Archive: Live Blog of MENA Protests (February 22 - 27)
For the most recent updates, visit our live blog here.
- Check out this “scorecard” from Arbor Networks to see how network traffic has changed in Libya over the past week.
- The Renesys blog has the latest update on the rolling internet blackouts in Libya. They note that the blackouts appear to primarily be taking place between 1am and 8am.
- In its latest statement, Human Rights Watch asks concerned government to “back their condemnatory statements with concrete action to stop the bloodshed, including an embargo on all arms and security equipment to Libya, targeted sanctions against the Libyan leadership as long as the atrocities continue, ensuring a comprehensive, independent, and speedy investigation into any crimes committed, and an emergency special session by the United Nations Security Council.”
- In a rambling televised speech, Gaddafi claimed he will “die a martyr” and called on his supporters to take to the streets and attack protesters.
- It remains hard to get information out of the country, but Alive in Libya continues to post what they can find that is coming from the streets of Libya.
- The internet continues to be hit with severe disruptions. Craig Labovitz, the chief scientist of Arbor Networks, said that as of today, Libya is experiencing a significant Internet outage with traffic volumes 60 percent to 80 percent below normal levels. See the image below from Arbor Networks.
- Traffic to YouTube has significantly dropped.
- The United Nations Security Council issued a statement yesterday condemning the crackdown on protesters by Gaddafi. The Council demanded an "immediate" end to the violence.
- BBC is reporting that mobile phones and computers being carried by people crossing from the Libyan border into Egypt are being checked for images. The BBC's Paul Danahar says: "A Tunisian woman who was living just outside Tripoli but fled to the border said that at checkpoints along the way people's phones were being checked for images of unrest. If any were found they were deleted and any computers with images were confiscated. This is the second group of people to tell me this."
- A number of towns, including Benghazi and Tobruk, are reported to be under the control of anti-Gaddafi protesters.
- The map below shows areas that have been liberated and areas that are still under Gaddafi's control. Source: Iyad El-Baghdadi.
- News outlets are reporting that Tripoli appears deserted. See photos from this morning here. Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that Gaddafi has "called on thousands of mercenaries and irregular security forces on Wednesday to defend his bastion in Tripoli."
- CNN's Ben Wedeman, in Libya, tweets: "In matter of days people of Benghazi set up from nothing FM radio station "Voice of Free Libya" to broadcast news of the revolt."
- Amazing video from CNN shows the crowds chanting and cheering in Benghazi.
- CNN's Nic Robertson tweets that people crossing the border from Libya to Tunisia are confronting security forces destroying their mobile phones' SIM cards.
- GigaOM reports about the lengths Libyans are taking to get video out of the country and posted up on YouTube.
- Check out the YouTube Citizentube Libya playlist, curated by Storyful, for raw footage from Libya.
- More news coming out about mass text messages being sent to Libyans asking them to support Gaddafi and to go back to work.
- ABC News reports that opposition members organized protests via a popular Muslim dating site called Mawada. Omar Shibliy Mahmoudi, the leader of the Ekhtalef ("Difference") Movement said he created a profile on Mawada pretending to look for a wife. Other dissidents the used the site to pose as women contacting him. Correspondence used codes and "poetry laced with revolutionary references" to plan protests.
- Thuraya satellite phone company says that its services are being deliberately jammed by Libya.
- The New York Times has a cool interactive map showing how the protests have unfolded day-by-day since February 16
- Egyptian migrant workers leaving the country told Human Rights Watch that Libyan security forces “took the batteries, SIM cards, and memory cards from their mobile phones at checkpoints as they left the country. Two showed Human Rights Watch how security forces had broken the cameras on their telephones as well. 'They wanted to make sure we couldn't take any pictures or videos with our cameras,' one said.
- According to Google's Transparency Report, traffic inside Libya to YouTube remains very low and sporadic.
- Very interesting article from David Kirkpatrick about how Gaddafi’s efforts to prove that he was in control and Tripoli was calm “appeared to backfire Saturday as foreign journalists he invited to the capital discovered blocks of the city in open revolt.” It’s no surprise that the portrait being presented by Gaddafi’s regime is much different from the reality on the ground.
- Reuters reports: "Libya's ex-justice minister Mustafa Mohamed Abud Ajleil has led the formation of an interim government based in the eastern city of Benghazi."
- A number of new photo albums have been posted on the Libyan Youth Movement’s Facebook page, including photos from Benghazi and the Al Birka Barracks.
- Al Jazeera English filed a report from inside Gaddafi’s ransacked palace and underground bunker in the outskirts of al-Baida.
- Protesters in Benghazi launched the “National Libyan Council.” At a news conference, Hafiz Ghoga, a spokesperson for the council, said, “The main aim of the national council is to have a political face...for the revolution....We will help liberate other Libyan cities, in particular Tripoli through our national army, our armed forces, of which part have announced their support for the people.”
- A new video from Iran shows security forces massing near Tehran's Vali-Asr Square.
- The Green Movement's Organization Committee announced a plan for nationwide street protests every Tuesday for the next three weeks. The Wall Street Journal reports that film director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, a member of the opposition committee, said in a video message to Iranians on Thursday, "People want to witness what happened in Tunisia and Egypt in Iran as well. Protesting every week will challenge the regime and in the future these weekly protests will turn into daily events." Opposition leaders Mousavi and Karroubi remain under strict house arrest.
