Is it a crime to be a journalist in 2018?

Written by Sabine Demosthenes

MONTREAL-  For a few months, this question has been haunting me in a way I couldn’t have imagined. Right now, in this world we are living in, is still normal that some governments or regimes consider journalism to be a crime?

In Canada, we don’t have this problem, but in the Raymar, this is what seems to be the case. Wa Lone, (32) and Kyaw So Oo, (28), who could have been my little brothers because they are only a few years younger, were arrested in December 2017 simply because they were doing their jobs – being journalists. They were sentenced to seven years in prison last September after reporting the atrocities and the killing of Rohingya Muslims in the Raymar.

Their human rights lawyer, Amal Clooney, gave a speech this last September at the UN Headquarters kindly asking if Aung San Suu Kyi, one of the famous Nobel Peace Prize honoraries and the Myanmar State Counsellor, could pardon the two journalists. By the way in early 2000, every time I have been to a U2 concert, I have seen a message of her telling us to be pacific and hope for a better world for the next generation.

So far, Aung San Suu Kyi is doing so little. With her inaction, you may question, damn, of all the people, does she truly think those journalists are criminals?? In my dictionary, The SAB Illustrated Dictionary 2018, being a journalist is not a crime. A journalist shouldn’t be in jail for doing their job. Criminals have done bad things like killing, stealing … Oh! Speaking of stealing, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were accused of breaching a secret act when they obtained confidential documents. Those documents would have been useful for terrorist organizations and enemies of the state. But those journalists were tricked. Clear and simple. Let’s try to find something to put them in jail so they won’t cover a very important story.

Even Amal said and I’m quoting: ”She (Aung San Suu Kyi) knows that mass murder is not a state secret and that exposing it doesn’t turn a journalist into a spy… History will judge her on her response”.

More and more, my conviction of not putting my trust in the government is growing. When I was young (I’m still young at heart), Aung San Suu Kyi was this really sweet and fragile, but feisty and courageous woman who wanted a better future for the country where she was born and raised. I saw her as a very gentle, pacific and kind-hearted person. Now, I have taken off my rose-coloured sunglasses, and I don’t find what I am reading about Myanmar in the news beautiful.

Those two journalists are apart from their young families. I can’t imagine the anguish and the kind of stress they are experiencing in their situation. I have the luxury of writing this post without fear of being thrown in jail or killed. I do take this for granted and I am ashamed of admitting it. But I won’t be ashamed to stand by those men.

Being a journalist is not a crime.

Never!

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A prayer for Darfur

I’m asking myself this question:

Why am I complaining about winter and worrying about other superficial things when I am living in a war-free country, while there could be a woman, just like me, wondering if she will breathe her last breath within the next five minutes, in somewhere like Darfur.

By asking myself this question, I am ashamed that I sometimes worry about the stupidest little things; but at the same time, I’m asking myself what can I do about it?

First of all, when I turn on my television scroll through my Facebook feed or some news outlet app, why aren’t the atrocities that are happening all over the world the first things I see?

In Montreal, I don’t hear much about the fact that hundreds of people are losing their homes, not in a hurricane, but because of their government and its greediness.

But instead of focusing on why, I said I have a platform to talk about it. Not as an expert, because I’m not, but as a human being who hopes to one day live in a peaceful world where everyone is equal. (I hear you guys saying keep dreaming girl!)

Sudanese Children

When two journalists have been assaulted a few weeks ago, they did mention it on the news, for what? 10 seconds? There weren’t any follow ups or more questions asked by the news reporter. I wasn’t mad, but I was disappointed.

Are we so obsessed with this man, representing America and his rallies, that we are oblivious to the suffering of human beings in a vulnerable place?

I guess we must ask ourselves this question and be honest with ourselves.

When you are not an expert on a subject, the right thing to do is to reach out to an organization that wants to point out the atrocity and clears it up.

The Enough Project is my go-to resource.

Enough

I am reading more about what is going on through John Prendergast’s essay, I am still not an expert on the subject, but I feel better informed.

It is a foundation whose main focus is to end genocide and crimes against humanity in conflicted areas of Africa.

John Prendergast is the driving force behind this beautiful project he co-founded with Gayle Smith in 2007.

John Prendergast

Enough Project has several active campaigns to raise awareness of the violence and injustice going on in the countries that the News outlets here do not spend much time on.

https://enoughproject.org/op-eds/u-s-news-world-report-op-ed-dont-remove-sudan-terrorism-list

I still won’t be the most politics-savvy person on this planet, but I do think if we talk about it, point out the bad guys and what they are doing, and continue hoping that kindness may one day conquer the world, maybe we can start something.

Maybe we don’t need the big news outlets such as CNN, BBC, RDI, CNBC, Fox News (oh lord, don’t get me started about Fox News!) and others to get the word out.

Maybe we will be the ones that will get the word out that Enough is enough!

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/central-african-republic/2018-03-14/key-making-peace-africa

John Prendergast Africa

Written by Sabine Demosthenes

https://enoughproject.org