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World press freedom day

May 3, 2007

As the world celebrates World Press Freedom Day, please take some time to remember all the journalists, photographers, camera persons, reporters and bloggers who have given their lives in the pursuit of the truth.

Probably, you didnot know any of these brave people personally. You might not even know their names, but the Committee to Protect Journalists can help you with that. They have compiled a list of all journalists who have died in the line of duty, from 1992 to 2006. The committee also displays lists of journalists missing or in prison as of December 2006.

In prison for exposing torture

One of the journalists currently imprisoned for her journalistic and truth-seeking activities is Al-jazeera journalist Howaida Taha, who has been slapped with a six months jail term by an Egyptian court for ”harming the country’s interests by allegedly fabricating torture scenes for a documentary”.

The Committee to Protect Journalists cited Egypt for its deteriorating press condition, and Tahas lawyer, Gamal Eid, called the trial a sham, saying the judge prevented the defense from presenting its case.

Missing in action

One of those missing in action is Alan Johnson who was seized from his car by unknown kidnappers in Gaza City in March. He has now been held longer than any other hostage during two years of kidnappings on the Gaza strip. Despite pressure from Reporters Without Borders and the Palestinian journalists’ syndicate, he has still not been released, even though the Palestinian authorities supposedly know where he is being held.

A world wide problem

Egypt and Palestine are only two of many countries where freedom of expression is constantly under attack. The Committee to Protect Journalists specifically mentions Ethiopia, Gambia and Russia, and the USA automatically springs to mind when I see some of the ads for the World Press Freedom Day. Murder, kidnapping and imprisonment of journalists are of course among the worst threats to press freedom, but they are fare from the only means used to silence those trying to expose an uncomfortable truth.

My fellow blogger Susan Loon writes about how the Malaysian government applies lawsuits, threats and the infamous “Official Secrets Act” to censor everyone from big newspapers to bloggers.

These examples clearly show that freedom of information is not something we can take for granted. Please take some time on this day to think about what free speech and press freedom means to you, and what you can do to protect it.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 9, 2007 11:29 am

    Hi there,

    I attended a lunch for two leading Russian human rights defenders on World Press Day (in London) who spoke out about press freedom in Russia today. Very brave considering the current climate. Click on my name to read the write-up of the event and let me know what you think.

    Thanks!

    Like

  2. May 9, 2007 12:53 pm

    Thank you for the comment. As I wrote on your blog, Russia is a country where freedom of the press is deteriorating day by day, and Russian human rights defenders are doing a very hard but extremely important job these days.

    I think your text was well-written and to the point, and I would like to thank you once more for drawing my attention – and hopefully the attention of many other bloggers as well – to the situation in Russia.

    Like

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