Why blogging matters: A message from Salil Shetty for Blog Action Day 2013

Salil Shetty (front, centre) and other Amnesty activists protest against violence in Egypt. Berlin, Germany, August 2013. © Amnesty International

On 16 October, Blog Action Day 2013 will bring together thousands of bloggers worldwide, around one topic: human rights. Find out how you can join the chorus! And read this quick Q&A with Amnesty’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty, about what inspired him to become a human rights activist and why blogging matters.

Why is blogging and expressing your views freely online important, and why is this a human rights issue?
Salil Shetty: Freedom of expression is a core human right. Blogging and freedom online brings many new opportunities – but many challenges from repressive governments, too. Online and offline, the core issue is the same – with the key difference that blogging can reach endlessly more readers than old-fashioned technology allowed. Amnesty has fought for the rights of print and electronic media, and individual freedom of expression, for over 50 years now. Our fight for people to use mobile phones and the internet to express their opinions is just an extension of that campaigning.

Why did you become a human rights activist?
Salil Shetty: When I was 15 years old and in school in Bangalore, South India, the then Prime Minister of India suspended all civil and political rights by declaring a ‘state of emergency’. I have seen and experienced human rights violations from my early days growing up in a country with deep poverty, inequality and injustice, particularly against women, lower castes, indigenous people and minorities. Both my parents were actively involved in the fight for justice and human rights. I joined the students’ movement in university and linked up with several other human rights struggles and organisations.

What inspires you most about your work?
Salil Shetty: The list is too long. It is an extraordinary privilege to be playing a leadership role in the human rights movement – which has impact every single day. Amnesty’s achievements at the local, national, regional and global levels have been incredible – like the creation earlier this year of an Arms Trade Treaty. The sceptics said the treaty was unachievable – but with the help of our millions of members around the world campaigning for two decades, we got there in the end. That was a fantastic moment. The meetings with individuals whose lives have been touched by Amnesty – former prisoners of conscience, and many others – are always inspiring too.

Some ideas for how you can get involved in Blog Action Day:
Blog about why you care about injustices that happen to other people. What inspires you to take action on their behalf? Why do human rights matter? Most people in the world have experienced injustice at some point in their lives. These experiences can help us empathise with bad things that happen to other people. When we start to take those injustices personally, we start wanting to do something to change things. So sharing your own journey towards becoming a human rights activist could be really powerful.

Or blog about an injustice that’s happened to somebody else. Right now, Amnesty is campaigning for a new law to stop people in Nairobi’s poorest communities being kicked out of their homes with no warning. Read their stories (you can download our content and promote it to your own networks) and support them by signing this petition.

This is your chance to get your blog noticed! Because we will…
• track all tweets using #BAD13 and @AmnestyOnline from now onwards
• retweet good blogs to our 170,000+ followers from @amnestyonline
• publish these blogs and tweets on our very own #BAD13 Storify on 16 October.
• publish three powerful Blog Action Day posts on Livewire before the end of 2013 (remember to tweet it using #BAD13 and @amnestyonline).


Posted in Censorship and Free Speech | Tagged | 6 Comments

  1. saad says:

    The pursuit of HAPPINESS

    ‘’Don’t ever let somebody tell you you can’t do something, not even me. If you got a dream you’ve got to protect it, if people can’t do something themselves they want to tell you that you can’t do it’’
    These words were told by a father to his son so he wouldn’t let go of his dream no matter what, father who has lived through some very hard times, who wasn’t able to create a good future for himself and who had no ambitions in his life, who simply felt like a body without a soul.
    A father who grew up in bad circumstances and for that exact reason whose main priority was that his son wouldn’t be forced to go through the same miserable times he had gone through and wanted his son to learn from the mistakes he had made because he knew that his son is his own person and would have his own life, a life where he would have the chance to make the right decisions in life because he was born at time where he would get a chance to make the right choices and he wanted to make sure that he is going to make those right choices, taking care of his health and getting the proper education that’s going to guarantee his future.
    His biggest concern was that his son would be in anyway put in a position where he would feel degraded, he wanted him to be able to keep up with everyone else and be equivalent to them in every way because he knew that he could be all that and more, and he would always talk to him about the importance of having good morals and respecting others because ‘’if you give respect , you get respect’’ he said to him.
    He made his son promise him that he would make an effort to have a better life than him because he performed hard work, sweat and tears for him to come to this world .
    ‘’You can be anything you want to be, the sky is your limit’’ the father said, ‘’may be you’d be an architect and one day you could be a part of building and constructing your country and believe me, nothing would make you feel more proud than that.’’
    What if our future is in the hands of our present, well it kind of is in a way isn’t? Everything we’re doing right now is because our future and our country’s future –like that son- could and will be so much better than what it’s like now and than what it used to be like, we have to protect it and prevent mistakes that have happened from happening again.
    We have to reserve those hopes and dreams we have for our future .our present.. our reality that just like the father is a part of making the future better.
    Yours sincerely, SAAD-LIBYA.

  2. I was overtaken by laziness and frustration over time in blogging because i had started feeling that as i am making a fool of myself by doing something useless more so after my old gifted nokia 3250 with which i used to upload videos of victims on my blogs. Your article inspires me to document grave human right abuses perpetrated on numerically marginal segment by the society of which i am a part.

  3. Tammy Cook says:

    Here in the US, we have enjoyed unparalleled freedoms in comparison to many other countries. Still, we take them for granted, assuming we will always have them. Yet, some marginalized groups within the US do live in bondage, and their populations are growing. I participated in Blog Action Day to raise awareness for human rights, particularly in the area of US domestic violence, to raise awareness that victimization left unchecked threatens the human rights of all members of a society.

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