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Almedalen Dispatch: Sit with Dawit lands PR prize

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Almedalen Dispatch: Sit with Dawit lands PR prize
14:38 CEST+02:00
In the final Almedalen Dispatch of 2013, Peter Vinthagen Simpson reports on two high-profile campaigns which respectively encourage you to check your scrotum and provide the privacy of a jail cell for reflection on freedom of expression.

Sit with Dawit (#sittmeddawit) was on Friday nominated by PR agency Westander as the hottest hit in Almedalen carrying on the torch from previous winners such as ex-con group KRIS and the Feminist Initiative's 100,000 kronor grill party.

The campaign aimed to promote the case of Swedish-Eritrean journalist Dawit Isaak who has sat imprisoned in Eritrea without trial for the past 12 years.

SEE ALSO: More on the Dawit Isaak case

"There are really two aims with the campaign: partly to generate more interest in Dawit's case, he has sat jailed for so many years, but it is also the fact that freedom of speech is threatened around the world," Jonas Nordling, president of the Swedish Union of Journalists, one of the campaign organizers, told The Local.

The campaign consists of a windowless concrete jail cell parked out by Visby city beach and participants are invited to spend 15 minutes inside to get a feel of prison life.

"This is to make clear that this is how it is to sit locked up, as this is an exact copy of how cells look in Eritrea. Then it is up to each person to see what thoughts emerge while you are in there," Nordling said.

Nordling expressed satisfaction over the media success of their campaign and pointed out that over 200 people have sat inside the cell to show their support.

"We are very happy. It shows that it is an important subject which should not be neglected," he said.

For anyone unable to take part in Almedalen, Jonas Nordling told The Local that the cell will now be moved to Gothenburg in time for the annual book fair in the autumn.

"The campaign continues," he said.

SEE ALSO: The Almedalen Dispatch series

A second campaign that was considered by Westander and which has got people talking in Almedalen this week is the Check Your Scrotum (#kollapungen) campaign.

Celebrities, politicians and the general public have been spotted sporting the t-shirts from the campaign urging men to have a rummage, complete with a helpful arrow pointed at their crotch.

The campaign has been backed by Ung Cancer and is intended to bring attention to the problem of testicular cancer among young men.

"During our work with young cancer sufferers we have learnt that the most common form of cancer among young people is testicular cancer. That is why we want to raise the issue and talk about it," Johanna Stjärnfeldt, project leader at Ung Cancer, told The Local on Friday.

Stjärnfeldt explained that the campaign is directed at men aged under 30 and intends to provide both practical information and to break taboos about the subject.

"We want to remove the taboo and embarrassment around the word so that young men are able to discuss it and ask questions."

The campaign was launched on Wednesday and began with the hanging of a slew of synthetic scrotums on Donner square in the heart of Almedalen.

"We got up at the crack of dawn and hung up scrotums by Donners square. When everyone woke up in the morning there were posters all over town featuring public figures urging everyone to check their scrotum," Sjärnfeldt said.

Among Swedish celebrities and personalities featuring in the campaign are hip hop artist Timbuktu, footballer Tobias Hysén and comedian Kodjo Akolor. There is however one man missing who Ung Cancer would love to have on board.

"I would like everyone with power to wear the t-shirt and show that it is okay to fondle their scrotum. It would be great if social affairs minister (Göran Hägglund) pulled on a t-shirt."

Göran Hägglund's press secretary Fredrik Hardt told The Local on Friday that as the Christian Democrats leader had left Almedalen and was now on holiday he was not able to accede to Ung Cancer's request on Friday.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson

Follow Peter Vinthagen Simpson on Twitter

Almedalen Week explained

Almedalsveckan first began in 1968 when Sweden's former prime minister, Olof Palme, was due to take the ferry home from a summer holiday in Gotland.

Local residents asked if he could stay a moment and give a speech. Standing on the back of a nearby truck, Palme spoke to the small crowd, thus beginning what was to become an annual Swedish tradition.

43 years on, things have evolved enormously and the event has become a platform for Swedish politicians from every party to have a voice.

It is however also a week for the humble citizen and thousands flock to the island to participate in the workshops, speeches, seminars, and the mingle parties.

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