Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Statement: Whistleblower Chelsea Manning is Free

I first heard of Chelsea Manning when the news broke early in 2010 that a soldier had been arrested in Iraq for being the alleged source of blowing the whistle on serious war crimes leaked to WikiLeaks in 2009.

I had worked on some of this material with WikiLeaks, and was convinced that if we would get it out in public domain, that it would make our world better. I worked on among other things background on the video that Reuters had tried to get released for some years without success, showing how two of their staff had been killed in New Baghdad. The video not only showed the killing of these two men, but it showed war crimes of horrific nature, where the collaterals where not only the photographer and his assistant but children and people trying to help a wounded man.

I admit that I share the same hopes that drove Manning to share with the rest of the world the crimes of war she witnessed. I am still deeply disappointed that no one has been held accountable for the criminality exposed in the documents for which Manning was dealt a 35 years prison sentence for.

I want to thank Chelsea Manning for the service she has done for humanity with her courage to inform us, so that we have the means to transform and change our societies for the better. The wave of demands for greater transparency, more accountability, and democratic reform originate with Manning's lonely act in the barracks in Iraq.

I really wish I could be among the first to give her a real hug after all the virtual hugs, but with the current regime in the USA, and recent threats towards WikiLeaks, I have been advised not to travel to the USA. There are of course other reasons as well. New laws and policies that discriminate against whole nations, against people of color and people from Mexico find it impossible for me go, I will not endorse that type of discrimination. I also find new laws giving border control permission to demand passwords and access to my emails, and social media accounts a dangerous threat to privacy and do not wish to normalise it in any way by taking a dummy phone with me.

I hope that someday Chelsea Manning can visit Iceland and inspire people in person about the importance of courage and the fact that individuals can and must change the world. She is a living proof of that. Now as she takes her first steps into a new life outside the prison walls, I find it fitting it occurs on a day where we celebrate diversity of love.

I know that no matter what Chelsea will do, she will carry on making our world a better place. I am sure it will take some time to adjust. But today we will celebrate and rejoice for the most hopeful news so far this year: Chelsea is Free.

Today we celebrate in Iceland with 1000's of people, the freedom of a modern day hero.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Thoughts about nightmares & dreams

Poemletter I wrote in 2003/4 

I had just moved away from Iceland to New Zealand and wrote this poem to self based on a series of dreams I had. It is uncanny how life imitates art sometimes :) I have slightly altered the poem because my English is slightly better today. Here is a link to the original version.

Well I am still alive,
despite my silence
for all this time.

There are many layers of reasons why.

It has taken a lot of effort to settle here at the other end of the world.
Everything is different:
the way the water runs in circles the other way around;
internally and externally,
traffic on the other side of the road,
little cultural things,

The way the sun comes up
and the moon sets.

Always interesting and
it keeps the fine lines in the brain
tuned and alert.

I however fell out of tune with the cycle of movement 
with the rest of the world,
got local,
living in the small town syndrome.

Now I feel an urgency,
a need to hook back into the surf of the world.

Despite how ugly the world is turning right now,
rotten to the core, 

things coming to the surface,
that are hard to see and experience.

But we need to see and feel,
in order to heal,
to grow new ideas,
for the revolution to take place.

Fear as always,

the fertile soil for oppression.

In the USA and well, in the West at large 
so much freedom
has been gradually chipped away.
And no one really cares,
because they are too busy making sure
they get enough to fuel their need to consume,
and consume more bullshit they do.

When living at such totally unique times
it is important
to maintain an eagle vision
see the whole tapestry
and never, never ask why.

Why is the only thing, really, that drives us into madness.

So I am digging deep;
it is ridiculous and pointless to preach
and even worse when preaching
is not walking the talk of that speech.

I have to admit that I have a tendency to preach.

So I have to dig deeper still
find the cause
the effect
of all those warlike feelings inside;

Why I feel fear
Why I feel anger
and hopelessness.

I am digging
and I am talking to ghosts

of my past,
and I am further more
forgiving myself
for things I never did.

I always used to believe in the power of the individual
and that each and everyone of us can make a difference.
I think I still believe it,
I think I just need some proof.

Everyday I read more, I see more
that makes me truly mad.
Should I pray for the 1%
or should I kick their ass?
I don't know.

I wonder what is needed to force open their blinded eyes
to the misery their greed and power hunger is
causing so many people.

Our planet.

I dreamt last night that I was going into politics
and that I was going to be the first female prime minster in Iceland.
It was a true nightmare,
I mean, if you enter into the seats of power
what is going to happen to you?

Will you, no matter how pure you think you are,
maintain the vision you set out with,
or will you be too bloody busy to be able to maintain it.

I also dreamt in another dream
that my Native American blood was singing.
I dreamt that I was lying really still, 
and talking about eagles
and how they see the far and wide, 
from high above
on the belly of a great warrior,
who had his face painted 
black with bright white stripes.