- The websites of opposition leaders Mousavi and Karroubi have posted calls for fresh protests next week, stating: "Everyone to join a rally from Imam Hossein Square to Azadi Square [in Tehran] on Tuesday March 1 in order to protest the continuation of the illegal house arrest of the Green Movement leaders."
- There are conflicting reports about the whereabouts of the two leaders. It’s unconfirmed if they remain in their homes under strict house arrest or have been moved to a safe house.
- Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has called on the government to release Mousavi and Karroubi from house arrest.
- The biggest anti-government is taking place today in Manama, with over 100,000 protesters streaming into the Pearl Roundabout area. Wearing red and white (the country's colors), thousands marched along Sheikh Khalifa Bin Salman Highway as they made their way to the Pearl Roundabout. Image below from Maryam Alkhawaja.
- There are conflicting estimates about the size of the demonstration, but given that the population of Bahrain is only around half a million people, it is an astonishing scene.
- Meanwhile, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa has ordered the release of some political prisoners in an apparent attempt to meet one of the opposition’s demands. Little information has been released about the identities of the prisoners to be released.
- At least 23 political prisoners were freed on late Tuesday, including blogger Ali Abdulemam, who was first arrested in September 2010. Some of these freed prisoners have since joined the protests. Abdulemam said it is now important for the opposition groups to quickly agree to unified demands.
- The king of Bahrain has traveled to Saudi Arabia to discuss the unrest in the region.
- Bahrain’s largest trade union joined the opposition committee working to outline demands. Sayed Salman, secretary-general of the General Federation for Bahrain Trade Unions, said: "We are with the protesters' call for more rights and freedoms. We also want the government to know that if the police force or army comes again to suppress the protest that we will strike. We would also strike if we find (that a) political solution is not forthcoming or if sides aren't negotiating genuinely."
- The list of demands are not yet finalized. Potential demands include the introduction of a constitutional monarchy, the dissolution of the current government, the release of all political prisoners, electoral reform, and the formation of a new "national salvation" government.
- Today, the Royal Court announced that tomorrow will be an official day of mourning for the martyrs who had died since February 14th.
- Today, anti-government protesters have organized a "Mourning March" starting at Salmaniya and ending at the Pearl Roundabout.
Photo from @emoodz
- Friday's protest was believed to have been twice as large as Tuesday's demonstration. This time, the call for protests came from Shiite religious leaders. Two crowds marched from the south and the west, meeting at the Pearl Roundabout.
- King al-Khalifa fired three cabinet ministers on Friday, meeting one of the opposition's demands, but he did not fire the prime minister.
- Tens of thousands of protesters marched on government ministries in Manana on Saturday. Mohammed Fardan, a 28-year old call-center operator from Manama, told the WSJ, "We will surround government buildings and sit here for an hour, then return to the roundabout. It's about building pressure.”
- A massive rally was held today demanding the release of political detainees. Participants gathered at the Pearl Roundabout and marched to the main courthouse in Manama. Twitter user RedhaHaji took a number of photos along the entire route, including the photo below.
- Haley Sweetland Edwards of The Atlantic describes her meeting with a number of government thugs in Yemen.
- A statement from President Saleh indicates that he has ordered his security forces to protect anti-Saleh demonstrators. It reads, in part, "Saleh instructed all security services to thwart all clashes and prevent direct confrontation between pro- and anti-government demonstrators…The government...will continue to protect the rights of its citizens to assemble peacefully and their right to freedom of expression."
- Afrah Nasser, a Yemini journalist, blogged about her visit to "Freedom Square" outside Sana'a University. She reports that demonstrators have set up check-points and committees are being established to keep things organized.
- Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters poured into the square outside Sana'a University. A Muslim imam who led Friday prayers (see video here) told the crowd, "Every Yemeni is religiously and duty-bound to work to topple this regime."
- At least 100,000 Yemenis demonstrated in the city of Taiz on Friday. The New York Times reports that the protest was first organized on Facebook.
- The leader of one of Yemen’s most influential tribes joined the anti-government protests.
- According to the Yemen Post, President Saleh believes that protesters are just imitating the Libyans. At a meeting with army commanders, he said, "There is a continuous plot against Yemen's unity and we in the armed forces have vowed to protect the republican system to the last drop of blood."
- The Arab Revolution Posterous page has a number of videos (some graphic) from Libya.
- The Joint Meeting Parties, Yemen’s largest opposition bloc, announced today that they will hold protest rallies on Tuesday.
- This map has plotted videos from demonstrations on February 20.
- Two of the country's largest political parties--the Popular Movement Party and the Socialist Union of the People's Forces (USFP)--have joined the calls for constitutional reform.
- The February 20 Movement and the Morocco Association for Human Rights have been actively pushing for protests this weekend. Smaller marches were held today in Casablanca, Rabat, and Al-Hoceima. Police presence was high and the demonstrations were largely peaceful. According to Afrol News, "The call for renewed protests has been heavily censored in Moroccan media. Also access to the few foreign media reports about the AMDH's protest call, including by afrol News, has been restricted." Will larger crowds turn out tomorrow?