“Price Rise” Fadfed Event
by Amani Al Nsairat
“Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Part1: Article 19:b)
The international community recognizes the right to freedom as a human right under the article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1966, also the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
On a national level rules or laws guarantee this right including Jordan who ratified and adopted these treaties whereas article 15:1 of the Jordanian constitution stresses that “The State shall guarantee freedom of opinion. Every Jordanian shall be free to express his opinion by speech, in writing, or by means of photographic representation and other forms of expression, provided that such does not violate the law”.
Despite this consensus, Jordanians are still searching for outlets to express their opinion freely on sensitive issues in their communities because there is a crisis of confidence between people and government and it’s not allow for the social actors and media to criticize government behavior. Unfortunately many are still suffering of the fear to be accountable from the state or the police – and thus fear to publicly express themselves. Many are afraid, they want to speak out and tell their political leaders what they think and what upset them even if it’s in a distinct or funny way.
FADFED is a creative initiative of Leaders of Tomorrow that provides an open platform for Jordanians to raise debate and dialogue about current sensitive issues in the Jordanian society. Also, FADFED offers a dynamic environment where young and old can express themselves through writing their opinion and ideas or drawing their thoughts in public areas on large papers and white boards without mentioning their names, and to transfer these thoughts online through Facebook and Twitter.
This event is now happening monthly in Al-Rainbow Street in Amman and it is been held several times touching on various topics; the first event was in October and November 2010 openly discussing the parliamentary elections. In May 2011 FADFED discussed in public space what it means to be a Jordanian. This year in May the topic discussed with young and old on the streets of Amman was identity and loyalty, and the price rise. It discussed the critical issue of the rise in major goods prices that just happened recently. Since the government (Lower and upper houses) decided to rise the price of different goods including gasoline and electricity beside talking about the amended tariff of water and imposes special taxes on 12 luxury items, including perfumes, cosmetics, diamonds and other gemstones, musical instruments, mobile phones, pet food and leather garments. Many people were complaining about that, thus FADFED gave the opportunity to talk openly about it, and reduce the gap between cyberspace and reality on the ground by creating a state of mutual interaction between them.
What was amazing about “The Price Rise” FADFED event was the number of people who responded by writing or drawing or making jokes spontaneously about the topic. People in the street were curious and started to ask about the meaning of FADFED and were wondering what is it about, what are we doing, and how they can trust us by writing opinions. People interacted differently; some of them didn’t care and wrote down their thoughts without even a second thought, while others were afraid to share their opinion. Many started to encourage those doubting to try to write their own opinion reasoning that their comments will be posted on the white wall or online as anonymous and there will be no names. Most of them somehow did feel comfortable to write their opinion. On the other hand, there are always those silent people who prefer to hear what this event is about and read the comments of other people.
FADFED is a useful initiative that is an effective tool to develop the culture of freedom of expression in a society. FADFED was made possible thanks to the youth-led incredible team who all volunteered to be a part of the change and contribute to their society.