Bassel Khartabil

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Bassel Khartabil
Arabic: باسل خرطبيل
Bassel Khartabil (Safadi).jpg
Born Bassel Khartabil
(1981-05-22) May 22, 1981 (age 34)
Damascus, Syria
Residence Damascus, Syria
Nationality Syrian
Occupation Software Engineer
Known for Aiki Framework, Openclipart, Open Font Library, Fabricatorz, Mozilla, Creative Commons
Awards Index on Censorship 2013 Digital Freedom Award

Bassel Khartabil (Arabic: باسل خرطبيل‎) also known as Bassel Safadi (Arabic: باسل صفدي‎) (born May 22, 1981 in Damascus) is a Palestinian Syria open-source software developer. Since March 15, 2012, the one-year anniversary of the Syrian uprising, he is currently detained by the Syrian government in Damascus at Adra Prison.[1]

Khartabil was born and raised in Syria, where he specializes in open source software development. He has been CTO and co-founder of collaborative research company Aiki Lab[2] and was CTO of Al-Aous,[3] a publishing and research institution dedicated to archaeological sciences and arts in Syria. He has served as project lead and public affiliate for Creative Commons Syria,[4] and has contributed to Mozilla Firefox, Wikipedia, Openclipart, Fabricatorz, and Sharism.[5] He "is credited with opening up the Internet in Syria and vastly extending online access and knowledge to the Syrian people."[6]

His most recent work includes a 3D photo realistic reconstruction of the old city of Palmyra (Syria),[7] real time visualization, and development with Fabricatorz for the web programming framework Aiki Framework.

Detention[edit]

On March 15, 2012, Khartabil was detained amid arrests in the Mazzeh district of Damascus by Military Security Branch 215.[8] That day marked the one-year anniversary of the Syrian uprising, with pro- and anti-government protesters demonstrating in Damascus and elsewhere in the country.[9]

Khartabil was interrogated and tortured for five days by Military Branch 215. Security forces raided Khartabil's house, confiscating his computer and other effects. He was then transferred to the Interrogation Division Branch 248 and detained there incommunicado for 9 months. On December 9, 2012, Khartabil was brought before a military prosecutor without an attorney present, and charged with "spying for an enemy State". Khartabil was then sent to the Adra Prison in Damascus, where he is being held to this day.[8]

On December 12, 2013, a request for written answer on the question of Bassel's imprisonment was raised before the European Parliament to the Commission (Vice-President/High Representative), stating that "his voluntary work, always non-violent in nature, was greatly valued by Syrians of all backgrounds, and it is strongly suspected that his arrest was part of an effort to restrict access to online communities and discourses and stifle free expression in Syria."[10] On March 18, 2014, the written answer from High Representative/Vice-President Catherine Ashton was published, stating that "The HR/VP deplores the ongoing imprisonment of Bassel Safadi Khartabil, shares the concerns at his situation and follows it very closely."[11]

On April 21, 2015, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) adopted an Opinion on Bassel Khartabil's case, calling his detention "arbitrary" and asking for his immediate release.[8][12] The WGAD concluded that Kharbatil's detention violated Articles 9, 14 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Syria ratified in 1969.

Personal life[edit]

Bassel and his wife Noura, when he was free

Bassel was arrested a few days before his marriage contract to Noura Ghazi, a lawyer and human rights activist, was to be signed. The contract was finalized later that year, while Bassel was in prison. The couple first met in Douma in April 2011 after coming back from a demonstration.[13]

On Valentine's Day 2015, Noura made public a love letter she wrote Bassel where she reflects on what has taken place in Syria in the time Bassel has been imprisoned:

Bassel, I am very afraid, I am afraid about the country that is being slaughtered, divided, bleeding, being destroyed.. Ouch Bassel, I am very afraid that our dream is changing from seeing ourselves being the generation freeing their country to the one witnessing its destruction. Ouch Bassel, I am very afraid …

Noura Ghazi, A Love Letter to Jailed Syrian-Palestinian Bassel Khartabil [14]

Awards[edit]

For its 2012 list of Top Global Thinkers, Foreign Policy named Bassel together with Rima Dali as #19 for "insisting, against all odds, on a peaceful Syrian revolution."[15]

On March 21, 2013 Bassel was awarded Index on Censorship's Digital Freedom Award.[16][17] Although still detained at the time in Adra Prison, Bassel was able to communicate his gratitude through Dana Trometer and Jon Phillips receiving the award on his behalf, wherein he paid "respect to all the victims of the struggle for freedom of speech, and, especially for those non-violent youths who refused to carry arms and deserve all the credit for this award."[18]