He said: “Be still
just be still for a moment

and it will all come to you.”

With Rivers of Joy

p.s. even if I thought I had adjusted to the world down under, I will move back 
to the top of the world, yes I am really moving back again to the other island of extremes
to face the beasts I had created before I left.

Friday, April 08, 2016

FAQ to MP’s of the Icelandic Pirate Party

The the government of Iceland has reshuffled; The Prime minister has left the stage and the Progressive Party has appointed the Fisheries minister as their new PM. The disgraced leader of the Independence party and our Finance minister will not resign despite calls from the general public for him to do so since he is among the sitting ministers revealed in the Panama-papers.
The leaders of the government said yesterday that they plan to hold snap election next fall. They have threatened the opposition with calling off the snap election if they won’t get fair weather to finish all the bills they have put forward, including the lifting of the capital controls.
The opposition will put forward a fresh resolution of vote of no confidence as soon as the new cabinet has been formally established later on Thursday. The vote of no confidence will be debated tomorrow Friday at 1pm.
Protests will be ongoing in the next few days because the people of Iceland feel that this government has done nothing real to deal with the crisis of ethics. It is not enough just to move heads in the cabinet and have the former PM carry on as the leader of the Progressive party and as shadow minister. The parliamentarians of the Pirate Party are in full support of the protests, freedom of expression and direct democracy are after all some of the core values and policies of our party.
How do you view the current situation and the PM’s resignation?The people of Iceland are calling for new elections in the wake of the Panama-paper revelations. Two days ago we had the largest protest to date in Iceland where these demands were very prominent. In our capacity as the representatives of the Icelandic people we must listen to them and push for new elections as soon as possible.
It is obvious that we are faced with a serious political crisis. The current situation is extremely uncertain, trust in the government has reached  its lowest point both in Parliament, and with the nation at large.
What needs to happen now in your view?The government has to listen to the people of this country and acknowledge that they have completely lost all trust to run the country.  Not only has the leader of the Progressive party and now former PM lost all credibility, so has, the rest of his cabinet. We are of course aware that there is no tradition for that to be the case here in Iceland.  The last government that lost trust in a similar fashion was the government of Mr. Geir Haarde in the wake of the financial crisis in 2008. They did not have the wisdom to listen until they got seriously scared by the growing intensity of the protests after which they finally resigned with disgrace.
The next logical course of action is for the government to a that they should resign. It is wholly unacceptable for them to shun the will of Parliament; the opposition's motion of a vote of no confidence must be scheduled immediately. New elections are the only acceptable resolution to this crisis.
What would be the next steps to restore the stability in the country?Set a date for new elections, (in a few weeks).  After the election we need to establish a new foundation to build our society  - we have to continue and finalize the adoption of a new constitution: We cannot restore full stability until we have a new constitution. The people have demanded a new constitution since before our last parliamentary elections. The current ambiguity and uncertainty clearly demonstrates the flaws in our old constitution as its processes for dissolving government are wholly unclear. This situation shows us clearer than ever how dire the need for a newer, clearer and more democratic constitution is here in Iceland.
Why is the Pirate Party scoring this high in polls?Like we always say, it's birds in the woods and we can’t count them until we have some in our hands, which would be the results of elections. We are of course still surprised by the popularity of the party – It's the big riddle we're always trying to solve.
One of the many theories why so many of the Icelandic nation trust us in the polls is because people sense that we stand for enacting changes that have to do with reforming the systems, rather than changing minor things that might easily be changed back. Our policies therefore stand in stark contrast to what appears to be the pattern of modern politics; minor changes but always the same dysfunctional system. We do not define ourselves as left or right but rather as a party that focuses on the systems. In other words, we consider ourselves hackers - so to speak - of our current outdated systems of government.
Is the Pirate Party ready for new elections?The Pirate Party is a new political party, it was founded three and a half years ago. We have been through elections twice, first in general elections and then in municipal elections. We can assume that this time will be very different since we are scoring around 40% in the polls. We are often asked if we have enough good people to run for Parliament. The answer is YES we do. We have a lot of great and willing people. Of course it will be tremendous work but in the end we are just as prepared (or unprepared) as all the other political parties in Iceland. Most importantly; we are ready for the tasks ahead and are looking forward to this unique opportunity to help manifest the New Iceland people are calling for. Our goal is to enact meaningful and positive changes in our system and in our society. We will carry on calling for the wisdom of the masses and seek both local and global experts to guide us on this path.
People in Iceland are sick of corruption and nepotism. The Icelandic Pirate Party will not be able to solve all of the ingrown problems in Iceland but it will certainly be able to offer new hardware, complete with a new set of rules based on how we operate as a collective community.
We want to be the Robin Hood of power: We take away the power from the powerful and give it to the general public of Iceland. Our strongest weapons are our plans to enact a new constitution which has great democratic provisions civil engagement tools such as the web platform “Better Iceland.”
Does Birgitta want to be a Prime Minister?
NO. We have horizontal structure within our party. The PM office is not automatic power seat. Birgitta isn't even an official leader. If the Pirates will get enough trust to form a government we might simply ask the nation who they want to be PM. We are still formulating how to delegate responsibility. 
Is Birgitta still working with WikiLeaks?No, but she supports WikiLeaks and other similar organisations. Her IMMI Resolution contains a key to legalise the role of WikiLeaks in the global and local context. Freedom of Information, Expression & Speech with a strong focus on digital privacy is that key. Nothing radical.
Where to find background material about Birgitta and her work?IMMITEDx Reykjavík 2015Iceland Revolution ProjectAsk me anything @ The YesMenLab

