Youtube suspends human rights activist’s account

Keine Freiheiten für MenschenrechtsaktivistenGoogle-owned video sharing site Youtube has deleted the account of an Egyptian human rights activist because of “terms of use violation”. Wael Abbas had among other images uploaded videos showing torture in Egyptian police stations.

Abbas stated he had uploaded about 100 videos, out of which circa one dozen were showing violence. The rest contained among others recordings which showed evidence for voting manipulations and anti-government demonstrations. A statement made by Youtube on the suspension is not available, trying to view the videos the user while find the usual “this account has been suspended” message. In the notification on the deletion it had been stated, the account would be disabled because of “lots of complaints”, the activist told Reuters.

Yet Wael Abbas is a well known human rights activist, winning 2007’s Knight Award of the International Center for Journalists for his work. His videos of an arrested bus driver being tortured in a police station this year lead to the jailing of two policemen. The case attracted high attention, because in Egypt, which officially condemns torture but is well known for it’s cruel police, jail sentences agains police forces are very rare.

That Youtube has suspended Wael Abbas’ account complies with it’s statutes, which say:

“Graphic or gratuitous violence is not allowed. If your video shows someone getting hurt, attacked, or humiliated, don’t post it.”

Nevertheless this step his a big blow for the work of human rights activists in every dictatorship. Not just in Egypt, but as well for example in Burma most media underlies more or less strict censorship. Therefor citizen journalists depend on the anonymity and wide availability of international media platforms like Youtube.

Usually, Youtube is by far not so strict in it’s interpretation of these rules, as you may find dozens of versions of the video which shows the police attack on Rodney King an which became famous within the trail against the offenders and the following L. A. riots. In the case of Wael Abbas, Youtube should have a look on another line from it’s “Community Guidelines”:

“We encourage free speech and defend everyone’s right to express unpopular points of view.”

This is why popular Egyptian blogger Big Pharao calls his readers “for the sake of Egypt” to protest at Youtube’s against the suspension. The right on Freedom of Expression does not just mean, that everybody is allowed to express his opinion, but also, that he is able to. Therefore Blogger for Freedom supports the appeal to Youtube to reopen Wael Abbas’ account and to cut out deleting human and civil rights activists’ accounts in future.

What can I do?

Write to Youtube: Contact Youtube

Urge Youtube to reopen Wael Abbas’ account and to cut out deleting human and civil rights activists’ accounts in future.



Reuters: YouTube stops account of Egypt anti-torture activist
Big Pharao: For the sake of Egypt: email YouTube
3arabawy: YouTube disables anti-police brutality channel
Committee to Protect Bloggers: Youtube cancels Wael Abbas’ account
Ta3beer: Blogger videos of torture banned from YouTube, which closes Wael Abbas’ account
Global Voices Advocacy: Egypt: YouTube Disables Activist’s Account
Mideast Youth: YouTube suspends account of prominent Egyptian activist

Further Information:

Wael Abbas’ Youtube account
Wael Abbas’ blog
International Center for Journalists: Knight Award to Wael Abbas
Youtube: Community Guidelines


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