When A Tweet Can Change The World

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Fifty years ago, Amnesty activists fought to free prisoners of conscience by putting pen to paper. In 2011, our goal is still the same, but things have gotten a little more high-tech. The pen is still a powerful tool, but now we’ve also got email and online actions in our arsenal. And now we can add another medium to that list: Twitter.

Rafiq Hakeem 14 years old was set free after Twitter campaign

In early February, 14-year-old Faizan Rafiq Hakeem was arrested in Jammu and Kashmir for throwing stones. The police detained him under the controversial Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA). Under this act, he was held for over a month without trial—and could have been held for up to two years. Despite the fact that he was a minor, authorities claimed that medical tests proved he was old enough to be treated as an adult.

Amnesty called for Faizan’s release, and this call was answered by activists on Twitter. On April 1, Alaphia Zoyab, Amnesty’s Online Communities Officer for India began tweeting from the @aiindia account, and was joined by Govind Acharya—who posts on this blog—in the US. #freefaizan became a hashtag and Twitter users from all over began tweeting for Faizan’s freedom.

Activists tweeted directly to the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah @abdullah_omar, asking him to “free Faizan.” He replied to the tweets, saying “We are looking at his case sympathetically & will decide in the next couple of days” and eventually reconsidered the case:

Tweets from Omar Abdullah responding to #FreeFaizan messages

A few days later, after this barrage of tweets, coupled with on-the-ground campaigning, on April 5 Faizan was free.

Thanks to social media, the world we live in is getting smaller and smaller—and the more interconnected we are, the harder it will be for human rights violations to go unnoticed. Faizan’s story is proof that enough voices speaking up about injustice are too loud to be ignored, especially on a public medium such as Twitter, where both action and inaction by those responsible can easily fall under scrutiny.

If you could launch a Twitter campaign to free a prisoner of conscience or promote human rights, who or what would you tweet for?

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50 thoughts on “When A Tweet Can Change The World

  1. It's great to see what we're capable of when united. The internet has become a fantastic tool. Keep on tweeting and keep on changing the world!

  2. Tweeting for Eman Al Obeidy of Libya & the Al Khawaja family of human rights activists currently, as well as some for Egyptian political prisoners.

  3. We also should appreciate the Jammu and kashmir chief minsiter mr Omar for being on twitter and being accessible.

  4. Hopefully activists will help us do the same pressure campaign to release the political prisoner in Saudi Arabia, Khaled Mohammed. He was arrested after speaking to the western media about his thoughts on democracy and freedom of speech. Here is the video of his interview.
    We use the #WhereIsKhaled hashtag on Twitter.

  5. Hopefully activists will help us do the same pressure campaign to release the political prisoner in Saudi Arabia, Khaled Mohammed. He was arrested after speaking to the western media about his thoughts on democracy and freedom of speech. Here is the video of his interview.
    We use the #WhereIsKhaled hashtag on Twitter.

  6. Hopefully activists will help us do the same pressure campaign to release the political prisoner in Saudi Arabia, Khaled Mohammed. He was arrested after speaking to the western media about his thoughts on democracy and freedom of speech. Here is the video of his interview.
    We use the #WhereIsKhaled hashtag on Twitter.

  7. The blogger Maikel Nabil who is in military prison, is (among others) a symbol for the call for changes in the Middle East. I think support is necessarry for him and for all voices calling for freedom of speech who can't speak at this moment. Twitter sure is a new way to find information and to start action for them.

  8. It’s great to see what we’re capable of when united. The internet has become a fantastic tool. Keep on tweeting and keep on changing the world!

  9. Tweeting for Eman Al Obeidy of Libya & the Al Khawaja family of human rights activists currently, as well as some for Egyptian political prisoners.

  10. We also should appreciate the Jammu and kashmir chief minsiter mr Omar for being on twitter and being accessible.

  11. It’s great to see social media plays a key role in our lives,so lets all stay connected and be updated.

    When it comes to Twitter especially known for it's real time and lighting quick updates,very recently Twitter was part of Twestival (a festival supported by Twitter Inc) thanks to Jack Dorsey,Evan Williams you are just awesome for creating a platform where every day 70 millions tweets takes place,and also congratulations for completing your 5th anniversary successfully very recently.

    With Regards, http://twitter.com/punter_me

  12. Hopefully activists will help us do the same pressure campaign to release the political prisoner in Saudi Arabia, Khaled Mohammed. He was arrested after speaking to the western media about his thoughts on democracy and freedom of speech. Here is the video of his interview.
    We use the #WhereIsKhaled hashtag on Twitter.

  13. It’s great to see social media plays a key role in our lives,so lets all stay connected and be updated.

    When it comes to Twitter especially known for it's real time and lighting quick updates,very recently Twitter was part of Twestival (a festival supported by Twitter Inc) thanks to Jack Dorsey,Evan Williams you are just awesome for creating a platform where every day 70 millions tweets takes place,and also congratulations for completing your 5th anniversary successfully very recently.

