IN SOUTHEAST ASIA
IN SOUTHEAST ASIA, THE INTERNET IS NO LONGER A FREE, SAFE AND SECURE SPACE FOR EXPRESSION.
Weaponizing or misusing laws, policies and actions, governments in the region are monitoring the internet, to censor any information seen as a threat or criticism of the government and its policies.
Internet providers and tech companies are also being forced to assist governments in online surveillance and information takedowns. These have an effect of creating an environment of fear and self-censorship in these countries.
THREAT & INTIMIDATION
of activists, human rights defenders and other netizens.
PROSECUTION & PUNISHMENT
With violations to online freedom, online privacy, and access to information; democracy is being lost to authoritarianism. Now more than ever, it is important to join forces to fight against digital authoritarianism in Southeast Asia.
Through this campaign, we will:
highlight the legal challenges to digital rights in ASEAN, while presenting their impact on netizens
propose strategies to fight back digital dictatorship as shared by leading voices working on the ground
ASEAN COMMON CALL TO ACTION
To restore democracy in Southeast Asia, a ‘Common Call to Action’ emerged with partners ALTSEAN-Burma, Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM), PEN International and Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) calling on all governments to address 5 of the biggest challenges to digital rights. This is the first step in bringing together ASEAN community leaders working for digital rights on the ground, to amplify our collective goal and build momentum in the fight against rising digital dictatorship by governments in the region.
OVERVIEW OF DIGITAL RIGHTS IN SOUTHEAST ASIA
With civic space in Southeast Asia being threatened by governments, the internet and social media started to be used by human rights defenders, activists, journalists and civil society as a free space to share their opinion on their governments and to hold them accountable. Governments responded by using a set of laws and policies to stop and punish the sharing of information critical of the government, using the justification of protecting ‘national security’. This leads to the silencing of dissents and the practice of self-censorship even in cyberspace.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, online civic space was further restricted with
the use of emergency laws to restrict sharing of opinions of the COVID-19 response or situation in countries
internet shutdowns being a barrier to access information related to health risks
Check our 'SPOTLIGHTS' on specific ASEAN countries, providing an overview of the anti-democratic laws and policies, and impacts of authoritarianism on digital rights and democracy
On 31 July 2020, Manushya Foundation and PEN international hosted a panel session titled, 'Will democracy survive ‘national security’ in the digital space of Southeast Asia?' at RightsCon 2020.
During the session, leading voices working on the ground in Southeast Asia shared how civic space in this region is being threatened by governments misusing 'national security' to pass anti-democratic laws and restrict online freedom, while pressuring tech companies to assist them in online surveillance.
WEBINAR - MYANMAR'S DIGITAL COUP: WHAT CAN WE DO TO RESIST?
On 18 February 2021, the ASEAN Regional Coalition to #StopDigitalDictatorship led by ALTSEAN Burma, Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), ELSAM, Manushya Foundation, PEN Myanmar, and SAFEnet, hosted the “Myanmar’s Digital Coup: What can we do to resist?” live webinar to discuss the digital dictatorship imposed on netizens, media outlets, internet service providers and social media platforms by the military coup in Myanmar.
Access the summary of the conversation here.
JOINT SOLIDARITY STATEMENTS
Thailand: Stop Digital Dictatorship Over Online Freedom
On 25 October 2020, Manushya Foundation, Access Now, ALTSEAN-Burma, Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), the Institute of Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM), PEN Myanmar, and Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) released a joint solidarity statement calling on the Thai government to end its control over the digital space by attacking media freedom, tech companies and anyone telling the truth about pro-democracy protests online.
On 2 February 2021, ALTSEAN-Burma, Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), the Institute of Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM), Manushya Foundation, PEN Myanmar, and Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet), as the ASEAN Regional Coalition to #StopDigitalDictatorship released a Joint Solidarity Statement to #SaveMyanmar and #StopDigitalDictatorship in the country.
JOIN OUR CAMPAIGN!
Join Manushya Foundation and our Southeast Asia partners as we champion a free, safe & secure internet for all!
Join our campaign and fight against digital dictatorship in Southeast Asia by sharing our posts using #StopDigitalDictatorship on social media and tagging us so we can add you to the campaign
Take a picture with our designed hashtag #StopDigitalDictatorship that you can find above and share it on social media
Use the hashtag #StopDigitalDictatorship in social media posts that highlight the violation of digital rights in Southeast Asia, to show rising digital authoritarianism in the region
Download the Campaign Concept Note and share it to help fighting against rising digital dictatorship!
Manushya Foundation would like to express its gratitude to the German Federal Foreign Office, Access Now and the German-Southeast Asian Center of Excellence for Public Policy and Good Governance (CPG) for their support and guidance that has made this campaign possible, giving a space for voices from the ground to lead the movement towards restoring digital democracy for all in Southeast Asia.