Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

25 Oct 2018, 17:53 p.m.

In Memoriam

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2018 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Content note: murder.

Terrorism -- in particular, terrorism against people who work to bring freedom and democracy to others* -- is on my mind.

A few days ago was the 150th anniversary of James M. Hinds's death. He was a white Republican in Congress, representing a district in Arkansas, one of the people implementing Reconstruction. He advocated civil rights for formerly enslaved men. On October 22, 1868, he was assassinated, the first sitting member of Congress to be assassinated. Before he died, he identified his attackers. The man who probably killed him -- an officer in the opposing political party, and a Ku Klux Klan member -- was never prosecuted.

Rest in peace, James M. Hinds.

The enemies of democracy do not stop at targeting politicians and donors. Chris Msando was the IT manager in charge of Kenya's computerized voting system for elections in August 2017; the day he was to oversee the public testing of that system, he was found tortured and murdered.

Rest in peace, Chris Msando.

Did you already know this part of US history or this part of the history of the tech industry? I don't think I learned of Representative Hinds when we studied Reconstruction in high school. And I don't think I saw my tech news circles mourning Chris Msando last year. So I am putting a small memorial here, now.

* Technologists who work on liberating their neighbors often face repercussions from their own governments, too. In November 2015, the Syrian authorities secretly executed Syrian open source technologist Bassel Khartabil, after imprisoning him for years. Rest in peace, Bassel Khartabil. Turkey in mid-2017 arrested IT trainers who were teaching people about digital security and privacy. The threat model can get dire.