Resilience in Southeast Asia

Civil Society’s Response to Government Pandemic Overreach


Authored by ICNL consultant Kirana Anjani, this briefer dives deep into the challenges faced by civil society in Southeast Asia as a result of authoritarian COVID-19 policies adopted by many governments in the region, to the detriment of civic space and effective COVID-19 response. Drawing from data in the ICNL-ECNL Covid-19 Civic Freedoms Tracker, the briefer examines examples of rampant digital surveillance by governments, lack of transparency and access with respect to critical public health information, and attacks on both community COVID-19 initiatives and medical frontline workers. Despite these challenges, civil society in Southeast Asia has responded with creative resilience, developing tools to protect the rights of protesters, safeguarding digital space through independent fact-checking to challenge false government narratives, and strengthening volunteerism initiatives.