend to use contact-tracing measures to track those who come into contact with an infected person.

On the surface, the proliferation of contact-tracing apps — both public and private — appear harmless and noble. But Nigeria’s history of surveillance raises serious questions about how the state may further its capabilities to track and target citizens during the pandemic using such technologies.

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Pages from Stephanie L. Blair’s first book, “Sadie’s Caribbean Alphabet”; image courtesy the author, used with permission.

The book captures ‘what I always wanted to see as a child’

By Atiba Rogers

Three months after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic, Stephanie L. Blair, a first-generation Guyanese-American, mapped out the concept for Sadie’s Caribbean Alphabet, a book for children who don’t typically see images of themselves in mainstream literature.

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There’s an Instagram account for that

By Filip Noubel

Attempting to curse in a language you don’t speak natively can be a tricky proposition, but for those who want to take the risk, there’s now an Instagram account teaching English-speakers how to swear in Russian.

curselikearussian has taken on the mission of coaching users in the use of “ мат,” as the rich reservoir of profanity is called in Russian and other Slavic languages. The term “мат” is derived from the classic Russian expression “Ёб твою мать”, which means “f*** your mother.”

While widely used in everyday life, мат was denied during the Soviet period, then recognized again after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. It has been widely studied by academics and lexicographers. In Russia, the use of мат was banned in public spaces in 2014 under article 20.1.1 of the Code on Administrative Offenses, which labels it a form of hooliganism and imposes fines or administrative arrest on offenders. This largely means that instances of мат are censored in films, on television and radio, and in public discussions or speeches. …

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Photo by Andrés Huacaychuco Quijada, used with permission.

Young people were the ones mobilising against government corruption

Written by Andrea Marcela Paliza Olivares | Translated by Clara Guest

November 9, 2020, marked the beginning of the most important week of the last 20 years for our country. That day, the Peruvian Congress, after a brief discussion attempting to justify its actions in the fight against corruption, decided to remove the President of the Republic, Martín Vizcarra. The objective of this action, fueled by members of Congress who were subjects of their own criminal investigations, was to control the main powers of the State: the Executive and the Legislature, in order to oppose reforms or support measures that favoured their own interests. …

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Photo taken by the author on her last visit to El Salvador in June 2019

Reasons why Salvadorans flee their country

By Melissa Vida

Dawns in El Salvador are fresh and humid. Whenever I go to this tropical, warm and volcanic country in Central America, I would be woken up at 6 am by the voice of the young man selling bread: “ El pan, el pan,” he calls, while ringing the bell on his bicycle. Even a sleepyhead like me enjoyed this mundane experience of everyday life there. During my latest trip to my mother’s country, however, my nostalgia was replaced by a familiar feeling of suffocation.

I was told that this young man keeps an eye on the neighborhood on behalf of the deadly gangs who live at the end of the street. The bicycle is a cover-up-the bread we buy every morning is a form of surveillance. My fondness dissolved and no morning has ever been the same. …

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Demonstration in Berlin, in solidarity with the protests in Peru. Photo by Yudy Berlly Muguerza Diestra, used with permission.

What happened in Peru was not ‘just another emergency’

By Carla Ramos | Translated by Anthony Sutterman

As a Peruvian living in Germany, the main way for me to find out what was going on in Peru was through Peruvian social networks and the Peruvian press. The coverage in Germany on the subject has been minimal, and within the limited amount I have seen, most has come from sources that specialize in covering current issues in Latin America (such as the Deutsche Welle network in Spanish). A cousin of mine, a Peruvian woman in the United States, told me exactly the same thing: the media there have not covered the demonstrations in Peru either. …

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Photograph by Gabriel Vasquez/Flickr (CC BY 4.0)

Indigenous and peasant communities can show us another way

Written by Erick Huerta Velazquez | Translated by Teodora C. Hasegan

This article by Erick Huerta Velázquez was originally published on the Comunicares website, and an edited version is published with permission by Global Voices.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the news, especially that related to the telecommunications sector in which I work, seems to reveal that the post-COVID “new normal” is one where Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) will play a significant role. This is especially due to the most horrifying aspects associated with surveillance, such as artificial intelligence.

It seems that we are able to survive thanks to Amazon or to the incredible possibility that all movements are monitored through our cell phones, or with the help of ICT, children can continue to have classes, no matter if that experience is rewarding or not. …

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Monument in Curaçao in homage toTula, an enslaved African man who freed himself and led the Curaçao Slave Revolt in 1795. Photo by Kattiel / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).

From Africa to Brazil, systemic brutality against Black people must stop

By Zymora Davinchi

The continued policing of Black bodies and the lasting structure of European colonialism and bondage is a legacy born from the Transatlantic slave trade and its aftermath in the African Diaspora.

In light of the recent deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Tony McDade in the United States, as well as the call to end all forms of police brutality and state-sanctioned violence across the African continent, Latin America, and Europe, the ties to colonial rule and slavery throughout the diaspora have become more and more apparent.

From the early 1500s to the late 1900s, up to 15 million African people were captured and enslaved by Europeans and forcibly brought to the Americas and Caribbean islands. …

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Protests in Miraflores, Peru, November 12, 2020. Photo by Samantha Hare/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Peruvian citizens showed the world that resistance is not futile

By Camilo Gomez

In November 2020, Peru saw one of the largest protests in its history when thousands of people took to the streets throughout the country in a spontaneous movement led by youth and grassroots organizations.

The protests were propelled by what they deemed to be an unlawful coup against their president, Martín Vizcarra, who had been impeached by the Peruvian Congress on November 9.

While legislators were trying to protect themselves from judicial investigations of corruption, the police were snatching the Peruvian flag from protestors. …

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Image by Ohergo/Pixabay

Human rights defenders have nothing but words to defend the civil and human rights of their people.

By Gulf Center for Human Rights

This post was written by Khalid Ibrahim, executive director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR), an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly in the MENA region.

Human rights defenders have nothing but words to defend the civil and human rights of their people. Their enemies, on the other hand, have all the conventional weapons at their disposal, including imprisonment, in their attempt to end peaceful work aimed at building a prosperous future for all.

Human rights activism continues, though, even from within the confines of a prison cell. “Human rights work does not end with imprisonment,” says Bahraini human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who in 2017 went on six hunger strikes to demand his rights and those of other prisoners of conscience, while serving life imprisonment for his peaceful human rights work. …


Global Voices

We call attention to the most interesting stories emerging from citizen media around the world.

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