News / 16 November 2018


Silence can sometimes say more than a thousand words. When colleagues from our partner organisations tell us their stories,* our reaction is often silence; a dejected silence.

What can you say to the courageous human rights lawyer who has fled her home country in Central America, a country that is not officially at war, but where she is threatened because she voices her criticisms of the government?

Are there any words of comfort for the man from a Central African country now that the training centre for sustainable forest management that he set up with great passion and hard work has been taken over by rebels?

What do you say to the South American who left his family behind in his village and now has to request asylum in the Netherlands because he defended the rights of his community?

Are there words that can comfort the indigenous woman from South-East Asia whose husband and brothers were recently shot dead because they defended their indigenous land rights, opposing the interests of a mining company?

There are none.

That is why, today, we are silent. As a protest against the powers and forces that are restricting our universal freedoms worldwide and are silencing us and our partners. And in solidarity with activists, environmental protectors and human rights defenders who actively protect their and our rights and who – increasingly often – pay for it with their lives.

In the coming days, we ask attention for these brave people. Because they refuse to give up. No matter how difficult the circumstances are, they keep on fighting for freedom of expression, human rights, women's rights, land rights, preservation of biodiversity and a sustainable future for their children.


This campaign is part of SPEAK!, an international campaign by CIVICUS. For more information, see

*The examples given here are anonymous so as not to endanger the persons involved.

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