Human rights defender
Aws is a Human Rights Defender from Iraq who is working on digital rights. He is the founder of a large fact-checking network in the Middle East and North Africa. The focus of the network is to discredit sources of fake news by referencing them and providing proof to their claims through verified sources. The organisation also confirms the true news that lacks verified sources by adding additional sources to it. By finding and reporting profiles, pages and groups which spread sectarianism or violence, the organisation focuses on establishing grounds for reconciliation between different sects and divisions.
Human rights violations in Iraq
Most Iraqi news media outlets are owned by or affiliated with political parties and ethnic factions, often leading to sharply partisan coverage. Media outlets also have to deal with forms of pressure from the authorities. For example, government officials threaten to close or revoke the licenses of critical media outlets. Social media influencers are often being paid by political and religious leaders and international organisations in order to deliver certain messages that usually result in violence, sectarianism, hatred blackmailing and personal attacks. However, most of these messages are fake and tell lies. Therefore, Aws’ network counters the fake news and shows the real facts supported by official sources. This, however, led to the fact that all of these “digital armies” are trying to take the work of the network down.
Threats and harassment
Aws has been victim of several digital and verbal threats by prominent Iraqi people and organisations, as well as by anonymous persons. He receives threats not only directed to his organisation but also at his private number and at his home address. The insecure situation is enlarged by the threat to takedown the website of the network.