“Mother, Don’t cry if they couldn’t find my body”. In Memory of 4000 Syrian refugees who drowned in the Sea


Image: “The Sea Cemetery” / Youtube

This Post was originally written for Global Voices

The humanitarian aid agency Support to Life is working to increase global awareness about the more than 4,000 refugees from Syria who have died trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea. As part of this effort, the organization has launched a film project called “The Sea Cemetery,” which features different depictions of the dead.

The 90-second video says the following:

Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, 4.6 million Syrian people have left their homeland. Crossing the Mediterranean Sea became the last route to hope. And, the deadliest route of the 21st century.

More than 4,000 Syrian refugees, including many children, lost their lives at sea. Many of them couldn’t be identified, and couldn’t be found. Now the sea is their final resting place. The sea is their grave. The sea cemetery.

In Memory of thousands of Syrian refugees…

Internet users around the world have shared their reactions to the film, expressing their solidarity with the dead refugees. On Twitter, Emilie Hasrouty drew special attention to the floating tombstones in the film:

200 floating tombstones over the Mediterranean Sea which swallowed 4,000 souls, in honor of Syrian asylum victims. An influential work of art about unprecedented tragedy.

Despite dying in the attempt to flee, Tammy Kling felt the refugees did everything they could:

Support to Life’s film even drew the attention of Joseph Daul, a French politician and the president of the European People’s Party.

While “The Sea Cemetery” collects just some of the countless stories of people fleeing Syria, the supply of firsthand accounts unfortunately includes many unconfirmed and inaccurate stories, as Global Voices has reported previously.

The Syrian Civil War has raged for five years and displaced at least 10 million people, sending refugees around the world. In that time, Syrian activists have been busy on Facebook, scripting stories about refugees who died trying to reach safety abroad.

One story that’s gained popularity online is framed as a letter from a young Syrian man to his mother, written after the young man’s boat sank en route to Europe, killing hundreds of refugees onboard:

رسالة وداعية كتبها لاجئ سوري قبل غرقه في المتوسط : شكراً للبحر الذي استقبلنا بدون فيزا .. وشكراً للأسماك التي ستتقاسم لحمي ولن تسألني عن ديني ولا انتمائي السياسي

الأناضول-تداول ناشطون سوريون على شبكات التواصل الاجتماعي، نص رسالة قالوا إنها وجدت في جيب أحد اللاجئين السوريين الذين انتشلت جثثهم بعد غرق مركبهم الذي كان يحوي المئات من المهاجرين غير الشرعيين في البحر الأبيض المتوسط خلال رحلتهم للوصول إلى الشواطئ الأوروبية مطلع الأسبوع الجاري.
وفيما لم يبيّن الناشطون معلومات عن هوية صاحب الرسالة الوداعية الأخيرة التي كتبها فيما يبدو لدى استشعاره بقرب غرق المركب الذي كان يحمله، فإنهم أرفقوا مع النص الذي نشروه على صفحاتهم الشخصية عبارات مؤثرة من قبيل “هدية إلى العالم المتحضر.. هرب من الموت فاحتضنه البحر.. أنصحكم بالقراءة لكن لا تبكوا لأن الدموع جفت على أبناء سوريا”.

وهذا نص الرسالة الذي تنشره وكالة “الأناضول” بحسب ما تداوله الناشطون:

“أنا آسف يا أمي لأن السفينة غرقت بنا ولم أستطع الوصول إلى هناك (يقصد أوروبا)، كما لن أتمكن من إرسال المبالغ التي استدنتها لكي أدفع أجر الرحلة (يتراوح أجر الرحلة البحرية للوصول إلى أوروبا بطريقة غير شرعية ما بين ألف إلى 5 آلاف يورو بحسب دولة الانطلاق وعوامل أخرى مثل صلاحية المركب وعدد الوسطاء وغيرها).
لاتحزني يا أمي إن لم يجدوا جثتي، فماذا ستفيدك الآن إلا تكاليف نقل وشحن ودفن وعزاء.
أنا آسف يا أمي لأن الحرب حلّت، وكان لا بد لي أن أسافر كغيري من البشر، مع العلم أن أحلامي لم تكن كبيرة كالآخرين، كما تعلمين كل أحلامي كانت بحجم علبة دواء للكولون لك، وثمن تصليح أسنانك.
بالمناسبة لون أسناني الآن أخضر بسبب الطحالب العالقة فيه، ومع ذلك هي أجمل من أسنان الديكتاتور (في إشارة إلى بشار الأسد).
أنا آسف يا حبيبتي لأنني بنيت لك بيتاً من الوهم، كوخاً خشبياً جميلاً كما كنا نشاهده في الأفلام، كوخاً فقيراً بعيداً عن البراميل المتفجرة وبعيداً عن الطائفية والانتماءات العرقية وشائعات الجيران عنا.
أنا آسف يا أخي لأنني لن أستطيع إرسال الخمسين يورو التي وعدتك بإرسالها لك شهرياً لترفه عن نفسك قبل التخرج.
أنا آسف يا أختي لأنني لن أرسل لك الهاتف الحديث الذي يحوي “الواي فاي”(خدمة الانترنت اللاسلكي) أسوة بصديقتك ميسورة الحال.
أنا آسف يا منزلي الجميل لأنني لن أعلق معطفي خلف الباب.
أنا آسف أيها الغواصون والباحثون عن المفقودين، فأنا لا أعرف اسم البحر الذي غرقت فيه..
اطمئني يا دائرة اللجوء فأنا لن أكون حملاً ثقيلاً عليك.
شكراً لك أيها البحر الذي استقبلتنا بدون فيزا ولا جواز سفر، شكراً للأسماك التي ستتقاسم لحمي ولن تسألني عن ديني ولا انتمائي السياسي.
شكراً لقنوات الأخبار التي ستتناقل خبر موتنا لمدة خمس دقائق كل ساعة لمدة يومين..
شكراً لكم لأنكم ستحزنون علينا عندما ستسمعون الخبر.
أنا آسف لأني غرقت..”.

I’m sorry, mother, because the boat sank and I could not get there, and will not be able to send the loan I took out to pay for the trip.

Don’t cry if they couldn’t find my body. It would just cost [more] money for shipping and burial. I’m sorry, mother, because the war raged, and it was necessary for me to travel like other human beings, though my dreams were not great as the others’. As you know, all my dreams were limited to buying you medicine and artificial teeth. The color of my teeth now is green because of sea algae, but, they’re still prettier than the dictator’s teeth. I’m sorry, my dear, because I built you a house of illusions—a beautiful wooden home like the ones we used to watch in movies, poor and away from the explosive barrels, and far away from the sectarian and ethnic affiliations and rumors that surrounded us.

I’m sorry, my brother, because I can not send the 50 euros I promised you to have some fun before you graduate. I’m sorry, my sister, because I won’t send you a smartphone with “Wi-Fi” like your rich friend. I’m sorry, my sweet home, because I won’t I hang my coat behind your door. I’m sorry, dear divers and researchers, for going missing. I do not know where in the sea I drowned… but rest assured that I won’t bother the asylum department.

Thank you, sea, which welcomed us without a visa or passport. Thanks you, fish, which will share my flesh without asking me about my religion or political position. Thanks for the news channels which will broadcast the news of our death for five minutes every hour for two days…Thank you to anyone who mourns us, when they hear the news.

I’m sorry I sank…

Posted in Arab Spring, Arabic, Crises, Culture & Life, Econmoy & Business, English, Eudcation & Human Rights, Photos, Video | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Helping Refugees in Europe Get Connected to the Internet

Phone shop at Za’atari’s Syrian refugee camp in Jordan. Source: Zaa’tari Refugee Camp Facebook page.

This Post was originally written for Global Voices

Smartphones have become a lifeline for refugees during their long journey for the relative safety of Europe, as they are used for communication and organization through social media and websites. However, a smartphone has its limitations because its battery can only last anywhere between 12-48 hours and it is subject to the national network coverage or available wifi hotspots.

Tyler Jump from the International Rescue Committee wrote in a recent Medium piece about a refugee’s first questions when they reach Europe. One of them, he said, is “Do you have WiFi?”

Connecting with family is a top priority for newly arrived refugees who want their loved ones to know they are safe.

Refugees rely heavily on access to the internet to communicate, but there are many hurdles in their way. Researcher Linda Leung defined some of the challenges facing refugees in her paper “Taking refuge in technology: communication practices in refugee camps and immigration detention.” Though the study was of refugees in Australia, refugees in Europe likely also face many of the same difficulties:

It was difficult to earn money in the camp to afford to communicate.

People who owned mobile phones rented them out.

