As it happened: Freedom 2014

Key Points

  • The BBC's investigation into what freedom means in the modern world culminates in a day of live events
  • The event is being broadcast on BBC TV and radio around the world, and streamed online
  • Poetry, performance, music, discussion and debate will all feature throughout the day
  • All times are local London (GMT+1)

Join the discussion

Comment here

The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published.
Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.

Terms and conditions


    Welcome to the BBC's coverage of freedom2014 live. It's the last day of our Freedom Season programming, which has been looking at different aspects of freedom and how free people think they are.


    What does freedom look like in 2014? We had more than 1,000 responses and here is a showcase of some of the images sent in.


    Newsday is the first of our programmes to feature in freedom2014 live. Here's the team broadcasting to a live audience from the Media Cafe at the BBC's headquarters in London.


    Newsday is also broadcasting from the Spanish enclave of Melilla which borders Morocco. The BBC has been speaking to migrants there, who frequently used it as a staging post to enter Europe.

    Newsday in Melilla

    The theme of Newsday is migration. This video documents the difficulties experienced by undocumented immigrants deported from the US to Mexico.

    07:08: @apettazea

    tweets: Peace in Syria, access to Twitter in Turkey, right to education for girls all over the world. That's what #freedom2014 means to me

    07:27: Evelyn Glennie

    tweets: "@BBCWorld #freedom2014 Looking forward to playing marimba this morning at the BBC as part of the Freedom project."


    This is one of the hundreds of images we've received showing what freedom looks like to you. Sonti Ramirez, 23, sent in this photo taken in the Polish capital, Warsaw.

    Man in hat

    A majority of participants in a global BBC poll believe the internet has brought greater freedom, but more than half of those interviewed also think it is not a safe place to express their opinions.

    08:01: Journalist Kassim Kayira

    tweets: "The higher the fences they build, the taller the ladders we will create" #freedom2014 #migration to Europe

    08:13: BBC World Service

    has tweeted this picture: Gurugu Mountain, where migrants wait to cross from Africa to EU, provides backdrop to #BBCNewsday live in Melilla.

    Gurugu mountain
    08:22: Peter Horrocks, Director, BBC Global News

    tweets: "Freedom" in 27 languages. A day of live debate on the meaning of freedom on BBC World Service. #freedom2014

    A banner with freedom in 27 languages

    Nuala McGovern has sent us this video from the border fence where Morocco meets Melilla.

    Nuala McGovern

    As part of the BBC's freedom2014 season Candace Piette looked at the story behind Nina Simone's emotional performances of I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free.


    The first ever live edition of statistics show More or Less is currently being broadcast.


    Ever wondered what Twitter would be like censored? The BBC World Service has started redacting its tweets to find out.

    BBC World Service tweet

    Three students in Cardiff explore cross-community links in their part of the city for BBC School Report as part of freedom2014


    Simon Baptist, from the Economist Intelligence Group, tells More or Less that although half the world's population live in a democracy, only around 10% of these countries have a "full democracy". One of the countries that falls short is France, because of the low faith many French people have in public institutions.

    09:20: Journalist Kassim Kayira

    tweets: 'I'd rather die trying...' I'm not afraid of what might happen because I know God is a wonderful man' #freedom2014 #migration #BBCNewsday


    The first poetry recital of the day is getting under way outside the BBC's New Broadcasting House, as this picture tweeted by the BBC's Stephen Fottrell shows.

    Poetry recital
    09:47: Dr Benjamin Chavis

    The veteran civil rights campaigner tells HardTalk: "A black child born in the United States this year has more opportunities than ever before, but still not equal opportunities. You don't just take for granted progress - you keep pushing."

    Dr Benjamin Chavis

    Thailand is the third largest exporter of seafood in the world, but it is accused of crewing fishing boats with Burmese and Cambodian men who have been forced to work as slaves. Read Becky Palmstrom's report for the freedom2014 season.


    BBC Director General Tony Hall reads WH Auden's Stop All The Clocks outside New Broadcasting House as part of the freedom2014 poetry recital.

    Tony Hall reads poem

    Dr Benjamin Chavis, who describes himself as a "seasoned militant freedom fighter", says that the fight for freedom "is always in the hands of the people. If it was in the hands of the politicians we'd all be in trouble."


    Chavis adds that he is a "glass half full" man and staunchly defends US President Barack Obama's record in office, despite the widening wealth gap between black and white Americans.


    Paul Antonio, a modern-day scribe, is decorating the pop-up box outside New Broadcasting House with the word "freedom" in around 100 scripts, which include the 28 languages of the BBC World Service, as well as Amharic, Latin and Inuit (in which the closest translation of the concept is "not to be caught").