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Message for the People of Greece: Vote!

It is well fitting for the cradle of democracy to call for a national referendum on an issue that will impact the future of all citizens of Greece. A leadership that puts the destiny of the nation in her own hands is strong since it understands what democracy means at its core: The rule of the people. We urge all the people in Greece who have the right to vote to add their voice to this historical moment by voting for what they believe is right.

Many countries in the developing world have been put up against the wall by international creditors and their guardian, the IMF. The Troika is applying the same inhuman methods towards Greece. The austerity imposed in the last few years on Greece is unfair, unsustainable and impossible and not to be tolerated. As economists from around the world have empathized, the Greek economy collapsed, not the least because of those very austerity measures.

The EU & the IMF have overreached, don't listen to their fear mongering.

Dear people of Greece shape your future on your terms, we will support you no matter what you choose to do. 

Birgitta Jónsdóttir & Jón Þór Ólafsson, Members of Parliament in Iceland for the Pirate Party.

Here are some good articles and films on the issue of Greece

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

We the People, are the System

My speech from TEDx Reykjavík

The speech has been translated to various languages, thank you! 
МЫ — НАРОД, МЫ — СИСТЕМА - Russian
Noi, il Popolo, siamo il sistema - Italian

The 21st century will be the century of the common people – the century of you, of US.
We live in remarkable, transformative times. We have the library of Alexandria at our fingertips; all the recorded knowledge of the world is being digitized and made available through the Internet.

Meanwhile, our democratic models are hollow and crumbling at an alarming rate as we move further into a new era of complexity, technology and interconnectivity.

The ideologies of the old school of politics, media, monetary systems, education, corporations, and all known structures are in a state of transformation. They are crumbling. Now is the time for fundamental change on all fronts, we have to seize this moment. Because this is THE moment.

Our states are built around systems that are outdated, created in simpler times and for smaller societies. Today, those systems no longer serve the people but are simply self-serving.

The welfare state has been hollowed and is on the verge of collapse, often as a way to privatize it.  We are running out of planet and our current systems are unable to do anything about it.

Most of our democracies have become like a dictatorship with 100 talking-heads on the neck of a corporate body.

Draconian ‘anti-terrorism’ laws and secrecy have somehow become the new norm. Modern democracies have become a freaky mix of Brave New World and: ... 1984.

So, do you know what our digital persona is? It is made from content and meta data. 

Do you know what meta data and data retention is? 
I mean do you understand it on a deep level. 
Like you understand that you have a constitutional right to vote without anyone knowing who or what you voted for?  Like you understand that lawyers and their clients have the right to have conversations in private? Like you understand that 
what happens between you and your doctor should remain private? Like the communication between a source and a journalist should remain private? 

Data retention of your meta data basically means that you are butt naked in the system, 
your digital persona is for everyone who has enough power or capital to see, 
mock, poke at, sell, touch, manipulate and consume. 
Your digital persona has a digital shadow. 
It follows you everywhere you go and unlike your normal 
offline shadow it can be captured, changed, shared or sold.

If your walls are windows, would you draw the curtains when you sleep, have sex or go to the bathroom? Yes? Maybe? 
In your digital house, you simply don't have that choice. Encryption and legislation are the key to pull the curtains when you choose. 

We have never been as connected as we are today, as enabled to share real-time stories of success and failure. Therefore, our learning curve is steeper than ever before.

We are sharing, downloading, remixing and co-creating every day. Our digital person is expanding and our digital shadow ever growing. 

We are being manipulated every day into believing we are powerless, that there is nothing that can change these systems; but I am telling you; this is a lie.

You have the power to be a catalyst for change in our world. It has always been individuals
who change our world, not some external power, but individual power for good or for evil. 
Do you want others to be the power in your life, or do you want to accept the responsibility 
of claiming your power and use it by being a part of co-creating your society? 

This sense of social responsibility has somehow always been a part of my person, maybe because I was an outcast when I was a kid, the strange ugly duckling in my village that didn't fit in anywhere.  I was lucky, I learned very early on to be my personal alchemist and transform difficulty into strength.  I have accepted that I am some sort of a human guinea pig when it comes to system failure. 

