Tampere Freedom of Speech Event

Freedom of speech is a core value: it belongs to the core of every democratic society and it’s an important part of the daily life of any free human being. The first Tampere Freedom of Speech Event is organized on September 26th-28th, 2023, initiated by the board of trustees of Finnish Cultural Foundation´s Pirkanmaa Regional Fund.

The Event

Tampere Freedom of Speech Event is built around one constant feature. As the keynote speaker we’ll always invite someone, who has done remarkable work for the cause of freedom of speech in his or her own life. This person has experience and a meaningful message to share about the importance of freedom of speech – message that will resonate with the participants gathered in Tampere, Pirkanmaa region, as well as more widely in Europe and the world.

Our event is a platform from which the internationally known keynote speakers can deliver their main message about the importance of freedom of speech.

The goal of this event is to be a distinguished and interesting gathering, as well as to build a network of people who stand for the common cause of freedom of speech.

The keynote speaker’s presentation we call the Tampere Declaration for Freedom of Speech. Around this message we gather a group of experts and others interested in the subject, to discuss the freedom of speech event´s current themes.

Events 2023

Freedom of Speech in Belarus ­– Through the Stone Wall

Tue 26.9. at 6.30 pm
Culture House Laikku, Music and Lecture Hall,
Keskustori 4, Tampere

Read more about the discussion event

Photo Exhibition: In the Frontlines and on the Home Front – Donbas Frontliner and Ukraine Beyond News Pictures

Opening Wed September 27, at 4 pm
Media 54, Finlayson, Satakunnankatu 18A, Tampere

Read more about the opening event

Lecture and discussion event: Media Freedom in the story of Independent Ukraine

to Sep 28th. klo 9.00–12.00
Tampere University, Pinni B 1097
Kanslerinrinne 1, Tampere

Read more about the discussion event

Raatihuone, Main Event for Invited Guests

The First Tampere Freedom of Speech Keynote
Wed September 27th, at 18.30 (entrance to the celebratory floor at 18.15)
Raatihuone (Old City Hall), Keskustori 10, Tampere

Read more about the Raatihuone event

Topic for 2023 is Ukraine and Freedom of Speech

Mustavalkoinen kuva naisesta istumassa mustalla tuolilla studiossa. Naisella on mustat vaatteet, hän katsoo hymyillen kameraan.
Myroslava Gongadze

The first Tampere Freedom of Speech Event is organized on September 26th-28th, 2023, initiated by the board of trustees of the Finnish Cultural Foundation´s Pirkanmaa Regional Fund.

Based on the insights of our Ukrainian guest of honor, we discuss the role of freedom of speech in the development of an independent state of Ukraine since the year 1991. In what ways has the freedom of journalism taken steps forward, and sometimes also painfully back? What is the role of free media in the current existential battle and defense of Ukraine, and in the coming vast rebuilding of the country?

As the first keynote speaker of the Tampere Freedom of Speech Event, we have invited the Ukrainian American journalist and trailblazer of many important freedom of speech causes, the head of the Eastern Europe bureau of Voice of America, Myroslava Gongadze. Along with her journalism activity, Ms. Gongadze mentors young Ukrainian journalists. She is also the moving force behind the journalism prize that carries name Gongadze and awards journalists in Ukraine who can find innovative ways of conveying information, create sustainable media, and remain faithful to professional principles.

Unfortunately, the name Gongadze is also known from a tragic context, as Myroslava Gongadze is the widow of the brutally murdered journalist Georgiy Gongadze. The Ukrainian-language online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda was founded by Georgiy Gongadze (1969-2000) and it was one of the first independent media in Ukraine since the country’s new independence in 1991. Today, Ukrainska Pravda remains one of the largest Ukrainian-language news media. The murder of Georgiy Gongadze, which shocked everyone and caused the loudest political scandal of its era, is officially still unsolved, despite the promises of several governments.

