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Online Event: Under the Mask

How communities are resisting authoritarianism during COVID-19 and beyond


Tuesday, Jan. 26 at 11 a.m. ET / 4 p.m. GMT

In response to the pandemic, governments around the world have been enacting new policies to protect public health—including many that are necessary to slow the spread of the virus. But in a time when authoritarianism is also on the rise, some governments are exploiting the public health crisis to impose dangerous policies that could impact civil society long after the pandemic ends—including restricting people’s right to speak out and nonviolently organize against repression.

That’s why the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is launching Under the Mask, a project that tracks and analyzes government abuse of power around the world. Under the Mask also provides tools and information for activists, journalists, and others to protect our freedoms in this pandemic and beyond. 

AFSC hosted this special online event on Jan. 26 to hear directly from peacebuilding experts and activists and connect with others striving to protect our rights and freedoms in these times.

Presentations were given by Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin and Siphosami Malunga. Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin is the United Nations special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, working closely with governments around the world and United Nations entities to advance human rights protections in some of the most difficult contexts. Siphosami Malunga is the Executive Director of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, which works to reduce political instability.