It was human error that led to for example suicides of my beloved father and my husband both of whom vanished into the abyss of the Icelandic landscape of water and ice. How the system dealt with it was system error.

I chose to use these crisis as a transformative tool and through the death of my father,  who vanished, never to be found, on christmas eve 1987,  just after I turned twenty, 
I learned to value life and not only that, I learned to love myself and get off the path of self-destruction but most importantly I learned the true meaning of compassion. 

When my late husband vanished a few years later, I learned the hard way how to cope in 
extreme crisis, uncertainty and the fear of not knowing what will happen next. 
This has served me well during crisis times, internally or externally. 

I later learned that our collective systems express human behavior during times
of crisis. It is a fact that our systems are made from human values. 
We made them, we can undo them. 

What might seem impossible now, might be quite possible tomorrow 
because we are experiencing very rapid changes on all fronts. 
So I encourage you to start to make the blueprint for the future you want to live in.
Find that spark that will start a revolution in your heart.

Have you ever thought where the word Revolution comes from? I really like this word, 
it means change, it means evolving with love. How awesome is that? 
So why do you fear change, why are we so afraid of it? Everything is changing 
all the time in nature, yet we do everything in our power to make time still. 
Why are you so afraid? Why are we so afraid?

Perhaps because we have made everything so complex and grand. Perhaps 
it's time to return to more simple ways, more self sustainable ways. 
We can do that by learning from each other, by helping each other 
locally and globally and by remembering that we as individuals 
can change the world. Now is the time to step forward,
take on that challenge and be the change maker. 
Don’t expect others to do it, your time has arrived, 
to make a difference!

I took this step a few years ago, when I was temporary unemployed, 
a single parent with the simple goal of figuring out how I as an 
individual could help create a sustainable future for the next generations,
in times of great uncertainty after the financial crisis.

I have admit that I have never dreamt of being a leader, a politician, a parliamentarian, a minister, let alone the role of a Prime minister. My little Pirate party is currently polling as by the far, the biggest party in Iceland. We are all very humbled and frankly quite surprised. And at times of these it is good to remind me about the circle of power, I am a big fan of the circle. I co-created  the Pirate party power structure as a circle. The circle of community. 

I made the following pledge to myself: while I am in service I have to remember to listen to my heart, to listen to my intuition and to be impeccable with my word. And finally I must not care at all if I loose that place of power because it was never mine in the first place.

During the Job interview with the entire nation, when running for office, 
I made a promise to be the annoying mosquito in the tent, and that my friends, 
is a promise I have kept. Just ask my fellow parliamentarians :)

My main political objectives and vision took shape in a grassroots think-tank I was 
part of just after the financial meltdown in 2008, and during the work of the creation 
of the IMMI resolution, these objectives are thankfully at the heart of the Pirate Party 
core policy. 

Firstly: To involve the public in reshaping Iceland’s legal framework, 
through direct democracy and through co-creation of a new constitution for and 
by the people of Iceland; I was aware that we needed a new foundation or like I call it, 
new hardware in order to be able to make a clean system install. 

Secondly: To transform Iceland into a safe haven for freedom of information, expression and transparency, with a strong focus on digital privacy as a cornerstone of direct democracy. To create cutting edge 21st century legal framework. 

I guess one could say that I am some sort of a party startup person, because I have co-created two parties from nothing in the last six and a half years, with some really amazing diverse people. Both parties got voted into parliament. Once I was elected six years ago, I went inside the system, straight to the heart of it,  the legislative assembly, like a legal hacker, analyzing its strengths and 
weaknesses in order to find ways to improve the system.

I learned early on to follow my intuition as a poetician for it makes a lot more sense to me then the rivalry and manipulations of left or right ideology. The right and wrong ideology of the old world has simply outgrown itself. No longer do we have strong parliaments with a direct link between the general public and decision maker, perhaps we never did. We have so called professional politicians that are far removed from the reality most of us live in.

Most people have realized that left and right politics don't have any useful role anymore. The ideology of it is outdated. To create political movements based on common agenda of pressing issues of basic human rights and democratic reform is so important right now.

In order for the common people like us to co-create our society we have to have the democratic tools to do so. People need to get into parliaments to change the laws, so we all can have the power that is rightfully ours, to impact our society and apply real pressure on those in power to work for us, not the elite.

One of the aims of both the Civic Movement and the Pirate Party has been to inspire ordinary people to take on political responsibilities by stepping forward and take a leap into the unknown and of course be the mosquito in the tent and open the windows. 

Looking at different models for how to humanize and modernize how we run our societies, I have come to the conclusion that there is currently no one model that fits all and there never will be one size fits all. We need to experiment and study what works for each type of society, depending on the cultural backdrop.

