It was a couple of journalists who exposed Richard Nixon in the 1970s, journalists who learned the truth about the NSA in 2013, and journalists who shine a light on the dark side of the human condition in order to expose secrets obscured by corporate or governmental interests. And now, another journalist has been murdered for turning on that flashlight in a world that has grown very dark indeed.
Jamal Khashoggi’s name you know. But he is one more in a long line of journalists who died this year because they were trying to expose the truth. According to the Baltimore Sun, Gerald Fischman was gunned down on American soil in June of this year in the newsroom where he worked, along with Rob Hiassen, John McNamara and Wendi Winters. They all worked for Maryland’s Capital Gazette, and they were all shot and killed by a gunman who wanted them to stop writing. They did.
Ten more journalists who worked in Afghanistan were victims of murder this year — as were three writers in India, four in Mexico, two in Colombia and one each in Syria, Slovakia, Brazil and Libya.
Jamal Khashoggi is number 28, and the year isn’t over yet.
Finding out the truth about what happened to Jamal Khashoggi is important, but protecting the world’s journalists is equally so. Many countries around the world do not have the right to free speech and do not enjoy the privilege of a free press — rights that are considered to be basic and guaranteed here in the USA.
Now, that freedom of the press which we have all been assured exists is under attack — here in the U.S. and all around the world. The president of our country has screamed that journalists should be locked up, and he has publicly supported a Russian president who has been repeatedly accused of making his own journalistic enemies vanish without a trace.
There is substantial evidence that one of our journalists was murdered in a terrifyingly brutal and inhumane way. In Kashoggi, we saw a journalist who was merely attempting to get paperwork so that he could get married — another basic right that we, as Americans, have come to expect as our due.
But the President of the United States isn’t sending in the FBI, or the CIA, or any other security or investigative force that we have at our disposal. The President of the United States doesn’t want to jeopardize a billion-dollar arms deal with a nation that sells us a whole lot of oil — oil that climate scientists say that we shouldn’t even be using if we want to survive as a species.
And when we are gone, what of our civilization will remain for new species and new societies to find? The most enduring and lasting art form ever created was, is, and always will be the written word. We still study the words of ancient cultures, and one day it is our words that will be studied.
Will those words say that we had a president who refused to protect the very first right we were ever guaranteed to receive under the Constitution? Will they say that Donald Trump valued oil more than our great legacy of free speech?
That’s what our words are saying now. And all of us now have a responsibility, a question we must ask ourselves: is this who we are?
For Jamal Khashoggi and for the other 27 journalists who were killed this year, we will do what all media outlets around the world should be doing — we will print the names of the murdered journalists who died because they told their truth to the world. Remember that they are not simply hated journalists, people that Trump might say were “fake” or bad. They were spouses, siblings, parents, children and friends. They were human beings doing their job. Each of these names is a human life, full of laughter and tears and worry and success and failure.
And, of course, words.
They were people who expected, and wanted, and deserved the right to free speech. Free speech should mean being able to speak out without dying for it.
Abadullah Hananzai, April 30, 2018, Afghanistan
Abdul Manan Arghand, April 25, 2018, Afghanistan
Ali Saleemi, April 30, 2018, Afghanistan
Carlos Domínguez Rodríguez, January 13, 2018, Mexico
Gerald Fischman, June 28, 2018, USA
Ghazi Rasooli, April 30, 2018, Afghanistan
Ibrahim al-Munjar, May 17, 2018, Syria
Jamal Khashoggi, October 2, 2018, USA
Ján Kuciak, Between February 22 and 25, 2018, Slovakia
Jefferson Pureza Lopes, January 17, 2018, Brazil
John McNamara, June 28, 2018, USA
Juan Javier Ortega Reyes, April 10-April 12 2018, Colombia
Leobardo Vázquez Atzin, March 21, 2018, Mexico
Leslie Ann Pamela Montenegro del Real, February 5, 2018, Mexico
Maharram Durrani, April 30, 2018, Afghanistan
Mario Leonel Gómez Sánchez, September 21, 2018, Mexico
Musa Abdul Kareem, July 31, 2018, Libya
Navin Nischal, March 25, 2018, India
Nowroz Ali Rajabi, April 30, 2018, Afghanistan
Paúl Rivas Bravo, April 10-12, 2018, Colombia
Rob Hiaasen, June 28, 2018, USA
Sabawoon Kakar, April 30, 2018, Afghanistan
Saleem Talash, April 30, 2018, Afghanistan
Sandeep Sharma, March 26, 2018, India
Shah Marai, April 30, 2018, Afghanistan
Shujaat Bukhari, June 14, 2018, India
Wendi Winters, June 28, 2018, USA
Yar Mohammad Tokhi, April 30, 2018, Afghanistan
Names, dates and locations provided by the Committee to Protect Journalists.