Reclaiming Civic Spaces

Special edition of  Sur International Journal on Human Rights on crackdowns on civil society around the world: “As shown by both the geographic reach of the contributions (authors from 16 countries) and the infographics to this edition, the issue is clearly of global concern. The first section of the journal seeks to address why this crackdown is happening, who is driving it and whether there is cross-fertilisation of ideas between actors.

The edition then focuses on the strategies that activists are implementing to combat the crackdown. A summary of these strategies can be seen in a video which captures a number of the author activists’ perspectives, shared when they gathered in São Paulo in October 2017 for a writers’ retreat….

The role of new media and online spaces in combatting the crackdown is prevalent in the contributions. The ease and speed with which information can be passed on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Telegram was cited as being important in mobilising support rapidly as well as helping reach previously untapped constituents (Sara AlsherifZoya RehmanRaull SantiagoVictoria OhaeriValerie Msoka and Denise Dora, Ravindran Daniel and Barbara Klugman). Despite the opportunities, Bondita Acharya, Helen Kezie-Nwoha, Sondos Shabayek, Shalini Eddens and Susan JessopSara Alsherif and Zoya Rehman all note the challenges that digital tools present. Harassment of activists online is becoming increasingly common, particularly towards women. In addition, authorities are constantly developing new ways of monitoring these platforms. To combat this, Sara Alsherif describes how developing relationships with tech companies can help activists stay one step ahead of the curve.

The use of video is explored by Hagai El-Ad and Raull Santiago, both of whom describe how the medium is an important tool in capturing the restrictions being inflicted on civil society in their respective contexts. Moreover, Raull Santiago describes how his collective is trying to use these video images, captured by members of his community, in legal processes against the police force….(More)”.