Closing Time, 2016

December 20th. We’re almost there. The finish line is a breath or two away. Soon, we can close this chapter of our lives. Was there a year more challenging than this? Or did we delude ourselves 12 months ago by thinking that, someway somehow, 2016 would be any different? 


Thank Christ, it’s over.

Personally, 2016 was neither bad nor good. It was just another block of time. When my calendar runs out of new pages, it either goes into a memento box or the shredder. After all, what’s the difference? It’s done it’s job.

Indeed, 2016 was wild, crazy, hilarious, heartening, depressing, frustrating, maddening, riotous, uplifting, bizarre, beautiful, nonsensical, obscene, and adventurous as any year. No sense dwelling on it, even the recent past is Wikipedia. If you’re breathing, rejoice! And then move on. Covered in grime, maybe, but onwards nonetheless.

But what are the lasting images of 2016? I mean, there is no publication, program, or blog that won’t be climbing over the competition to sum up 2016 in a few short sound bites and/memes, right? I may as well get involved in the self-righteous fray. Read more

On Human Rights Day, A Letter Can Save A Life


Amnesty International Write for Rights poster

On International Human Rights Day, Write to Save A Life

By Jason Motz

Iiham Tothi. Maxima Acuna. Annie Alfred. Giyas Ibrahimov. Mahmoud Abu Zeid, aka Shawkan. Fomusoh Ivo Feh. Narges Mohammadi. Edward Snowden.

Prisoners of conscience. Some imprisoned, others exiled, all in danger from their respective governments for speaking or blogging. For supporting women’s rights or taking photos. All are the focal point of this year’s Write for Rights campaign, spearheaded by Amnesty International. All across Canada and the globe, Amnesty chapters will be setting up writeathon events on December 10th, 2016, International Human Rights Day. This maybe just a regular Saturday for you, but for these men and women, and thousands more beside, it’s another day of certain oppression and silence.

In solidarity with these events, independent letter writing campaigns are also being organized, including one right here in Vancouver by yours truly. All the details you need to join me in Vancouver can be found here.

Rosmit Mantilla

This is my second year involved as a letter writer, but my first as an event host. I am feeling a mixture of horror, anxiety, and anticipation about the whole affair, but whatever dread I may feel quivering in my stomach, it is nothing compared to what the people listed above are facing: threats of danger and violence, harsh treatment, and inhumane punishments. Their futures are a potent mix of fear and defiance. These men and women are soldiers of truth and conscience, but they are relying on people like us to free them. These letters do work! Letters and emails may seem a feeble weapon, but words are fierce. A letter writing event may appear self-serving but cases such as Venezuela’s Rosmit Mantilla (among others) show that the pressure of these campaigns can achieve desirable results. Each letter or email sent, each postcard mailed, and each petition signed and shared builds up to a massive key penetrate any lock of injustice that keeps our brothers and sisters in peril.

In light of recent global political events, from Brexit to Trump, and the disturbing rise of Right-Wing support across the globe, I have subtitled this year’s event Eff The Fascists. It’s the least we can do to keep the powers that be in check. And as supports are stripped away and rights are beaten out of people, as The Left teeters on oblivion, and as freedoms for journalists, activists, and regular citizens alike are denied, our actions will have a graver role to play: your letter could be the difference between an imprisoned Father, Mother, Son, or Daughter from receiving an extra hour of torture or one day less in jail. Just ask Mohamed Fahmy about the role of public support and political pressure had in his eventual release from a jail in Egypt. And while Fahmy had international recognition on his side as well, those letters and petitions signed on the Internet and in cafes, churches, or universities ensured his much-deserved freedom. Not all are as lucky as Fahmy, but we can only try to do for others what came to him.

Please join me next Saturday, or any other writeathon in your area, and help free our brothers and sisters the world over.






Canadian Perspectives: What NoDAPL Means for the Nation’s Activists


By Jason Motz

This week’s blog about the ongoing NoDAPL protests in North Dakota slots in under the header intended for a recurring “series” called Canadian Perspectives. As the title implies, the focus will be on non-Canadian issues (the US election has already been covered in this manner) made up of interviews, questionnaires, and op-eds from a mixture of Canadian voices. 

I sent some questions to Howard Breen, policy analyst at LeftHand Media Co-Op, and he was quick to act. What follows is short and sweet but provides a distinct assessment of the situation in North Dakota as seen from British Columbia. This is unlikely to be the last time Canadian Perspectives visits North Dakota.

Jason Motz: How long have you been following the events in North Dakota?

