Shabag Movement: People's Insights Vol. 2 Issue 3


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This week, we distill insights around Shahbag Movement - a grassroots change movement sparked by bloggers and online activists in Bangladesh, to drive government action and policy change.

100+ thinkers and planners within MSLGROUP share and discuss inspiring projects on social data, crowdsourcing, storytelling and citizenship on the MSLGROUP Insights Network.

Every week, we pick up one project and do a deep dive into conversations around it -- on the MSLGROUP Insights Network itself but also on the broader social web -- to distill insights and foresights. We share these insights and foresights with you on our People’s Insights blog and compile the best insights from the network and the blog in the iPad-friendly People’s Lab Quarterly Magazine, as a showcase of our capabilities.

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Shabag Movement: People's Insights Vol. 2 Issue 3

  1. 1. crowdsourcing | storytelling | citizenship | social dataPeople’s Insights Volume 2, Issue 3Shahbag Movement
  2. 2. People’s Insights100+ thinkers and planners within MSL- In 2013, we continue to track inspiringGROUP share and discuss inspiring proj- projects at the intersection of social data,ects on social data, crowdsourcing, story- crowdsourcing and storytelling, with a fo-telling and citizenship on the MSLGROUP cus on projects that are shaping the FutureInsights Network. Every week, we pick up of project and curate the conversations Do subscribe to receive our weekly insightsaround it — on the MSLGROUP Insights reports, quarterly magazines, and annualNetwork itself but also on the broader reports, and do share your tips and com-social web — into a weekly insights report. ments with us at @PeoplesLab on Twitter.Every quarter, we compile these insights,along with original research and insightsfrom the MSLGROUP global network, intothe People’s Insights Quarterly Magazine.We have synthesized the insights from ouryear-long endeavor throughout 2012 toprovide foresights for business leaders andchangemakers — in the ten-part People’sInsights Annual Report titled Now & Next:Ten Frontiers for the Future of Engage-ment. People’s Insights People’s Insights People’s Insights weekly report quarterly magazines Annual Report Volume 2, Issue 3, Future of Shahbag Movement January - March, 2013 Citizenship
  3. 3. What is the Shahbag Movement?In February 2013, Bangladeshis around the world the verdict have come to be known, were organizedunited around a shared purpose, to demand cap- by bloggers and have attracted poets, artists, socialital punishment for those found guilty of 1971 war activists and untold numbers of other citizens.”crimes. The movement was sparked by bloggersand online activists, mobilized both online and Unlike other uprisings, western media and activ-offline participation, and has resulted in national ists were not initially supportive of the protesters’discourse and government action. demands of capital punishment. This resulted in a grassroots effort to educate people and foreignLike other global uprisings, the Shahbag Move- journalists about the 1971 war crimes, through thement was organized by the youth and amplified use of multimedia content and social the use of social media. How the movement began Hours after the Mollah verdict was announced, the Blogger and Online Activists Network (BOAN) created a Facebook event and invited people to join an offline protest on February 5, 2013. Bangladesh writer Tahmima Anam described the momentum: “They set up camp in Shahbag, an intersection at the heart of Dhaka, near the university campus, and staged a small sit-in. They collected a few do- nations and ordered khichuri (a mixture of rice andSource: lentils) to keep them going through the night. Word spread on Facebook and Twitter. The next day, a fewNew York Times’ Jim Yardley wrote: news channels began covering their protest. By the“Protests and strikes, common in Dhaka, are often end of the week, they had managed to put togethercoordinated and organized by political parties. But the biggest mass demonstration the country hasthe Shahbagh protests, as the demonstrations over seen in 20 years.”Source: 115,000 people were invited to the event. 14,000 RSVP-ed yes (via 3
