Volker Perthes: Free speech is a pillar of a healthy society

Volker Perthes: Free speech is a pillar of a healthy society
Volker Perthes: Free speech is a pillar of a healthy society. picture-alliance/dpa
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Dr Volker Perthes, executive chairman and director of the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (German Institute for International and Security Affairs) in Berlin:

"Looking at new authoritarian tendencies in many countries around the world, I am greatly concerned that freedom of expression will get compromised.

Personally, I have lost two friends recently - a social media activist from Syria and a journalist from Saudi Arabia - who were killed for expressing their opinions. A Turkish friend was put in jail for the same reason. These are only three examples of what feels like a new wave of targeting journalists and social media activists for their work.

Article 19 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights reflects more than just the right of speech and the right of opinion. It stands for the right of journalists and activists to live and work without fear and should be protected by their respective states. Authorities should realize that they can only get the respect they want by embracing pluralistic views and by supporting freedom of opinion as a pillar of a creative and healthy society, as well as an antidote against extremism and unrest."

Perthes' contribution is part of Deutsche Welle's #Article19ForAll project. The goal is to collect voices and opinions to mark the 70th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and more specifically Article 19 which defined free expression and access to information as basic human rights.

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