Some people were worried that their family or friends were under surveillance by their enemies.

Refugees can feel distressed if there is no news.

In some places internet cafes are too expensive to use.

Sometimes refugees cannot access any technology whatsoever. Instead, many refugees resorted to traditional forms of communication through messengers, who were used to pass on news and hand-deliver letters to loved ones.

Disaster Tech Lab is a startup offering WiFi infrastructure building in disaster recovery areas and makeshift refugee camps. These were the signs being setup around the camp to indicate presence of internet connectivity. The map of hotspot locations is also visible. Mytilene, Moria camp, 29/12/2015. Source: http://digitalstain.org/2016/02/mytilene-part-two.html

Disaster Tech Lab is a startup offering WiFi infrastructure building in disaster recovery areas and makeshift refugee camps. These were the signs being setup around the camp to indicate presence of internet connectivity. The map of hotspot locations is also visible. Mytilene, Moria camp, 29/12/2015. Photo by Chris Gioran and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

In addition to these challenges, many refugees may fall victim to those trying to profit off of these hardships. Leung found that a type of black market appeared to appear at many refugee camps:

Displaced people are at the mercy of those who can afford to own communication technology and who control access to it. The expense of using communication technology can markedly increase when the owners of mobile phones in refugee camps become corrupt or phone booths in town are controlled by the black market.

To address these challenges, some individuals are offering their help to the refugees seeking communication. Ilias Papadopoulos, a Greek electrical engineer, provided a free internet connection for everyone in Idomeni, a small Greek town located on the border with Macedonia.

This YouTube video describes how he created a set-up to offer this service for free:

He saw that most refugees had smartphones, but without SIM cards or any reliable connection, they had no real way to communicate. So he decided to help one way that could benefit most.

‘It requires a lot of improvisation’

Several startups and NGOs have also attempted to respond to the call for greater communication access for refugees. The organization The Disaster Tech Labbased in Ireland has been deploying wifi networks in the Moria and Kara Tepe refugee camps in Lesvos, Greece. They note that over 400,000 refugees have utilized their network during their stay in the camps. They add:

In addition to the obvious benefits of being able to stay in contact with their friends and family there is also the requirement that asylum applications have to be made via a Skype call. In addition to this schools and learning centers are being set up now that the camps are semi-permanent and these of course all require internet access.

Other groups have made it priority to provide internet access at reception centers in Western Europe, since the government often does not budget for internet access in accommodations. The German organization Refugees Online e.V. first project was providing free wifi connectivity at the refugee reception unit at Fliegerhorst in Fuerstenfeldbruck, and now the project has expanded to 95 facilities across the country. In addition to the access, the organization also provided training and an online learning platform for asylum seekers.

And a start-up company is in the process of developing of what they call an “autonomous rugged wifi hotspot for outdoors and crisis areas.” The company, called MeshPoint, is working to raise the funds to build the prototype for launch where it is needed most.

In their blog, they highlight how the project started in late 2015 when an influx of refugees arrived at the Croatian border, where they were welcomed by the government. They describe how different groups arrived at the scene to provide assistance.

Among them were the volunteers of Osijek chapter of Otvorena Mreža(Open Network), an Open Source inspired movement that aims to provide free internet to everybody. They simply hacked a home router, installed OpenWRT, plugged in a USB 3G dongle, hooked the router to a battery, packed everything in a backpack, and went into the crowd with a “Free WiFi” sign on their backs, antennas sticking out.

Trying to scale and establish a fix hotspot proved to be more of a challenge for the group.

It requires a lot of improvisation, and takes more time that you would hope for. Sensitive networking equipment will often not work well with the petrol fired AC generators, as the choppy voltage will keep crashing it randomly, then there’s waterproofing stuff that doesn’t like to be wet, and then there are cables… Don’t get me started on cables.

Trying to find an acceptable solution for creating an easy-to-install wifi connection to support more than 100 users connected simultaneous was difficult to find. And that’s what led to the beginning of the MeshPoint project because they wanted to build the solution themselves.

More than a million refugees and migrants crossed into Europe by sea in 2015, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency. So far in 2016, more than 200,000 have arrived, the majority of them fleeing violence in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Whether it is to reach out to family and friends left behind or to make arrangements for a new life looking forward, access to wifi is vital for them. Hopefully, these individual and organizational efforts continue to help provide refugees this important lifeline.