    Paul Antonio writes on a glass box

    Here's a closer look at his handiwork:

    Freedom - written by 'modern-day scribe' Paul Antonio

    The BBC World Service is encouraging people to send in a freedom Haiku to @bbcworldservice

    10:55: @JoanBarton15

    already has: Words should not be caged,

    They like to fly.

    Birds are free,

    And so should be words

    10:58: @arnoudboer

    sent this Haiku: Justice and free speech,

    the pillars of our freedom,

    must be defended.


    World Update has a report from City Roads Crisis Rehab Centre in London. One word that is pinned on the wall of the centre is "eleutheromania" - an intense desire for freedom. As a former drug user tells the programme "abstinence is the freedom to make your own choices and rest peacefully".


    Dame Evelyn Glennie warms up for her live performance outside New Broadcasting House.


    Today's event is being broadcast on television and radio around the world as well as streamed online.


    The BBC World Service is hosting a Twitter Q&A with Eliot Albers, from the International Network of People Who Use Drugs. Albers, a morphine user, believes drug users should not be criminalised and that the goal of abstinence for all is unrealistic. If you have a question for him send it to @bbcworldservice or go to Facebook .

    Eliot Albers
    11:31: Ashish O Goyal from Mumbai

    Freedom is a choice of action available to someone. Freedom is the feeling of accomplishment on the achievement of a goal.

    11:34: @dondurgie

    tweets: The #freedom2014 to tweet anything you have in mind! That's freedom!


    Dame Evelyn Glennie gets into the groove outside the BBC's New Broadcasting House in London.

    Dame Evelyn Glennie performs
    11:40: Our colleagues

    @viabbc are tweeting translated multilingual comments on the subject of freedom. To get involved with the conversation tweet them using the hashtag #freedom2014


    The BBC's Ros Atkins broadcasting Outside Source from a glass box on the piazza in front of the BBC's headquarters in London says he feels a bit like he's in a greenhouse.

    Ros Atkins in perspex box

    Hamid Ismailov, the World Service's writer in residence, says freedom is a "quintessence of any poem". He is taking part in a recital of poems by World Service journalists, many of whom are restricted from reporting on the ground in their own countries.

    Hamid Ismailov
    11:45: Jamshid Barzegar

    from the BBC's Persian Service has written a poem:

    What is the name of that bird?

    The one resembling a song on a tree?

    When did it arrive and wherefrom?

    Where is your attention?

    Why did the sky see the bird?

    Who authorised the tree

    To issue the landing permit?

    11:50: @miranda_zhao

    tweets: Home is a place where I feel very comfortable and aren't judged, where there's a hug from an old friend.


    BBC Arabic is hosting a Google hangout shortly with guests from Egypt, Ukraine, Syria, China, Lebanon. They will discuss "how important is #Freedom to achieving stability?"

    12:04: Arif Shamim

    from the BBC's Urdu Service has written a poem. Shamim says The River is "a tribute to every man and woman who leads their life the way they want to lead it, with their chin up and head high".

    The fast wind billows and

    Changes the course of cold waves,

    Rapid swirling whirlpools and open masts

    But like a stranger

    He casually glances at his surroundings

    Keeps on moving

    He doesn't care about what happens afterwards

    He is not a beggar who begs the wind to slow down, to calm down

    He is a restless heart

    That keeps on desiring

    Keeps on moving

    12:06: Nuala McGovern

    reports from Melilla, a Spanish enclave in North Africa that is a magnet for migrants desperate to get to Europe. "The night of 28 February, the Cameroonian community got together," a migrant called Fabrice told her. "We decided that tonight is the night we would try to climb the fence." He said that while some made it across, many were beaten back by border guards. "The fence runs 12km - omnipresent throughout the Spanish territory," McGovern tweeted alongside this picture.

    The Melilla fence

    The BBC's Ros Atkins has been speaking to Dame Evelyn Glennie, virtuoso percussionist for Outside Source. She says that for her, music is a never-ending journey. "The type of freedom I have is being in tune with the resonance."

    She says she is lucky enough not to have experienced real conflict but, having travelled extensively, she knows music can be a source of medicine. Music brings people together - even if it's just for five minutes, it's a powerful five minutes. The vibrations will spread, she added.

    12:27: Praveen Chandra

    sent in this image of women in Uttarakhand, India. "Most of the hard work is done by these women," she says. "Freedom is a state of mind where you are not bounded or hindered by your family or society."