    With Regards, http://twitter.com/punter_me

  14. It’s great to see social media plays a key role in our lives,so lets all stay connected and be updated.

    When it comes to Twitter especially known for it's real time and lighting quick updates,very recently Twitter was part of Twestival (a festival supported by Twitter Inc) thanks to Jack Dorsey,Evan Williams you are just awesome for creating a platform where every day 70 millions tweets takes place,and also congratulations for completing your 5th anniversary successfully very recently.

    With Regards, http://twitter.com/punter_me

  15. travailler pour les raiseaux sociaux c'est construire un avenir pour chacun de nous
    car il réunit les bonnes pensées des meilleurs du monde entier dans un cvollectif
    qui apportte la paix et la fraternité

  16. The blogger Maikel Nabil who is in military prison, is (among others) a symbol for the call for changes in the Middle East. I think support is necessarry for him and for all voices calling for freedom of speech who can’t speak at this moment. Twitter sure is a new way to find information and to start action for them.

  17. I would tweet for U Gambira in Myanmar. I would tweet for Shane and Josh, the hikers imprisoned in Iran. I would tweet for any prisoner of conscience anywhere in the world. I would tweet for respect and dignity and justice for all people everywhere.

  18. It’s great to see social media plays a key role in our lives,so lets all stay connected and be updated.

    When it comes to Twitter especially known for it’s real time and lighting quick updates,very recently Twitter was part of Twestival (a festival supported by Twitter Inc) thanks to Jack Dorsey,Evan Williams you are just awesome for creating a platform where every day 70 millions tweets takes place,and also congratulations for completing your 5th anniversary successfully very recently.

    With Regards,
    http://twitter.com/punter_me

  19. travailler pour les raiseaux sociaux c’est construire un avenir pour chacun de nous
    car il réunit les bonnes pensées des meilleurs du monde entier dans un cvollectif
    qui apportte la paix et la fraternité

  20. I would tweet for U Gambira in Myanmar. I would tweet for Shane and Josh, the hikers imprisoned in Iran. I would tweet for any prisoner of conscience anywhere in the world. I would tweet for respect and dignity and justice for all people everywhere.

  21. Communication and transparency are essential for any ethical form of punishment handled by a government agency. It's great to see technology helping to police the fundamental rights of individuals where and when they need it most.

  22. Communication and transparency are essential for any ethical form of punishment handled by a government agency. It’s great to see technology helping to police the fundamental rights of individuals where and when they need it most.

  23. Oh Good !!

    I can get my 11 year old son to throw stones at the corner shop and fire some guns at a few army personnel since he is a minor and Good organizations as Amnesty are willing to save him because he is a minor. I am re-thinking whether I should get my 14 year old Daughter to turn a street prostitute as she will not be charged since she is minor and of course Amnesty will be there to save her.

    I have my fullest faith in Amnesty – whole heartedly ! Thank you !! You are the Human Rights Gods !! Immaterial of the cause, you save those in need !

  24. Oh Good !!

    I can get my 11 year old son to throw stones at the corner shop and fire some guns at a few army personnel since he is a minor and Good organizations as Amnesty are willing to save him because he is a minor. I am re-thinking whether I should get my 14 year old Daughter to turn a street prostitute as she will not be charged since she is minor and of course Amnesty will be there to save her.

    I have my fullest faith in Amnesty – whole heartedly ! Thank you !! You are the Human Rights Gods !! Immaterial of the cause, you save those in need !

  25. I blive we must try to stabilish a real United nation organisition base on justice and peace and human security

    current U.N.O is a tool in hands of pirates country like U.S.A .Engeland.. France German ..Rusland……..

    World .Without..War Save Nature..Eart

    Sh Samivand Denmark

  26. I blive we must try to stabilish a real United nation organisition base on justice and peace and human security

    current U.N.O is a tool in hands of pirates country like U.S.A .Engeland.. France German ..Rusland……..

    World .Without..War Save Nature..Eart

    Sh Samivand Denmark

  27. Roll of media is very important. It is a time to be united and fight against terrorism, Corruption and mismanagement in the hands of politicians. The political leaders in World should understand that now the public is awaken and nothing can be escaped from the eye's of gen. public because the strengthened social media has open eyes with secret camera's and putting the facts before the public very sharply. Let us Try to live brotherly leaving aside Colour, caste, religion, area, dress & structure because we have common colour in our blood. May Gold bless peace, prosperity, patience & friendship in the World. ML ARORA, INDIA

  28. Roll of media is very important. It is a time to be united and fight against terrorism, Corruption and mismanagement in the hands of politicians. The political leaders in World should understand that now the public is awaken and nothing can be escaped from the eye’s of gen. public because the strengthened social media has open eyes with secret camera’s and putting the facts before the public very sharply. Let us Try to live brotherly leaving aside Colour, caste, religion, area, dress & structure because we have common colour in our blood. May Gold bless peace, prosperity, patience & friendship in the World. ML ARORA, INDIA