Posted in Arab Spring, Arabic, Crises, Culture & Life, Econmoy & Business, English, Eudcation & Human Rights, Free Expression, Internet Rights, Photos, Video | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Many in Brazil have insisted on a narrative of “inevitable impeachment” of President Dilma Rousseff. Even respected consultancy firms have done the same — Eurasia expects her to be booted out by May. But things are more complicated than it seems. So here are some facts that cast more doubts than certainties over the current […]

via Top 10 facts to cover Brazil’s political crisis — A Brazilian Operating in This Area

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Translation Is Art & Science

Originally published on Youtube by Smartling.com

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Thumbs Up to Facebook


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How the Brazilian Kaka Became Syrian: #IamSyrian, a Campaign that Makes Every Syrian Proud


Brazilian soccer player Kaka, participating in #IamSyrian campaign. Photograph from Facebook Moustafa Jacob Page.

This Post was originally written for Global Voices

Nowadays, it’s not strange to bump into a Syrian in every corner of the globe. This doesn’t only take into account the forced refugees from Syria’s war but the generations of families of Syrian descent, whose grandparents left Syria decades ago.

Dozens of international campaigns have focused on the suffering of Syrians over the previous five years of brutal war, which has claimed the lives of about a quarter of a million people and left millions homeless, marching to Europe, knocking on humanity’s doors.

In response to years of mainstream media coverage showcasing the suffering of Syrians and portraying them as starving and needy people who want pity, the #IamSyrian campaign aims to show the real mettle of Syrians.  Following New Year’s attacks in Germany, in which Arab refugees, among them Syrian, were accused of terrorism and harassment, Texas-based Syrian artist Moustafa Jacob, decided to take the lead and change the discourse of the conversation. His goal was to highlight Syrians who have contributed to culture and humanity in different areas.

Among the factors that joined to launch his #IamSyrian campaign were the impressions media was posting about Syrian refugees in Europe and Islam-phobia propaganda pumped by the far-right-wing national parties as well as the fifth anniversary of Syrian Revolution against Bashar Assad which continued peacefully during the ceasefire agreed in February 2016.

Jacob used the Oscars event to kick off his campaign. He explains on Facebook:

Famous people with Syrian roots include Steve Jobs, Prison Break star Wentworth Miller, Desperate Housewives star Teri Hatcher, award-winning actor Murray Abraham and Jerry Seinfeld, says Moustafa Jacob

Famous people with Syrian roots include Steve Jobs, Prison Break star Wentworth Miller, Desperate Housewives star Teri Hatcher, award-winning actor Murray Abraham and Jerry Seinfeld, says Moustafa Jacob

بمناسبة قدوم الأوسكار, وبعد الهجمة الإعلامية على اللاجئيين السوريين واتهامهم بالهمجية والتخلف, أحببت أن أقوم بتصميم مجموعة من البوسترات عن بعض مشاهير أمريكا ذوي الأصول السورية.
والحملة بعنوان (I am Syrian)
Famous Faces of Syrian Ancestry

Thanks for the Oscars event and after the media attacks on Syrian refugees accusing them of barbarism, I designed a set of posters for some American celebrities of Syrian origin.

#IamSyrian took an international turn when celebrities and artists around the world began adopting its slogan, among them the World Food Program organization @WFP, celebrities like Brazilian football player KaKa, British-Iranian singer Sami Yusuf, and Egyptian actress Hind Sabri.

Twitter and Instagram among other social media platforms soon joined the bandwagon to spread the message.

Putting a human face on Syrians is not new. In October 2015, photographer and art director Isabel Martinez, recruited top models to appear in a powerful short film posted on Instagram on her account @IsabelitaVirtual, in which models from around the world proclaim:  “I am Syrian”:

To drive his point home, Jacob shares the names of people of Syrian descent who have left a global footprint and international impact. The aim is to keep Syrians proud of what their fellow compatriots have achieved.

Among the Syrian figures posted on Jacob’s Facebook Page are:

  • Professor Shadia Habbal, Chair professor of space physics at the University of Wales
  • Professor Hunein Maassab, who spent 40 years of hard work to succeed finally in providing the flu vaccine for mankind
  • Professor Dina Katabi, Director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology Wireless Center
  • Famous musician Malek Jandali, which awarded the title of a recent US government The Great Immigrant
  • Omar Hamoui, Founder and Managing Director of the Company (AdMob)
  • Global filmmaker Moustapha Akkad, the owner of the famous Halloween series in Hollywood
  • Astronaut Mohammed Faris, or (Arabs’ Armstrong) as described by the British newspaper The Guardian
  • Cartoonist Ali Farzat, who was awarded the famous Sakrov Peace Prize in 2011
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ISIS Destroyed Palmyra’s Majestic History. How Can Technology Help?

