Theatre of the Oppressed – privacy and expression rights online

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By Haroon Baloch

ISLAMABAD, (May 3, 2016): As one of the awareness raising activities, IMPACT (India, Malaysia, Pakistan Advocacy for Change through Technology) team in Pakistan organized an interactive theatre activity titled, “Theatre of the Oppressed” on May 3, 2016 to mark the World Press Freedom day. The activity was organized at Pakistan National Council of Arts in Islamabad in coordination with Association for Progressive Communications.

The performance aimed to sensitize public and media around digital rights particularly freedom of expression and right to privacy in online spaces. Students of local universities depicted three different situations highlighting issues related to misuse of social media and other online modes of communication resulting in physical threats and censorship issues, especially for marginalized groups including women and religion minorities.

This activity was also witnessed by the head of European Union delegation in Pakistan H.E. Jean-Fran├žois Cautain and his stafff who lauded the activity. Ambassador Cautain in his remarks said that every individual in an open and democratic society has several rights including right to access every thing, right to express and also to hide any thing. But these rights also come with duties and responsibilities, and if anyone abuses the rights, it means he is not part of an open society anymore.

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“Basic principles of an open society are tolerance and respect; for example respect for other religions, race, and sex”: ambassador Cautain said, adding that everyone has the right to express freely and others have their choice to agree or disagree. He said in this context the upcoming Cyber Crime Bill is important for Pakistan and he is happy that there has been a continued debate on the bill in the Senate.

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A large audience including university students, teachers, journalists and human rights activists witnessed this activity and at the end also expressed their thoughts on the growing internet related issues in Pakistan, especially for women and marginalized groups.

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