Howard Breen:I have been intensely attentive about the emergence and sustained indigenous resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline since the Spring of 2016.

JM: From an outsider’s perspective, what are we witnessing?

HB: We are seeing in the U.S. (not unlike Canada and elsewhere) the wholesale reshaping of the national discourse on energy projects which impact traditional indigenous lands. Native American water protectors have been joined by indigenous (activists) from around the globe, and the reportage on the plight of pipeline resisters is now fortunately front and centre daily in the global news cycle.

Progressives should always be alarmed and outraged by corporate and state propagandists who self-servingly attempt to rewrite the factual record

JM: What does the NoDAPL movement mean for both First Nations communities and environmental activists in Canada?

HB: Arguably, First Peoples’ rights in Canada are advancing far more quickly than most Native American eco-social struggles due to the recent Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women systemic review, signing of the UNDRIP, and the 2015 federal apology for cultural genocide. That said, on either side of the border, environmental racism is pandemic given the historic burden in which indigenous communities disproportionately shoulder the deleterious community risks posed by resource development. It is most reassuring to see indigenous grassroots leadership now eclipsing the mainstream environmental leadership (many NGOs were co-opted by government and corporate funding long ago). The ‘indigenousnization’ of resource planning and development is now soundly established and there is no going back to mere ‘cosmetic consultation.’

JM: How would you categorize the mainstream media’s role in all of this?

HB: Not surprisingly, the U.S.-Canadian mainstream media largely chose to blackout any direct reportage for months until the heavy-handed, abusive presence of militant corporate private security led to illegal use of rubber bullets and attack dogs resulting in innumerable injuries yet undeterred mass arrests, and the glaringly obvious lack of coverage was being called out on social media by politicos like Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein, and a long list of mediagenic celebrities. Read more



What has America become? Courtesy: Pixabay

Final thoughts on the 2016 US election

By Jason Motz

Four days after the shocking election of Donald Trump to the US White House, I found myself at the tail end of a quick two-day jaunt to Nevada. As a Canadian, those two days provided an interesting insight into today’s political reality ─ a post-election tour through the punch-drunk airports and resorts of Reno, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco.

In Reno, the casino hummed along unconcerned with the protests in cities far away. Gamblers idled and drank and smoked, their losses outweighing their gains; casino workers, the majority of whom were either of Latin American or Asian heritage, hurried along with their work, giving no visible sign of fear or gave noise to a crushed dream; Conventions of ice cream vendors, Tupperware enthusiasts, and American marines filled the event rooms; The nightclub, dormant all day, emerged to a bass-y grumble like clockwork Friday and Saturday night; And, 24/7, people gathered here as though arriving at some obsolete outpost with secret orders, as anonymous when they departed as when they arrived.

For a state like Nevada, which went Trumpian red, there was no sense of celebration or victory. There was no stench of panic. Unless you asked, there was no discussion about the election, the celebrity president, Wikileaks, Hillary, Comey and the F.B.I. It was as though there was an established, if unspoken, agreement to leave the matter alone. Read more

FUBAR: A Report on the US Election – Hoser Edition.

What does the US election mean for Canada?

By Jason Motz

Trudeau and Obama

Trudeau and Obama: It was fun while it lasted.

Breathe, Canada, breathe. Our friends in the US have just about chosen their next President. And by this evening, either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will emerge victorious as the 45th President of the United States.

As of Monday November 7th, the Financial Times had the two front runners separated by a mere 2.2 percent. Let’s dispense with disbelief, incredulity, or outrage at these numbers. The last few months have borne witness to innumerable polls with a wide variance of gains and losses for both candidates. The only polling that truly matters happens today, (barring a disaster repeat of 2000 that is. Remember those hanging chads?)

So as we careen towards the precipice of election day, let’s turn attention away from the US electorate.

As continental neighbours, Canada has much at stake. As our number one trade partner, Canada lives and dies by the economic strength of the US. We are military allies. Fraternal twins who have enjoyed a year of cozy familial ties under the Prime Ministership of Justin Trudeau. But as Barack Obama prepares to exit the White house for sweet retirement and the judgment of history, Canada faces an uncertain future: whether Clinton or Trump, or even some dark horse, is named Obama’s successor, their placement will have immediate repercussions here in Canada.

As Vancouver Sun columnist Daphne Bramham opined this week: “As America’s bitter, ugly contest grinds to an end, Canadians can only hope that the damage that’s been done can be healed and that it won’t spill over on us.” Plucky Canuck optimism at its finest, but will it be enough to keep our country together if the unlikeliest of Presidential candidates succeeds?