Digital reconstruction of the Temple of Bel from the New Palmyra project.

#NewPalmyra Crowdsources the Majestic History That ISIS Destroyed in Syria

An edited Post was originally written for Global Voices

Palmyra’s “Nightmare is Over” says Syria’s Head of Antiquities. His statement comes after Assad forces recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra which was under ISIS control since May 2015. However, 3D project was in progress since a while when Bassel Khartabil, the detained Syrian activist launched his #NewPlamyra pioneer initiative.

In less than a year, Palmyra lost most of its majestic archaeological monuments, the Baalshamin Temple, The Temple of Bel, two of the oldest structures in Palmyra, Arch of Triumph, The Tower of Elanbel and recently revealed the sabotage of its National Museum.

The extremist organization imposed its control over Palmyra city which is classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, in May 2015. The guerrillas have beheaded Khaled Asaad, the archaeologist has been in charge over 40 years. The destruction, or stealing and selling old artifacts on Facebook of museums and ancient sites been justified as that don’t conform with their medieval notion of Islam or been considered idols. The same fate was for a number of pre-islam archaeological sites in Iraq including 3,000-Year-Old Sculptures at a Museum in Mosul, Iraq.

New Palmyra Project

The first effort of having Palmyra ruins back digitally was in 2005. Was a dream of Bassel Khartabil, Palestinian-Syrian computer engineer and activist, Creative Commons leader in Syria and worked actively projects like Mozilla Firefox and Wikipedia, to reconstruct the old city in a free online database of renderings and media that helps reconstruct Palmyra’s history. His archive shows that in 2008 was able to construct complete 3D models.

However, Bassel arrested in March 15, 2012 and now is completing his four years in prison with his October 2015 forced disappearance. He is credited with opening up the Syrian Internet and extending online access and knowledge to the public. On October 7, 2015 Human Rights Watch and 30 other human rights organizations issued a letter demanding that Khartabil’s whereabouts be disclosed.


#NEWPALMYRA: Temple of Bel
on Sketchfab

More Projects

According to Wired website, New Palmyra isn’t the only initiative seeking to use digital modeling to save the Middle East’s treasures from ISIS.

The Oxford Institute of Digital Archaeology has launched a Million Images Database seeks to bring low-cost 3D cameras to activists in Syria who can still document Another project by the 3D-scanning focus non-profit CyArk aims to use laser scanners to create models of endangered antiquities down to a few millimeters of accuracy.

Digital Archaeology project is planning to display the replicates of the Temple of Bel entry arch, date back to 32 AD, in London’s Trafalgar Square on 19th April, 2016.

On April 19, 2016, in cooperation with national and international cultural heritage preservation organizations, and in conjunction with World Heritage Week 2016, the Institute for Digital Archaeology will install a monumental scale reconstruction of Palmyra's Triumphal Arch on Trafalgar Square. Photo Source: Digital Archaeology

In conjunction with World Heritage Week 2016, the Institute for Digital Archaeology will install a monumental scale reconstruction of Palmyra’s Triumphal Arch on Trafalgar Square. Photo Source: Digital Archaeology

Although reported that Syrian Archaeological authorities have hidden some 300,000 artifacts from around Syria to safe places even before ISIS control most Northeastern territories, but buildings and ancient structures were left to face its own destiny. A Syrian official announced an instant recovery plan to restore Palmyra by the end of 2016.

“We expected the worst because of the liberation fighting but I think the nightmare is over. The panoramic picture of Palmyra is fine,”.

The government will take “precautionary measures in order not to let Palmyra fall again,”

Posted in Crises, Culture & Life, English, Eudcation & Human Rights, History, Photos, Video | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

I Contribute to #RightsCon 2016

Meedan and Lingua Partnering to Translate RightsCon to Spanish and Arabic

Lingua has partnered with Meedan to translate RightsCon tweets to Spanish and Arabic, from Wednesday, March 30 to Friday, April 1, 2016.


