Protest as a criminal act
Solidar’s local partner organisations are also exposed in their daily work to repressive measures and increased surveillance by the authorities. Many of them find it difficult to obtain or keep their legal registration, as they are subject to excessive red tape. Moreover, every protest can be interpreted as a “criminal act”. Despite the repression, our partners are still finding innovative ways to do their work.
In Malaysia, for example, the government reacted with great sensitivity to the report on the abuse of migrant workers. Because of a critical report, the police even raided the offices of Al Jazeera, arresting journalists. After conducting a detailed investigation into the abuses of migrant workers, they published it under the collective name of the “Coalition of Migrant Workers” to protect their identity. The coalition then turned to the Indonesian (i.e. the workers’ home country) Human Rights Commission, which conducted further research. The report was published in Indonesia and sent to the Malaysian Human Rights Commission.
Freedom of expression and assembly remains the key to enabling marginalised groups to organise to defend their interests and secure ‘dignified work’ for all. The increasing shrinkage of democratic spaces around the world threatens this commitment. This is why the support of Solidar Switzerland is so important in the international network. In the case of Soy Sros, for example, an international campaign led to her release on 28 May. The charges against her were also dropped.