Highlighting WITNESS’ Work In Asia-Pacific Region

Over the past few months, we have been working on widening our reach in the Asia-Pacific region by providing trainings focused on sharing tools and tips to enhance activism highlighting human rights abuses. Through our Resource Library and our social media platforms, we share a number of critical resources that will assist activists in the work they do, all of which are available for free and are created with easy access and sharing in mind.

Here are some highlights from our latest video advocacy trainings led by WITNESS’ Asia-Pacific Program Manager, Arul Prakkash:

Workshop on Video as Evidence for Bersih 5 Rally
 Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

In solidarity with the Malaysian movement for clean and fair elections, WITNESS provided training for a group of videographers to document the Bersih 5 rally held on November 19th. To help mobilize members of the public and citizen journalists, Prakkash created the ‘10 Tips Penting Jika Merakam Video Di Bersih 5′ (Top 10 Tips for Filming Bersih 5) tip sheet, which was adapted from this WITNESS tip sheet (in English). Over 15,000 protesters took part in the Bersih 5 rally in the streets of Kuala Lumpur calling for institutional reforms for a new Malaysia. Bersih’s 5 demands include clean elections, a clean government, a strengthening of parliamentary democracy, the right to dissent, and the empowerment of the states of Sabah and Sarawak.

Workshop on Storytelling for Advocacy for Indigenous People
 Gua Musang, Malaysia

In November, Prakkash delivered a brief training on storytelling for video to a team of activists who are members of the Indigenous Peoples’ Network of Peninsular Malaysia (JKOASM). The workshop took place in Gua Musang in the state of Kelantan where indigenous people have been protesting illegal logging in their ancestral lands. Prakkash trained participants on how to safely and effectively use mobile phones and GoPro cameras to highlight their struggles. He emphasized the importance of the use of the first-person narrative for video for higher impact. This training workshop was conducted together with our partners, KOMAS.

Series of Workshops for Human Rights Defenders
Comoro, Timor-Leste

Activists, human rights defenders, and NGO staff from South Asia and Southeast Asia working on a range of human rights issues attended a one and a half day training by WITNESS on October 18th and 19th. The Diplomacy Training Program (DTP) is an independent Australian NGO committed to advancing human rights by empowering civil society through education and skills training. WITNESS and DTP strategized with participants on how to include video in their various advocacy initiatives and trained them on storytelling using video. Participants were able to produce short videos on a range of issues by the end of the workshop.

Within the same month, WITNESS and Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR) trained around 30 human rights activists and NGO staff on the use of video for advocacy work. Participants went through an intensive training process on video documentation of human rights abuses, storytelling for video and digital security. Through workshops such as these, we hope to inspire and support more activists working in Timor-Leste in their advocacy efforts.

An Encounter with Max Stahl

Prakkash also took some time out of his training schedule to meet with British film-maker Max Stahl, whose documentary In Cold Blood: the Massacre of East Timor contributed to changing the destiny of the nation of Timor-Leste. The Max Stahl Audiovisual Archive Center for Timor-Leste (CAMSTL) is home to a repository of documentary heritage comprising of over 5,000 hours of audiovisual material since November 1991. The Center today is a training ground for young filmmakers and activists who engage with struggles of resistance and who want to communicate their stories to the world.

To read more, check out this recent blog post by our Asia-Pacific Engagement Consultant, Meghana Bahar, about the Santa Cruz massacre which occurred 25 years ago.

To stay updated on all of our work in the Asia-Pacific region, follow WITNESS Asia on Twitter and Facebook!


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