    Women carry baskets on their heads
    12:32: BBC Learning English

    has produced this six-minute short lesson looking at what freedom means to the world. What does it mean to you?


    "You talk about orchids so much - we can't stand it any longer." This was the moment that plant hunter Tom Hart Dyke thought he would die in Colombia. He and a friend had been kidnapped by a rebel group after being drawn to a dangerous part of the country by their obsessive love of orchids. He tells Outlook on the BBC World Service about how he stayed strong throughout his ordeal by designing gardens in his head.

    A view of the Outlook panel, featuring Tom Hart Dyke
    12:36: mraidenrussell

    tweets: The freedom to say or tweet anything you have on your mind! That is true #freedom! #freedom2014


    "Singing kept us sane" says Gertrude Shotte. She is a member of the Alliouagana Singers, a choir made of people forced to leave the Caribbean island of Montserrat when much of it was destroyed by volcanic eruptions in the late 1990s.

    The Alliouagana Singers

    Humaira Awais Shahid, once described as "the most unmanageable woman in Pakistan", tells Outlook how she set about transforming a Lahore women's glossy magazine into a platform for raising awareness of social issues - even turning the magazine's phones into a helpline.

    Humaira Awais Shahid

    A discussion about what freedom means is taking place on the BBC Learning English Facebook page. A Facebook contributor Maha Ali says it is about sharing debates and being able to give opinions confidently.


    The Bahraini journalist and blogger Ali Abdulemam was imprisoned and tortured for his writing, but he used his imagination to escape. In his mind, he would visit the places he missed - the old roads in his village, the cemetery, the trees, the green. Above all, he liked to imagine he was playing with his twin daughters, who were five months old when he was captured.

    Ali Abdulemam

    It's lunchtime here in London and this is the view from New Broadcasting House - where freedom2014 is coming from - down to the piazza outside, where poetry readings are taking place.

    Outside New BH

    John Bosco Nyombi was driving home from work one day when he heard his name on the radio. He had been "outed" as a gay man in Uganda and he knew his life was in danger. Nyombi (pictured right) tells BBC Outlook about his flight to the UK, where he has been given leave to remain. The beautiful image of a bluebell wood behind him represents freedom - it reminds him of the people who helped him to stay in England, "the people who saved my life."

    John Bosco

    The World Service radio programme Newshour is now broadcasting a special edition for freedom2014 - looking at what freedom means for Londoners.

    13:34: @MelanieBDS7

    tweets: Freedom means not having to edit everything in my head before it comes out of my mouth. #Freedom2014


    A panel discusses finding the right line between free speech and bullying on Newshour. Weyman Bennett, the joint national secretary of Unite Against Facism, suffered at the hands of "free speech" from right-wing groups growing up in London and he believes the "right to life should come above the right to free speech" but Jo Glanville, Director of PEN (pictured) disagrees. It is always dangerous to ban fascist speech, she says, because you might be next.

    Jo Glanville

    On Newshour, the Labour MP for Tottenham, David Lammy, describes London as a "new, big, mega, multi-cultural" city, where more than 250 languages are spoken by people in his constituency.


    On April Fool's Day, novelist Elif Shafak says it is important to make fun of ourselves. She remembers first coming to London and seeing caricatures making fun of the prime minister and other politicians amongst tacky souvenirs - as if black humour were a source of national pride. "This spoke to me," she says.

    Elif Shafak

    Newshour are now discussing sexual freedom. So what is it like to "come out" at work? Claudia Brind-Woody, who has climbed the corporate ladder and now works for IBM, says she has suffered more discrimination as a woman than as a lesbian. Being "out" at work is a process you have to repeat every time you have a new team or a new client, she says.

    Claudia Brind-Woody

    Our colleagues at the @viabbc Twitter account are hosting a multilingual global conversation about freedom. @BPiyakar from Tajikistan tweeted in Persian saying: "Freedom means immunity from harassment because of opinion, religion and way of life." In response, @tareksaadmisr in Cairo tweeted in Arabic: "[The] pinnacle of freedom is that in Islam, religion is not forced upon, you have the right [to]choose."


    Behind the scenes at Newshour. A nice big picture of the studio controls.

    Control room

    London-based Latin band Wara playing live on Newshour.


    Newshour are now discussing the freedom to make money and spend it. Coming to London to make money is nothing new, says Aditya Chakrabortty, economics leader writer for the Guardian newspaper. He thinks part of the city's attraction is that there are fewer questions asked - which can be a good thing or a bad thing.

