On the first day of Chobimela X, a discussion session on 'Freedom of Thought and Expression', a topic that is quite relevant in today's context, was held at the Drik-Pathshala under-construction building.
The panelists of the discussion included Kunda Dixit, Editor of Nepali Times, a weekly English language newspaper in Kathmandu, Tanvi Mishra, Photo Editor of The Caravan, a journal on politics and culture, Nurul Kabir, Editor of New Age, a daily English language newspaper in Bangladesh, and Rahnuma Ahmed, writer and anthropologist.
The discussion focused on forming solidarity among journalists, particularly in South Asia, where the media is constantly facing administrative backlash. “Freedom of thought and expression are two things people across the world have been fighting for over the years,” said Nurul Kabir, “However circumstances in South Asia show that people here are far more oppressed than those in the West. To make democracy participatory, media should be free to think and express.”
The controversial section 57 of the ICT Act was also part of the discussion. “Now that the mainstream media is in control, next target is social media,” said Kunda Dixit. “New cyber and privacy laws have been passed in order to constrict the media's freedom of expression.”
Furthermore, Rahnuma Ahmad believes that freedom of thought and expression should be exercised by everyone, not only journalists. “We are living in difficult times. Just as fear is contagious, courage is also contagious. When people come forward, it inspires other people.”
Tanvi Misha, on the other hand, thinks that artistes will always find a way to use the restrictions to feed their work and be more creative.