On Sunday 3 May it's Difference Day again! The Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Erasmushogeschool Brussel, BOZAR, the Evens Foundation and IHECS join forces to highlight the importance of freedom of the press and freedom of expression. Due to the corona crisis, this edition will not take place at BOZAR, but online through a live stream from Pilar's Concert Hall on the VUB campus.
In 1993 the United Nations General Assembly declared 3 May as the World Press Freedom Day. Freedom of Expression implies respect for the opinion of others. To celebrate freedom of expression is to celebrate diversity. Freedom of the press is an essential aspect of the freedom of expression. Without a free and independent communication environment, it is impossible to build and sustain a democratic society. Only in a system where there are solid and transparent checks and balances, creativity, free research, culture and the arts can flourish.
This year’s theme is “Journalism without fear or favour”. Journalism is under pressure from politicians and other pressure groups that try to restrict, direct or intimidate the media. That is why journalism is more important than ever before and why more and more actions are being taken to support independent journalism. It’s no surprise that independence is the theme of this year's Difference Day: journalists should not be afraid to do their job, nor should they be forced to grant certain favours to anyone.
Prize for freedom of expression
Every year, the Difference Day Honorary Title for Freedom of Expression is awarded by the Brussels universities VUB and ULB, and their numerous partners. This year, the title goes to the Turkish journalist and writer Ahmet Altan, who is in prison, and the Turkish writer and women’s rights activist Elif Shafak. Shafak will be there live – online. In 2015, Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was the first recipient of the prize. Unfortunately, he remains in jail today. In 2016 the winners were Djemila Benhabib and Zineb El Rhazoui, in 2017 the Global Investigative Journalism Network, in 2018 Daphne Caruana Galizia and in 2019 Marcela Turati.
16:30 - 17:00
17:00 - 17:10
Opening speech by Caroline Pauwels, rector VUB & Yvon Englert, rector ULB
17:10 - 17:20
Facts & figures : Guilherme Canela, the UNESCO Chief of Section for Freedom of Expression
17:20 - 17:40
Caoilfhionn Gallagher : About freedom of expression and open justice
17:40 - 18:00
DD Honorary Title 2020 : Ahmet Altan & Elif Shafak
18:00 - 18:10
Live chat interactions 'Journalism without fear or favour'