Hate Speech and Incitement

Hate speech and incitement of violence towards a certain social, gendered, political, religious, racial or cultural group is at the heart of all atrocity crimes. Sources of hate speech are varied, as are the mediums in which it is manifested. Political speeches, broadcast media, advertising, social media posts and even memes can be vehicles of hate speech and incite people towards committing atrocity crimes.

More recently, the prevalence of misinformation and disinformation on social media platforms has created an environment where hateful propaganda can spread quickly through a wide audience, making prevention efforts all the more difficult. 

APR2P, along with our partners in the region, is conducting a range of activities to find ways to stop the spread of hate speech and counter its influence.

It also oversees the work of the Asia Pacific Partnership for Atrocity Prevention's (APPAP) Working Group on Hate Speech and Atrocity Prevention. To find out more about the Working Group's activities, click here.

The Centre has undertaken various research initiatives and activities into the role hate speech plays in the commission of atrocity crimes and organised violence. These initiatives are carried out in conjunction with relevant partners and stakeholders throughout Australia and the wider Asia Pacific region. 

  • In January 2023, APR2P released Hate Speech Legislation in the Asia Pacific: A Compendium (PDF, 1.5MB), by Dr Kirril Shields and Matthew Forbes. It provides a snapshot of current issues and efforts by Asia Pacific countries to combat hate speech.
  • In February 2022, APR2P and APPAP funded APPAP partner the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) to examine hate speech in Indonesia, based upon research from CSIS' National Hate Speech Dashboard. The policy brief focused on hate speech spread on Twitter against Chinese Indonesians from 2019 to 2020, when there was an increase in anti-Chinese rhetoric. The policy brief can be downloaded from their website here.
  • In July 2021, Dr Kirril Shields and Prof Katharine Gelber, in conjunction with the University of Sydney and Facebook, published Facebook: Regulating Hate Speech in the Asia Pacific (PDF, 3.1MB), a report detailing discrimination against minority groups across several case studies in the Asia Pacific. 
  • The international network Global Action Against Mass Atrocity Crimes (GAAMAC), published a report detailing lessons on promoting tolerance and respect in the Asia Pacific in the face of rising hate speech and incitement. An international network of states, civil society and academics dedicated to the prevention of mass atrocity crimes, GAAMAC took contributions from staff of APR2P and our APPAP partners in the region:
  • The report, entitled 'Preventing Hate Speech, Incitement and Discrimination: Lessons on Promoting Tolerance and Respect for Diversity in the Asia Pacific', can be downloaded from GAAMAC's website here.
  • APR2P's Atrocity Prevention Coordinator, Nikki Marczak, serves on the Vilification Reform Group, and advisory group of the Queensland Human Rights Commission.

Recognising the threat and role hate speech plays in the commission of atrocity crimes, APR2P has provided training to its partners in the region to better recognise and act upon instances of hate speech.

  • In early 2023, APR2P, along with APPAP partner the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Indonesia, conducted a training course about hate speech, disinformation and incitement to violence in Bandung, Indonesia. Details of this training course can be read in the Spotlight article here (PDF, 622KB)
  • APR2P, as secretariat of the Asia Pacific Partnership for Atrocity Prevention (APPAP), hosted an online course on hate speech and incitement to educate and empower APPAP members. 
  • In conjunction with APPAP member ALTSEAN Burma, APR2P delivered the Mandalay Project, workshops about countering hate speech and incitement to violence, aimed at local women and youth activists in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar.
  • APR2P has also provided hate speech awareness training for staff of the Australian Government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
  • An upcoming video series produced by APR2P will seek to provide knowledge to relevant stakeholders about hate speech and its role in the incitement of atrocity crimes. 

As well as general training activities, APR2P also provides specific training for youth leaders and organisations throughout the Asia Pacific, through cooperation with our wider Youth for Atrocity Prevention program and the Youth Core Group on Atrocity Prevention (YCGAP). 

  • Training for Indonesian youth on responding to hate speech on social media. The #BagikanDenganBenar (#ShareItRight) Virtual Academy trained 20 young people in how to recognise and respond to hate speech on social media. The project was led by YCGAP member Vierna Tasya Wensatama (with evaluation by Wike Devi Erianti) in conjuction with APPAP partner Human Rights Working Group Indonesia. More information on the project can be found in the Spotlight article (PDF, 279KB).
  • Workshops in Malaysia have aimed to build the capacity of youth in identifying and responding to hate speech. APPAP member the Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights (MCCHR) is also organising the Youth Capacity Building Workshop on Hate Speech and Atrocity Prevention under its flagship program Sekolah Aktivisme. The project is led by YCGAP member Nyon Nyin Toh. The Spotlight article (PDF, 480KB) provides more detail on the project. 
  • Other youth training regarding hate speech has been carried out in Fiji (PDF, 802KB) and Bangladesh (PDF, 1.3MB).

As hate speech becomes more complex and multi-faceted due to newer technologies and changing political climates, APR2P has begun to monitor its rise within the Asia Pacific.

  • As part of APR2P's landmark Regional Outlooks publication, a new section on Hate Speech and Incitement has been added, detailing instances and rates of hate speech throughout countries in the Asia Pacific.
  • In conjunction with APPAP partner the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Indonesia, APR2P has developed a hate speech dashboard, acting as a trend aggregator for tweets containing hate speech against vulnerable minorities in Indonesia. 
  • This monitoring also feeds into CSIS' other project, the Collective Violence Early Warning project, which maps instances of collective violence throughout Indonesia.
  • APR2P is also currently developing a hate speech app which allows users to report instances of hate speech and incitement to violence at a local, national and global level.

APR2P has published several translations of key documents from the UN and elsewhere into local languages of the Asia Pacific, to facilitate awareness raising and education. The Centre has also undertaken translations relating to religious freedom with our partner the Southeast Asia Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (SEAPFoRB). These translations aim to provide information for parliamentarians, religious leaders and other stakeholders on the importance of this freedom and how best to foster it in their local communities.

There are also translations of various 'Plans of Action', which put forward ways to counter hate speech stemming from religious intolerance, and how this intolerance could incite violence that may morph into atrocity crimes.

The translations can be found on our Translated Documents page.