#LANDBACK: A Paradox of Decolonization and Reparations
San Jose State University
Hashtags, the finding aids of social media, permit the curation of posts, tweets, and stories on specific subjects, movements, and interests. The use of hashtags enables those involved in the movement to share information, work together, and expand their message's reach. However, while creating a digital genealogy of the movement, organizers may transfer ownership of the intellectual property created to support the movement. Acceptance of user agreements with a click transfers rights to the accounts' content to social media companies. The #LANDBACK movement's mission is to return lands to Indigenous peoples and achieve justice for historical and present wrongs. The campaign launched on October 12, 2020, by the NDN Collective to restore ecological health to stolen lands and return the land to Indigenous ownership across North America. Using #LANDBACK across social media, the NDN Collective brought together local and regional efforts into national movements in the United States and Canada. The acquisition of land was the driving force of the genocide of Indigenous peoples in North America. The land is the unintended monument to those who died at the hands of the settler-colonial project. This paper will examine the origins of the #LANDBACK movement, its progress, and social media user agreements' complications. The use of social media posts to document the movement's progress and successes while simultaneously adding companies' digital intellectual property creates a decolonization paradox. The reclaiming the land from settler-colonial control while adding to the infinite digital intellectual resources of social media companies will be interrogated. A movement dedicated to restitution and reparations for genocide willingly surrenders Indigenous digital intellectual knowledge used to advance its goals. An incredible price in human lives was the cost of having the land stolen. The loss of control of knowledge in the digital age is incalculable.
#Kifaya|#Enough Dangerous Speech for South Sudanese: Collaborative Strategies by Musicians in South Sudan
1Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy University at Al, United States of America; 2Binghamton University and the Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention; 3Talent Initiative for Development, South Sudan
Even in countries where only a small fraction of citizens are formally educated or have access to the internet, social media and dangerous speech can call for incitement and directed attacks which exacerbate conflict, hampering attempts to build trust and dialogue amongst groups and communities. Those with access and the ability to use online outlets indeed have the power to influence opinion and group relations. As such, they also have the power to be what the group #DefyHateNow calls ‘positive influencers’ in a rapidly growing social media arena (http://defyhatenow.org/).
This is the case in South Sudan where young people and musicians in particular have influence over their networks and fanbases; and these exchanges are occurring in a country facing serious ongoing violent conflict. This paper presents the story surrounding the process of developing and promoting a South Sudanese best-selling peace song, #Kifaya, which literally translates to #Enough. The song seeks to magnify the voices of the South Sudanese musicians as peace builders in the diaspora and in South Sudan. #Kifaya debuted at a 2018 culminating event, PeaceJam, that was the result of trainings on mitigating dangerous speech among youth musicians and a collaborative songwriting process. The song’s lyrics encourage peace and reconciliation among the divided and grieved South Sudanese communities.
As a case study, the #Kifaya project underlines the various and different set of actors that can be (and need to be) involved in atrocity prevention, e.g., more “civilian-led” (Kantowitz & Fox, 2020) or “local first” (Moix, 2016) approaches and also speaks to the trends in the decentralization and so-called ‘localization’ agenda in development practice. Using frameworks to mitigate dangerous speech and digital platforms to promote peace, the case of the #Kifaya project highlights community-based organizations, youth, musicians and even diaspora as engaged atrocity prevention and development actors.
Retreating international accountability for crimes of genocide: the case of South Sudan
Indiana University, United States of America
From the onset of the new civil war that started in 2013 in South Sudan, the academic community mobilized against media portrayals highlighting the ethnic nature of the crisis and violence against civilians. Elite greed in South Sudan became the “master narrative” of conflict there. Meanwhile, the African Union (AU) carried out an investigation and released a contentious report in 2015 which, despite highlighting state planning and coordination of grave ethnic violence, concluded in one paragraph that there was no crime of genocide in South Sudan. Only in 2016 did the UN Human Rights Council agree to the creation of the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) for South Sudan, which concluded to a case of “ethnic cleansing”, an accusation with no legal teeth. The AU, the UNHRC, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International all pointed out that crimes against humanity and war crimes may have been committed. But there was no attempt to launch an investigation into the crime of genocide, despite academic research warranting one.
This paper investigates the reasons behind the lack of pursuit of such investigation, and the general lack of accountability in South Sudan. Based on over 400 interviews with survivors, diplomats, human rights investigators and aid workers in South Sudan, Uganda’s refugee camps from 2014 to 2017, and distantly in 2021, it explores the reasons behind the international silence regarding genocidal violence in South Sudan. It explains the global retreat of the international regime of accountability with references to Darfur, Syria’s Yazidis, and Burma’s Rohingyas. It posits that American and regional interests continue to dictate the pursuit of the crime of genocide, with different outcomes. Political interests are dictating more than ever the labelling of the crime of genocide, with questionable results, and in some cases, negative impacts.
Hate crime in the digital age: Catalytic role of social media in Bangladesh
Binghamton University, United States of America
With the tremendous advancement of information technology, we need not look far to see, side by side with positive vibes, immense hatred has been flourished in this digital age. Violence attributed to online hate speech, particularly through social media, has been increased worldwide. Bangladesh is no exception. This very country got emerged through bloody genocide in 1971, and came across with series of political and military upheavals that affected its politics for the following decades. All these contributed to craft a society with distortions. In this backdrop, the present paper searches how the social media users spreading hate crimes all over the society that affect communal harmony and balance of the country. This paper reminds the possibility of horrific crimes to be repeated if the society fails to control the online propagations.