Canadian Business published an article saying, in short, forget the race to the White House, keep your eyes on some of those unsexy gubernatorial races (Governor’s ties in Washington, North Carolina, and Vermont and Senate fixtures in Ohio and New York) that could have far-reaching implications to Canadians.

MoneySense got in on the act by laying out the potential hazards of a Trump Oval Office. (Where to even begin?)

Bad to the bone

An Insights West poll offers some sobering numbers for both Clinton and Trump, each of whom may or may not think that Canadians will fawn all over the newest resident of The White House next: 80 percent of those polled said Trump would be “bad” for Canada; and 34 percent replied Clinton would be “bad,” too.

One third of Canadians (34 percent, +14 since August 2015) believe a US presidency headed by Hillary Clinton would be “bad” for Canada, while 42 percent expect it to be “good” for the country. Half of Canadians (49 percent, +7 since last August) are “very” or “moderately” concerned about Clinton winning the election, while 81 percent (+2) are worried about a Trump victory,” according to Insights West‘s data. 

How was “bad” defined?  Economically? Border insecurity? Would Trump bring about WW3? The poll did not expand on its definitions, but the numbers are clear: Canadians, by and large, do not want Trump.

Clinton is especially popular in Quebec, whereas Trump gains most of his support from Ontario. Unsurprisingly, British Columbia has the most anti-Trump sentiment of any province, and Albertans are icy towards Clinton.

I asked a few friends and colleagues for their thoughts, fears, and predictions on Tuesday’s horserace. Many declined to answer without giving a reason, which is telling in and of itself: is the outcome of the US election so ghastly that they dare not speak? Is the victor so predictable that to talk about predictions is akin to debating the reality of professional wrestling? Or is it that, for many Canadians, they just do not care? Have we made too much about the connections between the two nations? Culturally we are so different that does it not make sense that politically, even morally, we are less fraternal than we think we are?

Despite the small sample size, the answers conform with the polling, and the random political discussions that have been as unavoidable in public and online for the better part of the year. Like the body odour in Seinfeld’s car, one cannot escape this noxious air.

From a Canadian perspective, how important is the US election? Will the result have any direct influence on the governance here?

The finger that can blow up the world shouldn’t belong to a person who can be so easily goaded into retaliation. As NATO partners we are obligated to aid when another member state is attacked. Electing Trump increases that likelihood.”

What do you see as the single most common thread between US and Canadian elections? What about the biggest difference?

“The biggest similarity is the pig ignorance of conservatives. Those proud of their disgusting and bigoted ideals. Biggest difference is that Canadian conservatives are a distinct minority. The only way they can win is by progressives splitting our vote amongst the three other options. Elizabeth May (Canada’s Green Party leader) can go fuck herself.”

With the election so close at hand, what do you expect to happen?

“If Trump loses the lunatic fringe will become even more apoplectic. Trump didn’t start this, John McCain did. He unleashed Sarah Palin on the world and she whipped the pig ignorants into the froth that became the Tea Party. Trump winning the primary is the result of what McCain started. It’s not going to stop anytime soon.”

– Pat, from Vancouver Island

From a Canadian perspective, how important is the US election? Will the result have any direct influence on the governance here?

“The US election is extremely important to Canada. Trade, travel, and commerce will be directly or indirectly affected dependent upon who is elected.”

What do you see as the single most common thread between US and Canadian elections? What about the biggest difference?

“The common thread I see is the campaigning and media coverage. The biggest difference is the election protocol, and the length of time and number of times people vote during the lead up to the November Election Date.”

What has been the defining issue of the US election? What issue has NOT been receiving its due and proper coverage?

“The focus seems to be on negativity. How bad can one party make the other’s party candidate look?  Deleted emails, degrading and touching females without their permission, racism, and other hot button topics. There seems to be no discussion on the economy, or future growth, or what the 4-year plan is for the president that is to be elected.”

– Caprice, from Vancouver.

Clinton rallies the troops

In other more informal talks with friends, peers, and the occasional stranger, the anti-Trump feeling is nearly unanimous in Vancouver. And there is no shortage of both love for AND hatred of Clinton in these parts. This recent US election cycle has strained relationships no doubt. But hang on folks, we’re almost done.

Tuesday night, Canadians (probably the majority of cable viewers and social media junkies alike) will gather around the shiny talking box of their choosing to watch …. whatever it is we can describe this perversion of a democratic process mercifully come to an end.

Or so we all hope.


