Tweet Storm for Ahmed Mansoor

If you have read my May blog post about human rights defenders in the United Arab Emirates (UAE): “Arrested, Sentenced, Not Released” you will know that Ahmed Mansoor was arrested on 20 March 2017. He is still in prison six months later.

We decided to organise a tweet storm for Ahmed Mansoor on 20 September 2017, six months after his arrest.  

Please join the tweet storm and share the information about the action. We want as many participants as possible. Please read the post and continue to support him even when the Tweet Storm is over.

Tweet storm Ahmed Mansoor Var1

1. Who is Ahmed Mansoor?

Ahmed Mansoor is a prominent human rights activist from the United Arab Emirates. In October 2015 he received the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. Ahmed Mansoor has been targeted and harassed for years for his human rights activism.  He was arrested six months ago on 20 March 2017. He is still in prison in solitary confinement. Ahmed is married and has four small boys. His family had a chance to meet him two weeks after his arrest for 15 minutes. They did not have any contact for months.

If you want to know more about Ahmed Mansoor have a look at Amnesty International Action page for him or read my blog post about him.

2. Why shall I participate in the tweet storm?

Ahmed Mansoor is a brave advocate for victims of human rights violations and prisoner of conscience. He always speaks out for others. Now he is a prisoner of conscience himself and needs our support.

Please join the tweet storm and mark the day 6 months after his arrest. Raise awareness for him and show the United Arab Emirates that you have not forgotten him, but will stand with him and campaign for him. 

3. When does the Tweet Storm take place?

The tweet storm will take place on Wednesday, 20 September at 8pm (UAE time).

This is equivalent to 5pm (London), 6pm (Paris), 12 noon (New York), 9am (Los Angeles).

If you cannot make it, then please let your followers know about the tweet storm and ask them to join.

English PEN also launched a Thunderclap in support of Ahmed Mansoor. Please follow the link and sign up to this action as well.

4. What shall I tweet?

  • Send tweets to raise your followers’ awareness for Ahmed Mansoor. Tell them about him and his courageous work defending human rights in the UAE. You can also send tweets to journalists and newspapers and ask them to report his case.
  • Send tweets to the United Arab Emirates, in particular to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum  @HHShkMohd, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and to Dr. Anwar Mohammed Gargash @AnwarGargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and ask them to release Ahmed Mansoor.
  • You can also tweet to politicians in Europe and the US, e.g. Federica Mogherini (@FedericaMog) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of your country. Feel free to tweet in your own language.
  • You can finally send tweets with words of support to @Ahmed_Mansoor. You can tweet that you stand with him and that you will campaign for him until he is released and similar messages.

5. Which hashtag shall I use?

Please use the hashtag #FreeAhmed for all your tweets (irrespective of the language in which you tweet). If everyone does, it is easy to find and retweet the tweets of others.

6. Suggested tweets

You can tweet whatever you want. Be inventive and tweet in whatever language you want. It would be great to have tweets in many different languages. Use pictures and graphics in your tweets to help them stand out. You can find some images you can use at the bottom of this post.

If you need some inspiration for tweets here are some examples:

  • Human rights defender @Ahmed_Mansoor has been in detention in Abu Dhabi without trial, or access to family for 6 months #FreeAhmed
  • UAE has detained human rights defender @Ahmed_Mansoor for last 6 months without access to the outside world for tweets #FreeAhmed #Emirates
  • Brave defender @Ahmed_Mansoor , arrested 6 months ago is detained in solitary confinement, all for his human rights activities #FreeAhmed
  • Harassed, given death threats, held in solitary confinement without access to the outside world for 6 months. @HHShkMohd must #FreeAhmed NOW
  • We call for the immediate and unconditional release of human rights defender @Ahmed_Mansoor. We urge @HHShkMohd @AnwarGargash to #FreeAhmed
  • .@Ahmed_Mansoor is a prisoner of conscience who is detained solely for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression. #FreeAhmed
  • .@Ahmed_Mansoor has spent 6 months in solitary confinement for speaking up for others & defending #humanrights. Join our call to #FreeAhmed
  • Please @FedericaMog intercede for @Ahmed_Mansoor #UAE. He has spent 6 months in solitary confinement for defending #humanrights. #FreeAhmed
  • Please @guardian write about @Ahmed_Mansoor #UAE. He is a brave human rights defender in jail for speaking up for others. Help to #FreeAhmed

7.  Can I do anything after 20 September?

Please do not stop supporting Ahmed Mansoor when the Tweet Storm on 20 September 2017 is over.

