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Oct 23, 2015

Brave Bloggers and #FreeWord

Following Blog Action Day campaign, this is to thank everyone who participated and cared. We'd also like to highlight some of the bloggers who have suffered as a result of simply expressing thoughts. We do this, so that those of us who have the privilege to write freely - continue raising awareness and support fellow bloggers who can't do so.

Here is a list of brave bloggers who were detained for their #FreeWord, reproduced from English Pen - one of the editing partners of this year's Blog Action Day, who has been promoting and defending the freedom to write and the freedom to read for almost 100 years:

* Vice News blogger Mohammed Ismael Rasool, who is imprisoned in Turkey, where he "celebrated" his 25th birthday this week.

* Academic and blogger Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace, serving a life sentence for his peaceful opposition activities in Bahrain, along with others.

* Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes, and his lawyer Waleed Abulkhair, serving a 15-year prison sentence.

* Qatari poet Mohammed al-Ajami, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for a poem.

* Poet and teacher Mahvash Sabet, is serving a 20-year prison sentence in Iran.

* Chinese activist and poet Liu Xiaobo, the only Nobel laureate currently in prison. His wife, the poet and artist Liu Xia, has now spent five years under house arrest.

* The Zone9 bloggers in Ethiopia, four of whom remain imprisoned for their writing.

In this context, it is somewhat relieving the news that on the same day Blog Action Day was happening, the Zone9 bloggers were acquitted of terrorism charges.

Bloggers are now on the front line of free speech. The rise of the internet, blogging and social media has changed how the world views writing and publishing. Sadly, mainstream media is often controlled and influenced when telling stories. That is why bloggers are so important and this is a call to action, to keep on with making use of your freedom of speech, as well as spread awareness for those who can't.

There are various ways you can support fellow bloggers and writers at risk around the world. Here are a few:
  • Share details of those at risk and their writings on blogs and social media, to help keep up momentum and ensure that they are not forgotten.
  • Send a message of support to provide moral encouragement for a detained writer and their family.
  • Lobby the authorities in the country in question or your own, and bodies such as the UN and EU, which can have a significant impact.
  • Sign and share petitions to show the level of concern in a case.
Together we could do more and we can do better. Please keep it up and share this call.

Speak out for those who can't

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Oct 14, 2015

#RaiseYourVoice, Make an Impact

You are invited to join Blog Action Day by October 16 - when voices from all over the world simultaneously share stories and ideas about important global topics. This year's main theme is #RaiseYourVoice and bloggers now have the choice to write on 3 sub-topics: #JustABlogger, #FreeWord or #GirlsRaiseYourVoice

Since 2007 Blog Action Day has united bloggers from 130 countries in over 40 languages, to create huge global conversations on the same day about particular critical issues. Past topics have included Inequality, Poverty, Climate Change and Human Rights, among others.

As a supporting partner we’ve been featuring Blog Action Day through our channels for a while now. This is a call to our blogger community to get your blog posts ready.

#RaiseYourVoice, Blog Action Day
On October 16, 2015, thousands of bloggers will raise their voice in support of those who cannot do it safely, when faced with censorship, threats and violence. We will raise our voices to defend their right to raise theirs. Together we could do more and make those voices actually heard.

Following it is to highlight the sub-themes, so that you choose the topic that is the closest to you and take it further from here.

#JustABlogger - bloggers speak truth and tell stories of social importance. Sometimes risking their lives in doing so, as this causes discomfort for some powerful individuals, groups and unfair governments. Be it about corruption, privacy issues, illegal trading, etc. Mainstream media is not always reflecting stories as they actually are, because they are often influenced and controlled. And so the bloggers are the ones who shine a light on issues and, sadly, are sometimes attacked for being just a blogger. Fellow bloggers who have the privilege of being protected by a better democracy, are encouraged on this October 16 to feature the issues other bloggers have been repressed for telling.

#FreeWord - the freedom to write and read keeps being under attack, despite the fact that we've gone a long way heading towards a better society. Authors, journalists and bloggers must be able to express ideas freely and should not be punished or censored when criticizing governments and ruling structures. Readers should have unfettered access to the flow of these ideas and the freedom to respond. With this sub-theme bloggers and participants are invited to tell stories on the importance of the freedom to express.

#GirlsRaiseYourVoice - gender discrimination is still an issue in certain parts of the word, unfortunately. From very young ages to adult women. Bloggers who have stories to tell on gender inequality issues are encouraged to share them on this occasion, so that the world knows and takes further action.

Everyone’s posts on the topics suggested above are invited on October 16. The hashtag for selected sub-theme (#JustABlogger, #FreeWord or #GirlsRaiseYourVoice) has to be used along with one of the following main hashtags: #BlogActionDay, #RaiseYourVoice or #Oct16.

The hashtags are particularly relevant on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google+, since they make it easy for interested fellows to follow a hashtag and discover posts. And when particular hashtags are used by more people at the same time - they get a lot more attention and traction. That is why Blog Action Day is a really smart initiative and a unique occasion for all of us, which can actually amplify messages and trigger social change.

Getting involved is easy:
* Submit your blog to register for Blog Action Day 2015 by October 16;
* Choose a topic of the ones proposed and be inspired by editorial partners;
* Get a badge to use for your blog and your Blog Action Day post;
* Share your blog posts and use proposed tags across social networks;
* Visit blogactionday.org and connect with the comunity.

Those of you who are not blogging but are on social networks, please share with your followers a link, a media piece or a few words to build awareness. Because when issues get elevated and into attention, they tend to be solved. Please feel free to choose for sharing the story of your liking at blogactionday.org on October 16.

Raising voices united could really be powerful.  The more we are, the stronger the impact. Be part of a unique community who cares, to make the world a better place.

Thank you in advance for your participation.

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