India is in the midst of a serious free speech debate what with incidents in JNU, FTII, Hyderabad University, Jadavpur University, etc occupying headlines and prime time slots. As per scroll, 11 cases of sedition were filed against 19 people in the first 3 months of the year. But if you thought we are the only country in the world where free speech is threatened from time to time, think again. It’s a pattern visible across the globe.
On this World Press Freedom Day, here are 5 cases across the world where voices of dissent were silenced:
Khadija Ismayilova, investigative journalist from Aizerbaijan, who won the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2016 yesterday, has been fighting an everlasting battle . She was accused for embezzlement and tax evasion and sentenced to 7.5 years of imprisonment. Even if we are to believe that she actually did commit the crime, we are not too sure if it has anything to with the fact that she exposed state corruption.
A legislation signed by US President Barack Obama last week received overwhelming support by both parties in the US. The bill gives secret service agents the authority to declare any zones as non- free speech zones. In short it illegalizes public protest, and the worrying fact is that there has been no public discourse or dialogue with regard to the matter in a country that claims to be the most democratic one out there. (US Constitution)
Earlier last month, an activist from Honduras, Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores was killed in her sleep, with at least 4 bullets piercing holes in her. Why? Because she raised her voice against Central America’s biggest power projects across the Gualcarque river basin, including the Agua Zarca dam, Guardian reported.
Last week, two gay rights activist bloggers were killed in Bangladesh for their work on the issue. CNN reports that 8 atheists and bloggers have been killed in the past 2 years, for their views not conforming to the popular religious narrative. Some of the atheist writers have been also been put behind bars by the government for ‘blasphemy’.
So on this day, that we celebrate free press, let’s reflect on the fact that in times when governments across the globe are collapsing and regimens disintegrating, freedom as an idea has become more and more contentious. And if you aren’t able to express your thoughts freely within a system, what is your fundamental right to free speech really about?
Feature Image Credit: Orangewebsite.com