This week activists from Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Paraguay, Guatemala, Peru, and the U.S. arrived in Rio to participate in the Mutirão of Independent Media, a project of media activists (including some WITNESS staff and partners) who will be reporting on human rights issues and live streaming coverage of how the Olympics affect Rio’s communities. Additionally, workshops on topics ranging from community TV/radio to digital security are being organized with the participants and local allies to capture the rich knowledge within this diverse group.
The idea for the Mutirão came out of a Video for Change convening hosted by WITNESS and SocialTic last year in Mexico City. Many of the activists here in Rio attended the convening and were energized to continue growing and nurturing the collective spirit that resonated in Mexico City by gathering once again in Rio to document and expose the social impacts of the Olympics. They’ve spent the past year planning and fundraising for the Mutirão and the work has paid off – now they’re together again with a few new additions.
The office is an exhilarating mix of languages, songs of solidarity, smells of Brazilian cooking, tangles of cables and tables packed with heavily stickered laptops, hard drives, cameras and mate. The walls are decorated with maps of the favelas in Rio, colorful posters of icon revolutionaries, to-do lists and agendas. Despite only sleeping for a few hours each night, everyone is energized by the renewed collective spirit and drive to advance the fight for human rights here in Brazil and across the rest of the continent.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be featuring highlights from the Mutirão. Here’s a look at how we’re kicking things off:
Women Against the Social Impact of the Olympics
In the days leading up to the Olympics 2016, activists in Rio organized The Exclusion Games to draw attention to the less glamorous legacy that these types of mega-events leave in the host. Participants of the Mutirñao attended several of the events, including a book launch for “The Affected,” a collection of stories from women whose lives and families have been directly impacted by the Olympics.
Read more about the project and our conversations with several of the women involved.
Filming Police Violence
A protest outside of the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics 2016 turned violent when the Military Police began firing tear gas at protesters, including children. Participants of the Mutirão filmed a 19-year old woman who was suffering from the effects of the gas and had to be resuscitated by medics.
A few nights later the police began harassing participants of the Mutirão as they were documenting the arrest of a man in the street and asked them to turn off their cameras. One participant, a Brazilian, was detained and released several hours later. Police violence is rampant in Rio, especially against people of color. According to Amnesty International, police killings in Rio de Janeiro have gone up 103% in April-June 2016 compared to the same time frame in 2015.
Over the past few weeks we’ve broadcasting live from our workspace and are reaching over 170,000 people from all corners of the world! #RadioMutirão features interviews with local activists, legal experts and residents affected by evictions, police violence, environmental contamination and other human rights violations associated with the preparation of the Olympics. Activists from Latin America will also be featured, helping to build solidarity among the groups and movements fighting against similar abuses across the continent. And of course, there will be music! Listen and find earlier broadcasts here or on Facebook (in Portuguese, Spanish and Porteñol).
Alternative Rio Live
Stemming from the WITNESS Media Lab, Alternative Rio Live finds, contextualizes and presents the eyewitness accounts and the live-streams that show the stark alternative realities of human rights violations underlying and occurring at the Summer Olympics 2016 in Rio. Check out the streams and a new timeline featuring important events that have been captured by activists over the past few weeks. Check out the livestream curation.