RightsCon is the world’s leading conference convened on the future of the internet. This year will see a bigger, brighter, and better RightsCon, more dynamic and outcome-oriented than ever before. The conference shapes the global conversation among human rights experts, business leaders, technologists, human rights experts, government representatives, investors, and advocates.

Twitter plays an important role at RightsCon in terms of documenting, sharing and building networks among attendees. But at such an international conference, sometimes language can be a barrier to participation. Global Voices Lingua partners with Meedan and Access Now to translate the English Tweets posted by speakers and participants into Arabic and Spanish.

Follow our translations and support the effort:

We are excited the opportunity to make some of the discussions in this major conference available and accessible to those following along from the Arabic and Spanish speaking internets.

تعاون الأصوات العالمية وميدان على ترجمة تغريدات مؤتمر RightsCon

يلتفت الكثير من العاملين في حقل حقوق الإنسان والتكنولوجيا إلى مؤتمر RightsConالذي سيقام ما بين الثلاثين من مارس / آذار وحتى الأول من إبريل / نيسان القادم في مدينة سان فرانسيسكو الأمريكية. سيتابع الكثيرون المؤتمر من خلال شبكات التواصل الاجتماعي. وسيكون تويتر أحد أبرز هذه المواقع حيث سيساعد الحضور والمتابعين على مواكبة الأحداث والنقاشات التي تحصل بالتوازي كجزء من أعمال المؤتمر.

يعتبر المؤتمر من أبرز المؤتمرات الدولية التي تتناول موضوع حقوق الإنسان وتقاطعها مع التكنولوجيا والإنترنت الذي تنظمه مؤسسة أكسس، ويجمع خبراء ونشطاء حقوق الإنسان ورجال الأعمال والمبرمجين والمستثمرين إضافة إلى بعض القادة السياسيين بهدف تبادل الأفكار وبناء الاستراتيجيات حول مستقبل الإنترنت والإطلاع على آخر التطورات التكنولوجية.

هذا العام، تتعاون الأصوات العالمية ومشروع لينجوا مع مؤسسة ميدان على ترجمة تغريدات المؤتمر إلى اللغتين الإسبانية والعربية.

لمتابعة المؤتمر تابع الهاشتاغ #RightsCon، يمكنكم أيضًا الدعم من خلال:

  • متابعة للتغريدات العربية ومساعدتنا بنشر ومشاركة التغريدات المترجمة، على الحساب التالي rightscon3rabi@
  • التطوع لمساعدتنا في الترجمة من الإنجليزية للعربية بين 09:30 و17:00 بتوقيت سان فرانسيسكو.
  • يرجى مراسلة: hello@speakbridge.io

    وللانضمام إلى فريق مترجمي الأصوات العالمية اضغط هنا!

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Manbij is an ordinary Syrian Town, but why known as “Little London”?

Daesh Terror Group Foreign Fighter after Friday's Prayer In #Aleppo. Source: @Terror_Monitor on Twitter

ISIS (Daesh) Terror Group Foreign Fighters after Eid Addha Prayer in #Aleppo. Source: @Terror_Monitor

When a Syrian Town Has So Many Foreign Fighters That English and German Are Common Languages

This Post was originally written for Global Voices

Manbij is one of the largest cities in the Aleppo province. Located in the north of the Aleppo countryside in northern Syria, the territory has been under ISIS (Daesh in Arabic) control since March 2014. Manbij is populated by so many foreign fighters that English and German are now commonly spoken languages in the small town.

In Nov 2014, Goha’s Nail revealed on his blog a real experience on how do locals fit into IS’ governance scheme:

IS seems reluctant to integrate potentially less committed members too closely. While some IS administrators are Syrians, many are foreigners. For their part, Manbijis are keen on keeping the group at arms length; they appreciate some aspects of IS governance, but do not want to get too close. They expect, however, that the IS focus on education and indoctrination of children is part of a long-term strategy to more closely link the group with the populations it governs.

The estimated number of foreigners fighting with ISIS in Syria and Iraq was about 12,000 in June 2014. However, according to a December 2015 report by the Soufan Group (an international strategic consultancy firm), the figure has nearly tripled and is now roughly 31,000, consisting of both Arab nationals, like Tunisians and Saudis, and as many as 5,000 recruits from from EU nations. France alone is said to have contributed 1,800 fighters, and the UK supplied another 760.

