Rise is a campaign that will run at the University of Malta over the coming week, between March 5th and March 9th. It is being conducted by student organisation SDM in collaboration with a number of different student organisations across campus. It will focus on a variety of issues, such as violence and discrimation, along with talking about elements such as love and music.
The Yuppie will be one of the organisations collaborating with SDM throughout this campaign, by Rising for Freedom of Speech. We have spoken time and time on how important freedom of speech is to any civilised society, and such a campaign is an opportunity to further raise awareness on this subject. Freedom of Speech is indeed one of the most fundamental rights of a democractic society. Indeed it is protected and ratified by the European Union through the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union wherein it states that; everyone has the right to freedom of expression, expression which includes freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.
It is also however one of the most frequently attacked principles. Statistics released by this campaign show that only 65% of Europeans feel that they can say what they want – leaving a large number that feel somewhat restricted. The reasons behind this number are many and various for sure; be it because of perceived political backlash, social and cultural environment or fears of safety. Invariably however, it is the journalist who is at the frontline of this battle – the warriors of freedom of speech. They are the people in society who are trusted to impart truth towards the people – and whilst sometimes this doesn’t occur (we have all surely heard the words “Fake News” recently) – they are nonetheless the banner-holders for freedom of speech.
With journalists being at the forefront of this most attacked principle; there have been moments were they have been the victims of attacks themselves. In some cases in fact, freedom of speech has been attacked to the degree that journalists have been silenced. Throughout the next week, we will be giving you examples of the journalists on the frontline who, in the pursuit of truth, have indeed been silenced.
The point of this isn’t to raise pity – it is to show what happens when there is a lapse in society; a lapse away from our most civil principles. It is indeed to raise awareness about how sometimes, our most basic rights are attacked and infringed upon. We want to keep the voice of those journalists and purveyors of free speech alive.
At the end of this campaign indeed, we will ask – how can freedom of speech be protected, and, keeping in mind the debate of where to draw a line within freedom of speech, how freedom of speech can move forward. This isn’t about politics, or criticisms – this is about awareness and protection.