There is still the Amnesty International petition “Free Ahmed Mansoor” available online which you can sign and share with family, friends and followers.

As always, if you are on Twitter or in other Social Media, please continue to raise his case and make other people aware of it. If you like the suggested tweets, just continue to use them.

8. Graphics you can use:




Support for Raif Badawi from around the world

In 2015 I started a project for Raif Badawi. I collected over time 100 translations of a phrase of support for him from people all over the world. I wrote about this project already in June 2015 on the website in support of Raif Badawi and also mentioned the project in my earlier post Twitter is great.  To mark the anniversary of his flogging on 9 January 2015 and his 33rd birthday on 13 January, I want to share my post in an amended form also from my blog.

1. What is the background?

In February 2015 @VeraSScott a human rights activists came up with the following phrase of support for Raif Badawi: “We will hold Raif Badawi in our hearts and minds until his family can hold him in their arms”. This phrase proved to be very popular and soon many people were using it on Twitter.

I liked the phrase and thought it would be great, if we have this wonderful phrase of support for Raif not only in English, but in many different languages. Raif Badawi became during the weeks and months after he was flogged the first time an international symbol for the struggle of so many people for human rights and freedom of speech. This international interest in his case and his fate should manifest itself in support for him in languages from all over the world.

Initially I was not sure how many translations I wanted to collect, but then I decided that it really should be translations into 50 languages. Saudi Arabia decided to flog Raif Badawi in January 2015 50 times and they planned to give him 50 lashes each week, we should show him our support in 50 languages – one for each lash he had to endure.

When I published this article initially I had collected 56 languages. After that I continued to collect translations of this phrase. Now I have 100 pictures with translations of this phrase of support.

2. Which languages are represented?

If you look at the list of languages below, you will see an amazing variety of languages.

There are European, African and Asian languages. The seven UN languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish) are represented. You will find translations in the 12 languages which are spoken by most people in the world as their native language (Hindi, Bangla, Portuguese, Italian, German, Japanese in addition to the UN languages). But you can also find languages as Scottish Gaelic and Romansh which are only spoken by a few ten thousand people or languages as Luxembourgish and Maltese which are spoken by some hundred thousand people.

The languages represent different cultures and connected with the different cultures also different religions. However, the support for Raif Badawi and for human rights goes beyond culture and religion.

3. Who translated the phrase?

I got all the translations via Twitter and again the broad range of different people who were willing to help was astonishing. People from Iceland in the North to Australia in the South and from Canada in the West to Malaysia, Indonesia and Korea in the East helped with the translations. I had people from each continent of the earth who helped with this project.

Also the background of the people and their involvement in campaigns for Raif Badawi covered a broad range of different types of involvment. I asked many Amnesty International divisions for translations and a lot of them helped me. I asked the people who tweet a lot for Raif. But I was more surprised that also such people were happy to help who had only signed one petition for him or even people who did not seem to have any prior involvement in campaigns for Raif Badawi. Some of them not only translated the phrase for me, but also used the picture afterwards themselves and asked their followers to take action.

I think this is a moving sign for the global support and global outcry Raif Badawi’s case has attracted.

4. What follows next?

Please continue to use the pictures and the phrase in different languages. Add them to your tweets, share them on Facebook and on Instagram and continue to support Raif Badawi and his family.

You will find below a list of all the languages and also all the pictures. They are roughly in geographical order, starting with Europe. I collected a lot of Indian languages. For the ease of reference, you will find languages spoken on the Indian subcontinent in a separate group. The next group includes all remaining Asian languages and the last group comprises of all African languages.

I think 100 languages is a good number and I decided that I will not actively continue to collect further languages. However, if you speak a language which is not yet represented and think it should be represented, then please tweet me at @CiLuna27 and send me your translation. I am happy to put it in a picture as well.

