We did brighten our horizons!

One of the pre-event organised before Agora Budapest took place in Bratislava. As the very first event of Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) it confirmed once again that AEGEE events can be thematically oriented.

During the event hate speech in Europe and the online combat against it were the main topic discussed and it clearly pointed out that freedom of expression is still not granted in many countries.  Participants, together with guests from other associations, realised that young people are currently the ones who should raise their voice and act. We hope that our discussions will not stay just behind the door of working group, but that the message of this event will be spread around AEGEE.

We wonder, have you ever realised in how many photos you are tagged on Facebook? Are you shocked sometimes, how homophobic comments that appear on social networks can be? The Internet offers us a possibility to publish and distribute any kind of information and one might have  thought that nowadays we can reefer to the  Internet as to a space where freedom of expression is granted. However, sometimes unconsciously it can be spilled over. Online space like any other public space forms a part of society. Human rights should apply there as much as in the rest of the society. Unfortunately, because of the difficulty to control it, many times we can come through hate speech proclamations, racist notes or other discriminative comments.

The current campaign of the Council of Europe called “Young People Combating Hate Speech Online” brings a new dimension to act on hate speech crimes.  Becoming a young blogger of the campaign gives you a chance to influence directly protection of human rights online and be a human rights activist. Projects focused on raising awareness, complaints gathering and monitoring of abusive content were launched under the campaign and next year young people will have a possibility to join seminars and training courses. The project should result in policy guidelines on prevention of hate speech and the risk it posed on democratic citizenship and young people’s equal opportunities to participate in all spheres of society. “I, personally, think that people who are responsible for these speeches are somehow limited in their mind, it means they don’t have enough information” said Aneta Caltová from AEGEE- Plzeň. “I love the idea of the campaign and I might be interested to take part in it,” she concluded.

Brighten your horizons in Bratislava raised attention about the campaign and thanks to other NGOs, which introduced us to their work in the human rights field during our first HRWG event, we were very glad to organise it. “For the future, I’d like to stay updated with the activities and developments of HRWG and probably cooperate with them on some event,” mentioned Anne Stikkers from AEGEE-Groningen.

What about the participants? Of course, serious work means serious fun afterwards! AEGEE- Bratislava rocked the event and prepared untypical conditions – too much food and great programme for us to clear our heads after the workshops and comfortable beds to have enough energy for the gym at the Autumn Agora Budapest. New friends, new cooperation between AEGEE-Bratislava and HRWG, new partnerships and fun made a nice memory from time in Bratislava for all of us.
And now what? The show continues and not only us can become an active protectors of our rights online, but we invite you all to join the fight.

Written by Lucia Sobeková, member of AEGEE-Bratislava and the Human Rights Working Group

The pictures used in article are in courtesy of Aneta Caltová from AEGEE-Plzeň and Dasha Onkhova from AEGEE-Moskva