FUBAR: A Report on the 2016 US Election – Part one


The finale of the US election is upon us. Will Hillary Clinton emerge victorious as the first woman to ever hold the highest office in the United States? Or will billionaire mogul and TV personality Donald Trump  put the Grand Old Party back in the saddle? Or could a dark horse third party candidate like Jill Stein or Gary Johnson shock the pollsters and play spoiler?

In what has to be the most divisive, cynical, and (seemingly) prolonged election cycle in recent memory, the current run for the White House has been anything but presidential. Two scandal-plagued candidates have made a fecal circus out of the campaign to replace outgoing President Barack Obama that has been at turns depressing, hilarious, stupefying, crass, and bizarre. Sure, it’s been entertaining, but in the same way that watching a surgeon cut into your chest cavity can be called entertainment: ‘yeah it’ll be a bloody mess, but this isn’t something you see everyday.’

Or to put it in terms that one of the candidates might himself have coined: it’s been a bigly clusterfuck of an election.

From the contentious-and-possibly-rigged-primaries to the spectre of the Alt-Right and White Nationalism in America, from the spectacular rise of Bernie Sanders to the resurgence of Cold War paranoia, this election has done little to inspire the populace. Hence the popularity of such memes as ‘Giant Meteor 2016’ and ‘This Election is an Insult to Our Intelligence.’ But hey, it hasn’t been a snore.

From the vantage point above the 49th parallel, it is far too easy to view the political matters in Washington as an extension of Reality TV; but when the election features a candidate who speaks openly about suppressing the flow of immigrants into the country, who encourages violence against his opponent and her supporters, and who is being accused of all manner of sexual misdeeds (from groping to rape), the scope of this entertainment takes on a very heavy resonance. Furthermore, when the other candidate is vilified and unpopular within and without of her own party, who despite a previous stint as First Lady of the United States cannot seem to shake scandal, and whose neo-liberalism pedigree sours her with the increasingly vocal progressive surge in the country, it’s harder still to dismiss this election as frippery.

I wanted to get a sense of what Americans are going through as election day draws mercifully closer. Tired of media talking heads from all points of the spectrum, I sought insights far beyond the polls, the clickbait articles, the trending topics, the Twitter feuds, and the celebrity endorsements to get down to the realities and the issues that genuinely matter to the American electorate. I asked a random group of friends, family, acquaintances, and peers from a variety of time zones and backgrounds the same set of questions in the hopes of gaining some sense of anxiety or exhilaration from a sliver of the electorate. (Oddly, the majority of respondents reside in California. East Coasters, you disappoint me.) Below are excerpts from these contributions. I have only made edits for style, grammar, and concision.

 Do you feel the DNC and the GOP are the parties best suited for leadership? Did any third party candidate impress you?

 “They’re the only parties that are well rooted and resourceful enough to communicate national presence.” – Kamuela, Hawaii

“The Libertarians are literally a joke; Gary Johnson can’t possibly think he’s got what it takes to be the President. As for the Green Party, Jill Stein came on too late. Trump is too frightening a prospect to even think of voting for a third-party candidate this election. Every vote’s gotta go for Hillary to keep him out of the running.” – Alan, San Jose. [Disclosure: Alan is my cousin.]

“Ideally yes. I am a party voter. I did relate more to one third party candidate on some issues but not as many as than my party choice.”– Anonymous, from the Midwest.



What is your biggest fear going into the final weeks before the election?

“That Trump will lose by a narrow margin and challenge the legitimacy of the election, as he’s already shown he would. This has done, and will do, historic damage to our democracy.” Storm, Northern California.

“The fear tactics used by Trump are designed to deplete our reputation in the world as well as set-up a foundation for Trump to challenge the election. Those misguided individuals who support him will be fertile ground to dishonor the electoral process, perhaps even in riotous activities. Not so much a fear as a reality.” – Robert, unspecified locale.

“My biggest fear is Jill Stein not getting five percent of the popular vote needed for federal funding, and having to wait until 2020 to get things off the ground…. It’ll be hard, but possible if we have federal funding.” – Jared, Massachusetts.

Do you feel the American public receives adequate information about the candidates, their policies, and platforms?

“The news business has become an entertainment business and very little good reporting reaches the masses. If you want to be informed it is possible, though it takes effort. And when people think the candidates are equally bad why expend the effort to dive deep?” – V.G., unspecified locale.

“This year we have received an OVERDOSE! Truly I cannot understand how a single voter remains undecided.” Zona, from Oakland.

