Daily Video

February 15, 2017

Student volunteers use technology to monitor human rights abuses

WARNING: The following video contains violent images from war zones and should be screened before showing to students. 
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  • In places around the world where violent conflict makes it impossible for human rights investigators to observe war crimes and atrocities committed against civilians, social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram and Twitter now make it possible to document abuses.
  • The Human Rights Investigations Lab at the University of California, Berkeley is now training students to verify videos and other publicly available social media content coming out of areas like Syria, where human rights violations have been occurring.
  • Civilians trapped in those areas often post video or pictures of attacks or violence online. Berkeley students have been asked by human rights organization Amnesty International to monitor material from Yemen, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Myanmar, in addition to Syria.
  • The volunteers use geolocation to identify landmarks visible in the videos in order to verify their location and document where an incident took place.
  • Their research is turned over to partner human rights organizations for analysis. Some has even been sent to the United Nations. The hope is that this method will make it easier to

Class discussion questions 
  1. Essential question: What are human rights?
  2. Why is the work the Human Rights Investigations Lab doing important to protecting human rights?
  3. “If there is no geopolitical will to actually help people, then you can have all the videos in the world, and it won’t actually garner support to save people’s lives,” said Ben Taub, a contributing writer at the New Yorker. What did he mean when he said this?
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