Jun 2014 17 – 19

Promoting Peace while Protecting Freedom of Expression

Inya Lake Hotel, Yangon, Myanmar

Dangerous speech (hateful speech intended to catalyse violence) is rife in many countries. Projects to monitor and counteract it have been recently launched in Kenya and Myanmar, and those examples have inspired similar projects in several other countries. In response, this meeting brings together a small group of practitioners, scholars, and funders in Yangon, Myanmar this June for the first time. The Internet Democracy Project is participating in the event.

The meeting’s principal goals are:

  • To illustrate the meaning of Dangerous Speech in detail and to mark its boundaries, using examples from our diverse countries: Cambodia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Myanmar, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Rwanda, and the United States.
  • To raise awareness about the dangerousness of some speech, while also vigorously promoting and protecting freedom of expression
  • To exchange and compile information on how to counter Dangerous Speech, in order to build practical tools for that effort

The tentative meeting agenda is as follows:

17 June: We’ll hold a symposium on Dangerous Speech, focusing on what it is, what hate speech is, how speech can be related to violence, and how to diminish the risk of such violence.

18 June: In a workshop with leaders of Myanmar civil society, we’ll delve into how to categorize speech, with a focus on hate speech, dangerous speech, and speech that seems to fall between categories.

19 June: We will work together in small groups to develop specific tools for work on dangerous speech, including monitoring and countering such speech. The past two years have seen several pioneering projects in both of these areas, including the new Panzagar (“flower language”) movement in Myanmar.

The meeting is being organized by the Dangerous Speech project (http://voicesthatpoison.org/), a US-based initiative founded in 2010 to address speech that can catalyse violence.


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