5. The Languages

a) European Languages

  • English
  • Irish
  • Scottish Gaelic
  • Welsh
  • Portuguese
  • Spanish
  • Catalan
  • Basque
  • Galician
  • French
  • Dutch
  • German
  • Luxembourgish
  • Rumantsch
  • Italian
  • Maltese
  • Greek
  • Albanian
  • Macedonian
  • Bulgarian
  • Romanian
  • Hungarian
  • Serbian
  • Croatian
  • Bosnian
  • Slovene
  • Slovak
  • Czech
  • Polish
  • Icelandic
  • Norwegian
  • Danish
  • Swedish
  • Finnish
  • Estonian
  • Latvian
  • Lithuanian
  • Belarusian
  • Ukrainian
  • Russian

b) Languages of the Indian Subcontinent

  • Hindi
  • Awadhi
  • Bangla
  • Bhojpuri
  • Chittagonian
  • Gujarati
  • Kannada
  • Malayalam
  • Marathi
  • Marwari
  • Nepali
  • Pahari
  • Punjabi (Gurmukhi)
  • Punjabi (Shahmukhi)
  • Saraiki
  • Arabic Sindhi
  • Devanagari Sindhi
  • Sinhala
  • Tamil
  • Telugu
  • Urdu

c) Other Asian Languages

  • Arabic
  • Hebrew
  • Turkish
  • Kurdish
  • Armenian
  • Georgian
  • Azeri
  • Persian
  • Kazakh
  • Uzbek
  • Pashto
  • Dari
  • Mongolian
  • Chinese
  • Tibetan
  • Vietnamese
  • Thai
  • Indonesian
  • Malaysian
  • Tagalog
  • Visayan
  • Korean
  • Japanese

d) African Languages

  • Afrikaans
  • Chibemba
  • Dholuo
  • Ekegusii
  • Hausa
  • Igbo
  • Kirundi
  • Luhya
  • Ndebele
  • Oromo
  • Shona
  • Somali
  • Swahili
  • Wolof
  • Xhosa
  • Yoruba



Sky for Shawkan

In my last blog post, I wrote about the Egyptian photographer Mahmoud Abu Zeid (Shawkan). In this post, I want to give an update on his situation and report about a new campaign “Sky for Shawkan”.  It would great, if you could join the campaign.


  1. The photographer Mahmoud Abu Zeid (Shawkan) has been in prison for more than three years. He is not convicted of any crimes; his trial is still ongoing. He is on trial together with 738 other defendants. You can read his whole story in my previous post. The last hearing in the trial took place on 6 September. There are sadly no new developments. The court resumed the examination of evidence. They will continue with this task on 8 October 2016. Shawkan will stay in detention.
    Shawkan’s family, friends and supporters had hoped that he would be included in Abdel Fattah al Sisi’s amnesty for Eid Al Adha (Feast of Sacrifice). Sadly no journalist or other political prisoner was pardoned.
  2. Shawkan said some time ago in a letter that he misses the sky in his prison cell. When he spoke with an AFP reporter during a break in a recent court session, he mentioned that his hopes diminish every day and reiterated that he misses being able to look at the sky. Kate (@Beerinwitsout) sent a tweet on 6 September in which she said: “@ShawkanZeid misses the sky. I took this photo 4him just in England but so want him to see real blue sky soon!”. The tweet included a photo of the sky.
    I thought this is a wonderful idea and it would be fantastic to have more photos of the sky for Shawkan. I put an Instagram post together in which I explained the idea and asked people to (1) take a photo of the sky, (2) share it on Twitter using the hashtag #SkyforShawkan and (3) invite others to join as well.
  3. I am delighted that a lot of people liked the idea and joined in. They sent beautiful photos of the sky from all over the world. Some sent their tweet to the main twitter account for the campaign for Shawkan’s release  (@ShawkanZeid) and only included the hashtag #SkyforShawkan. Others wrote words of support and encouragement for Shawkan or sent a tweet to the Official Twitter account of the President of Egypt Abdel Fattah al Sisi and the Foreign Ministry of Egypt and asked them to release Shawkan. Many also sent tweets in which they asked their followers to join the campaign as well.
  4. It is great to have the photos on Twitter, but I thought it would be wonderful to share some of the photos in a blog post as well.
    Here is a selection of photos which were tweeted in the last week. It is a picture gallery, if you click on one of the photos you can see them enlarged:

    Thank you to everyone  who tweeted a photo and thank you for allowing me to use your beautiful photos in this blog post.

  5. Please continue to support the campaign #SkyForShawkan and tweet your photo of the sky to @ShawkanZeid. Please also sign and share the petitions which ask for Shawkan’s release. You find the links to all three petitions in my previous post about him.
  6. It is fabulous to have all this photos of the sky for Shawkan, but I do hope that he soon will be free and will be able to see and enjoy the real sky.