  4. 4. Live coverage at Shahbag SquareLike their Occupy and Tahrir Square counterparts, account to document events taking place at thethe Shahbag protesters declared they would not Square and around the movement in general. Yetvacate Shahbag Square until their demands were others have created websites (Shahbag Movement,addressed, and used digital technology to docu- Shahbag Protest, Shahbag Mass Movement) toment activities taking place at the square. curate content around the movement, and Face- book pages (Shahbag Movement) to keep peopleOne individual set up a live webcam to stream up-to-date on latest news and in real time. Another created a TwitterSource: coverage serves not only local Bangladeshis, but also involves the Bangladeshi diaspora. AsSabrina Rashid commented:“On behalf of many expatriates like us.. thanks a lot.. it makes us feel a lot closer to the protest..” Volume 2, Issue 3, Future of Shahbag Movement January - March, 2013 Citizenship
  5. 5. Nidhi Makhija, member of the MSLGROUP In- Content to set contextsights Network commented: Shahbag protesters created articles, infographics“In the recent Mumbai protests for women’s safety, and videos to educate people about the historypeople wanted to know what was happening on of the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, and dis-ground before they joined. If a crowd had gathered persed these using social media.offline, people were inspired to join. If the crowdseemed violent, people preferred to stay home. Here is a video that explains the shared purposeShahbag’s live webcam was a great tool to gath- that unites the protesters:er media attention, energize supporters and helpmaintain safety.”A column in the Indian Express comments on thelarger impact of this type of activity:“A protest on such a scale is partly self-organising.It uses the internet like a decentralised commandand control system and the media, traditional andsocial, as amplifiers. By bridging online and offlinemethods in a never-ending feedback loop, they are Source: to do a new kind of democratic politics in which php?v=4815339455061&set=vb.416320125123087&typethe visible perception of numbers matters more Here is an infographic created by the Internation-than actual political leverage.” al Crimes Strategy Forum, a “global coalition of independent activists and organisations committed to the cause of bringing to justice the perpetrators of war crimes during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.” ICSF was set up in 2009 and organizes projects such as monitoring of related Wiki pages, creating factsheets and managing media archives.Source: 5
  6. 6. Activist Jillian C. York points out that such on- access real time updates on Twitter, tweet usingline efforts plays a huge role in the lead up to an #Shahbag and tag foreign journalists to createoffline movement: international awareness.“Last year in Egypt the world watched, stunned, The team even posted a ‘how-to’as a city, then a country rose up against the twen- guide for people new to Twitter, and listed Twitterty-year dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. Indeed, handles of foreign journalists.what the world saw was a mass of humans con-verging upon a city square in protest. But whatthey missed was everything else: Offline actions—such as labor strikes—and online ones, such as theyears of collective blogging about police brutality,torture, and other human rights violations. Theonline actions in particular served a dual purpose:They raised awareness amongst a certain subset ofthe population, certainly, but perhaps more impor-tantly, they confirmed for many what they alwaysknew but couldn’t talk about.”Creating an army of supporterson TwitterShahbag protesters encouraged supporters to Source: an analysis of conversations taking place around #shahbag, CNN iReporter awalin noted:“Many of the tweets are from very new users, those “Misrepresented by foreignpeople joined Twitter with the spirit to share thewords, to tell the world how they feel about this media”movement, I could see that they still do not have Shahbag protesters also reached out to foreignany profile picture, so Twitter used the default ‘egg’ media to report inaccuracies and dissatisfactionicon for their profile pictures.” with international coverage. Bangladesh-born journalist Anushay Hossain observed: “most of the “western media” has either ignored the swelling numbers of ordinary Bangladeshis joining the movement, others have wrongly labeled it as a mass demand for capital punishment.” Online activist Tomal Dutt wrote: “Many human rights activists are protesting them- selves against the death penalty of the war crim- inals, to which Bangladeshi Facebook users are growing furious.”Source: Volume 2, Issue 3, Future of Shahbag Movement January - March, 2013 Citizenship