There are some amazing direct democracy experiments being implemented with success all over the world. New types of citizen engagement platforms are being created and used to form policy and to facilitate direct democracy, such as the Pirate Party Liquid Feedback, D-Cent, Your Priorities, DemocracyOS and WeGov.

Technology enabling direct access to power is now become simple enough that citizens can start using it to form opinion and enforce political change in a genuine grassroots, bottom-up way. 

One of the most important task ahead is to help people become aware of that if they want to live in a real democracy they need to be part of it, to engage with it. That living in a democracy is work.

It is also vital that people start a discussion among their friends and families about what sort of future they want. If we, the citizens of Earth – do not have a clear vision of where we are heading, we will get nowhere. The 1% has a clear roadmap of where they are heading, which enables them to stay ahead of the rest of us. 

Some of the most amazing innovations and creativity in the history of humankind have emerged in conditions of extreme stress, such as the New Deal. As human beings we have now reached a stage where we have to evolve to the next level, or we will fail to deliver a sustainable world to the next generation. Please talk about how you would like the future to be, make a vision, share your vision with others, start with the person sitting next to you. 

If you need an inspiration then I find John Lennon's ‘Imagine’ to be a good roadmap.

The poetician in me will end this with a wake up call!

I have seen signs
the end of the world
as we know it
has begun

Don't panic
it might look terrifying
on the surface

Yet inside every
human being
a choice
to be a catalyst 

Earth is calling
Sky is calling
Science is calling
Creation is calling:

Wake up, wake up now

Transform your heart into 
a compassion machine

Now is the time
to yield to the call of growth
to the call of action

You are the change makers

Sleepers of all ages


wake up: NOW

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Is Iceland still a democracy?

The Icelandic Government chose to ignore their constitutional duty to get permission and consult with the national Parliament about the letter they sent the Foreign Affairs Minister to deliver on a secret mission to: Dear Edgars and Dear Commissioner Hahn about ending Iceland's EU bid. The thing is that the EU bid is based on a parliamentary resolution and the only way to cancel the resolution is to bring forward a new one and get it adopted via the parliament.

In order to clarify this attempt to bypass our democratic rule, the minority parties in the Icelandic parliament created a new letter explaining that the Government can't do this unless a new form of governance is now the rule in Iceland, and as far as I am concerned we are still a democracy, not a dictatorship.

Here is the letter we sent to Edgars and Hahn:

"The Government of 2009-2013 lodged an application to join the EU on the basis of a mandate given by the Althingi in a resolution of 16 July 2009, with the support of MPs from all political parties.
The accession process was slowed down two months before the elections in April 2013. The current Government then “paused” the accession process when it took office in May 2013 and stated that the process would not continue unless the people would decide so in a referendum. No such referendum has been held. The Government presented a proposal for a resolution mandating the withdrawal of the application to the Althingi in February 2014. In spite of its strong parliamentary majority, the Government could not get the proposal passed in the face of widespread public opposition and calls by more than 20% of the population for a referendum to be held. The proposal was debated in first reading, but not passed to second reading by the Foreign Affairs Committee.

As a result, the only mandate approved by the Althingi on the application remains the original mandate to apply for membership from 16 July 2009. The legal authority behind the application is therefore unchanged.

The letter by Foreign Minister Sveinsson of 12 March 2015 describing “the firm position of the Government that Iceland should not be regarded as a candidate country for EU membership“ has not been discussed with the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Althingi, as is required by law for major foreign policy decisions. The letter has been kept secret from the public and not debated in the Icelandic Parliament. Therefore it cannot be considered to change the existing position of the Althingi from 16 July 2009 and can only be considered to be a description of the political position of the current government.

The parties of the opposition have different views regarding membership of the EU. However all four parties agree that the letter in question cannot change the status of Iceland vis-à-vis the EU in line with the long-standing principles of the European legal order respecting the primacy of formal Parliament resolutions over simple government statements and that it is only for the Althingi to decide to change that status."

So please ignore the embarrassment of the Icelandic ruling parties, they know what they are doing, but it still doesn't mean it is legal nor that is has any form of meaning except as a way to please a handful of powerful people within their own parties. 

Majority of the Icelandic people want to have a national referendum on if we should finish the bid so that when the vote for joining the EU or not will be executed, the YES or NO will be based on facts not speculations and those facts are not available unless the bidding process with its negotiations is over. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Parliamentary Resolution On Condemning Torture by the CIA post 911

This is for the courageous whistleblower John Kiriakou. He was the first U.S. government official to confirm in December 2007 that waterboarding was used to interrogate Al Qaeda prisoners, which he described as torture. On October 22, 2012, Kiriakou pleaded guilty to disclosing classified information about a fellow CIA officer that connected the covert operative to a specific operation. He was the first person to pass classified information to a reporter, although the reporter did not publish the name of the operative.[6] He was sentenced to 30 months in prison on January 25, 2013, and served his term from February 28, 2013 until 3 February 2015 at the low-security Federal correctional facility in Loretto, Pennsylvania.[7]

14 members of the Icelandic Parliament out of 63 from all the minority parties joined me in co-sponsoring a proposal on condemning the horrendous torture conducted by the CIA post 911. 