Tweet Storm for Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki

One of the people I have been supporting for some time is the Iranian blogger Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki. In this post, I give you some information about him and – more important – invite you to join a Tweet Storm for him on Monday, 18 January 2016.

Please join and share the post. We want as many participants as possible. Please read the post and continue to support him even when the Tweet Storm is over.


1. Who is Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki?

Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki is a 30 year old blogger from Iran. He was arrested in December 2009, because he had protested earlier in 2009 against the results of the Iranian presidential elections. In addition he was a member of Proxy Iran, a Committee against Censorship.

He and his brother were arrested, they were kept in solitary confinement and both were mistreated and tortured. His brother Hassan was not involved in any protests or political activity, but was only targeted to put pressure on Hossein.

Hossein was sentenced to 15 years in prison. The charges were:

  • Membership in the Committee against Censorship in Iran (10 years)
  • Insulting President Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader (4 years)
  • Propaganda against the regime  (1 year)

Hossein is prosecuted because he defended freedom of speech. He is a prisoner of conscience. Amnesty International reports that in June 2015 his sentence was reduced to 13 years.

Hossein developed problems with his kidneys. These were a result of the torture he had to endure during interrogations added to long periods in solitary confinement. Because he did not get proper medical care, his condition became worse and he lost a kidney. His health condition is still critical and he cannot get proper medical treatment in prison.

2. Why shall I participate in the Tweet Storm?

On 17 June 2015 Hossain Ronaghi-Maleki was given furlough on medical grounds. Initially the furlough was only given for one week, but then extended. He and his family had to endure constant pressure and harassment during the furlough, because the authorities asked him to return to prison.

On Monday 11 January 2016 he was ordered back to prison. There are serious concerns that his health will  deteriorate further, if he returns to prison. The Medical Examiner has found him unfit to serve his sentence because he has multiple medical problems.

3. When does the Tweet Storm take place?

The Tweet Storm is effectively a Twitter Day and it takes place on Monday 18 January 2016.

You can start sending tweets after midnight in your time zone and tweet during the whole Monday until midnight. Tweet as much as you can, if many people from different time zones take part, we have hopefully tweets during the whole of Monday.

Please join, even if you have only time for a few tweets at a specific time. It is a team effort and we all work together.

4. What shall I tweet?

  • Send tweets to @HosseinRonaghi with words of support. You can tweet that you stand with him and that you will campaign for him until he is released and similar messages.
  • Send tweets to Iran, in particular to Hassan Rouhani, the President of Iran [@HassanRouhani (English account) or @Rouhani_ir (Persian account)] and to Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader @Khamenei_ir and ask them to reverse their decision and to quash the judgement against Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki.
  • You can also tweet to politicians in Europe and the US, e.g. Federica Mogherini (@FedericaMog) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of your country. Feel free to tweet in your own language.
  • Send tweets to raise your followers’ awareness for Hossein Ronaghi Maleki. You can also send tweets to journalists and newspapers and ask them to report about him.

5. Is there a special hashtag?

Please use for all your tweets (irrespective of the language in which you tweet)  the special hashtag #NoJail4Hossein. If everyone does, it is easy to find and retweet the tweets of others.

6. Suggested tweets

You can write your own tweets, but if you need some inspiration here are some suggested tweets:

  • #NoJail4Hossein. We ask #Iran to release @HosseinRonaghi immediately. He is a prisoner of conscience and not a criminal.#FreeHosseinRonaghi
  • .@Khamenei_ir quash the unfair sentence against @HosseinRonaghi and don’t send him back to prison. #NoJail4Hossein #FreeHosseinRonaghi #Iran
  • .@HassanRouhani Do everything to impede that @HosseinRonaghi is sent back to jail. He needs medical care outside of jail. #NoJail4Hossein
  • Please @FedericaMog intercede for @HosseinRonaghi #Iran. His health will be at serious risk, if he has to return to prison. #NoJail4Hossein
  • Please @guardian write about @HosseinRonaghi #Iran. His life is at risk, if he has to return to jail. He needs medical care #NoJail4Hossein
  • Please be assured @HosseinRonaghi that we stand with you and will campaign for you until you are free at last. #NoJail4Hossein #Iran
  • We will keep shouting: #NoJail4Hossein #FreeHosseinRonaghi until #Iran finally releases @HosseinRonaghi unconditionally
  • We will not be silent or turn away, but continue to demand #NoJail4Hossein #FreeHosseinRonaghi as long as it takes. @HosseinRonaghi

7. Where can I find more information about Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki?

If you want to know more about Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki there are some useful websites:

a) The website “Journalism is not a crime” has a good summary article about him with links to current articles and an Amnesty Urgent Action.

b) Laleh writes a blog about human rights in Iran. She writes often about Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki. It is also worth following her blog.

c) Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki has also a blog. Most of his posts are in Persian, but some have an English translation.

d) Here is a link to a letter in which Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki describes the actions towards his family and him during the first 24 hours of his detainment in 2009.

e) Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki’s father spoke with IranWire in March 2015. Here you can find the article “I will set myself on fire.”