#FREEBASSEL Campaign[edit]

2012[edit]

Poster of the #FREEBASSEL campaign

After his detention became widely known in early July 2012, a global campaign was launched calling for his immediate release.[19][20] Notable Internet companies like Mozilla,[21][22] Wikipedia, Global Voices,[23] EFF[24] and Creative Commons[25][26] wrote letters to the Syrian government urging Bassel's immediate release. Notable individuals like Lawrence Lessig,[27] Joi Ito,[28][29] Mitchell Baker,[30] Jillian York,[31] Mohamed Nanabhay[32] and Barry Threw[33] wrote public letters of support. And, international press such as Al Jazeera,[34] Framablog,[35] Hackernews[36] published about the effort.

In October, 2012, Amnesty International released a document with information suggesting that Bassel has been ill-treated and even tortured.[37][38]

On October 23, 2012,[39] the Taiwan chapter of Amnesty International led a letter writing[40] event at Insomnia Cafe to raise awareness about Bassel in Taipei, Taiwan.[41]

On November 26, 2012, Bassel was announced to be one of the top 100 global thinkers by Foreign Policy.[42]

In December 2012, Bassel was moved to a military prison to await a military trial.[43][44] In response, a fasting campaign was launched to raise awareness about Bassel's deteriorating incarceration situation.[45]

2013[edit]

On January 25, 2013, reports were circulating about Bassel's pending trial and fears of his execution.[46]

On March 15, 2013,[47] the #FREEBASSEL project lead a #FREEBASSELDAY campaign with Creative Commons, Mozilla, and other community leaders which resulted in the creation of public artworks, meetups, press, and videos.[48][49][50][51][52][53]

On May 22, 2013, commemorating Bassel Khartabil's 32nd birthday, the second time he spent a birthday in prison and marking the 799th day of the Syrian conflict, the Index on Censorship,[54][55] Creative Commons,[56] and the #FREEBASSEL campaign joined forces to celebrate Khartabil's achievements and to encourage others to send birthday wishes. His mother wrote, "I just want him free, I pray for him to be free and I pray for all his friends who believe and work on Bassel’s freedom."[57] In addition, by publicly launching Project Sunlight,[58] the advocacy groups encourage action to uncover more information about Khartabil's condition and location.[59]

At the Index on Censorship Awards, Jon Phillips stated about Bassel, "Lock-up, Lock-out fails. Locking-up Bassel, only locks-out his personal freedom. By locking-up Bassel, his Syrian captors are accidentally locking-out themselves from the future...thousands of people that Bassel’s work helped, now help him by spreading the message #FREEBASSEL. This is what truly builds Syria and connects it to the global connected future. This award proves that his lock-up, is NOT a lock-out of his digital freedom."[60]

On December 10, 2013, the Freebassel project along with other signers, sent a letter to the European Union Parliament.[61]

2014[edit]

On January 23, 2014 Marc Weidenbaum together with the #FREEBASSEL campaign launched an iteration of his Disquiet Junto project in honor of Bassel, where participants in the online musical composition group were invited to "complete" Bassel's unfinished 3D visualization of Palmyra and "create a soundscape of between one and three minutes that might be employed in an immersive, completed digital visualization of ancient Palmyra." 38 musical compositions were created as part of the project.[62]

On March 15, 2014, the #FREEBASSEL project led a second iteration of the #FREEBASSELDAY campaign with Creative Commons, the Wikimedia Foundation and other community leaders and supporters which involved a Wikipedia edit-a-thon, meetups, the creation of a cookbook in Bassel's honor, and press.[63][64][65][66][67][68]

On May 22, 2014, for the third year, Bassel spent a birthday, his 33rd, in a Syrian prison.[69]

On September 1, 2014, well known journalist and human rights activist Rebecca MacKinnon wrote about Bassel and the Zone 9 Bloggers in the World Policy Journal.[70] Subsequently, in October, Wikipedia hosted an editathon for zone 9 bloggers.[71]

On December 10, 2014, Global Voices led a campaign on Human Rights Day to break the silence about Bassel Khartabil's imprisonment.[72][73][74]

2015[edit]

On March 15, 2015, #FREEBASSEL supporters met up in San Francisco at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and online for a Wikipedia edit-a-thon for #FREEBASSELDAY 2015.[75][76] In addition, the Creative Commons Arab World organized a virtual Arabic Wikipedia edit-a-thon to translate and expand pages related to Bassel and his interests.[77][78]

Latest[edit]

Bassel's 34th birthday is May 22, 2015.

