We live in a world in which values and cultures clash constantly, whether it is about religions, food, traditions but also and very importantly about rights.
Every week, there is a day dedicated to a cause, a disease or even to a feeling. This week, on the 3rdof May, it was the turn of freedom of the press. I decided to talk to you about that special day because it concerns us all as writers for the Diplomat. We have the chance to be free to write about whatever we want, regardless of our political or religious beliefs.
But this is not the case everywhere in the world.
Today, hundreds of journalists are imprisoned all around the world by states ruled by an authoritarian power. China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia were found to be responsible for jailing more than half of all journalists present in their country while trying to repress local journalism, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The CPJ is an independent, non-profit organisation promoting freedom of press worldwide and defending the right of journalists to report the news without being threatened. Recent CPJ reports revealed that Turkey has been considered as the world’s worst jailer for a few years already as 68 journalists are held in Turkish prisons. Imprisonment is only one of the means used to censor the press, alongside restrictions of the Internet or closure of certain newspapers.
The main reasons for journalists’ arrests are anti-state charges and accusations of spreading ‘false news’. Politics and human rights are the most sensitive and dangerous subject to write about, especially in countries led by authoritarian regimes and where those rights are being denied.
Freedom of the press is a right that we, in western countries, tend to consider as granted. But this is not always the case either. The press world is a difficult one, where political and financial pressures are strong and where truth is sometimes difficult to release.
But at the same time, it is a right generations before us fought for. Freedom of the press is one of the most important pillars of democracy. It enlightens our societies and strengthens them against the rise of authoritarianism. It is thanks to all these different opinions and views that we, as citizens, can develop our critical mind.
So, to all journalists around the world, fighting with words and images for a more transparent world, free or not: ‘May the force be with you’
“No democracy is complete without access to transparent and reliable information. It is the cornerstone for building fair and impartial institutions, holding leaders accountable and speaking truth to power.” — António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General
Charlotte follows her bachelor in Arts and Culture and writes for the Diplomat.