And then they came for me
Last Updated: Monday, 01 May 2017 09:05
Published: Wednesday, 04 July 2012 16:32
Written by Lasantha Wickrematunge
"No other profession calls on its practitioners to lay down their lives for their art save the armed forces and, in Sri Lanka, journalism. In the course of the past few years, the independent media have increasingly come under attack. Electronic and print-media institutions have been burnt, bombed, sealed and coerced. Countless journalists have been harassed, threatened and killed. It has been my honour to belong to all those categories and now especially the last.
I have been in the business of journalism a good long time. Indeed, 2009 will be The Sunday Leader's 15th year. Many things have changed in Sri Lanka during that time, and it does not need me to tell you that the greater part of that change has been for the worse. We find ourselves in the midst of a civil war ruthlessly prosecuted by protagonists whose bloodlust knows no bounds. Terror, whether perpetrated by terrorists or the state, has become the order of the day. Indeed, murder has become the primary tool whereby the state seeks to control the organs of liberty. Today it is the journalists, tomorrow it will be the judges. For neither group have the risks ever been higher or the stakes lower.....
We have espoused unpopular causes, stood up for those too feeble to stand up for themselves, locked horns with the high and mighty so swollen with power that they have forgotten their roots, exposed corruption and the waste of your hard-earned tax rupees, and made sure that whatever the propaganda of the day, you were allowed to hear a contrary view. For this I - and my family - have now paid the price that I have long known I will one day have to pay. I am - and have always been - ready for that. I have done nothing to prevent this outcome: no security, no precautions. I want my murderer to know that I am not a coward like he is, hiding behind human shields while condemning thousands of innocents to death. What am I among so many? It has long been written that my life would be taken, and by whom. All that remains to be written is when."
This was the beginning of the last piece that Lasantha Wickrematunge, then editor-in-chief of Sri Lanka's independent and critical Sunday Leader, would ever write; clearly sensing his own assassination was imminent. Murdered a few days later, probably by the government thugs he expected [we do not know yet for justice has not yet been done, and these days is not readily apparent in a Sri Lanka still in denial over the massacre of the Tamil Tigers], his article reminds us of the fearlessness of great journalists and how much genuine freedom of speech is one of the best indicators of the moral and political state of a society. This is amplified by the fact that in his own country Wickrematunge was much revered and seen as one of the fathers of investigative journalism there - he was no minor figure but internationally respected and an award-winner.
Here is the article in full:
And then they came for me
Campaign against rape in Afghanistan
Last Updated: Monday, 01 May 2017 09:08
Published: Thursday, 05 July 2012 06:01
Written by Avaaz
18 year-old Lal Bibi was kidnapped, raped, tortured and chained to a wall for five days by a gang of powerful Afghan police officers. But she stood up to do what women in Afghanistan are told not to -- she is fighting back, and together we can help her and all Afghan women win justice.
After being kidnapped, raped and tortured by Afghan police, 18-year-old Lal Bibi is fighting police impunityand the cultural requirement that she commit suicide. Prosecutors are failing to try her rapists, but a massive global outcry can persuade the donor countriesthat are about to hand over billions to Afghanistan to use their leverage to force real change for Lal Bibi and all Afghan women. Sign the petition, and tell everyone:
According to deep cultural mandates, as a raped woman, Lal Bibi has been "dishonoured" and will kill herself -- and she publicly says she must, unless her rapists are brought to justice to restore her honour and dignity. Afghanistan's justice system routinely fails to pursue these cases and so far the chief suspects in Lal Bibi's case have not been prosecuted, likely in the hopes that international attention will die down. Every day that passes without an arrest pushes Lal Bibi closer to suicide -- but there is hope.
This weekend, the US, UK, Japan and other major donors are expected to pledge 4 billion dollars to Afghanistan -- money that will pay for the very police forces responsible for Lal Bibi’s rape. But an international outcry can shame donor countries into action, conditioning their aid on real action to fight rape and protect women. We don't have much time left -- click below for change that could save Lal Bibi’s lifeand our petition will be delivered right into the donor conference in Tokyo:
Local custom in some parts of Afghanistan dictates that women are shamed by rape and must kill themselves to restore their family's honour for generations to come. Amazingly, Lal Bibi and her family courageously are seeking to save her life by insisting on the prosecution of her torturers and shifting the blame to the perpetrators, in society's eyes.
The Afghan police force responsible for the rape depends heavily on foreign funding that will be pledged this weekend, when all of Afghanistan’s major donors gather in Tokyo. Donor countries can and should require that funds are not spent to grow a police force that acts with appalling impunity and that police officers work to protect women, not attack them!
There are hundreds of women and girls all across Afghanistan who are subject to the “tribal justice” meted out to Lal Bibi. Thousands more arewatching carefully to see how the Afghan government and the world will respond to the girl who is fighting back and refuses to die quietly. Let's stand with her -- sign the petition below and tell everyone:
The global war on women is relentless. But time and time again our community joins together to win. We helped stop the illegal stoning of Sakineh Ashtiani in Iran, and fought for justice for rape survivors in Libya, Morocco and Honduras. Let’s show the global power of our community to help win justice for Lal Bibi and millions of women in Afghanistan.
With hope and determination,
Dalia, Emma, Alaphia, Ricken, Laura, Antonia and the rest of the Avaaz team