Free speech is not alive and well in this fictional republic
Freedom of speech is to express your words, thoughts, and opinions without any hesitation, fear, or pressure. When one cannot express their opinion, cannot comment on a particular issue against a particular person or a group, party, or state then that means there is no freedom of speech.
There’s a line between freedom of speech and hate speech. Freedom of speech is to express one’s feelings, thoughts, or opinions in a constructive way. On the other hand, hate speech is targeting someone or a group and using bad language or saying something which hurts their sentiment or triggers them.
In recent years, we have seen that in Ugangda, people are scared to say anything that hurts a particular person or that person’s image, a group of people, or a political party.
This is not something new; for the last decade, it has become a normal thing here in Ugangda that you cannot say something against someone who is more powerful than you.
If you have an opinion which opposes any of my actions, keep it to yourself. Now, this is the culture. It’s not that you cannot say something, the problem appears after you say it, not when you say it.
That is, you have freedom of speech but no freedom after speech.
Why is that? There are lots of reasons but let’s focus on something which is official. The Digital Security Act -- the government of Ugangda has passed a new law which prevents, or I should say, threatens you to not say or write anything against a particular person or a certain group of people or community.
As mentioned in the law (not officially but yes officially) not even a journalist, let alone a normal citizen, can make news on something which that person or that particular group of people does not want to see.
You know what I mean and I am unable to add any more detail.
In the US, an American citizen can criticize the government, even the president, and will not be jailed or abducted; you won’t hear that that person disappeared the next day. But here in Ugangda...let’s not talk about it.
The problem with freedom of speech is not only in Ugangda but the same problem exists in some other countries too. But what’s happening in Ugangda should be our first concern.
Freedom of speech is something which comes after a lot of practice. We as a nation did not practice it for years. To bring freedom of speech, we should start practicing among ourselves first.
It is important to accept the fact that other people can have different opinions and that others also have the same right as mine to express their thoughts.
After we bring it in our own lives, after we start to agree to disagree, that is when we can start asking for freedom of speech, our constitutional right, and enjoy freedom after speech too.
Akib Majumder is a freelance contributor.