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Geneva – The United Nations needs to protect the freedom of speech and expression of peaceful protesters, activists and journalist who are discriminated and prosecuted by oppressive regimes for silencing their voices.

Accordingly, Skyline and International Institute for Rights and Development- Geneva (IRDG) made a joint statement, which was read in a speech at the 46th session of Human Rights Council (HRC), highlighting the plight of peaceful protesters, activists and journalists who have been subjected to enforced disappearance, illegal detention, prosecuted and tortured for demanding the rights of justice.

Skyline's Communication Director, Taljinder Shergill delivered a speech via video due to the Covid-19 pandemic. She presented three examples of how governments are cracking down on protesters, activists and journalists.

India which has now been downgraded to partial democracy, has been cracking down on protesters who have been protesting against farm laws that they claim will favour multinational corporations and drive out small scale farmers of their livelihoods. The Indian police have arrested and used methods of torture, while the government has censored the internet and at times a complete shutdown.

Since the recording of the speech, Myanmar’s security forces have killed over 200 anti-coup protesters dismantling the democratic process that was achieved after decades of military dictatorship. Furthermore, the speech presented the case of the five journalists and activists from the Iraqi Kurdistan region who have been sentenced to six years in prison for reporting and participating in anti-government demonstrations against the corruption of the government.

The two organizations reminded that this year marked the 10th anniversary of the Arab Spring, which saw millions of people in the MENA region to voice and express their dissent of their governments but to only witness the destruction of their homes, communities and the loss of thousands of lives to regimes that oversaw the devastation of their countries. The speech was a reminder for history not to repeat itself, by limiting freedom of speech and expression of protesters, activists and journalists, fundamental human rights are violated and as proven is detrimental for societies to progress.

The two organizations called upon the Council of Member States to support and condemn the violations suppressing the freedom of speech and expression and the rights to peacefully protest and to commit to the protections of protesters, activists and journalists.

 

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