#DefyHateNow: Mobilising Civic Action Against Hate Speech and Directed Social Media Incitement to Violence in South Sudan
2017 | South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya
On 9 July 2011, the Republic of South Sudan became the world's newest country, following a referendum for independence that followed the signing of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005. The CPA ended 40 years of regional post-colonial instability, over 20 years of which was a brutal civil war that engulfed much of Southern Sudan. On December 15th, 2013 a violent conflict erupted, forming an armed opposition that has been engaged in military and political confrontation with the government ever since. In April 2016, the armed opposition, now referred to as 'peace partners' returned to the capital Juba under the terms of a peace agreement signed in August 2015 to form a transitional government of national unity. Violent clashes between government and opposition forces that left thousands dead erupted in South Sudan’s capital on the eve of the fifth anniversary of independence in July 2016. They rapidly spread to many areas of the country and lead to an increase of the number of internally displaced people and refugees to several million.
r0g_agency for open culture and critical transformation gGmbH is a Berlin based non-profit organization creating sustainable open systems solutions for post-conflict development. It is implementing the project #defyhatenow in collaboration with several South Sudanese civil society organizations, international non-governmental organizations and UN agencies.
#defyhatenow, an urgent community peacebuilding, training and conflict reconciliation initiative, aims to strengthen the voices and support the actions of citizens and civil society organizations in South Sudan. Through a multidisciplinary team of independent 'social media correspondents' #defyhatenow identifies, raises awareness of and develops means to mitigate social media based hate speech, conflict rhetoric and directed online incitement to violence. Working on improving the climate for constructive discourse and collaboration between affected parties, including displaced citizens, refugees and the diaspora, the #defyhatenow team facilitates mechanisms of trust that can allow such a dialogue to take place. In so doing it seeks to allow the country's diverse communities to become 'positive influencers' by occupying South Sudan's social media landscape with peacebuilding efforts rather than leaving that space open to agents of conflict.