Bringing their contribution to the discussion will also be the CEO and news photographer of “Donbas Frontliner” Andriy Dubcak, current war reporter and former deputy minister of information politics Ms. Tetiana Popova and Mr. Vitali Klitschko, the Mayor of Ukraine´s capital and Tampere´s long-time friendship city Kyiv. Some of the participants will appear via video link (speakers to be confirmed).

Why freedom of speech?

Freedom of speech is a core value: it belongs to the core of every democratic society and it’s an important part of the daily life of a free human being.

Freedom of speech belongs to everyone.

Describing and realizing freedom of speech is placed highly in both the Constitution of Finland and in the International Bill of Human Rights of the United Nations. Freedom of speech is also an essential part of the optimal model of European society, pursued by the European Union.

For authoritarian rulers, oppression of freedom of speech and silencing the ones trying to use it, is an arbitrary instrument of staying in power, but also the surest way of damaging their own country. In the short term, violence may provide a quick win, but in the long term only democracy prevails.

Without functioning freedom of speech that gets tested in daily life, there can be no rule of law, neither is there democracy of empowered people nor thriving cultural life.

Only thanks to freedom of speech we have free media with pluralistic values. Critical science, with its independently found observations and results, can equally be based only on freedom of speech. For both, it is a vital condition to be able to have contacts and debates also with those who express opposing views, without fear of intimidation and repression.

In the absence of transparency, arbitrary use of force and corruption become rampant. When dissidents, journalists, researchers, artists, and other freely discussing voices in the society are harassed, and at worst, murdered, that is always a serious crime and an attack against the very basis of our understanding of what it means to be human. It has become increasingly clear that without decisiveness and deeds of more positive actors, freedom of speech can be threatened – also in this country.

This is how the thought developed in Pirkanmaa region

The initial idea of the Tampere Freedom of Speech Event emerged during 2019-2020, as the coronavirus pandemic challenged humankind. At the time in Finland, among other countries, topping the news agenda were massive civil protests in Belarus, stifling of dissidents in Russia, and on the other hand Ukraine´s struggle to secure its independence and freedom, since 2014 under circumstances of war. There was a growing number of political prisoners, and the problem worsened not only in many of the so called post-Soviet countries. Journalists were murdered and put in jail with no justification widely around the world.

Among the board of trustees of Pirkanmaa regional fund, belonging to the wider institution of Finnish Cultural Foundation, lively discussions took place about how freedom of speech, without any doubt, is one of the core values of Europe. Without freedom of speech, there would also be no possibility for science and arts to flourish in Finland. Still, even in Tampere with its many festivals and gatherings, there was no event dedicated to freedom of speech, not yet.

It was decided to create a freedom of speech event, and soon the idea became a visible part of the plans of Tampere to be chosen as the Culture Capital of Europe for the year 2026. Even as the title went elsewhere, Tampere Freedom of Speech Event got support from its continuation program Operaatio Pirkanmaa. In addition to Tampere’s Mayor Anna-Kaisa Ikonen, also the Finnish Journalism Foundation JOKES extended their important support to the idea. The journalist educators of Tampere University, Finnish chapter of the Reporters Without Borders, and many other people and groups that are invested in our common cause expressed their willingness to support and help in the organization.

Russia started its full-scale military attack and war of destruction against Ukraine on the 24th of February 2022. On that date, the topic of freedom of speech became even more timely than before.

It was natural to choose Ukraine as the topic of our first event. What has been the tangible importance of freedom of speech in Ukraine´s story of independence? What lessons we all can draw from the experiences of Ukrainian journalists and experts? Ultimately the question is, what kind of freedom and how will Ukraine finally be able to secure.

More information about the event:

Lisätietoja hankkeesta:

Silja Minkkinen-Poikolainen
Fund Officer, Finnish Cultural Foundation, Pirkanmaa Regional Fund
puh. +358 50 385 7610

Matti Posio
Initiator of Tampere Freedom of Speech Event and Chief Editor
puh. +358 40 7717828
hanke.matti.posio@skr.fi tai matti.posio@lannenmedia.fi

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