He is currently still in Adra Prison in the suburbs of Damascus, Syria.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "#FREEBASSEL: a campaign to free Bassel Khartabil from Syrian jail". Al Bawaba. 4 July 2012. Retrieved 5 July 2012. 
  2. ^ "Aiki lab". 
  3. ^ الأوس للنشر. "الأوس للنشر". 
  4. ^ "Syria". 
  5. ^ "Threatened Voices / Bloggers / Bassel (Safadi) Khartabil". 
  6. ^ "Request for Written Answer on the Question of the Imprisonment of Bassel Safadi Khartabil". European Parliament. 18 March 2014. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  7. ^ "Bassel Safadi discusses project involving 3D reconstruction of ancient city of Palmyra at San Francisco Art Institute, live from Syria via Skype". Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c d "UN Calls for the Release of Freedom of Speech Advocate Bassel Khartabil". Alkarama. 23 June 2015. Retrieved 25 June 2015. 
  9. ^ "As revolt against Assad enters 2nd year, ‘up to 500,000’ Syrians may flee crackdown". Al Arabiya. 15 March 2012. Retrieved 5 July 2012. 
  10. ^ "Request for Written Answer on the Question of the Imprisonment of Bassel Safadi Khartabil". European Parliament. 12 December 2013. Retrieved 15 March 2014. 
  11. ^ "Answer given by High Representative/Vice-President Ashton on behalf of the Commission on the Question of the Imprisonment of Bassel Safadi Khartabil". European Parliament. 18 March 2014. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  12. ^ "Netizen Report: U.K. Spied on Human Rights Organizations in Egypt, South Africa". Slate. 24 June 2015. Retrieved 25 June 2015. 
  13. ^ "Stories from the Syrian Revolution: Love in the Time of Revolution is a Revolution". Free Syrian Translators. 1 September 2013. Retrieved 15 March 2014. 
  14. ^ "A Love Letter to Jailed Syrian-Palestinian Bassel Khartabil". Global Voices. 23 February 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  15. ^ "The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers: 19 RIMA DALI, BASSEL KHARTABIL". Foreign Policy. 26 November 2012. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  16. ^ "Imprisoned internet pioneer Bassel Khartabil wins Index on Censorship Digital Freedom Award". Creative Commons. 21 March 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  17. ^ "Bassel Khartabil Wins Index on Censorship Digital Freedom Award". Fabricatorz. 21 March 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  18. ^ "Winners – Index Awards 2013". Index on Censorship. 21 March 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  19. ^ "Activists launch #FREEBASSEL campaign to bring about release of Syrian web entrepreneur, well-known in technology communities". Al Jazeera. 4 July 2012. Retrieved 5 July 2012. 
  20. ^ Galperin, Eva. "Open Source Developer Bassel Khartabil Detained in Syria". Electronic Frontier Foundation. Retrieved 5 July 2012. 
  21. ^ McAllister, Neil. "Mozilla Foundation and EFF join hunt for Syrian open source developer". The Register. Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
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  25. ^ Ito, Joi (29 June 2012). "Please help us Free Bassel, open source developer and CC volunteer". Creative Commons. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  26. ^ "Re: Call for the release of Bassel Khartabil". freebassel.org. 29 March 2012. Retrieved 27 March 2015. 
  27. ^ Lessig, Lawrence (4 July 2012). "On the fight for liberty: July 4, 2012". Lawrence Lessig. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  28. ^ Ito, Joi (29 June 2012). "Please help us Free Bassel, open source developer and CC volunteer". Lawrence Lessig. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  29. ^ Ito, Joi (29 June 2012). "クリエイティブ・コモンズのボランティアでもあるオープンソース開発者、Bassel氏解放への支援呼びかけ". Joi Ito. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  30. ^ Baker, Mitchell (5 July 2012). "Please help us Free Bassel, open source developer and CC volunteer". Mitchell Baker. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  31. ^ York, Jillian (30 June 2012). "Free Bassel". https://blog.lizardwrangler.com/2012/07/05/contributor-imprisoned-in-syria/Jillian York. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  32. ^ Nanabhay, Mohamed (1 July 2012). "bassel-safadi-at-the-cc-arab-world-workshop-in". Jillian York. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  33. ^ Threw, Barry (29 June 2012). "Please Help Free Bassel Khartabil #FREEBASSEL". Barry Threw. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
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  35. ^ "#FREEBASSEL Lettre de soutien au syrien Bassel Khartabil". Creative Commons. 3 July 2012. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  36. ^ Wijers, Bjorn (3 July 2012). "Opensource contributor Bassel Khartabil detained in Syria. Needs help". YCombinator Hackernews. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  37. ^ "Call for the Release of Bassel Khartabil". Creative Commons. 29 October 2012. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  38. ^ Doctorow, Cory (31 October 2012). "Free/open source programmer and Creative Commons activist Bassel Khartabil faces torture in notorious Syrian prison". Boing Boing. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
