35 activists from 6 cities met to discuss strategies on how to use video for change.
The convening “#R2R – For the Right to Record” featured representatives from Belém, Santarém, Fortaleza, Recife, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasîlia and Porto Alegre. These representatives consisted of video activists, human rights lawyers, archivists, and community media collectives.
Throughout 4 days of activities, participants shared their own experiences of using video to document, monitor and defend human rights. Attendees also participated in sessions and trainings held by key WITNESS’ staff.
On the first day, groups from Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo — who used video to document police violence in the context of the “war on drugs” in Brazil’s favelas and peripheries — shared their tactics and experiences. Organizations such as Coletivo Papo Reto, Defezap, Redes da Maré, Data Labe, Craco Resiste and Tulipa Negra, showed their videos and grassroots efforts. They were accompanied by the Human Rights Unit at the Rio Public Defender’s Office, which also discussed the growing risk of filming human rights violations.
On the second day, organizations from the Northern region of Brazil showed how groups are using media and audiovisuals to support the social movements and indigenous communities. There were presentations from Agência de Notícias Jovens Comunicadores da Amazônia, Collectivo Jovem Tapajônico, CIMI and Greenpeace.
Rede Rocheda, from Fortaleza (in Northeastern Brazil), is a youth-led media collective that uses video for social justice and to affirm the cultures of resistance from the city’s peripheries. Groups such as Nigeria, Zio and Riot, have shown how they have organized and strengthened their network.
In addition to presentations, the convening featured trainings from the WITNESS team on issues like video as evidence, archiving, livestreaming and fake news, as well as ways to use social media to drive social change.
#R2R: A Movement of Activists
Several participants stated that using a camera or cell phone, and filming police violence in their regions, has become increasingly risky. They also stated that cell phones are often illegally searched by police, who look for files or conversations that can be used to criminalize activists and residents of poor communities in Brazil. As we expected, unfortunately, there have been several cases of abuse, aggression, intimidation and threats against activists.
Despite the heavy and daily themes of institutional violence that each person described in their reports, the convening only reaffirmed the promise of youth to use communication and technology for social change.
By bringing a diverse and complementary range of actors together to strengthen paths for collaboration, this convening gives momentum to a movement that is only just starting in Brazil. For the right to record.
Filming is not a crime! Documenting violence in the state is the right of every citizen.
It is videos, filmed by citizens, that break the media’s silence and shine a light on cases of human rights violations. And we only know about them because someone risked their own life to film these abuses.
When we defend the right of activists to produce and inform through video, we uphold everyone’s rights.
Just as in Brazil, in several other countries, citizens have been criminalized, threatened and even murdered for using their cameras to document social injustices. To learn more about the right to record in the world, click here – WITNESSMediaLab_R2R