FREEDOM Golubovska: One photo is enough to start an initiative among people

We spoke with activist Jasmina Golubovska about the freedom of expression in Macedonia, and also about the most frequent problems that journalists and activists in Macedonia face.

CIVIL Media: What does freedom of expression, activism and media freedom mean to you?

Golubovska: For me, freedom of expression is every form of artistic or other opinion, expression of opinion in the form of media, in the form of a written word, spoken word and so forth, which, nevertheless, does not surpass the boundaries or does not come in conflict with the rights of others. The extent of freedom of expression, regardless of what someone else might think, extends up to the moment others do not get insulted and humiliated, for me it is all right to express something, to think and to act. To use it as a form of protest, to use it as a form of expression or to use it in science for education and information. Everything else that entails call for violence or words that contain a negative connotation towards people or social situations I consider to be hate speech.

In terms of the media, t think that they are necessary. The media are the seventh force in society. They are also probably the only force that can change or even set up governments. The power that the media possess, that is, the people who work in the media, the media workers and journalists, is not only a precondition for the existence of society as a whole, but it is also significant from the perspective that if the media do not exist along with their information sharing, then we will not be able to inform ourselves, or create an opinion, or know what we represent, or how and in what direction we would be going in our lives.

Finally, in regards to civil society, and here of course is also activism, if we connect all these things together we get an understanding of how much just one individual, with minimum conditions nowadays, can be an active citizen, who can report or share information for the benefit of all. Yes, this same policy can be used for evil purposes, however, I suppose that this is a double-edged sword, when it comes to freedom of expression, democratic societies and the citizens.

CIVIL Media: Is loudness sufficient enough to promote these three segments of our social life?

Golubovska: It perhaps may not be enough, but it is a start. Because every such information that we have seen, many times can motivate us or initiate an avalanche of support regarding certain issues, public issues of public interest, sometimes even just one photo is enough to start an initiative within a larger group of people. Sometimes all it takes is just one gesture, one video, or an observed anomaly in society that we might have all seen but have not responded to due to all sorts of reasons, however, the one who noticed it reminds us that something is serious and needs to be changed. A change that is of public interest. So in that regard, I would say yes, but the work does absolutely not stop there. It demands work afterwards as well, that is, efforts even after the sharing of information.

CIVIL Media: Have you ever faced pressures, blackmail and threats from political and business centers of power, and how do you deal with them?

Golubovska: Well, yes. We had the opportunity to feel what it is like when certain people in power use the system for repression and control, instead of for progress, especially social and cultural progress of society. During the entire time we were on the street, we had various types of threats, but the goal was always the same, to intimidate us. Pressures varied from following us, to using officials from special police units. We also had some charges against us, especially from the last protests. That is nothing terrible, we will confront this matter. I believe that justice is on my side and I will defend the right to protest and the right to free expression, precisely through what was being used, and that was the use of paint, which showed that there was no material damage to the institutions after it was removed, thus there is no wrongdoing. Therefore, I do not think that there will be any negative epilogue here.

CIVIL Media: How can we defend the acquired freedom? How much freedom have we actually acquired?

Golubovska: A step forward, but it is not in the form in which we would now like to see active citizens, educated citizens in all social levels. That is impossible. That is because the state is, above all, poor. The citizens are socially endangered. They do not have basis from which to start in order to educate themselves in terms of what the system, obligations and rights mean. To know how to oppose if their rights are being violated by the institutions, or the system. That is a process that I suppose will last quite a bit, especially because such processes never return backwards, that is, they do not go to the older generations. They can just dedicate themselves to the future generations. However, a step forward has been made. We now have that basis on which we can build a culture of resistance, or a culture of being public, a culture of understanding what a community means, what society means, what living together means, what public space and public behavior mean. In order to achieve this, we do, however, need a healthy social environment, in which you can plan your future without fear.

Biljana Jordanovska

Text editing: Мaja Ivanovska

Camera: Аtanas Petrovski

This project is financed by the European Union through the small grants program “Protecting Media Freedom and Freedom of Expression in the Western Balkans”, implemented by the Croatian Journalists Association, as part of the regional project “Western Balkan’s Regional Platform for Advocating Media Freedom and Journalists’ Safety”, implemented through a partnership of six regional journalist associations – Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia, Association of Bosnia-Herzegovina Journalists, Croatian Journalists’ Association, Association of Journalists of Kosovo, Association of Journalists of Macedonia and the Trade Union of Media of Montenegro.

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