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  40. ^ "AMNESTY TAIWAN: SYRIA URGENT ACTION - #FREEBASSEL". freebassel.org. 19 October 2012. Retrieved 27 March 2015. 
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  44. ^ Randaree, Bilal (20 December 2012). "Concerns over fate of Syrian prisoner". Electronic Frontier Foundation. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  45. ^ Al Hussaini, Amira (17 December 2012). "#FastforBassel Campaign Launched for Syrian Netizen Facing Military Trial". Global Voices. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  46. ^ Izi, Touria (25 March 2013). "Fears that Syria may execute jailed software activist". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
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  48. ^ "CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED TO BRING HOME LOVED AND CELEBRATED INTERNET VOLUNTEER DETAINED IN SYRIA". FreeBassel.org. Retrieved 15 March 2014. 
  49. ^ "Free Bassel, Free Culture". The Huffington Post. 15 March 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  50. ^ "#FreeBassel: One Year Later, Syrian Netizen Remains in Prison". Global Voices Online. 15 March 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  51. ^ "Family of Syria Internet guru appeals for EU help". The EU Observer. 15 March 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  52. ^ "#freebassel: Syrischer Netzaktivist sitzt seit einem Jahr im Gefängnis". Netzpolitik. 15 March 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  53. ^ "Seit einem Jahr in Hafts". Taz. 15 March 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  54. ^ "Birthday wishes for Bassel Khartabil". Index on Censorship. Retrieved 24 May 2013. 
  55. ^ "Today is Bassel’s second birthday in prison". Index on Censorship. Retrieved 24 May 2013. 
  56. ^ Harmon, Elliot. "Bassel Khartabil's Second Birthday in Prison". Creative Commons. Retrieved 24 May 2013. 
  57. ^ "Bassel Khartabil’s Second Birthday in Prison". Creative Commons. 22 May 2013. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  58. ^ "MoPad: freebassel". 
  59. ^ Phillips, Jon. "FREEBASSEL SUNLIGHT: Celebrate Bassel’s Birthday". Fabricatorz. 
  60. ^ Harmon, Elliot (March 21, 2013). "Imprisoned internet pioneer Bassel Khartabil wins Index on Censorship Digital Freedom Award". Creative Commons. Retrieved May 11, 2015. 
  61. ^ "The imprisonment of Bassel Safadi Khartabil". freebassel.org. 12 December 2013. Retrieved 27 March 2015. 
  62. ^ Weidenbaum, Marc (23 January 2014). "Disquiet Junto Project 0108: Free Bassel Create a soundscape for the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra". Disquiet Junto. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  63. ^ "Cookbook in Honor of Bassel Khartabil". Creative Commons. 24 February 2014. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  64. ^ "Join Us in San Francisco for Free Bassel Day". Creative Commons. 7 March 2014. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  65. ^ "Free Bassel Day". Creative Commons. 15 March 2014. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  66. ^ "In Syria, a detained Internet activist remains in limbo". CNET. 11 March 2014. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  67. ^ "#FREEBASSELDAY 2014". 
  68. ^ "The #FreeBassel Cookbook". Aerbook Store. 
  69. ^ Harmon, Elliot (22 May 2014). "Show your support for imprisoned CC community leader Bassel Khartabil". Creative Commons. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  70. ^ MacKinnon, Rebecca (1 September 2014). "Joining Zone Nine". World Policy Journal. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  71. ^ Glaser, April (3 October 2014). "A Wikipedia Edit-a-thon for the Zone 9 Bloggers, A Great Way to Raise Awareness". EFF. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
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  73. ^ "Romper el silencio: Campaña por activistas de derechos humanos encarcelados". Global Voices Online. 10 December 2014. Retrieved 27 March 2015. 
  74. ^ "On Human Rights Day, We Remember Jailed Human Rights Defenders". Electronic Frontier Foundation. 10 December 2014. Retrieved 27 March 2015. 
  75. ^ "Wikipedia Edit-a-thon: FreeBassel Day 2015". EFF. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  76. ^ "#FreeBassel Day 2015: Wikipedia Edit-a-thon at EFF". Creative Commons. 5 March 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  77. ^ "This is not a protest! Edit for #FreeBassel". Creative Commons. 11 March 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  78. ^ "MEETUP/SAN FRANCISCO/FREEBASSEL DAY 2015 Announcement". Freebassel. 15 March 2015. Retrieved 27 March 2015. 

External links[edit]