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[liberationtech] Documenting police brutality in Kiev

phreedom at phreedom at
Wed Dec 4 02:40:59 PST 2013

On Wednesday, December 04, 2013 09:41:40 AM Walid AL-SAQAF wrote:
> Thanks to both of you for sending your comments,
> But I tend to agree with Maxim on this, and I find point (2) mentioned by
> Maxim to be quite compelling:
> 2. Retaliation to discourage further protests, as smartphones are expensive,
> > and Ukraine is a relatively poor country.
> After giving a though, I find that point (4) about wrecking phones is to
> hide evidence of police brutality may not be much of an effective strategy
> because of two main reasons:
> 1) One can probably find ways  of retrieving digital data from most of
> those devices. If the aim is to hide evidence, they would do something that
> police in some authoritarian countries -like  my own, Yemen- usually do,
> i.e., seizing cameras and mobile phones. If protesters are lucky, they'd
> get the phones/cameras back from the police station without their memory
> cards. It might be possible in some instances to recover footage from
> internal memory.

This is in fact what (still) happens rather often. You aren't likely to find a 
very knowledgeable person among the police ranks. Many in the police still 
think that hitting the delete key or smashing the device is enough. The word 
is slowly getting out though.

> 2) Such a strategy won't be of much use nowadays considering that many
> mobile devices are connected directly to the cloud so whatever is being
> documented is already out of reach for the police.

This may apply to an experienced activist who expects it to happen, but not to 
a random person who found him/herself in a violent situation. I hope the word 
is getting out too though.

> The second hypothesis reminded me of what the Egyptian police did when they
> vandalizes cars of protesters and the Syrian army robs and destroys homes
> and property of anti-government neighborhoods.
> I can't comment much about points (3) and (4) though. But they raise
> interesting aspects.

Everything Maxim said makes sense. If the police decided to beat up 400 
persons in the center of the city, they stand nothing to lose from damaging 
the electronic equipment along the way.

In the case of this specific protest in Ukraine, the government decided to 
violently quash the protest(which means causing as much suffering as possible 
without killing anyone), hoping that it will fade as a result. It definitely 
didn't expect such a reaction from the population. In fact, noone did. Eastern 
europe in general is very hard to motivate to go out and riot. But once in 10 
years it happens :)

> On Tue, Dec 3, 2013 at 7:56 PM, Maxim Kammerer <mk at> wrote:
> > On Mon, Dec 2, 2013 at 2:32 PM, Walid AL-SAQAF <admin at> wrote:
> > > Just notice how riot policemen intentionally wreck and destroy mobile
> > > devices one by one. Kind of confirms the LibTech notion, doesn't it ?
> > 
> > Fact is, you don't know why they do it. I can see at least several
> > options:
> > 
> > 1. Destroying communication options of opposing forces during the
> > protests.
> > 2. Retaliation to discourage further protests, as smartphones are
> > expensive, and Ukraine is a relatively poor country.
> > 3. The protests are viewed as propaganda warfare by the authorities,
> > and contrasted with Orange Revolution, which is considered a case of
> > Western interests scoring a win using propaganda techniques.
> > Smartphone cameras are a tool used in propaganda warfare.
> > 4. Preventing documentation of police brutality.
> > 
> > Last option is possible, but doesn't make much sense to me in a
> > country like Ukraine, since a much more effective tactic is to
> > document mob brutality (e.g., see a policeman hit with a stone at 3:10
> > in the video), and following it up with a few show trials.
> > 
> > --
> > Maxim Kammerer
> > Liberté Linux:
> > --
> > Liberationtech is public & archives are searchable on Google. Violations
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> >
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