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OpenArchive Partners with the Iraqi Network for Social Media

OpenArchive is partnering with digital rights defenders in Iraq to strengthen archiving efforts and workflows in the region.

OpenArchive is partnering with the Iraqi Network for Social Media (INSM-Iraq), the first network of digital rights defenders and experts in Iraq, to bolster their archiving efforts and workflows. Established in 2011, INSM-Iraq is a nonprofit, nongovernmental civil society organization that advocates for a free, open, diverse, and safe internet.

By cultivating networks between bloggers, journalists, human rights defenders, NGOs, and media organizations, INSM-Iraq pushes for an open internet free from restrictions set by governments or private corporations. OpenArchive’s partnership with INSM-Iraq will offer the Iraqi community new resources and tools to advance their mission.

“We are so inspired by INSM-Iraq, who are doing incredibly important work to fight censorship, surveillance, targeting, and internet shutdowns to support civil society and internet freedom through human rights documentation and preservation work,” said Natalie Cadranel, Founder and Executive Director of OpenArchive.

As Hayder Hamzoz, the Founder of INSM-Iraq noted, “...the Iraqi context is full of human rights violations, so eyewitness documentation is crucial for revealing the truth.”

Digital and human rights threats and abuses are consistently observed and experienced in Iraq and the Kurdish Region of Iraq (KRI). Website filtering and blocking, content censorship, internet shutdowns, and threats to witnesses are all violations that have impacted Iraq, which INSM-Iraq and OpenArchive seek to address with digital rights tools and training workshops.

In recent years, civilians in Iraq and the KRI have faced notable rights violations as authorities have targeted mobile media – censoring and destroying evidence collected during protests and disproportionately arresting witnesses that collected evidentiary photos and video footage – and silenced dissenting voices in the media and in public forums. “Human rights defenders and eyewitness documentarians need support to promote their work and protect their identities. Partnering with OpenArchive will produce outcomes that will help INSM-Iraq better understand our communities' needs, risks, and priorities. This will then provide our communities with the necessary tools and trainings to advance their important work of documenting, verifying, and preserving evidence of human rights abuses to advance justice and accountability," said Hamzoz.

OpenArchive’s partnership with INSM-Iraq represents a commitment to preserving and amplifying Iraqis’ voices and creating a secure archive of accessible and verified media. Through this partnership, we will conduct a needs assessments, create user personas, hold workshops to learn more about real-world archival practices to help inform our community, and adapt our archival tools to the local Iraqi context.

OpenArchive uses a human rights centered co-research and design approach to work with communities worldwide to develop safer and easy-to-use mobile archiving tools and workflows. This methodology has been applied in recent research with OpenArchive’s partner, KHPG, in Ukraine and offers a critical foundation on which to further develop this research across regional contexts.

Beyond this project with Iraq, OpenArchive is partnering with Decentralized Archivist Communities (DACs) worldwide to preserve evidence of war crimes, injustice, human rights abuses, and violence from extremists. OpenArchive has active partnerships with DACs in Ukraine, MENA, Latin America, and other communities across the world.

OpenArchive supports its DACs with funding and by sharing technical expertise about best practices for creating and maintaining a secure archive. It also conducts ethnographic research to learn about the DACs’needs and pain points, and trains them on how to use Save to protect and simplify their archival workflows. OpenArchive first developed its Save (Share, Archive, Verify, Encrypt) app in 2014 to circumvent these obstacles. Save helps eyewitnesses preserve, protect, authenticate, and amplify crucial records of human rights abuses.

Click here to view this post in Arabic.