Online satellite images monitors human displacement

Amnesty International have recently published a report which uses online satellite images to monitor the mass forced evictions in Turkmenistan.

We do not often hear much about Turkmenistan, but is a nation where the government controls its inhabitant’s movements, information access and freedom of speech. It is believed that those who talk against the political regime are placed under surveillance, so that their views can be suppressed and forcibly disappeared if deemed necessary, although all of this is never confirmed by the government. Turkmenistan therefore forms a closed nation which we know relatively little about from an ‘outside’ perspective. However, the use of online satellite images has helped the world understand what has been going on over the past year, in preparation for the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games.

Amnesty International were denied access into Turkmenistan to conduct an investigation. Therefore, high resolution images were obtained from DigitalGlobe and used in this report, to detail the mass destruction of privately built homes to further the ‘beautification’ of Ashgabat ahead of the event. Through the comparison of online satellite images from 2014 and 2015, this destruction can be identified and located, helping us understand what is going on. Using the images, a total of 4448 structures were identified as being destroyed in the Choganly neighbourhood alone, deeming thousands of people homeless. Amnesty International has used this images to deduce that the human right to adequate housing and a right to livelihood are being violated.

The use of satellite images has helped Amnesty International gain evidence to step in and intervene against these atrocities against human rights. They have also allowed foreign media to report the event to the world, drawing attention to these important issues which are occurring behind ‘closed doors’. This report demonstrates the fundamental role which online satellite images can play within the charity sector, helping the people of the world one image at a time.

For further information please visit the Amnesty International website.

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