On January 24, Chen Qiushi stood in Wuhan, the center of the Covid-19 outbreak in China, and spoke into his camera: “This epidemic happened because the State covered up the truth and facts”, reported the human rights lawyer and activist. “Through my camera, I want to deliver the voices of Wuhan to the world. If information spreads faster than the virus, we can win this battle.” Qiushi’s commitment to using video to reveal and protect the truth –even at great personal risk– speaks to the very DNA of why WITNESS was founded almost three decades ago.
Since that day, dozens of other courageous videos from the world –shot by community leaders, healthcare workers, people in detention centers, social justice activists, affected family members, and others– have exposed the systemic flaws and disproportionate impacts of this crisis on historically marginalized populations. They’ve also helped us understand how some authoritarian governments are using the pandemic as an excuse for putting in place increased surveillance and repression that could live on way past Covid itself.
As we prepare our response, we’ve taken the last few weeks to listen to the evolving needs of our partners and to reflect on the crucial role of video in exposing the unseen impacts of the pandemic, as well as in countering lies, mobilizing action and preserving vital evidence that will help advocate for justice in the months to come.
So to support these inspiring acts of courage in a time of such uncertainty, today we’re launching a new page with a curated selection of resources (from our own library and from partners’ materials) that could be particularly useful in this moment. We’re also working hard to create new resources based on the needs we’re hearing and seeing: in the coming weeks we’ll be releasing new tipsheets on Documenting use of excessive force by security forces justified by the Covid-restrictions, Filming from a distance and/or /indoors, and Collecting and archiving social media evidence during states of emergency, among others.
We’ll also be highlighting different videos from around the world — they’ll help show the interconnectedness of these experiences, the resilience and radical mobilizing happening in so many communities, and the innovative tactics activists are using amidst the enormity of the current challenges. If you’ve seen a good (or cautionary) example of video, send us the link and we’ll include in our upcoming lists!