GV Uganda: Gay Rights Activist Found Murdered

This is heartbreaking. My thoughts are with David’s friends and family, and with the Ugandan GLBT community as a whole.

Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato was found murdered yesterday, just weeks after winning a court case against a local newspaper that had called for Ugandans to “hang” homosexuals.

Uganda has been in the news for gay rights issues since October 2009, when Member of Parliament David Bahati tabled a bill that would provide for life imprisonment or the death penalty for not only homosexuals but also anyone found to be supporting or promoting gay rights.

The proposed bill has stirred up considerable anti-gay sentiments in Uganda, including the publication by local newspaper Rolling Stone [no relation to Rolling Stone Magazine] of a list of 100 suspected homosexuals and their addresses. Kato was on the list, and his face was on the paper’s front page.

Read the full post on Global Voices Online »

Tech for Transparency: New Interviews Posted

Avid readers of my blog (here’s looking at you, Rev) may remember that several months ago I announced that research was beginning for the second phase of the Technology for Transparency Network. The first phase consisted of interviews with over 30 projects around the world who are using technology to promote transparency and accountability in the government and/or private sector. Our goal in the second phase was twofold: to double the number of case studies on the site and to expand the geographic regions we covered.

Since then, I’ve been largely silent about the project — we’ve been working so hard to complete and edit the interviews that I haven’t had much time to breathe. But today I’m thrilled to announce that we have eight new case studies online, with lots more to come over the next few weeks. The case studies that have been posted so far are:

Accountability Initiative
Accountability Initiative researches and creates innovative tools to promote transparency and accountability in India’s public services.

Amatora mu Mahoro
Amatora mu Mahoro (“Peaceful Elections”) is an Ushahidi-based project created to monitor Burundi’s 2010 elections.

Association for Democratic Reforms
ADR India works to monitor national elections through country-wide SMS and helpline campaigns and an informational website.

Democrator.ru seeks to empower citizens by helping them collectively send petitions and inquiries to government bodies.

Excelências fights corruption in the Brazilian government by publishing data about politicians and government activities online.

Golos (Voice) has introduced several online tools for better election monitoring in Russia.

Mam Prawo Wiedzieć
Mam Prawo Wiedzieć helps Polish citizens access information about their elected representatives in an easy, user-friendly way.

Pera Natin ‘to!
Pera Natin ‘to! (It’s Our Money!) encourages Filipino citizens to report times when they are asked for bribes.

In addition to continuing to post new case studies (you can subscribe to our case study feed via RSS), we’ll also be publishing our final report on both phases of the project by the end of the month. In the meantime, check out @techtransparent and our Facebook page for daily updates and our podcast for interviews with the project leaders!

GV Uganda: Bloggers react to bomb blasts

Yesterday, three bombs went off in Kampala, one at an Ethiopian restaurant and two at the Kyadondo Rugby Club. Both places were packed with people watching the final game of the World Cup.

More than three years ago, I wrote about why I opposed sending Ugandan troops to Somalia. At the time, I noted that “insurgents have ‘vowed to kill the incoming peacekeepers’ and have been launching almost daily attacks in Mogadishu, and Eritrea has warned that the presence of Ugandan forces could prompt a full-out war.”

Yesterday, three bombs went off in Kampala, one at an Ethiopian restaurant and two at the Kyadondo Rugby Club. Both places were packed with people watching the final game of the World Cup. Uganda police are blaming Somali militant group al-Shabab for the attacks. A leader of the group, which has ties to al-Qaeda, recently announced, “We urge our brothers from Chechnya, Pakistan, Afghanistan and from anywhere around the world to attack the diplomatic missions of Uganda and Burundi.”

Al-Shabab has not yet claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the police and the media seem to be taking their role as a given. If the bombs are indeed traceable to them, this would be the first time al-Shabab has operated outside of Somalia.

I heard about the bombings in Kampala on Twitter last night and have been reloading Google Reader since looking for more news. As far as I can tell, the blogren and my other friends in Kampala are all safe, though obviously shaken up. Baz pointed out that the location of the attacks has meant that Twitter and Facebook have played a huge role in spreading news:

Because of the location of the attacks, for once, it’s us, The Web 2.0 generation, that is affected, so we are watching our twitter and facebook feeds with trepidation, like any second now…

Thanks to those of you who’ve blogged and tweeted and commented, letting me know you’re safe. I’ve hastily pulled together the blog posts I could find for a post on Global Voices:

Soccer fans gathered in bars and restaurants around the globe to watch the final game of the World Cup last night. In Uganda, these celebrations were interrupted when bombs exploded at two popular nightlife spots in Kampala, the country’s capital.

Read more »

I’ll keep checking throughout the day in case there’s any more news. The Daily Nation is reporting that Uganda’s increasing, rather than decreasing, the number of troops it has in Somalia. Blogren, if you have anything to add, you know where to find me. My thoughts are with you and your families, and I’m praying that these are isolated incidents, rather than the precursor to the full-out war Eritrea predicted three years ago.

Also, in the course of writing the GV post I came across these photos by Trevor Snapp, a documentary photographer in Kampala. He understandably would prefer to be paid for his amazing work and has asked that I not replicate the photos on GV, but I highly recommend that you check them out.

UPDATE: Trevor has since decided to allow Global Voices to use one of his photos, free of charge, in the post. A million thanks to him for supporting nonprofit citizen media!

Tech for Transparency, v2

Today we officially launched the second phase of the Technology for Transparency Network, a Rising Voices project that documents and maps projects around the world that use online technology to promote transparency and accountability.

Technology for Transparency Network

During the first phase, which ran from January to May of this year, we mapped 37 case studies from Central & Eastern Europe, China, Latin America, South Asia, Southeast Asia and anglophone Sub-Saharan Africa. Between now and September, we’ll be nearly doubling that number and expanding our focus to include projects from the Middle East & North Africa, the former Soviet Union and francophone Africa.

Researchers from the Technology for Transparency Network present at the 2010 Global Voices Summit in Santiago, Chile. Photo courtesy of FabsY_ on Flickr.

I am psyched to be co-heading the project along with the formidable and talented Renata Avila. We’re thrilled to be working with an amazing team of researchers and advisors, including our new editorial advisor Hzel Feigenblatt. Hazel is the Media Projects Director at Global Integrity and will be working with us to make sure we interview the most innovative and exciting projects in this space.

If you have an idea for a case study, let us know! We’re currently taking suggestions in English, Spanish and Portuguese. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed to get updates when we publish new case studies, follow us on Twitter (@techtransparent) and become a fan on Facebook.

GV Sudan: Checking in with Sudan Vote Monitor

On the eve of Sudan’s 2010 presidential elections, I interviewed Fareed Zein, who heads the citizen election monitoring project Sudan Vote Monitor. On Wednesday I checked in with Zein to get his thoughts on the project now that the elections have ended.

My next post is up at Global Voices Online:

On the eve of Sudan's 2010 presidential elections, I interviewed Fareed Zein, who heads the citizen election monitoring project Sudan Vote Monitor, for the Technology for Transparency Project. Zein was hopeful that the project would bring greater transparency to the country's first democratic elections in more than two decades. “There was basically no idea what was going on on the ground” during previous political events, Zein said at the time. “What we're hoping to do is shine a light and give people access to events that are occurring at remote election centers.” On Wednesday I checked in with Zein to get his thoughts on the project now that the elections have ended.

Read the interview »