On Tuesday afternoon, we wrote a post detailing how the social media efforts to save Dorothy Parvaz were getting too much credit.
We still believe this is the case — even in light of the excellent news that she is safely on her way to Canada — but Randy Paynter, CEO of Care2 Inc. wrote us a long email about the subject. He made some excellent points, so we thought we would share.
Paynter’s words are below:
Hi Noah –
I just read your post on The Wire about the “Free Dorothy” campaign. I agree with you that social media alone will not get Dorothy released from captivity — especially from a regime like Iran — or we’d already have Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal home today instead of locked in an Iranian jail and denied their opportunity for a trial.
However, social media and petitions do work. At Care2 we’ve see them work every day to create real change in the world.
You linked to the four journalists detained in Libya that might be released this week. Care2 worked with the friends and families of those journalists to create a petition, spread the word and continue to keep pressure on the U.S. State Department and other more friendly governments in an effort to get James Foley, Clare Gillis and the two others released. Without this grassroots momentum and sites like FreeFoley.org being used to organise vigils and keep the issue relevant to U.S. and international media, the phone calls home, visits from third-party and their release would not be happening. Almost 35,000 have signed the petition on Care2 to bring the journalists home. (http://www.bit.ly/freefoley)
A few years ago, we saw the same thing in North Korea when Laura Ling and Euna Lee were detained by that oppressive regime. Over 88,000 signed a petition to bring the women home (http://bit.ly/mGbCUx). And thousands organised via Facebook and Twitter. It’s this combination of efforts that keeps the public focused on these issues and encourages people in the the U.S. State Department to keep fighting for their release (and Laura certainly seemed to think these online efforts helped: http://bit.ly/laura-thanks ).
Hopefully the same combination of efforts will help free Dorothy Parvaz and allow her to be reunited with her family.