Case study

Using SMS to mobilise response to abductions

Text messages have been used on a massive scale by Karapatan in the Philippines to mobilise support from the university student community in demanding the return of two activist students, suspected to have been kidnapped by the military.

SMS campaign updates

People subscribed to EASSI's campaign received daily information via SMS on the human rights' situation of girls in Kenia. The EASSI (Eastern African Sub-regional Support Initiative for the Advancement of Women) Women's Day SMS Campaign was run from 25 February 2008 to 14 March 2008 with the support of WOUGNET.

Awareness building through SMS campaigns

Amnesty International-Netherlands used SMS to attract new members, build awareness of the campaign against torture and engage new audiences – in particular young people -  in responding to cases of torture through Urgent Action appeals.

Using mobile phones to mobilise for an action campaign

The International Center for Accelerated Development (ICAD) in Nigeria, with support from FAHAMU and HIVOS, used mobile phones to bring people together for a rally during the the Global AIDS Week of Action campaign, which began in April 2008. The participation of civil society organisations, community members, youth groups and stakeholders to do a “stand-up” campaign to present a seven point agenda to government was facilitated by the use of mobile phones.

SMS campaign during a global event

A group of African women's organisations used SMS to spread their message across 13 different countries in 4 continents to stop Violence Against Women. The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is an international campaign whose 2007 global theme was "Demanding Implementation, Challenging Obstacles: End Violence Against Women".

Using SMS in an emergency situation

SMS is a very powerful and efficient tool to organise groups and get quick responses in an emergency situation, where other means of communication are blocked or censored. General Musharaff's imposition of martial law in Pakistan, also known as a state of emergency, had numerous repercussions in terms of censorship and freedom of expression. The Society Against Internet Censorship in Pakistan started blogging live updates on the situation as it unfolded on the ground.

Migrant Workers emergency text programme

MIGRANTE, a migrant rights group, has been using mobile communication in its advocacy for many years now. They initiated an “emergency text” programme which allowed workers to text in their complaints. Many cases of physical abuse of domestic workers by their employers were reported to the hotline. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) need to be constantly on the lookout for abuses in the workplace and discriminatory laws passed by the governments of the countries they work in.

Using ring tones to popularise an issue

Ring tones can be used in innovative ways to not only inform and organise people on an issue but also to get them to engage and participate actively. In the Philippines, for instance, part of an alleged conversation between the Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano and Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has become a hugely popular ring tone on mobile phones - the "Hello Garci" ringtone started circulating online days after tapes of this supposed conversation about vote rigging surfaced in the media.

Updating a news website with text, photos and videos

The technology available nowadays in many mobile phone sets makes it easy for them to be used in projects of citizen journalism. Video and pictures taken using these portable devices are employed to tell stories that matter to people at the grassroots - a perfect example is the Voices of Africa project that was launched in late May 2007 for a preparatory phase.

Exposing police torture with mobile phone video

A video of a 13 year old, Mohamed Mamdouh Abdel Aziz, being tortured by Egyptian police was captured on a mobile phone and is being used by activists to press for reforms within the justice system.

The video, which soared across the Egyptian blogosphere in August, allegedly showed the boy hours before he died from his injuries, and not long after he was released by police in the town of Mansoura, 75 miles north of Cairo; local media reported he had been arrested for stealing a few bags of tea a week earlier.

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