TEDx: Ideas of freedom

It is well to remember that our right to think freely is considered a precious privilege by some

At the TEDx Observer event held yesterday, actor Jude Law described his average weekday morning: listening to Radio 4, reading the newspapers, booking theatre tickets.

So many mundane actions, he observed, are made possible by freedom of expression. Then he introduced Natalia Kaliada of the Free Belarus Theatre.

A few hours from London lies Europe's last dictatorship. Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus's president since 1994, runs a regime of stale, Soviet-style brutality. After rigged elections in December last year, he purged the opposition. Many of Kaliada's friends have been imprisoned.

The audience heard a wide range of speakers, from the 7/7 bombing survivor Martine Wright (interviewed in today's New Review) to music producer Goldie. We indulged our casual right to bask in unconstrained diversity of ideas. But we were reminded also that it is a precious privilege when contrasted with the challenges faced by Ms Kaliada in exile because of her art.

"The most scary moment for any dictator," she told the audience, "is when people start thinking."


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