People have reached ISIS-controlled territory from at least 86 countries—with a near 300-percent increase in new recruits from Russia and Central Asia. The Soufan Group says that roughly 150 and 130 people came from the US and Canada, respectively, which amounts to almost no change when compared against past trends, despite ISIS launching a more active recruitment campaign in North America that heavily leverages social media. The Soufan Group says Western nations still face the threat of trained fighters returning home.

The big concern is that an estimated 20 percent or 30 percent of these fighters are returning to their Western countries of origin, meaning these countries will all be coping with significant influxes of now-seasoned fighters with international contacts.

In a blog post, British Mujāhidīn in Syria (

I have no idea whatever caused the rush on British foreign fighters in Syria, but suddenly the hunt for the “bearded European” has been re-opened. It all started with a video by Vice, featuring an interview with two Brits who currently fight in Syria. The interview as such, is highly interesting as these guys explain what made them leave their home towns in the UK for Jihād in war-torn Syria.

After almost 2 years of ISIS control, Manbijs were not happier under Islamic control and went on protest according to Syria Post Facebook page who post the video below with a comment: “See the heroes of Manbij, who despite the top security in the city, took the streets asking the extremist group to leave the city.”

Indeed, citizens living under ISIS control are suffering greatly, thanks in no small part to airstrikes by the US-led international coalition, which are forcing people to flee the area for their lives. Al-Souria Net reported on its Facebook page in Arabic on Oct 2015.

Due also to large-scale security measures by the government, access to aid has narrowed, leading to mass begging on the streets (especially by women, children, and displaced persons).

[…] في مدينة منبج عائلات ظهر الفقر عليها وبدأت ظاهرة التسول بالانتشار وذلك للحصول على ما يسد رمق العائلة في المنزل وخصوصاً تلك العائلات التي نزحت من الرقة ودير الزور.

[…] in the city of Manbej, poor families are beginning to appear who start begging in order to get something to feed their relatives at home—families who were displaced from Al Raqqa and Deir al-Zour, in particular. […]

And noted that the promised prosperity of Islamic state is just a lie:

[…] “كل الازدهار الذي نسمع عنه لدولة البغدادي هو وهم بوهم، ويتم توزيع هذه الخيرات على عناصره فقط وبخاصة المهاجرين منهم”.

“All we were hearing about the prosperity of the State of al-Baghdadi is an illusion, and any goods are distributed only to their own members—particularly the immigrants.”

وينقل الناشط أحمد عن أحد سكان مدينة منبج، ويدعى أبو جاسم، قوله: “بأنه ونتيجة للضرائب التي تفرضها القوة الأمنية على المواطنين في مناطق منبج والباب وجرابلس إضافة للتضيق الكبير على الناس في هذه المدن فإن كل شيء يجب أن تعمله يتوجب وجود موافقة أمنية وكأننا في دولة الأسد”.

According to an activist named Ahmed, speaking on behalf of Abu Jassim (a Manbij local): “As a result of the taxes imposed by the security forces on citizens in the areas Manbij and Bab and Jarables, any official document you need requires a security approval as if we are in State of Assad.”

Posted in Arabic, Crises, Culture & Life, English, Eudcation & Human Rights, History, Photos | Leave a comment

Who Is The Federal Agent Behind the Ray-Ban Glasses?


Newton Ishii, The Japanese Federal Agent. The Photo source Twitter

An edited copy is published on Global Voices

“Ai meu Deus, me dei mal, bateu à minha porta o Japonês da Federal”

“Oh my God, I feel bad, the Japanese Federal knocking at my door”

According to “Diálogos Políticos” blog, is this the main phrase of a “hit music” ahead of 2016 Brazil Carnival starting next 5th Feb, 2016. The Japanese mentioned is the Federal Police agent, Newton Ishii, who arrests the sentenced figures as result of Operação Lava Jato.

Probably you heard about the corruption scandal in Brazil, nowadays, this case is between Justice authorities hands since 2008. Lava Jato is a money laundering investigation, it has expanded to cover allegations of corruption at the national oil company Petrobras. This criminal “system” is known as “Petrolão” scheme suspected of moving more than 10 Billion Brazilian Reais (approx. USD 3.5 Billion in 2015) as bribes between pro-government politicians, top construction company executives among others.

