MINUTES OF THE MAY 24, 1997 TELECONFERENCE MEETING

    
    
    Start time: 2:00 pm 
    End time: 2:55 pm
    
    Attendees:
    	Ahmed Ahmed-Yahia (Hammoudi)
    	Ahmed Bouzid --facilitator/scribe
    	Karim Diff
    	Myriam Nia
    
    Agenda:
            None
    
    Details:
    
    Ahmed opened the meeting.
    
    Ahmed proposed the meeting agenda: (1) discussing the open letter to human rights organizations, (2) 
    discussing the larger effort. All agreed.
    
    Myriam asked how the letter should be signed -- as an organization or as simple concerned parties.  
    Karim suggested that we sign the letter as simple citizens.  Ahmed concurred and porposed that
    we post it on algeria-net for a few days to gather signatures. All agreed.
    
    Ahmed double-checked that Myriam will take care of the first draft. Myriam confirmed and requested that 
    she be given one week to write the draft. All agreed.
    
    Karim prosposed that the letter be mainly an expression of gratitude for the work the human rights 
    organizations have done with regards to Algeria, and of appreciation by Algerians for their efforts.
    All agreed.
    
    Myriam wondered if we should add a few remarks in the letter pertaining to future efforts by the human 
    rights organizations. All agreed that we should.
    
    Hammoudi proposed that Myriam keep clear of using an accusatory tone and maintain a neutral position.
     All agreed.
    
    Recapping, Ahmed said that the group had agreed that Myriam will write a first draft by Friday or 
    Saturday (May 30/31),  that Ahmed will translate it and distribute it for feedback, after which the letter
    will be distributed to algeria-net for a few days to collect signatures. Karim suggested that we avoid 
    sending it on a Friday, and that it would be better if we sent it on a Monday.
    All agreed.
    
    Myriam suggested that we set up a list of all Human Rights groups.  Karim proposed that while Myriam is 
    writing the letter, the rest of us will collect the coordinates of Human Rights
    groups. All agreed.
    
    Hammoudi pointed out that he had collected a list of urls of Human Rights groups, but commented that 
    these groups are not specifically concerned with Algeria.   Karim proposed that we concentrate on those 
    organizations that have done work on Algeria. All agreed.
    
    Ahmed wondered about an attachement that Ali had sent us that contained information on groups that 
    were concerned with Algeria.  Hammoudi remarked that Ahmed had asked Ali for the url.  Ahmed 
    confirmed this and added that he hadn't received the url yet.  Karim volunteered to ask Ali
    for the url. All agreed.
    
    Hammoudi proposed that Ahmed not start translation until all the group has agreed on Myriam's draft.  
    All agreed.
    
    Karim double checked with Myriam whether she would deliver the letter on Saturday (May 31).  Myriam 
    replied that she will post it to the group by Friday (May 30) or Saturday (31).
    
    Hammoudi asked Myriam about her upcoming trip to Montreal and any plans she had made to meet Ali.
    Myriam replied that she had thought about contacting Ali to set up a meeting, but that she wanted first to 
    consult with us if it was worth it to meet with Ali.
    
    Karim suggested that Myriam meet with Ali.  Karim proposed that we maintain a live line with Ali, since 
    Ali is in contact with other groups and therefore could be useful in our efforts to network and spread our 
    message. All agreed.
    
    Hammoudi suggested that Myriam report back to us on any information she might come across while in 
    Montreal that could be useful to the group.  Myriam agreed.
    
    Myriam asked about the situation with ALFA.  Karim noted that since the deadline is June 15, the letter
    was not under any pressure and that we should concentrate on algeria-net for the moment.  Hammoudi
    observed that according to Ali, ALFA had refused to publish the letter in the format of an open call,
    and that it has first to be turned into an opinion piece. Hammoudi suggested that Myriam clarify this point
    further if she meets with Ali or with an ALFA official. All agreed.
    
    Ahmed moved to close the letter matter for the meeting. All agreed.
    
    Ahmed moved to the second item on the agenda: the larger effort. All agreed.
    
