May 2021 in the Middle East and North Africa: A free expression roundup produced by IFEX’s Regional Editor Naseem Tarawnah, based on IFEX member reports and news from the region.

Journalists sit on the rubble of the al-Jalaa Tower, which housed international press offices, following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip 15 May 2021, MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images

Israel and social media platforms censor Palestinian voices, impunity for killings spark outrage in Iraq, and campaigns of repression in Egypt and Saudi Arabia continue unabated:

Silencing Palestinian voices

Front line journalists and activists throughout the occupied territories faced attacks and arbitrary detentions by Israeli forces while covering Palestinian demonstrations in recent weeks. Thousands of Palestinian protesters living in the occupied territories and in Israeli towns and villages have also been met with…


May 2021 in Africa: A free expression round up produced by IFEX’s Regional Editor Reyhana Masters, based on IFEX member reports and news from the region.

The release of 30 balloons into the sky by Gwen Lister (R) and Zoe Titus (L) marks the unofficial finale of the UNESCO WPFD conference, Windhoek, Namibia, 3 May 2021, Photo: Guy Berger

On 3 May, the release of 30 balloons into Windhoek’s night sky by Gwen Lister — Namibia’s national champion of the 2021 UNESCO World Press Freedom Day conference — and Zoe Titus of the Namibia Media Trust, marked the unofficial finale of the global conference.

It also marked the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Windhoek Declaration in 1991, which paved the way for promotion of freedom of expression, envisioning a free, independent…


May 2021 in the Americas: A free expression round up produced by IFEX’s Regional Editor Paula Martins, based on IFEX member reports and news from the region.

Demonstrators wear a black cape with red hearts painted to honour the victims on the front line of the national strike, during a protest organized by relatives of victims of enforced disappearance, in Medellín, Colombia, 27 May 2021, Fredy Builes/Getty Images

A month of protests in the streets of Colombia

At least 42 people have died, according to the Public Defender’s Office. Thousands have been injured. Hundreds have been missing for days. The country has witnessed — live — repeated episodes of police brutality.

The protests in Colombia were triggered by a tax reform, but deeper structural problems seem to be driving the demonstrations. …


Be Safe, Not Silent. IFEX adopted this phrase in 2020 as a kind of touchstone, to help guide our work through the pandemic. It signals that we are doing all we can to stay safe, while pursuing our mission of upholding, defending, and exercising the right to freedom of expression. The In Our Own Words project is an example of this approach.

“How can we capture and leverage what we’ve learned so far? By documenting our experiences during COVID-19, and the activities of our respective civil society organizations, and looking at our own personal experiences, and sharing them.”

Malcolm Joseph…


May 2021 in Europe and Central Asia: A free expression round up produced by IFEX’s Regional Editor Cathal Sheerin, based on IFEX member reports and news from the region.

People hold pictures of NEXTA editor Raman Pratasevich and journalist and political prisoner Mikola Dziadok, during a March of Solidarity with Belarus, in Krakow, Poland, 29 May 2021, Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto

Belarus dominated the news once again in May with high-profile raids on media outlets, mass arrests of journalists and the utterly outrageous state-hijacking of a commercial airliner. The month also saw Turkish authorities impose further restrictions on journalists reporting on police activities. In Russia, we saw further moves to squeeze civic space, but also partial justice for persecuted journalist Ivan Golunov:

“Criminal hijacking”

Even those of us who are used to reading about…


May 2021 in Asia-Pacific: A free expression roundup produced by IFEX’s regional editor Mong Palatino, based on IFEX member reports and news from the region.

The “Apple Daily” editor-in-chief points to a copy of the first front page, in the newsroom in Hong Kong, 13 May 2021; a shadow of fear hangs over the paper as its owner has been jailed and reporters are asking themselves “Are we next?” ISAAC LAWRENCE/AFP via Getty Images

The month of May saw the further deterioration of free speech in Hong Kong, Cambodia, and Myanmar. Amid the pandemic surge, India is engaged in a legal battle with tech companies and civil society about its new IT rules. …


IFEX partnered with the International Freedom of Expression Project on an exhibit to spotlight the work being done around the globe to defend freedom of expression, and launch a proposal for a ‘marketplace of ideas’ artist space in downtown Pittsburgh. Matt Petras reports for IFEX.

Mai Khoi performs at the opening of the Faces of Free Expression exhibit. Photo by Matt Petras

IFEX, a global freedom of expression network, partnered with the International Free Expression Project on May 3 — not coincidentally, World Press Freedom Day — to launch a street-level art exhibition in Pittsburgh displaying the faces and telling the stories of brave practitioners and defenders of free expression from around the world.

“Collaboration on these…


April 2021 in the Americas: A free expression round up produced by IFEX’s Regional Editor Paula Martins, based on IFEX member reports and news from the region.

Lima, Peru, 5 May 2021. Peruvian presidential candidate Pedro Castillo (L) hands a document to former presidential candidate Veronika Mendoza, for her to sign pledging her support for Castillo in the 6 June election runoff, GIAN MASKO/AFP via Getty Images

No truth, no justice, no reparation

Three years ago, in April 2018, Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno confirmed the death of Javier Ortega, Paúl Rivas Bravo and Efraín Segarra, a journalistic team from El Comercio newspaper. The three were kidnapped in the town of Mataje, close to the Colombia border, when covering the presence in the area of the Frente Oliver Sinisterra — a breakaway faction of the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia).

Despite initial bi-national efforts and the…


April 2021 in the Middle East and North Africa: A free expression roundup produced by IFEX’s Regional Editor Naseem Tarawnah, based on IFEX member reports and news from the region.

Israeli security forces forcefully push out Palestinian protesters near a barrier blocking access, outside the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, 25 April 2021, AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images

Palestinian protesters battle barricades, forced displacement, and cyber-espionage. Fake news laws target journalists and activists throughout North Africa. The impact of Egypt’s prison-industrial complex. And how Syria became a black hole for media workers:

Palestine: Apartheid, forced displacement and cyberattacks

Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a defining report that concluded for the first time that Israel is committing crimes of apartheid and persecution against Palestinians in the occupied territories. Drawing on years of documentation and testimonies…


April 2021 in Africa: A free expression roundup produced by IFEX’s regional editor Reyhana Masters, based on IFEX member reports and news from the region.

Protesters outside Parliament during the End Queer and Trans Hate Campaign, in Cape Town, South Africa, 26 April 2021, Gallo Images/Brenton Geach

World Press Freedom Day in Namibia was an important time to reflect on the safety of journalists in Africa. April was another brutal month, with the death of three journalists in two separate incidents, increasing persecution of journalists in Somalia, and numerous grave threats against media personnel and outlets across the continent.

WPFD returns to its birthplace amidst a backdrop of grave violations against the media

World Press Freedom Day returned to its birthplace — Windhoek, Namibia — against a backdrop of a more technologically diverse media landscape than…

IFEX

IFEX is a global network of organisations that defend and promote the right to freedom of expression and information. Email: info@ifex.org

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