Project Name: Citizen journalism & Human Rights in North-East India Promoted by WACC
Initiated by: World Association for Christian Communication (WACC)
The World Association for Christian Communication (WACC), an international organization that promotes communication as a basic human right, essential to people’s dignity and community. WACC works with all those denied the right to communicate because of status, identity, or gender. It advocates full access to information and communication, and promotes open and diverse media. WACC strengthens networks of communicators to advance peace, understanding and justice.
Knowing the essence of citizen journalism in India, WACC used internet as a medium to spread awareness programmes in north east India. The organization also used local newspapers in Manipur to spread awareness on human rights. Manipur newspapers have used their websites and created groups to harness the potential of the internet to further their cause. Websites such as Manipuronline.com, E-Pao.net (‘pao’ stands for mail in Manipuri), Kanglaonline.com and TheSangaiExpress.com started to post material provided by citizens on a range of issues, including insurgency and counter-insurgency in the state as well as protest against the Armed Forces Special Power Act.
Through online reporting and networking, local human rights workers were able to link up with similar groups in other parts of India to raise awareness about the law and to organize protests. These local newspaper have timely published the protest from Manipuri poet, Irom Sharmila Chanu, who demanded the repeal of the law. Irom Sharmila’s efforts have been closely reported and commented upon by citizens in blogs and on the different Manipur-based websites listed above. Another website closely tracking the campaign is ManipurFreedom.org, which includes links to several blogs, background papers on the law, reports by various agencies, and a newsletter.