On World Press Freedom Day 2021, BETC has launched a brave campaign of solidarity with journalist, Maria Ressa, for Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the #HoldTheLine coalition. Ressa faces a possible lifetime in prison in the Philippines.
Named as one of the century’s most inspirational and important women by Time Magazine for her courageous journalism and stand for press freedom, Maria Ressa, chief executive officer of media outlet, Rappler, has become a top target for President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, which has opened at least nine criminal cases against her. Ressa was the winner of this year’s UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.
“We will resist all attacks on press freedom. They are trying to scare us, but don’t be afraid. Because if you don’t exercise your rights, you will lose them,” Ressa stated.
The impunity for violence against journalists that characterises the Philippines is reaching new heights, especially for those who reporting on the pseudo-war on drugs being waged by the Duterte regime, which has resulted in mass extra-judicial killings. 16 journalists have been killed in the Philippines in connection with their work since Rodrigo Duterte was sworn in as president in 2016. The latest was beaten to death in May 2020.
The campaign features a new website (www.holdthelineformariaressa.com) that holds hundreds of videos from prominent supporters around the world, with a call for public contributions, that will stream on a continuous loop until all charges are dropped against Ressa and Rappler, the media outlet she founded.
Members of the public are encouraged to submit their own videos via the website, which will be added to the stream.
Prominent supporters include human rights defenders, journalists, artists, lawyers, and politicians from around the world, such as South African jurist and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay; Nobel Economics Prize laureate, Joseph Stiglitz; Tiananmen Square activist and Chinese dissident, Wu’er Kaixi; Australian journalist, Peter Greste, who was previously imprisoned in Egypt; British historian and author, Timothy Garton Ash; UK Channel 4 News Presenter, Jon Snow; editor-in-chief of The Guardian Katharine Viner; and UK member of parliament, Damian Collins.
“The Duterte regime’s vicious attacks against Maria Ressa are attacks on journalism itself, and on democracy. At RSF we have been proud to stand in solidarity with this courageous journalist, and now we call for the international public to mobilise in her support, which could provide her with vital protection as she faces the escalating threat of a possible lifetime in prison,” stated RSF secretary-general, Christophe Deloire.
At least nine cases are currently open against Ressa in the Philippines, where she has also faced 10 arrest warrants in under two years. The cases against her include three cyber-libel cases as well as criminal tax charges. Ressa was convicted on the first cyber-libel charge in June 2020, which carries a possible prison sentence of six years if not overturned on appeal; if convicted on all charges, she could be facing a lifetime in prison.
#HoldTheLine is an international coalition that has come together in support of Maria Ressa and independent media in the Philippines. It consists of more than 80 groups led by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
Supporters can also sign and share the #HoldTheLine petition calling on the Philippine government to drop all charges against Ressa and Rappler.
The Philippines is ranked 138th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2021 World Press Freedom Index.
Clients: Reporters Without Borders & Reporters Sans Frontières
Client Management: Christophe Deloire & Emilie Poirrier
Ad Agency: BETC
Executive Creative Director Stephane Xiberras
Creative Director Dominique Marchand
Art Directors Antoine Lafuente, Marie-Aude Lecomte
Copywriter Dominique Marchand
Agency Management: Catherine Emprin, Guillaume Espinet, Hugo Ghiglia & Tenee Diouf
Development BETC Fullsix
Project Manager Lara-Jane Lelièvre