    Ahmed asked if anyone had read or skimmed through his proposal.  Karim noted that the proposal is very
    detailed.  Ahmed pointed out that the proposal is mainly a brainstorm where he tried to flesh out the two 
    main aspects of the effort: a "passive" one in the sense of information provider, and an "active" one in the 
    sense of pro-actively seeking out mis-information. Ahmed gave the example of the official at the the 
    embassy of Algeria in Canada who is running in the parliamentary elections and suggested that bringing 
    attention to this situation may be something that the group may do.  Karim corrected Ahmed on the use
    of the term "passive", noting that the group has to actively make people aware of our existence as a source 
    of information.  Ahmed agreed that the effort advertise itself.
    
    Myriam raised a concern that we be careful about our information sources, since otherwise we will abe 
    accused to be biased.  Karim noted that whatever information we obtain, we will always attribute it to its 
    source.
    
    Myriam raised a concern that we keep a diversity of sources of information, otherwise we will be labeled 
    as biased.
    
    Ahmed noted that the effort, should it become influential, should expect to be attacked.  Karim noted that 
    the group should be ready for such a situation.  Ahmed agreed and added that all that the group can do is 
    to remain within the boundaries of its mission.
    
    Hammoudi noted that, (1) as Ahmed's proposal suggests, the group will be drawing from a variety of 
    sources and that (2) as Karim noted, all information released by the group will have its sources included.
    All agreed.
    
    Hammoudi made the observation that perhaps AW is for Algerians what CAIR is for Muslims in the US.  
    Myriam noted that while CAIR is action driven, it is not clear what AW's actions are.  Ahmed wondered 
    what kinds of situations AW would act upon and asked if  the Algerian embassy  in Canada scenario was 
    a case that AW could act upon. Karim suggested that if it turns out that the official did violate the Algeria 
    election laws, then AW might bring note to it.  Ahmed also gave the example of the hunger strike of 
    Anwar Haddam.  Hammoudi reiterated Myriam's question: should we simply bring attention to certain 
    situations or should we go further and take a position.  Karim suggested that AW's mission should
    be to gather information and to bring to the attention of people matters that AW thinks need attention, but 
    without taking a position, leaving to people to draw their own conclusions.
    
    Ahmed asked if AW would act as a source that people may contact directly for information. Karim noted 
    that this is part of our broarder mission of informing the general public and making them aware of all 
    sides of the issues.
    
    Ahmed asked if reacting to opinion pieces was part of AW's activities.  Karim suggested that if a piece is 
    missing factual information, AW may respond to correct the factual lapse, but not to defend an opposite 
    opinion. Ahmed pointed out that an opinion piece may be heavily biased and yet be factually correct, and
    asked if such a case would be something that AW would react to.  Karim suggested that we tackle such 
    scenarios on a case-by-case basis. All agreed.
    
    Karim noted that the effort will eventually need a lot of participants.  Ahmed noted that after establishing 
    a structurally solid organizational core and delineating the specific tasks for individuals, many people
    will be eager to join in the effort.
    
    Hammoudi noted that Ahmed had proposed a division of labor in his draft.  He suggested that we first 
    concentrate on consolidating the core group and then proceed to the next step of enlarging the number of 
    participants. All agreed.
     
    Hammoudi brought up the topic of the physical meeting.  Ahmed reiterated his offer of his appartment as 
    the location for the meeting.  Hammoudi double checked on Ahmed's promise that food, drink, lodging 
    and transportation is guaranteed.  Ahmed confirmed it. Hammoudi suggested the period around the 5th
    of July.  Karim and Hammoudi said that they would be able to make the trip.  Myriam asked that she be 
    given time to check on her schedule. All agreed.
    
    Ahmed moved to questions about logistics: should AW open a bank account, a POBox, set up a WEB site, 
    a telephone line.  Karim suggested that aside the WEB site, a decision on the rest should be posponed 
    until the physical meeting. All agreed.
    
    Karim then proposed that we proceed as follows: (1) concentrate on defining the mission of the group; (2) 
    define precisely the structure of the organization; (3) plan at that point the next step. All agreed.
    
    The meeting was adjourned at 2:55 pm (ET).
    
    




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