Global Campaign Challenges Rising Restrictions on Fundamental Freedoms

This weekend, tens of thousands of people will come together at hundreds of events across 5 continents, as part of a new global campaign to give a voice to everyone, everywhere.

From youth summits to informal dinners, public mobilisations to private meetings, national dialogues to music festivals, SPEAK! is a global campaign to amplify the voices of ordinary people speaking out to counter repression of their basic freedoms.

The potential and opportunity for people to speak out and effect change has never been greater. Thanks to evolving technology, we are more connected than ever before – our voices able to travel faster and further, through media that has never been more impactful.

But this is under threat. Globally, we are seeing increasing attempts to repress that fundamental right to speak out on events that shape our world: the right to freedom of expression and the media.

This year alone, dozens of journalists have been killed, most of them because of their reporting. Countless others, including citizen journalists and activists using media, have been arrested, detained, harassed, intimidated and prosecuted – all attempts at silencing them.

SPEAK! has been created by global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, in response to this current global context, and seeks to raise awareness of these challenges and to build solidarity among all who face them.

Said Nic Mackay, SPEAK! Coordinator: "Our hope is that SPEAK! will be like a global megaphone for change: amplifying the voices of people who most need to be heard; warning those who seek to limit freedom and dissent; and articulating the vision of a more just and sustainable future for all."

The campaign will culminate in four Days of Action from September 22-25, with people engaging both physically and online.

On Friday, September 22nd, the world will fall silent in solidarity with those who have been killed and jailed for raising their voice. This includes journalists, bloggers and activists campaigning on social media, who authorities have silenced or attempted to silence.

Actions will include a social media blackout by individuals and organisations, silent public protests in Indonesia, and a flash mob in Macedonia. The particular case of Pastor Evan Mawarire will be highlighted, who faces trial in Zimbabwe’s high court for daring to criticise the Mugabe regime.

Then, from Saturday 23rd until Monday 25th, the world will speak as one, with hundreds of events happening around the globe. These include a performing arts concert in Tunisia promoting freedom of association, a series of school-based workshops in India to tackle rape culture, and a 10 simultaneous events across Brazil tackling water security with a focus on amplifying unheard voices.

See a full list of SPEAK! events planned globally here.

The days of action come at a critical moment, as world leaders meet in New York to mark the 2nd anniversary of the Global Goals (SDGs). The collective actions as part of the SPEAK! campaign will send a clear message: the voices of ordinary citizens are powerful and essential in ensuring a just and sustainable future for all - now it's time for governments to listen and act!

If you’re on Twitter, you can join the conversation and search for posts using the hashtag #TogetherWeSpeak.



Grant Clark

CIVICUS Media Advisor


Nic Mackay

CIVICUS SPEAK! Coordinator




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