Jailed journalists around the globe. How can it be?
Devious despots misusing power and preying upon humanity—withholding information because knowledge is power. Silencing the other side of the story. Fear of losing control feeds their depravity. Dictators hiding behind castle walls and armies of destruction for those who dare ask questions or criticize.
Freedom of the press is held hostage as journalists observe through prison bars. The courageous story-tellers that sacrifice personal safety for the human rights of others. But their lips will not be nailed shut like a wooden coffin. Truth finds a way to seep out of the cracks and crannies of the grave. “Freedom of speech!” cry the people. “Freedom of expression!” cry the people. “Hear our voices!” cry the people.
Duvar English, an independent newspaper in Turkey, revealed the following facts in a 2019 article. “There are 250 imprisoned journalists in the world, nearly 50 of whom are in Turkey, according to a report by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Turkey follows China with the second largest number of journalists jailed with 47, marking a decrease from 68 last year…Penned by CPJ editor Elana Beiser, the report noted that over 100 news organizations have been closed under the current Turkish government and that many working journalists are being accused of terrorism and are in legal battles…Saudi Arabia and Egypt tied for third place with 26 journalists incarcerated.” www.duvarenglish.com.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) lends bulletproof vests and helmets at no cost to journalists travelling to dangerous areas.
“In July 2019, the libel trial began in the Philippines against Maria Ressa, the executive editor of online news outlet Rappler. Ressa, a prominent critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, was arrested in February 2019 on trumped up libel charges after Rappler published detailed investigations into some of the thousands of extrajudicial executions committed by police and unknown armed persons, with Duterte’s explicit encouragement, during drugs-related operations. Her case is widely seen as an attack by the government on press freedom.” www.amnesty.org.
What Can Citizens Do?
Support your local newspaper and pay for the news you consume. Read local, state, and national newspapers and write Letters to the Editors about free press issues.
Join or donate to Reporters Without Borders at www.rsf.org. Read about the 100 Information Heroes from countries abroad.
The Committee to Protect Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide. CPJ is made up of about 40 experts around the world. When press freedom violations occur, CPJ mobilizes a network of correspondents who report and take action on behalf of those targeted. www.cpj.org.
Be aware of fake news outlets and fake news on social media. PolitiFact is a fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others at www.politifact.com . Snopes.com is an independent publication fact-checking site online. Fact-checking and accountability journalism from AP journalists around the globe at [email protected]
May 3, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek is celebrated worldwide as World Press Freedom Day. It is an opportunity to: celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom; assess the state of press freedom throughout the world; defend the media from attacks on their independence; and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty. www.un.org.
Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right as stated in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
“Freedom of the Press, if it means anything at all, means the freedom to criticize and oppose.”—George Orwell
Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in US.