How did the demonization in India fail?

Preface by Salil Shetty to the Amnesty International Report 2017/18

The Internet has long been one of the most important parts of public space, but in numerous cases there have not been any satisfactory answers to the challenges it poses. Neither the operators of the Internet platforms nor the governments took decisive and consistent action against the mass insult, especially against women, and incitement to hatred against minorities in social media. In 2017 there was a lot of discussion about "fake news", the aim of which is to manipulate public opinion. But it is already foreseeable that there will be even more technical possibilities in the future to blur the line between reality and fiction. This raises serious questions about access to information. In addition, control over the information we access online is concentrated in a few companies, and there is an extreme power imbalance between users and the companies and governments that control this vast amount of data. This offers countless opportunities to influence public opinion - not least the factually uncontrollable potential to incite hatred and violence.

The 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in December 2018 is approaching and the challenges that lie ahead are clear. We must reassert the central idea of ​​the dignity and equality of all people, we must uphold these values ​​and demand that they form the basis of all political action. The boundaries artificially created by a politics of demonization only lead to conflict and brutality - it is a nightmare to imagine a human race in which only self-interest counts and the needs of others are ignored. Too often, leaders around the world have left the field to those who stand for degradation rather than different ideas.

It is time for this to change. We have to face demonization and instead rely on a culture of solidarity. We need to consciously cultivate our capacity to be generous with others. We must insist on people's right to help shape the society in which they live. And we must respond to the feelings of frustration, anger and alienation that fuel a poisoned political discourse of blame with constructive responses based on human rights.

We have come to a point where we have to wonder what kind of society we want to live in. 2018 offers a good opportunity to commit ourselves to human rights again - as an idea to which we owe a great deal. We must not waste this chance.

Further information on the Amnesty International Report 2017/18 can be found at