Today’s blogging prompt is about sharing my opinion on something that I read in the news recently. I saw in today’s issue of The New York Times that the European Union has called on all E.U.-based airlines not to fly over Belarus, and it has asked for the banning of planes from Belarus in E.U. airspace and airports. This comes after a plane traveling between Greece and Lithuania was diverted to Belarus. And why was that?
Belarusian authorities, under the direction of dictator Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, ordered the seizing (kidnapping?) of journalist Roman Protasevich, who created a channel critical of the dictatorship. Lukashenko defended his action by claiming that there was a “security risk” on board the airplane.
For Lukashenko, any hint of criticism is reframed as a “security risk.” Critics and journalists are subjected to being crushed just to satisfy the ego of a dictator described by Wikileaks as “bizarre.”
Threatening journalists with prosecution and long prison sentences for reporting the news is an attack on the press’ ability to report on the news and provide unbiased information to readers and viewers.
Israel chose a more explosive technique for intimidating journalists. The Israeli military bombed a building in Gaza that housed the Associated Press, Al Jazeera, and other media outlets. No one was injured, as the journalists received one-hour advanced warning to vacate the building before the bombing started.
Dr. Mostefa Souag, acting director general of Al Jazeera, said that Israel was “attempting to silence the media” and that the attack was a war crime. According to the Geneva Convention, journalists are civilians and are entitled to the same protections as other civilians in a war zone. Because journalists often go into dangerous, volatile places to report on the news, they are already at high risk of becoming collateral damage as a result of military or terrorist attacks. It is an occupational hazard.
Violent attacks on the offices of multiple media outlets are actd of intimidation designed to prevent journalists from reporting on the news and provide unbiased information to readers and viewers.
One of the most horrific attacks on a journalist occurred in Saudi Arabia, where Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered.
Freedom of the press is under attack in many countries around the world, including the United States, where journalists have been subject to arrest while covering protests. Attacks on journalists by police and others in the form of arrests, assaults, theft of equipment, and much more. These assaults on the free press are being maintained by U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.
Everywhere in the world, much more work can be done to safeguard the freedom of journalists to do their jobs to keep us informed and to ensure the transparency of government.