8.  Can I do anything after 18 January?

Please do not stop supporting Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki when the Tweet Storm on 18 January 2016 is over.

Amnesty International will hopefully update their urgent action for him. If they do, you will find a link here once the updated action is online. PEN International has also actions for him on their website: here a link to the English action and here a link to the German action. Write to Iran on his behalf.

As always, if you are on Twitter or in other Social Media, please continue to raise his case and make other people aware of it. If you like the suggested tweets, just continue to use them.

Show your support and show Iran that we will not forget Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki and will campaign for him until he is free.

9. Addendum (23 January)

In the meantime Amnesty International has updated their urgent action for Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki and also Pen International had done so.

Here are the links:

Please follow the links and speak up for Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki.

A Story in Tweets

If you had read my post “Twitter is great!“, you know how much I was impressed by Asma Darwish’s tweets during the detention of her husband Hussain Jawad earlier this year. I mentioned in that post that “I would love to use the tweets in a later post to share this story with you.” Well, I asked her and I am very pleased that she gave me her consent for using her tweets for this post.

Some short remarks at the beginning: The tweets are by Asma Darwish, but there were so many tweets during these three months (15 February – 19 May 2015) that I had to make a selection. This selection is obviously subjective, but I hope that it conveys the story in all aspects without being too detailed. I have decided to arrange the tweets in eight groups – each group covering a certain period of time. I will give a few key dates as introduction to each paragraph, but I think that the tweets speak for themselves. If you want to see the tweets enlarged, you can click on each of them and see each group of tweets as a picture gallery.  Please note that the dates and times you can see on the tweets are GMT + 1 h, the time in Bahrain where she wrote the tweets is GMT + 3 h.

I. 15 February – 22 February 2015

In the night of 15 / 16 February 2015 Hussain Jawad, a Bahraini Human Rights activist, founder and chairman of the European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR), was arrested in a night raid at his home. He was brought to Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) which is notorious for torture. Hours and days of uncertainty followed for his family with limited information. The information the family received was first contradicting and then worrying and even disturbing.

II. 24 February – 4 March 2015

On 25 February Asma Darwish and their two year old son Parweez could finally visit Hussain Jawad in Dry Dock Prison. The following day (26 February) a procedural court hearing took place. The court extended the detention for 15 days.

III. 5 March 2015 – 13 March 2015

On 5 March Asma Darwish visited her husband a second time. In the following days a Special Investigation Unit interrogated Hussain Jawad and also Asma Darwish about the allegations of torture, but no actions seemed to follow from this investigation.

IV. 13 March – 22 March 2015

On 15 March Asma Darwish visited her husband a third time. Two days later, on 17 March, the first court hearing took place.

V. 22 March – 5 April 2015

In the following weeks Asma Darwish had two further opportunities to visit Hussain Jawad in prison (23 March and 31 March). EBOHR launched a campaign of solidarity for him and Asma Darwish asked people via Twitter to take a photo of themselves with some words of support for Hussain Jawad.

VI. 5 April – 13 April 2015

On 7 April a further court hearing took place. The court postponed the hearing until 22 April and Hussain Jawad remained in prison. On the following day, 8 April, Asma Darwish visited him again.

VII. 14 April – 4 May 2015

On 16 April, Asma Darwish visited her husband again in prison. A further court hearing on 22 April was again adjourned to 12 May, because the witnesses did not appear. Hussain Jawad remained in prison.

VIII. 5 May – 21 May 2015

In the following weeks Asma Darwish visited Hussain Jawad two more times on 5 May and the 13 May in Dry Dock Prison. A further court hearings took place on the 12 May and the 19 May. On the 19 May the court finally ordered Hussain Jawad’s release from prison.

