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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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