I will speak for this proposal in the Icelandic Parliament today:

Proposal for a Parliamentary Resolution

On condemning torture carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States

Sponsors.: Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Árni Páll Árnason, Óttarr Proppé, Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson, Össur Skarphéðinsson, Ögmundur Jónasson, Sigríður Ingibjörg Ingadóttir, Katrín Júlíusdóttir, Jón Þór Ólafsson, Brynhildur Pétursdóttir, Steinunn Þóra Árnadóttir, Bjarkey Olsen Gunnarsdóttir, Róbert Marshall.

Alþingi condemns the harsh torture the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States has conducted as well as the US authorities for allowing it since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. 

Explanatory memorandum:
The United States' Senate recently published a report which exposes the brutal torture carried out under the authority of the CIA, of people who were detained in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. In the report the brutal treatment of people of all ages, male and female, of various nationalities, is described. For instance, it is described how detainees were kept awake, up to a full week, sometimes in a standing position, sometimes with their arms chained above their head. Some detainees were given rectal rehydration, without medical necessity. This was carried out with excessive force, which in one instance lead to anal fissures, chronic haemorrhoids and symptomatic rectal prolapse. One detainee, Majid Khan, was administered an enema consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts and raisins which was pureed and force fed rectally. Gul Rahman was kept awake for two whole days. He was subjected to auditory overload in total darkness and isolation, made to endure cold showers and chained to a wall in a position that forced him to lie on the cold floor. Clothes had been taken away from him as punishment for being uncooperative and he only had a sweater on, naked below the waist. Due to this inhumane treatment, Gul Rahman died from hypothermia. Two detainees with broken legs, one with a sprained ankle and one with a prosthetic leg were chained in a standing position and kept awake until medical professionals concluded that they could no longer be kept standing. 

Torture is among the most serious crimes and has been so defined by the international community and in international law. In the UN's International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which both Iceland and the United States are signatories to, it says in Article 7 that "[n]o one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." Iceland and the United States are bound by the Covenant according to which torture is absolutely inexcusable in whatever circumstance and the international community has a great responsibility to prevent torture and to bring those to justice who are guilty of such crimes. 

The sponsors of this proposal consider it a matter of great urgency that this brutal treatment of people described in the report referred to above, is condemned around the world and call for Alþingi to react quickly to condemn these atrocities, formally and publicly. Alþingi has, in the 135th parliamentary session, condemned human rights violations and inhumane treatment of detainees in the US prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (see case 107 from tat parliamentary session 135). With this resolution it is proposed that such a condemnation be reiterated in light of new information that has come to light with the publication of the recent Senate report. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Democracy in the digital era

From my editorial at the New Internationalist Democracy in the digital era

Legal hacking

Prior to entering parliament, I had two main objectives. One: to involve the public in reshaping Iceland’s legal framework, through national referendums; through co-creation of a new constitution; and through making strong legal foundations for a new system.
Two: to transform Iceland into a safe haven for freedom of information, expression and transparency, with a strong focus on privacy as a cornerstone of democracy.
The information society has little to offer if the ways of communicating information relevant to the public are constantly under attack
Once elected, I went inside the system, to the heart of it, the legislative assembly, like a hacker, analysing its strengths and weaknesses.
My conclusion is that the rule of law is an illusion: the rules we vote on do not apply to all, and thus there is no rule of law. Laws should be considered universal and the same rule of law should apply to all, not only the 99%.
I now see most of our democracies as one dictatorship with 100 talking-heads on the neck of a corporate monster.
Looking at different models for how to humanize and modernize how we run our societies, I have come to the conclusion that there is currently no one model that fits all.
We need to experiment and study what works for each type of society, depending on the cultural backdrop of each.
Some amazing experiments are now being implemented with success little known to the world at large.
The first seeds of awareness were spread by Buckminster Fuller in his book No More Secondhand God, where he talked about direct democracy and telephonic voting as early as 1940. At last, we are at a stage where the technology for direct access to power is simple enough that citizens can start using it to form opinion and enforce political change in a genuine grassroots, bottom-up way.
New types of citizen engagement platforms are being created and used to form policy and participate in direct democracy, such as the Pirate Party Liquid Feedback4, Your Priorities5, DemocracyOS6 and WeGov7. There is resistance from those who control the current system but I believe it will be futile because people are creating a shadow form of governance, or rather self-governance. This is happening on the fringes still, but it is moving towards the centre at a steady speed.
We need more studies to see the pros and cons of active voting systems and liquid democracy models, with delegates rather than representatives, for example.
We need to do the opposite of what Russell Brand is advocating, we need to use our votes. Even if we don’t want to engage with the current broken system, we should not use that as an excuse for apathy. We should see it as an encouragement to engage in creating our own alternatives, our new co-created systems; to be creative about it and to connect. Connectivity is the key to a rapid change; but information in itself is meaningless if we don’t know how to decode it into wisdom.
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Thank you Chelsea for changing the world