The last tweet in this group is the first tweet he sent after his release: “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

IX. A few links

Asma Darwish tweeted links to several articles. I would like to give at least the links to some of them, in case you want to know more about Hussain Jawad’s story. They are all well worth reading:

  1. 19 February: Faten Bushehri: “Hussain Jawad and human rights: A story that never ends
  3. 2 March: Independent: Emanuel Stoakes: “Hussain Jawad’s detainment and torture highlights Britain’s shameless stance on Bahraini rights
  4. 4 March: Aljazeera America: Asma Darwish: “Tell US ally Bahrain to release my husband
  5. 19 March: EBOHR: “Letter from Jailed HRD Hussain Parweez to his Human Rights Colleagues: Storms can never Shake Mountains
  6. 30 March: Foreign Policy: Emanuel Stoakes: “Whatever Happened to Bahrain’s Torture Reforms?

X. All’s well that ends well?

Does this story have a happy end? Well, I would say, not yet.

Hussain Jawad was released on 19 May 2015, but it was just a conditional release. He faces a verdict today, on 13 September and there is another trial for other charges with a hearing in November. There is the risk that he will be sentenced to several years in prison on the basis of a forced confession and fabricated charges.

As you can see from the tweets also Hussain Jawad’s father Mohammed Hassan Jawad, also know as Parweez, is in prison. The family received a few days ago the message that he was transferred to hospital, because he is ill. He is 68 years old and the Bahrain’s eldest political prisoner. He was in the meantime brought back to prison, but has still serious health problems, because he did not really receive any medical treatment in hospital.

There might not be a lot what each of us can do, but it would also be wrong to think that we can do nothing. If you use social media than please support Hussain Jawad and his work for human rights in Bahrain. If you are on Twitter please follow him (@HussainMJawad) and his wife Asma Darwish (@eagertobefree). Otherwise have a look at the Amnesty International Website and see how you can help. There are always urgent actions and petitions you can sign.

I choose his story as an example, but he is obviously by no means the only one – neither the only one in Bahrain nor the only one who experienced torture and unfair imprisonment. There are 1000s of people and 1000s of stories which are untold. Each of them equally deserves the attention and action of people who are able to help. Therefore please take action and do not stay silent.

XI. Addendum (17 December 2015)

The court did not hand down the verdict in September, but adjourned the court hearing.

Yesterday (on 16 December 2015) the court passed the judgment against Hussain Jawad. The sentence is two years in prison. Fortunately Hussain Jawad is currently not in Bahrain and therefore still free.

Twitter is great!

During the past weeks and months a lot of friends were surprised about my current enthusiasm for Twitter. They found it hard to understand why it can be exciting to post and read messages with no apparent addressee which cannot have more than 140 characters.

I want to explain and give some examples in the following post, why I think Twitter is great. I am writing this post in particular for those friends who are puzzled by my excitement.

1. I have had a Twitter account since June 2009, but I did not really use it. I was hardly following anyone and I tweeted or retweeted not more than five tweets in all these years. I started using Twitter earlier this year in February, because I wanted to help and support Raif Badawi. I wrote more about that in my post Why I do care about Raif Badawi.

I signed up for Twitter in 2009, because so many newspaper articles about the Arab Spring mentioned that Twitter was an important means of communication during this time. I thought it was exciting to get first hand information via Twitter. However, I did not really get into it, because I was not sure what I should look for and whom I should follow. I find this an interesting coincidence, because I use Twitter now so heavily for prisoners of conscience and human rights defenders who were active during the Arab Spring or who are in any case from the MENA region (Middle East & Northern Africa) and stand for the ideas and values which played an important role during that movement.

2. During the past weeks and months I told a lot of my friends and colleagues about my current enthusiastic use of Twitter and I got almost always one of the following two reactions: Either people replied that they do not have a Twitter account and also do not really understand it or they replied that they have a Twitter account, but hardly ever use it. I want to explain why I am fascinated by Twitter. I think, it is an easy way to communicate in an informal manner with people all over the world and it is brilliant to spread news very quickly. The following two examples shall illustrate my statement: (a) my collection of translations of a phrase of support for Raif Badawi via Twitter and (b) the tweets by Asma Darwish (@eagertobefree), Hussain Jawad’s wife, over the whole period from his arrest in February 2015 until his (conditional) release on 19 May 2015.

