Do You Hear the People Sing? Let’s Talk Freedom of Speech

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. But with Broadway stages closed until further notice, and our soapboxes packed away while we’re working from home, physical demonstrations of activism have grown from the roots of the deepest problems affecting our society this year. 2020 has proven to be a challenging year for people to voice their opinions with no real clarity on fact vs. hearsay, and so many circumstantial differences in the way each country, region, population and demographic respond to COVID-19Sweeping generalizations form the basis of most arguments, where it is far easier to brand an entire group than try to get to the gritty, uncomfortable side of any issue. Masks, lockdowns, mythical cures and mystical immunity are all contentious topics within the that is COVID-19, with vast differences in opinion. But our concerns over freedom of expression and freedom of choice in the world of COVID-19 (to mask or not to mask?) are somewhat overshadowed by the widespread censorship and oppression still bubbling away in countries all over the world.

Belarusians are up in arms against the presidential election results which saw their communist-leaning leader re-elected to continue his already 26-year rule of the country . The protests that ensued lead to over 6,000 arrests of citizens who believe the vote-count was falsified, and emerging stories of police brutality have only added fuel to the fire currently burning among the people of Belarus.

No city knows the fight for freedom of speech (and better than Hong Kong, which was passed back from British to Chinese rule in 1997 and has been on the lookout for signs of Beijing infringing on its status as the ‘freest city in China’ ever since. From the disappearance of political writers to violent clashes on the streets, China has doggedly continued to deny Hong Kong the ability to have a say in the way it is governed. From imposing the national security law in June, to subsequent high-profile arrests in recent weeks, including those linked to the only high-circulation pro-democracy newspaper left in the territory, China has continued to hammer home the message that Hong Kong is not free to do what they like.

in Zimbabwe this year too, where recent weeks saw over 60 arrests of peaceful protestors for bearing placards with slogans along the lines of “end hunger,” which were deemed to be illegal and a criminal offence under legislation that prohibits “campaigning against one’s country”. Among those arrested were acclaimed journalists, authors and civil rights activists who have been to bring attention to the plight of the Zimbabwean people and the deep corruption in the country’s leadership.

While we think these issues of dictatorship and censorship are a thing of the past in developed countries such as the U.S., the reality is quite the opposite. With the looming prospect of the U.S. postal service being defunded, threatening mail-in election ballots, and the past few months of ongoing civil action for freedom from racial oppression having been met with equal and opposite reactions, the citizens of even the most forward-thinking countries in the world will have to continue to in their efforts to have their voices heard.

Hayley Mole,

We might be able to say what we like on social media, but who owns that information is a continuing topic of concern. In that vein, the Trump Administration has set its sights on banning the likes of TikTok, a Chinese-owned social media platform with over 80 million users in the U.S. When international intelligence agencies, governments, tech giants and teenagers clash, it isn’t entirely clear who will emerge victorious…

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has a World Press Freedom Index which is published annually as an advocacy tool. It ranks countries according to the level of freedom available to journalists and the media.

The theatres may be closed, but some performances are making their way in to the digital realm, giving us access to shows we may never have been able to see live. “Diana” will be screened on Netflix next year ahead of its Broadway debut, while a filmed version of Hamilton can be found on Disney+.

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