    Aditya Chakrabortty

    Meanwhile there are several conversations happening on the BBC Russia social media feeds. On the Google+ page, contributor Evgeniy Suslov says: "Freedom for me is a possibility to make an impact in my country through political institutions. But today it also has a new meaning - it is a possibility to have access to alternative information from open sources."


    The World Service programme Outside Source broadcast an interview between Lina Sinjab of the BBC and the founder of a new Syrian-run radio station. "We're not here to report on mortar bombs," says Caroline Ayoub, founder of Radio SouriaLi.


    Ugandan-born poet and asylum seeker Jade Amoli Jackson gets very emotional on Newshour as she remembers leaving everyone behind, including her friends and her children. She had to hide out in the bush, where she was beaten and raped. When she finally escaped and stayed in a detention centre, it was like staying in a five-star hotel, she says.

    Jade Amoli Jackson
    14:53: Rose Hudson-Wilkin,

    Chaplain to the Queen and to the speaker of the House of Commons, explains why she is not keen on the idea of the melting pot. "I want you to experience me, and if I've melted you're not experiencing me." Rose says she would prefer London to be more like a bowl of fruit salad where everyone still brings their own taste and smell to the mix.

    Rose Hudson-Wilkin
    15:05: @SevMeunier

    tweets: Listening to BBC world service programme about #freedom2014 in London. Great discussion. Wish Voltaire could contribute!


    How important is freedom to achieving stability? That was just one of the topics up for discussion when guests from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Ukraine, China and Venezuela came together for a Google hangout. That's a live chat online, with some of the people in a studio, and others joining them via their computers and smartphones.

    Karl Sharro + Rasha Qandeel

    The BBC's Burmese Service is broadcasting a live discussion outside New Broadcasting House on what freedom means for young Burmese today. The BBC has broadcast news to Myanmar or Burma since 1940 and has an audience of 8.4 million - around a quarter of the population. Although for decades the corporation was banned from reporting on the ground, it is set to open a bureau in Rangoon this year.

    BBC Burmese Service

    Watch out for producer Mai Noman who will be on World Service radio shortly discussing the reaction to #freedom2014 on social media. She will be incorporating comments from across the BBC's language services.


    Business Daily on the World Service asks: Is there a necessary link between political and economic freedom - or do examples like Chile and China prove that you can have one without the other? It won't work in the long run, says UCL's Peter Duncan. "You can't have sustainable economic growth without political freedom". Roderic Wye from the think tank Chatham House agrees that in China "we are reaching a point where politics will increasingly matter", as the population searches for ways to address issues like environmental degradation.


    This is gripping. Emmanuel Jal from South Sudan tells the HardTalk audience the remarkable and disturbing story of how he became a child soldier at the age of seven.

    Emmanuel Jal

    tweet: Live @bbcfooc about to happen on BBC world service #freedom2014. Also live streaming on web page

    The FOOC presenters

    Jal tells HardTalk "my desire was to kill as many Muslims and Arabs as possible". He describes how he kept in mind images of his family members being beaten and raped to steel him in the battlefield. But war, he says, "robs people's souls". Now an activist, he says that the growing conflict in South Sudan is not tribal but political. "War is a big business - when there is peace, there are a lot of people who won't make money," he adds, pointing the finger at arms dealers and opportunistic business people hoping to grab cut-price land.


    The Inuit language doesn't have a word for freedom, the closest word they have "Annakpok" which means "not caught". This intriguing fact comes from Paul Antonio. He is the calligrapher who has been decorating the glass box on the BBC's piazza with words for freedom from around the world.


    The Mirror gives its readers this story about an illegal immigrant who arrived in the UK as a slave, but who is now working on the checkout at a Tesco supermarket.

    16:30: Sonam Choden from Bhutan

    emails: To me as an ordinary girl from a small country... freedom means a rightful and a liberal attitude to live life with one's very own love and passion.


    Throughout the course of the freedom2014 season we've been asking for your images of what freedom looks like to you. We created a picture gallery using your artwork and paintings.

    Headless sculpture

    Another nice picture from outside London's New Broadcasting House. From Our Own Correspondent being transmitted live with the benefit of a vital accessory - a purple carpet.


    Fady Ramo tells the BBC World Service Facebook page: "My freedom moment was when me and my family immigrated from Baghdad, Iraq in 2005 and moved to Michigan, USA. I felt like a whole new world of opportunities has opened to me. I can never describe that feeling that I had when the airplane landed in Detroit Metropolitan Airport. I knew that I would be able to achieve all of my dreams here in the United States and I did."


