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Sweden celebrates 250 years of free speech with silent speech

Sweden celebrates 250 years of free speech with silent speech

On 2 December 1766, 250 years ago, the Swedish parliament (Riksdag) passed the Freedom of the Press Act. It is the oldest in the world.

Now, 250 year later, in many parts of the world, fundamental rights and freedoms on free speech are under threat. The Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs took that anniversary as an opportunity to highlight the importance of a free press and show how quiet the world becomes without free speech. They worked together with agency King on making a short film full of silence which emphasizes the silence in a world without free speech.

Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström:

It is disturbing to see that the fundamental rights and freedoms it sets out to defend are increasingly under threat around the world. In many places, democracy and the rule of law are being undermined, human rights violated and their universal nature denied.

These developments call for redoubled efforts to promote freedom of expression, transparency and media freedom, including promotion of media literacy and increased support to free and independent media around the world.

The campaign video shows celebrities like Emma Watson, Leonardo di Caprio and Malala Yousafzai ready to express themselves on the podium. But instead of speeches there is only awkward silence.

Christoffer Dymling, Copywriter at King:

In this case we believe that silence speaks louder than words. It serves as a reminder for everyone who take freedom of speech for granted and will hopefully inspire more people to raise their voices for those who have none.

The campaign was launched 2 December with a seminar for female journalists and a campaign website. The #FreeTheSpeech campaign will be an integral part of the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs work during 2017 and onwards. 

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