Today is the birthday of Chelsea Manning, she has a special place in my heart. She got a 35 years in prison for blowing the whistle on war crimes all over the world. She has already served 4 years in a military prison. She was tortured while waiting for trial. Despite all the wrongdoings that have been imposed on her, she is so strong and so incredibly compassionate in her clarity and wisdom for the reasons why she felt she had to blow the whistle. Please urge Obama to pardon her. No one has been held accountable for the crimes she exposed, the murders and the tortures but her, the whirlwind in the coalmine.

I will show this video tonight to honor her courage at a local theater:

If you want to support her, here is what she wishes for her birthday:

and here is small token of gratitude from me to her, a letter i sent via the Amnesty International website, they promise to deliver the letters so go ahead, send her a little message of love and support:

Dear Chelsea, there has not been a single day that has passed since I heard of your arrest that you have not been in my mind and heart. When i chose to co-produce the video that changed the world forever that you leaked to WikiLeaks, i knew my life would never be the same, but i did it, because people needed to see the true horror of war, and because i knew whomever the source was, (later I found out that it was you, you brave soul) that person put her live in great danger in order to tell the world about the crimes done in our names. I know you are strong, I will never forget you, and i hope someday that i will get permission to visit you in the prison. You are a beacon of hope in these times of changes, your courage has inspired so many, and you are a catalyst of transformation.

with rebellious joy
Birgitta Jonsdottir - poetician

here is a poem i wrote for you about you for you

Internal external crisis
cause deep earthquakes
pangs of awareness
as for one perfect moment
the looking glass is clear

Sounds of screaming silence
when perspectives change
rushing in stillness
to change

Blinding light
awful truth
everything is changing

Hiding is over
only option left
to share

No glory is requested
humble justice

Power is naked
for one moment in time
echoes through history
people saw
everything has changed

Her voice is everywhere
in the truth she exposed
perverted justice
to lock her in a cell
in a body
for exposing
what's in plain sight

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dear IPU lets not become some sort of Geopolitical Eurovision

My speech from the #IPU131 general assembly

Dear fellow members of IPU

I am proud to report that Iceland is still among the top nations in regard to gender equality according to various global indexes and reports. Iceland continues to be at the top of the overall rankings in The Global Gender Gap Index for the fifth consecutive year.

Iceland has made an effort to share its trials and errors in how to reach such an achievement for it has of course not always been the reality for women to be at equal footing with their male fellows in my country.

There is still un-equality in some areas and not so equal opportunities for high level responsibilities and it is still hard to juggle a career and family and of course there is always space for improvement.

Our world is becoming more complex and out of control every day. At times like these strong and healthy communities based on the values and structures of democracies are perhaps the best antidote to the slide towards totalitarianism and corpocracies. There is a growing distrust in representatives and the systems we have built around the people we serve, locally and globally. I was reading a thought provoking article titled “What's gone wrong with Democracy in the Economist recently, it analyzes why democracy as a form of running states is on the decline and I feel it is of uttermost importance that we here at the IPU address this without delay and find solutions we can all agree on and start of the course of implementing them. In this regard it's also important to acknowledge that there is not a formula of one size fits all for democracy. We need however to have a close look at the architecture of our political systems. Some of democracy’s most cherished institutions look outdated.

The main conclusions in the Economist are as follows:
More transparency,
More accountability,
No more promises to voters we know we can't keep.
More efficiency in how we run our establishments, specially our parliaments.
No more large corporate donors in the shadows
No more revolving doors
More distribution of power and space for experimentation for example use technology to implement a modern version of town-hall meetings to promote civic involvement and innovation.
Implement ways for technocracy and direct democracy to balance each other so democracy won't end up again in the hand of special-interest groups.

We all know that Democracy simply means the rule of the people. We are at cross roads in how to upgrade our systems for they have become too complex and inflexible. Too many people feel that they are no longer served by it despite taking part by paying their due through taxes and other forms of participation. Let us not forget that everyone of us here today are here because people from our communities pay taxes and have chosen us to look after their interests.

Dear esteemed colleges I want to urge you to make sure that we put to rest the persistent rumours that the IPU is useless and that we are not achieving anything by making real effort to show real results. Lets go beyond being an assembly of resolutions that never get implemented. And please lets not become some sort of Eurovision where geopolitics overshadow the common good we can do together no matter where we come from.

