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Frontpage News 2014 I LOVE PANDA!

panda 7 small
Photo: © Human Rights Monitoring Institute

I LOVE PANDA!

“We believe that happy people don’t spread hate and happy people don’t ignore hate when they see it”, says Neringa Jurčiukonytė, Director of NISI.

Vilnius has a new inhabitant. ‘An inhabitant who makes chocolate, rides a tricycle and invites everyone to share their messages of joy. She is a little bit black, a little bit white and a little bit Asian. But why talk through colour, when you can talk through LOVE?’, Lithuania’s National No Hate Speech campaign is raising this question.

The I LOVE PANDA campaign is implemented by the NGO ‘National Institute for Social Integration’ (NISI) which supports the integration of people from vulnerable groups. The campaign is based on the ideas and aims of the No Hate Speech Movement against the expressions of hate speech online in all its forms. I LOVE PANDA is the national campaign of joy, which is based upon human rights, positive thinking and the active participation of young people. It aims at developing a friendly and respectful cyberspace and mutual understanding between young people online.

Panda officially started her campaign on 20 March with an interactive debate with famous bloggers, well known for their activities online, concerning bullying, hate speech, active participation and creation of a more friendly cyberspace for everybody.

“People using hate speech often believe that this behaviour will gain them popularity. If people reject hate and show that hate is not the way to go, the virtual network will become more friendly,” says director of NISI Neringa Jurčiukonytė.

A key to the success in this project is that it is targeted at children from a very early age. Panda has already made a short tour around schools and invited more than 220 students to talk about human rights and the prevention of hate speech. The I LOVE PANDA campaign aims to provide young people with the tools needed to react to hate speech on social networks.

“Young people tend to forget that hate speech they use on the internet has serious consequences. Education is crucial in order to have society without hatred,” said project coordinator Viktorija Bružaitė.

Though the official start of I LOVE PANDA was on 20 March, I LOVE PANDA started her good deeds long before that. On 8 December, Panda made her first public appearance during the NGO Christmas Fair, held in the Presidential courtyard. Even the President, Dalia Grybauskaitė, was given a joyful hug! Delighted that she had made a good first impression, Panda continued her joyful journey by setting up a National Campaign Committee and taking part in the conference on youth policy at the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania. When everybody started talking about the upcoming Olympic Games, Panda decided to break the records of her own. Since sport is not really her cup of tea, she decided to keep the spirit alive by cycling around Vilnius’ old town collecting a record number of hugs, nearly 1000 in just a couple of hours.

panda 3 small Photo: © Human Rights Monitoring Institute

Further information about the campaign www.myliupanda.lt

I LOVE PANDA campaign is a part of the project “All different – All equal: Human rights, active participation and variety”, which has received €133,383 from the EEA Grants. THis project is part of the NGO Programme Lithuania, funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. 

Read more about the I LOVE PANDA campaign here