Freedom of expression has no religion, deeply shocked by the attack, I am expressing my absolute solidarity with Charlie Hebdo. Freedom of information is the foundation of any democracy, yet almost half of the world’s population is still denied it. In 2014, 66 journalists as well as 11 media assistants and 19 netizens and citizen journalistshave been killed worldwide, including only cases in which Reporters Without Borders (RWB) has clearly established that the victim was killed because of his/her activities as a journalist.
These days we can observe – due to the terrorist attack against the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which I completely condemn – an enormous wave of solidarity and defense of the European values, human rights and the freedom of expression and information.
Just having watched the official solidarity act in Austria, I wonder how true and sincere these announcements in favor of freedom of information and human rights are? I have absolutely no doubt on the sincere solidarity with the victims, I absolutely trust in it. But I wonder about the state of this solidarity with freedom of information when it comes to current social problems and inequalities. For instance, the civil society expressing their opinion on austerity and economic crisis in Spain or Greece. How have we been informed, when journalists and peaceful protesters, even minors, in Spain were injured by the police. To which extent are we informed now about the Greek and Spanish protest movements? How can we trust in mainstream media, when the official press announcements of governments or of the police deny the alternative views, when in many cases the alternative positions of civil society still are left out by mainstream media. How can we trust, when different facts of injustice and violations of the “European values” are undermined by the EU and the Member States themselves. According to the World Press Freedom Index 2013 , the status quo was maintained in many of the countries in the European Union with sixteen Member States listed among the top 30. “At first sight, the result of the World Press Index 2013 was encouraging, but it concealed the slow erosion of the European model as a result of inconsistencies and worrying developments among the other 11 countries, some of which fell below 80th place.” (RWB report 2013, p 13) In Italy (57th, +4) defamation has yet to be decriminalized and state agencies make dangerous use of gag laws, criticizes the RWB. Hungary (56th, -16) is still paying the price of its repressive legislative reforms, which had a major impact on the way journalists work. In Greece (84th, -14), the social and professional environment for its journalists, who are exposed to public condemnation and violence from both extremist groups and the police, is disastrous, states the RWB in the 2013 World Press Freedom Index.
If this solidarity not only for the victims, but also for human rights, the freedom of expression and information, and all these great citation of authors and human rights activists, we can hear these days are meant sincerely by the officials of the EU and the governments and politicians of its Member States – then we all need to rethink and revisit our positions, and observe more sincerely and intensely, what happens with these announcements in the near future. Or even now, as “Reporters Without Borders welcomes the participation of many foreign leaders in today’s march in Paris in homage to the victims of last week’s terror attacks and in defence of the French republic’s values, but is outraged by the presence of officials from countries that restrict freedom of information.” This is only one example for the necessity of questioning, how do we stand for human rights in contexts of politics, markets, conditions of production, asylum seekers, and so on. Are 12 human beings from an African or Asian or Latin Amercian country loosing their lives or getting cancer less worth than 12 french human beings?
So why does everybody stand up if the satiric Charlie is attacked and 12 persons are killed, but not if employees get cancer due to the production of Samsung Smart phones, or if west African villages loose their entire livelihood due to EU fishery rights. If Europe is the birthplace of human rights and still stand for it, then please consider the word as one – and do not only count human beings as human beings in Europe but also outside. “We must demonstrate our solidarity with Charlie Hebdo without forgetting all the world’s other Charlies,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.
Imagine…. and the world will live as one.