Powerful editorial – fighting for press freedom

I took a photo of a huge banner of this image below when I was working in Sri Lanka – an experience I wrote about some time ago here, and in other posts.

Large banner poster - 'Stop Killing Journalists - Free Media Movement'

And it seems, so little has changed. So frustrating, so unjust, and so tragic.

The country is still rated as having the worst press freedom of any democratic country in the world. In the 2008 Press Freedom Index, it rates next to Iran, down toward the very bottom of the list.

In this incredibly well-written editorial, a journalist predicted his own murder. It was published recently, just a few days before he was killed.

I want to include an excerpt from his editorial. The journalist writes about why, in spite of the dangers, he is compelled to speak out about the injustices taking place in his country. The excerpt below is from the journalist’s editorial. He is writing about German theologian Martin Niem”ller.

It gives me goosebumps.

In his youth he was an anti-Semite and an admirer of Hitler. As Nazism took hold in Germany, however, he saw Nazism for what it was: it was not just the Jews Hitler sought to extirpate, it was just about anyone with an alternate point of view. Niem”ller spoke out, and for his trouble was incarcerated in the Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps from 1937 to 1945, and very nearly executed. While incarcerated, Niem”ller wrote a poem that, from the first time I read it in my teenage years, stuck hauntingly in my mind:

First they came for the Jews

and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists

and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists

and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me

and there was no one left to speak out for me.

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