Finally I want to urge the IPU to accept as observers all the stateless states, from Somalialand, to Kurdistan, to the Tibetan government in Exile, to the Republic of West Papua and Azawad and all the rest. What is the harm in allowing us to learn from each other directly about the state of the state and the statelessness?

Monday, February 03, 2014

Nobel Peace Prize nomination for Manning & Snowden 2014

Dear Nomination Committee of the Nobel Peace Prize,
We wish to nominate two outstanding candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize of 2014. It is our firm belief that Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden have achieved and exceeded all the qualifications required to be worthy laureates of the Nobel Peace Prize.
The nominees are both whistleblowers who have inspired change and encouraged public debate and policy changes that contributed to a more stable and peaceful world.
Chelsea Elizabeth Manning (born Bradley Edward Manning, December 17, 1987) is a soldier in the United States army who was sentenced to 35 years in a military prison in 2013 for releasing hundreds of thousands of documents to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks. The leaked documents pointed to a long history of corruption, serious war crimes, and a lack of respect for the sovereignty of other democratic nations by the United States government in international dealings.
These revelations have fueled democratic uprisings around the world, including a democratic revolution in Tunisia. According to journalistic, academic, and intellectual scrutiny her actions helped motivate the democratic Arab Spring movements, shed light on secret corporate influence on foreign and domestic policies of European nations, and, also contributed to the Obama Administration's agreement to withdraw all U.S.troops from occupied Iraq.
The profound information that was revealed by this courageous whistleblower helped to foster public dialogue on the legitimacy, suitability, and relevancy of the military interventions carried out by US troops both Iraq and Afghanistan. The release of these documents led directly to calls demanding the full withdrawal of the military forces from these countries, as well as investigating committees on the treatment of detainees in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
The documents and information should never have been kept from public scrutiny, and the very fact that embedded journalists minimized or omitted facts in the field exacerbated the corruption of the information flow. The revelations - including video documentation of an incident in which American soldiers gunned down Reuters journalists in Iraq - have fueled a worldwide discussion about the overseas military engagements of the United States, civilian casualties of war and the rules of engagement. Citizens worldwide owe a great debt to the WikiLeaks whistleblower for shedding light on these issues.

Edward Joseph Snowden (born June 21, 1983) is an American computer specialist, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee, and former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor who disclosed top secret NSA documents to several media outlets, initiating the NSA leaks, which reveal operational details of a global surveillance apparatus run by the NSA and other members of the Five Eyes alliance, along with numerous corporate and international partners.
He has, with great risk to his personal well-being and future, revealed the horrific scope of the global espionage network of the Anglo-American spy agencies. By releasing documents regarding the activities of clandestine agencies he has not only unveiled the global scale of  mass surveillance which endanger a wide array of civil liberties (cornerstones of our liberties such as free speech and the right to privacy) but, he has also given the people of the world the necessary tools to counter the ever invasive path towards mass surveillance. Blatant violations to even the very basic human rights have been institutionalized by US government agencies while privacy has been classified in ALL the major international human rights charters and declarations.
The debate on mass surveillance cannot take place without the disclosure of the basic structures and methods of the corresponding secret spy programs. Citizens, researchers and politicians need insight into these methods to be able to weigh the social consequences and the possible resulting damage to the global society. Mass surveillance erodes the fundamentals of modern democracies; making local laws to protect privacy meaningless within it's global scope. Snowden has shown us that journalists can no longer protect their sources, lawyers can't protect their clients and doctors can't protect their patients information. The concept of privacy has been redefined to complete exposure into no privacy. His actions have shown the rest of the world and its policy makers that joint global action needs to take place in order to reinstate constitutional rights of privacy for citizens which is completely essential to healthy democracies. 
By leaking the documents to investigative journalists from independent media, Snowden has managed to carefully consider the balance between public interest and national security. By revising the source documents, he and his supporters avoided leaking highly sensitive information that might have put currently running operations and the people involved into danger.
Some might argue that Snowden acted against the law, however, mass secret surveillance is illegitimate as it undermines the sovereignty of the people over the state apparatus. It is very well known that at times of universal deceit just telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. When the state is acting outside the rule of law it is up to the citizens to report on such unlawfulness for the greater good of its peoples and principles for sustainability of the future. Snowden and Manning courageously acted and as a result we have a more stable and peaceful world and far more of a possibility to develop/enact true democratic models.

We are nominating Manning and Snowden together because the courage of Manning inspired Snowden and both of them have inspired thousands of people all over the world to speak truth to power and demand transparency and accountability in their own societies.  

Amelia Andersdotter, Pirate Party Sweden, Member of European Parliament 
Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Party Chairperson for the Pirate Party Iceland, Member of Icelandic Parliament
Christian Engström, Pirate Party Sweden, Member of European Parliament
Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson, Pirate Party Iceland, Member of Icelandic Parliament
Jón Þór Ólafsson, Pirate Party Iceland, Member of Icelandic Parliament