FEB 2023 – Mother Language Day

International Mother Language Day 2023

Held every year on 21 February, International Mother Language Day is observed to promote linguistic and cultural diversity, and multilingualism. To mark this anniversary, PEN International features the case of Belarusian writer, human rights defender, Nobel Peace Prize winner and PEN Belarus member Ales Bialiatski, detained since 2021 and currently on trial. This case is emblematic of the type of threats and attacks writers and journalists around the world are often subjected to, for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression. It is also emblematic of the type of oppression experienced by writers and journalists who are prevented from expressing themselves in their indigenous or minoritised language. More information in the document below.

Hong Kong 47 trial includes scholars, a disability activist, and others agitating for democracy

‘In 2021, 47 prominent democrats were arrested and charged under the security law with “conspiracy to commit subversion,” after they organised primaries in a bid to win the 2020 legislative election. They are accused of planning to use legislative powers to indiscriminately veto bills, whilst forcing the chief executive’s resignation and a government shutdown. Most were detained for almost two years awaiting trial.’ More information in linked articles below:

Overview of the trial

Article on Hong Kong 47 trial

Recent events include suspicions of efforts to curtail pro-democracy advocates and journalists’ witnessing and reporting on the proceedings

-Social media hashtags: #Save47 #FreeHKDemocrats #ReleaseAllPoliticalPrisoners

Nobel laureate, journalist, and editor Maria Ressa acquitted but still fighting State silencing

Nobel laureate Maria Ressa, a journalist and Editor of Rappler, was acquitted of tax charges by a Philippines court in January. Many argue the charges were intended as action against press freedom in the Philippines. However, of 23 cases brought by the State against her, she still faces 3 active ones in a common authoritarian tactic to silence dissent. More information in articles below:

Article on Maria Ressa’s legal battles updated in February 2023

A look at Maria’s acquittal while Frenchie Mae Cumpio is still in detention

Cambodia: Authorities shut down one of the country’s last independent media outlets, undermining free expression

Please find a new statement below concerning the arbitrary closure of one of Cambodia’s last independent media outlets and what it signals for freedom of expression in the country. Links to relevant articles below:

PEN International’s statement

Assault of journalists while they were covering protests

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