    As part of our coverage of the #freedom2014 season, BBC Arabic's Talking Point is currently broadcasting a special episode, asking: what is the priority for your country at the moment: freedom or stability? Why? We have a group of activists from different countries, who are taking part in the programme via connection to the piazza outside New Broadcasting House in London.

    Talking Point host

    Ali, in Iran, sent this picture to BBC Persian, saying: "The death penalty is a clear sign of violating freedom that still takes place in Iran." You can see more images from around the world here.


    Final preparations are being made ahead of Focus on Africa, which will feature contributions from guests across the continent including Zimbabwean poet Chenjarai Hove and Nigerian LGBT activist Bisi Alimi.

    Focus on Africa set

    The BBC's Great Lakes programme for Rwanda and Burundi has been discussing the internet as an alternative medium to reach the public.

    Great Lakes programme
    18:04: @BBC_WHYS

    tweets: We are live in Melilla with @BBCNuala asking what freedoms do migrants want? Listen here Tweet us using #Freedom2014

    18:08: @viabbc

    tweets: MT @hasanfaraji freedom isn't the ability to do whatever you want. it means having the right kind of laws #freedom2014

    18:15: @viabbc

    tweets: Alexander Zhuravlev via @bbcrussian: Freedom is possibility to express views w/o fear of being persecuted for political & religious motives


    "It was hell" Bisi Alimi tells Focus on Africa as he describes what it was like to be the first gay man to talk openly about his sexuality on Nigerian television.

    Bisi Alimi
    18:29: @viabbc

    tweets: Farida Sultanova on @bbcrussian Facebook page: Freedom is when your actions are the same as your thoughts, and when you can express your views.


    BBC World Service have assembled this Storify page showcasing highlights of the #freedom2014 conversations happening across social media.

    18:39: @viabbc

    tweets: MT @wagieh ((Arabic) there is a difference between a free person and freedom. a free person is someone with actions that reflect his thoughts.


    An emotional moment as Eritrean activist Salam Kidani's own children, sitting in the audience, ask her why they cannot return to Eritrea. She replies there is nothing she would love more but it is just too dangerous - she might be arrested as soon as she lands.

    Salam Kidani
    18:41: @viabbc

    tweets: MT @IMjeoffery Freedom means dignity and honour.


    The band Wara have been singing their Cuban-inspired music live on Focus on Africa. "Musicians in Cuba have a serious filter on what they can say, so all the artists of my generation are leaving," says singer Eliane Correa (left). Now the thoughts she couldn't express at home are surfacing in her lyrics.


    So just a reminder, audiences all over the world have been showing us what freedom looks like to them. Liz Boakes took this image of a Maasai and young boy in Kenya. For more, visit our special report page.

    19:03: @viabbc

    tweets: MT @0345fe6fd0c7463 freedom is saying what you want without having to look right and left first. #freedom2014


    Our colleagues on the BBC World Service Facebook page have been taking lots of behind-the-scenes pictures of the freedom live day.

    behind the scenes
    19:18: @viabbc

    tweets: Valter Santos on @bbcbrasil Facebook: Freedom is the right to carry out our duties as citizens without restrictions & with freedom of expression.

    19:19: @BBCNewshour

    tweets: "I borrowed $60,000 to pay the snakeheads who smuggled me in." An illegal Chinese immigrant's story on Newshour

    19:29: @viabbc

    tweets: MT @p0uy4lv Freedom means emancipation of human from religion, god, superior forces and relying on humanity and dignity. #freedom2014


    What is the meaning of freedom? What does freedom in 2014 mean to you? We're asking these questions as part of the #freedom2014 season. This word cloud represents your answers. Does it show your idea of freedom? You can follow our continuing coverage of freedom2014 here.

    Freedom2014 word cloud

    The BBC's Neha Bhatnagar presents a video round up of today's freedom2014 events.

    Neha Bhatnagar

    For those who missed it, you can watch Dame Evelyn Glennie's captivating performance on the marimba earlier today. She has been profoundly deaf since the age of 12.


    A reminder that you can still try to unravel the mystery of 'The Key' - the special freedom2014 comic created for the BBC by superhero supremo artists Grant Morrison and Rian Hughes.

    Unlocking key

    "What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist." Who said this famous quote? Our friends at the BBC World Service Facebook page have a quiz on offer. Take part...if you dare.


    And we'll end with a performance by Dame Evelyn Glennie who came especially to our London headquarters - New Broadcasting House as part of our day of events marking freedom in 2014. That's all from today's live page team. Thanks for all your comments, messages and photos. We hope you've enjoyed it as much as we have.

    Dame Evelyn Glennie playing a marimba

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.