Carnival Presence


Coming 2016 Carnival is selecting a popular figures who contributed to the Brazilian lives during 2015, and one of them is Ishii. Wrote Blog do Gordinho:

O agente da Polícia Federal Newton Ishii, que virou celebridade ao sempre estar presente nas prisões e apreensões da Operação Lava-Jato, promete ser um dos personagens mais citados no Carnaval de 2016. O policial, mais conhecido como “japonês da federal”, deverá ganhar um protótipo de máscara de carnaval produzido pela fábrica Condal, no Rio de Janeiro. Entretanto, para não gerar problemas com direitos de imagem, a empresa deverá recorrer a um “japonês genérico”.

Além disso, o agente vai virar boneco gigante no carnaval de Olinda. O gigante irá vestir a farda e o colete característicos da PF, pesar entre 18kg e 20kg e medir 2,20 metros. Outro personagem da Lava-Jato que estará presente nas ruas da cidade pernambucana é o juiz Sérgio Moro.

The Federal Police agent Newton Ishii, who became celebrity just been present in the arrests of Lava-jato operation, seems to be one of the most quoted characters in 2016. The police agent, known as “Japanese federal” should gain a carnival mask prototype produced by Condal factory in Rio de Janeiro. However, to not create problems with image rights, the company should use a “generic Japanese”.

In addition, the agent will be a giant character in the carnival of Olinda. The giant will wear the uniform and the characteristic federal police, weigh between 18 kg and 20 kg and measure 2.20 meters. Another character of the Lava-Jato will be presented in Pernambuco city streets is the judge Sergio Moro.

A factory is producing carnival masks of the federal police agent, Newton Ishii, the “Japanese” of Lava Jato operations.

What’s your favorite mask for the carnival this year? Eduardo Cunha (President of Parliament) or Newton Ishii of Federal Police?


Brazilians who support Ishii image as corruption-fighter posted their messages on Twitter, either by wishing him to exempt any corrupted Brazilian of his arrests (although he has no authority of legal charge) or by taking photos and greeting him online.

Grateful of Federal Agent kindness Ishii to take photo with me and my family.

Happy new year to Newton Ishii, great arrests. The federal police is well presented.

“The Federal Japanese” his name is Newton Ishii, an example.

To all, Judge Sergio Moro, the Attorney Deltan Dallagnol and Police Federal agent Newton Ishii, I forward my thanks of Lava-Jato [operation members].

  • Brazilians heroes: The judge [Sergio] Moro, Newton Ishii, and Jaquim Barbosa, we need more of such men. [mentioning the judge, the agent and the STF minister whom deliver the corruption sentences against accused executives]
  • The photo reads: The Japanese of sunglasses of federal police: The man who non of workers’ party members would like to meet.
  • Breaking News: After Arresting the politicians, the Japanese Newton Ishii of FP of Curitiba, changes his name and candidates to elections. sic!
  • The photo reads: The Japanese of federal police who no one of workers’ party members would like to meet.

Humor Politico (Political humor) published a cartoon showing ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva hiding his head as ostrich. Many of Brazilian are accusing the leaders of Workers’ Party (PT) government, who in power since 2002. Lula, Brazil’s president between 2002-2010 and a popular figure is a constant criticized target in media and public due to his “potential” influence over the government of Dilma Rousseff, his successor and current elected president of Brazil 2010-2018.


Even Ishii himself, used Social Media to ask Brazilians’ support to fight the corruption


Though most of tweets were greeting Ishii work, not all Brazilians agree that Ishii is a clean, honest agent.

According to Epoca, a magazine of Globo Group, the agent of the Federal Police that appears in almost all the photos leading the arrested executives, has joined in 1976, arrested by FP itself during Operation Sucuri in 2003, suspected to integrate a smuggling gang between Brazil and Paraguay border. Accused of corruption, and expelled later from the PF.

The Japanese agent was reappointed the agent NEWTON HIDENORI ISHII the post of federal police

Ishii appealed to criminal and civil processes, and brought back to his profession. The Federal Police says that Ishii has his managers satisfaction and confidence and is an excellent professional.

  • If this Japanese ring your doorbell at your home at 6:00 AM, please don’t open, because you’ll be screwed. Ha!!
  • SMUGGLER leaker = Newton Hidenori Ishii
  • Who is the nice Japanese who is selling smuggled goods?
  • Is it true that Newton Ishii?
  • The Photo reads: Who is the federal agent behind the sunglasses? Newton Ishii, accused of corruption.
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