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Regional Workshop on Strategic Communication for Effective Prevention of Violent Extremism in Southeast Asia

December 12, 2023 @ 8:00 am December 14, 2023 @ 5:00 pm

Bali, Indonesia, 12-14 December 2023 – The Initiative to Promote Tolerance and Prevent Violence (INITIATE.MY) participated in the Regional Workshop on Strategic Communication for Effective Prevention of Violent Extremism in Southeast Asia, organised by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) with the support from European Union (EU). Participants from the regional governments, law enforcement agencies, civil societies, and survivors of terrorism across Southeast Asia engaged in a dynamic exchange of ideas, sharing their experiences and best practices and discussing innovative strategies for impactful communication campaigns and regional cooperation to prevent violent extremism.

The event was led by Dr. Noor Huda Ismail from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore, and Dr. Haezreena Begum Abdul Hamid from the University of Malaya, Malaysia who is also INITIATE.MY’s Board of Experts Member. The first session lays the foundation of the workshop, with participants presenting an analysis of the terrorism threat landscape and the challenges of preventing and countering violent extremism (PCVE) in their respective countries. The Malaysian delegation, represented by Afiq Ismaizam from the Southeast Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism (SEARCCT),  Shaik Irfan from INITIATE.MY and Elisa Shafiqah from Malaysian Youth Diplomacy (MYDiplomacy) took the opportunity to share the Malaysian context regarding the online trends of extremism and hate speech, on-campus radicalisation, and the role of local communities and civil society to address these issues.

Besides that, the  workshop served as a continuation of prior strategic communications workshops in Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines in which the participants could showcase their own national projects. Group 4 from Malaysia presented their projects on ‘Instant Prejudice in Malaysian Online Reporting’, an analysis of media reports on racial issues, and the online campaign ‘Take Two’, which aimed to promote awareness on ethical usage of social media. Participants had the chance to do a site visit to Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (UWRF), where they immersed themselves in the local cultures and learned to utilise arts, literature, and multiculturalism to promote social cohesion, interreligious harmony, in their strategic communications projects.

The concluding day featured an in-depth discussion on the Role of Strategic Communication in Early Warning and Early Response (EWER) with Dr. Delsy Ronnie, Head of Mission in the Philippines & Regional Representative for Asia: Myanmar, Thailand & Indonesia, Nonviolent Peaceforce, Philippines. Participants were exposed to the EWER system to employ a whole-of-society approach for preventing extremism at the local level  through strategic communications such as community participation in the data collection, information sharing  and timely interventions. 

As to measuring the outcomes and effectiveness of the workshop, participants are required to present their group’s strategic communications projects, by highlighting the cross-regional approach in PCVE. Shaik Irfan from INITIATE.MY collaborated with representatives from Indonesia and the Philippines national security bodies to develop a strategic communications project called “Vibin”. It is a social media campaign targeted at fostering digital resilience among Southeast Asian youths. 

Looking forward, INITIATE.MY hopes to forge a lasting impact and enhance security across Southeast Asia.By strengthening strategic ties between countries, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, a more concerted effort can be made in addressing the challenges posed by extremism in the regional context of Southeast Asia.

14 participants of the Advanced Course were selected to represent Malaysia in the Regional Workshop on Strategic Communications for Effective Prevention of Violent Extremism in Southeast Asia.
Shaik Irfan, a Programme Associate at INITIATE.MY presenting the terrorism threats and challenges in PCVE in Malaysia to fellow participants from Indonesia and the Philippines.