  7. 7. Protesters addressed banners to foreign mediacompanies and circulated photos of these to con-vey their point of view. Source: Source: shahbagmassmovement In addition, protesters urged foreign govern- ments to express solidarity with the Shahbag Movement using online petition tools. An onlineSource: petition to the White House collected 25,515 signatures.Inaccurate media coverage was also one of thereasons Matir Manush set up the live webcam at Some of these activities were successful in at-Shahbag: tracting local coverage.“We just tried to speared (sic) this worldwide, causemedia is not presenting right information.”Expressing SolidarityActs of solidarity amplified the movement,increasing its reach and showcasing the scale ofsupport. In Bangladesh, the Shahbag protest-ers organized candle light vigils and called for3 minutes of silence nation-wide in memory ofthe deaths of 1971 and to show solidarity with themovement. Politicians, teachers, students, Ban-gladesh Premiere League cricketers and support-ers observed the silence.Overseas, Bangladeshis organized solidarityevents and uploaded photos of themselves infront of global landmarks and important build-ings. Online activists mapped the images to showthe scale of global support. Source: 7
  8. 8. These activities show, yet again, that movements Online and offline activismin the digital era have no boundaries and thatsocial media has created a role for global citizens The Shahbag Movement used both digital mediawho share the same purpose. and technology as well as on-ground activations to gather momentum and drive policy change.As Anushay Hossain wrote: The initial success of the movement implies that“Trying to gage the emotion, and somehow partake both online and offline activism is necessary toin what is clearly a historic moment in Dhaka as a achieve scale and drive change.Bangladeshi abroad is both frustrating and exhila- Daaimah S. Etheridge, a program coordinator atrating. Your friend’s Twitter & Facebook feeds keep the Drexel Radiological Department, wrote:you updated, yet angers you simultaneously for notbeing in your country right now. Perhaps like me, “For a movement to really work, it has to connect with what’s going on in the streets. Social media isyou feel like you are missing out.” designed to share information, but that’s only one aspect of activism. In order to create a sustainableIndividual contributions movement, there must be on-the-ground organiz-The Shahbag Movement seems to have no single ing and people mobilizing in real space.”public leader, but is made up of collection of (The Shahbag Movement is ongoing and showspassionate and united individuals who launched signs of a local revolution as people demandor supported a host of initiatives. justice and clash with opposition forces. The pro-Some decided to document action with a live testers have given the government a deadline ofwebcam set up. Bizon Shariar commented: March 26, 2013 to begin implementation of their demands.)“To everyone: This whole thing was hosted andco-ordinated by 6 very young people and the wholeidea was implemented in 2-3 hours. a 1Mbps Ban-glalion net was used. And these guys were roamingShahbag whole day long carrying a web cam and aLaptop.”Others offered to fund initiatives. Abu SufeanKhan commented:“I am more than happy to Donate if you guys needfunding for better streaming..”Yet others strived to create an independentarchive of the movement. The founding editor wrote:“Heads up photographers, bloggers and everybodyelse. Let’s not forget a single moment and docu-ment everything; A single page in Wikipedia is notenough, neither are Facebook Fan-pages – theywill get washed out soon with time. So,registerand start contributing event timelines, descriptionof developments, photos, videos and everythingelse at this site. Keep every moment and progressdocumented.”Songs from Shahbag is a collaborative initiativeto compile an album of all the songs created withthe spirit of Shahbag. Volume 2, Issue 3, Future of Shahbag Movement January - March, 2013 Citizenship
  9. 9. People’s Lab:Crowdsourcing Innovation & InsightsPeople’s Lab is MSLGROUP’s proprietary comment on other people’s content andcrowdsourcing platform and approach that collaborate to find innovative solutions.helps organizations tap into people’s insights forinnovation, storytelling and change. The People’s Lab crowdsourcing platform and approach forms the core of our distinctiveThe People’s Lab crowdsourcing platform insights and foresight approach, which consistshelps organizations build and nurture public of four elements: organic conversation analysis,or private, web or mobile, hosted or white MSLGROUP’s own insight communities, client-label communities around four pre-configured specific insights communities, and ethnographicapplication areas: Expertise Request Network, deep dives into these communities. The People’sInnovation Challenge Network, Research & Insights Quarterly Magazines showcase ourInsights Network and Contest & Activation capability in crowdsourcing and analyzingNetwork. Our community and gaming features insights from conversations and communities.encourage people to share rich content, vote/ Learn more about us at: |
  10. 10. For People’s Lab solutions,