The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that there are 60 journalists currently missing worldwide. In 2018, 54 journalists were killed as a result of their line of work, with murder accounting for the vast majority (34) of these deaths. This marks a significant increase from 2017, where 47 journalists were killed, including 18 murders. Other reasons accounting for this number of mortalities include death due to crossfire/combat and embarking on dangerous assignments. The countries where journalists were at highest risk of fatality in 2018 were Afghanistan (13), Syria (9), India (5), USA (4), and Mexico (4).
Arguably, the most well-known case of 2018 was the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The Saudi journalist, author and columnist was an outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia’s current leadership and was fired twice in his career for publishing material which criticised extremism and the manner in which the Saudi regime imposed religious values upon it’s people. On the 2nd of October 2018, Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain a document needed to marry his Turkish fiancée. Saudi officials initially denied that he was murdered there, but later conceded that he was killed after “discussions became physical”. Although his body was never returned to his loved ones, Sky News has reported that disfigured, “cut-up” parts of his body were found in the garden of the Saudi consul’s garden in Istanbul, approximately 500m from the scene of the killing.
In another case that has made international headlines, two Reuters journalists have been imprisoned in Myanmar since the 12th of December 2017 for reporting on a massacre of the Rohingya people. The story that prompted the arrest was titled “Massacre in Myanmar: How Myanmar forces burned, looted, and killed in a remote village” and unveiled the murder of ten Rohingya men by Myanmar troops in September 2017. According to the report, at least two men were hacked to death and some were buried while still making noises. All ten of the victims were buried in a single shallow grave. The writers of the piece, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested on the grounds that a breach of the Official Secrets Act has occured and remain imprisoned today. Their appeal was rejected in January 2019 despite international outrage at their detention.
Khashoggi, Wa Lone, Kyaw So Oo, and Maria Ressa were together named TIME Magazine’s Person of the year 2018 for their commitment to reporting the truth in the face of persecution and violence. If you would like to learn more injustice against journalists or contribute to the cause, you can subscribe to the Committee to Protect Journalists’ newspaper or donate online.
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Image courtesy of Bank Phrom via Unsplash