23 May 2015 – From Mexico to Mongolia, thousands of citizens around the world gathered last Saturday to exercise their fundamental rights to speak out, organise and take action on a wide-range of social issues.
More than 100 events in 50 countries saw a combined total of over 20 000 citizens engaged as part of the `Global Day of Citizen Action’ (GDCA). The purpose of the international campaign was to raise awareness about ‘civic space’, which represents the freedoms of expression, association and assembly.
The campaign comes at an important time, as in many places around the world civic space is under threat from governments and, in some cases, from corporates and fundamentalist groups.
“As citizens increasingly speak out against state and corporate power, we are witnessing a disturbing trend of repression around the world,” said Zubair Sayed, Head of Communication, at the global civil society alliance, CIVICUS. “From gag laws and media blackouts to oppressive police tactics and the persecution of activists, civil society is under threat. Creating awareness about these threats to our fundamental rights is critical for citizens the world over,” said Sayed.
The Global Day of Citizen action saw civil society organisations engage citizens on their rights and, in a variety of different public forums, citizens came together to discuss the state of democracy, civil society and human rights in their countries.
In Northern Mindanao, concert-forum dubbed ‘Music and Space!’ were held at the Mindanao State University (MSU) Mini Theatre in Iligan City and in the village gymnasium of Botong in Quezon, Bukidnon. The two activities gathered around a thousand audience coming from the students, indigenous peoples, farmers and their advocates who rallied behind the call, ‘Speak out, Organize, Take Action against Attacks on Land Rights Defenders of Mindanao!’
The GDCA events in the region were organized by the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Sub-Region (RMP-NMR) Inc, Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization, and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, in cooperation with STAND-IIT, League of Filipino Students, MSU-IIT Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Extention, Bahaghari and the respective student body organizations of MSU-IIT’s colleges of education, and computer studies.
The concert-forum gathered musicians and cultural artists from various groups, i.e., Musicians for Peace, Concerned Artists of the Philippines, Peoples’ Chorale, Salamin Cultural Group, and the Kapagintaw, among others. ‘Our GDCA events in Northern Mindanao are trying to send a message to powers-that-be to stop extra-judicial killings and judicial harassment against farmers and indigenous leaders, and militarization of communities unwilling to submit to extractive activities in Mindanao,’ said Sr. Ma. Famita N. Somogod, MSM, coordinator of RMP-NMR.
In other Philippine cities, events were held outdoors and included music, dance, poetry and, on a more somber note, calls for activists to be released from prison.
In Malawi, young people were mobilised by a youth organisation and took to the streets, marching from Chirimba to Blantyre, engaging with citizens as they went, drawing awareness to the importance of a vibrant civil society.
In Pakistan, families of human rights activists killed for their work, lawyers, teachers, student federations, civil society members and journalists gathered to talk about restrictions on civic freedoms and human rights.
In Ukraine, a single civil society organisation organised nine events in different parts of the country where they spoke with passers-by on how they felt about the status of their constitutional liberties.
In addition to the in-person events, the campaign reached over one million people on social media.
Notes to editors
· If you would like more information about a particular event or country-based activities, CIVICUS would be happy to arrange interviews with our contacts in a particular country.
· Photos from Global Day of Citizen Action events from around the world can be viewed here. For high resolution photos please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
· The Global Day of Citizen Action is organised by CIVICUS through the Civic Space Initiative, implemented in partnership with the International Centre for Not-for-Profit Law, Article 19 and the World Movement for Democracy.
FOR MEDIA ENQUIRIES PLEASE CONTACT:
Zubair Sayed, CIVICUS, Head of Communication
Landline: +27 11 833 5959 ext 140
Sr. Ma. Famita N. Somogod, MSM, RMP-NMR Coordinator
Landline: +63 (63) 223 5179