3. A few months ago @VeraSScott who campaigns a lot for Raif Badawi came up with a phrase of support for him. The phrase is: “We will hold Raif Badawi in our hearts and minds until his family can hold him in their arms”. This phrase became very popular and many people used it. I liked it as well and suggested to her that it would be great to have it not only in English, but in many different languages. I collected over the past months translations in almost 60 different languages. I put each translation in a picture of Raif Badawi and his three children and you can find all languages and pictures here.

I got all translations by asking people on Twitter for it. I first asked all those who frequently campaign for Raif Badawi. I got a translation into French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, German, Hindi and Malayalam, but I wanted to have more translations. Therefore I sent tweets to the different Amnesty sections all over the world and to people who used the hashtag #FreeRaif or #RaifBadawi. Very often these were people who had only signed a petition for him. If they were in a country from which I did not have the language, I asked them for a translation. Finally I wanted to have some specific languages and just looked for people who posted in that language or where I found another indication that they might speak the language I wanted to have. The reactions I got to my tweets were great. The vast majority of people I asked for a translation were extremely friendly and helped very quickly.

I asked for example @rlamsfuss for a translation of the phrase into Persian. He told me that he could not translate the phrase, because he did not speak the language well enough. When I explained why I wanted to have the translation, he asked a friend @shary20 whether she could help. She sent me immediately a translation into Persian. Both were so friendly and helpful that I decided to follow them. I saw for which prisoners of conscience they mainly campaign and their kindness is one of the reasons why I campaign now for Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki and Saeed Malekpour as well.

I used the translations during the past months and sent it to several people mainly to raise awareness for Raif Badawi. Again, the reactions were great and I got a lot of positive feedback. I sent a tweet with a picture of the phrase in Maltese to @mmic78. The tweet mentioned the number of days Raif Badawi had spent in prison and asked King Salman for mercy. @mmic78 translated my tweet spontaneously into Maltese and we exchanged a couple of tweets. We now follow each other. He is mainly interested in migration as well as Libya and Malta. He occasionally retweets my Raif Badawi tweets and other human rights tweets and I am happy to retweet his tweets on migration topics.

Without Twitter I would not have had any possibility to get all these translations so easy and I would not have learned about new interesting topics and people I have not been aware of before.

4. On 16 February 2015 the Bahraini Human Rights activist, founder and chairman of the European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR) Hussain Jawad was arrested in a night raid of his house. He was brought to Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID). Over the next days he was tortured by physical and psychological means to get him to sign a confession of crimes he has not committed. He was targeted because of his work as a human rights defender. He was then transferred to Dry Dock prison. Over the next months a number of hearings took place. On 19 May he was finally released, but it is just a conditional release and the trial based on the forced confession will take place in September.

His wife Asma Darwish who is also active in EBOHR tweeted about each step after his arrest until the news about his conditional release. I did not follow these tweets from the very beginning, because I think probably just started following Asma Darwish in March, but I read her earlier tweets later. She tweeted about everything which was significant in relation to her husband – beginning with the arrest, the uncertainty, because she could not reach anyone to inform her about his whereabouts and his well-being, the call in which he spoke only a few words which she could hardly understand and in which he confirmed that he was hurt.  She tweeted about each of her visits in prison (before she left and after she was back), she tweeted about each court hearing – every time with the hope that he would be released and always – apart from the last hearing –  with the disappointment when the court extended the detention again. Between her visits and the hearings she asked people to join tweet storms for her husband or to send photos of support for him. She tweeted the articles which were published about him during this time and tweeted pictures of him, but also of their son and herself. Even so a tweet has only 140 characters you can see all her determination and her love for her husband in these tweets; in some tweets you can sense her anger, her disappointment and also her hope. For me these tweets are a remarkable testimony of that story and I would love use the tweets in a later post to share this story with you.

I do not know any other way how she could have informed people worldwide as quickly and as easy about everything what happened. I think Twitter proved to be in this case an excellent means of communication across borders and irrespective of the difficult circumstances.

5. I could give many more examples how Twitter enabled me to get in contact with people and organisations very easily and how it helped to campaign for human rights causes and made it possible to interest people who campaign for certain prisoners to include others in their tweets as well.

Thanks to Twitter the times are over when it was easy for repressive regimes to keep things hidden and it is no surprise to me that human rights activists like Nabeel Rajab are in prison for their tweets. Countries like Bahrain have long realised what a powerful tool Twitter can be and how difficult it is to control. And thanks to Twitter it is easy for each of us to let prisoners of conscience via their friends and family members know that they are not alone and not forgotten.