Through interviews with different stakeholders and experts, Bytes for All, Pakistan, in collaboration with other CSOs in the region, importantly Forum Asia, carried out a qualitative mapping of the general climate around freedom of expression in Asia and the challenges faced. The assertions in this paper benefit from the mapping exercise that involved nine Asian countries, namely Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam, which together constitute nearly half of Asia’s population.
Nevertheless, the conclusions of the assessment as well as the recommendations in this paper may be applicable to other Asian countries.
The collective analysis was aimed at gathering insights about shared problems and possible solutions in the region. Two main trends were observed in Asian countries. First, the abuse of blasphemy laws and suppression of religious minorities that ultimately entails infringement of freedom of conscience and freedom of expression in societies being discussed. Second, the legal impediments and administrative restrictions on freedoms, which seem to have failed to address the social hostility against religious minorities and majority sects.
The main prescription here is that the Asian countries can tackle challenges in law and order and democratic development, if they make realisation of freedom of expression a priority.
Link to the briefing paper: https://content.bytesforall.pk/publication/desecrating-expression