No Hate Ethiopia: Anti-Hate Pledge

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***This petition is started by Saron Lisanework,  a Human Rights Lawyer and Researcher who also started a  petition entitled " Establish an Ethiopian Ministry of Peace, National Reconciliation and Unity" https://www.change.org/p/prime-minister-dr-abiy-ahmed-establish-an-ethiopian-ministry-of-peace-and-national-reconciliation The petition made change with only 219 supporters and was closed in victory following the establishment of the Ethiopian Ministry of Peace.

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We need to join our forces in this fight: the opposite of hate is solidarity

This petition is directed at all Ethiopians worldwide who believe in peace and are ready to show solidarity against online hate in Ethiopia leading to violence. The petition is not associated with a specific political party or the current administration. It is rather a public pledge that online hate speech and hateful actions against others that result in the loss of lives of people will not be perpetrated or tolerated by the person or organization supporting this petition. It is based on the idea that, while it is okay to disagree with others civilly regarding issues, it is not okay to intimidate or attack a person or group verbally based on attributes such as gender, ethnic origin, religion, race, disability, or other factors.

Hate speech is “any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display” which is capable of instilling or inciting violence, hatred or prejudicial action towards a person or group based on specific attributes such as gender, ethnic origin, religion, race, disability, or other grounds.

Hate speech which is becoming a threat to global peace is not just a private matter: it is rather a problem for society as a whole. Fueled by intolerance, hatred and fear, it threatens different Human Rights, including the right to free expression and the right to human dignity, of those that it targets. Hate Speech promotes intolerance and discrimination, undermining human values, and does not provide a constructive contribution to the public debate.

Online Hate Speech is hate speech communicated via the Internet. This petition primarily focuses on online hate speech, specifically on hate speech on social media. This is because the main social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have the largest online engagement and the greatest ability to take a message of hate viral.

Over the past few years, online hate speech and incitement to commit an offense has significantly increased in Ethiopia with the expansion of and unlimited access to social media. It has become very common to come across hate speech and racist remarks on heated political debate on national issues in social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and twitter. The prevalence of online Hate speech in recent years is an issue of major concern for human rights in Ethiopia and calls for serious measures. If left unresolved, the growing hate and the violence that emanates from it will continue to result in the loss of lives and displacements of people as witnessed in the country recently.

Online hate is a reflection of hate in our societies. Hence, it is crucial that strategies to combat hate in the online environment acknowledge and tackle the hatred and intolerance in people’s hearts and minds. In so doing, it is important to promote community conversations and create awareness among the society against racism and intolerance. Promoting non-discrimination and respect for diversity through education and campaigns is necessary to put a stop to hate speech and its evils. Most importantly, it is crucial for everyone to unite and play an active role in combating online hate speech which jeopardizes peace in our country.

When individuals of different races, ethnic groups and religions join hands in taking a clear stand against online hate speech by promoting respect and non-violence, we knock out the underpinnings of racism and intolerance, and make possible a better future for our communities and the younger generation. Hence, acknowledging the grave impacts of online hate speech, we the undersigned, pledge:

  • To stand up against online hate speech based on grounds such as ethnicity, race, religion and gender that triggers violence
  • To stand with all Nations, Nationalities and people of Ethiopia regardless of racial, ethnic and religious differences in the fight against online hate speech
  • To embrace the diversity, differences and shared humanity that enriches all of us
  • Not to post, like or share messages of hate speech that are capable of instilling or inciting violence, hatred or prejudicial action towards a person or group on social media and other internet platforms
  • Not to stand with perpetrators of online hate speech based on any ground
  • To denounce and condemn all forms of online hate speech
  • To share our views and opinions on social media and other internet platforms respectfully without violating the human dignity of others
  • To share our experiences on how to use the internet more responsibly with others
  • To spread the word about the Anti-Hate petition by sharing on social media

This petition is also calling on public figures, celebrities, government officials, media professionals, leaders of different political parties, activists to join the peace movement and influence the general public to follow suit in combating online hate speech. International organizations, NGOs, private entities, government institutions, schools, Universities and other entities are hereby called to show support through endorsing this petition.