SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

New SKeyes Campaign: Freedom Is Not a Number

Monday , 15 June 2020

Reiterating its belief that “freedom is not a number” and that “one violation is a violation too many,” the Samir Kassir Foundation’s SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom launched an awareness campaign around public freedoms in Lebanon.

The campaign focuses on five main subjects: jailing journalists, independence of the judiciary, censorship on arts, assaults on journalists, and impunity for journalists’ killers.

Several media professionals and public figures participated in the campaign; journalist Adam Chamseddine, photojournalists Marwan Tahtah and Hassan Shaaban, lawyer Ghida Frangieh, filmmaker Roy Dib and Samir Kassir Foundation president Gisèle Khoury. Participants shared their thoughts through five short videos.

Journalist Adam Chamseddine talked about prison sentences against journalists in Lebanon, emphasizing that press freedom “is not a number”, whatever the actual number of violations. “Instead of a journalist being wanted by the judiciary, we want the judiciary not to imprison journalists,” he said.

Gisèle Khoury, president of the Samir Kassir Foundation, talked about impunity for crimes against journalists. The lack of accountability enables more crimes and societies become “prisoners of their own fears.” “Killing journalists is not a number,” she said. “Murderers should be tried and punished.”

Filmmaker Roy Dib talked about censorship in Lebanon. He deplored the fact that Lebanese works of art travel the world but are banned in their homeland. He repeated the motto that artistic freedom “is not a number” no matter what the censorship bureau decides. He demanded the abolition of censorship on all works of art.

Photojournalists Marwan Tahtah and Hassan Shaaban talked about violence against journalists in Lebanon. For them, press freedom “is not a number,” no matter how numerous the violations are. “We know who the attackers are and the relevant authorities are not doing anything to hold them accountable,” the photojournalists said, urging all stakeholders to end repression and violence against journalists.

Finally, lawyer Ghida Frangieh stressed the importance of the independence of the judiciary. There is no way we can stand up for the people’s rights if the judiciary is not independent. Freedoms “are not a number,” no matter how often rights are being infringed.

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