“Too much information, much unsubstantiated. Probably due to the fact that the campaign cycle is too long and the media has to fill a 24-hour news-cycle” – Jack, San Jose

“The web of lies just gets more tangled the harder you try to sift through the deception. They are only what they are for this election. That will change.” – Kamuela, Hawaii

What is the single most important quality that you want in a POTUS? Do any of the candidates embody this?

“Experience, unless they have been corrupted. Trump is obviously a corrupt person by any measure though Clinton has some slime on her. Still, I would expect her to get along with others in the world whereas Trump has no chance at all of being a player on the world stage. Too thin skinned.” – V.G.

“Intelligence, experience, ability to compromise.” Patricia, San Jose

“I would argue their personality. Their disposition could mean they would want to talk things out with Russia before pressing the big red button. Intelligence is also a factor. I could care less if someone hasn’t had experience, that’s something you can learn; your disposition, however, is largely ingrained in you.” – Jared.

Do you feel there is inherent corruption in the electoral process? If yes, how do you think this should be addressed?

“I have worked at polling places and they are scrupulously careful when counting ballots and tallying results.” – Patricia.

“Madison, the primary architect of the Constitution, said over two hundred years ago, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” He understood that people naturally pursue their own self-interest above almost everything else, a nature that’s inherently corrupting. Madison and his contemporaries chose division of power as the primary means of addressing this. These days, transparency should also be used to address corruption. I agree with Justice (Louis D.) Brandeis, ‘Sunlight is said to be among the best of disinfectants.’”– Storm.

“I don’t think you can fully undo corruption. Untangling corruption is done either the way the Philippine president (Rodrigo Duterte) is doing, or with compromise, wisdom, and involvement in the community. The Thai King was a good example of this. ” – Kamuela

Have you ever voted for the lesser evil? Do you think that is a positive method to casting a vote?

“I resort to my party.” – Anonymous

“No, I would not vote for the lesser evil. Voters need to conduct adequate research and determine the candidate that best represents their personal, national, and world views” – Jack

“Yes, it’s positive insofar as one realizes the world and its people are imperfect and a sensible voter needs to thread the needle and make the best choice possible.” – Zona

Regardless of who wins in November, will you be more or less optimistic about your country than in the past year?

“I feel the Trump campaign has ignited very negative sentiments among people, pitting citizens against each other in a very negative way.  I’m concerned that racism, xenophobia, and sexism will be more overt after the election.” – Zona

“I will be frightened and pessimistic if Trump wins.  He is dangerous.” Patricia

“Much less optimistic. Progressive issues will never get a hearing as Hillary moves to the right to create a legacy of legislation, even if it is a legacy of appeasement to the GOP.” – V.G.

“I feel more optimistic in the United States than the year before. I hope that people my age, in their teens and twenties, will vote for who they believe in, now and for the rest of their lives. I don’t want people to feel like they are forced into voting someone they don’t like. That, to me, is political oppression, and is equivalent to a false-choice, two-party dictatorship. I sincerely hope that people will end the two party system, and have third and fourth parties made eligible.” – Jared

“We lived through eight years of W., and those were painful years. Somehow, our country made it through. If Drumpf wins, all bets are off.  That guy is batshit crazy. Seriously, it would be time to dig out my Canadian birth certificate and find a job in the Great White North.” – Alan


And the winner will be?

Overwhelmingly, Hillary Clinton was named as the eventual winner. Not one respondent said Donald Trump would win. And of the third party candidates, only Jill Stein received a vote to win. We’ll find out a week Tuesday.

Next week, I will pose similar questions to a few of my Canadian friends and colleagues.

UPDATE: Nov 5th, 2016. An earlier version of this article contained “edits” via the Chrome App, The Rich Asshole. Whereby the name “Donald Trump” was replaced with the phrase “the rich asshole.” This has been corrected.


Journalism under attack: Goodman charged


Amy Goodman: Shit Disturber and journalistic icon.

Amy Goodman: Shit Disturber.

The charges against Amy Goodman are ludicrous and obscene. Rioting? Dear me. If one ever needed proof that journalists are harassed for doing their job, look no further than the case concerning Goodman.

According to Democracy Now, Goodman is being charged by a North Dakota prosecutor for ‘participating in a “riot” for filming an attack on Native American-led anti-pipeline protesters. The new charge comes after the prosecutor dropped criminal trespassing charges. State’s Attorney Ladd R. Erickson filed the new charges on Friday before District Judge John Grinsteiner who will decide on Monday (October 17) whether probable cause exists for the riot charge.’

Goodman, investigative journalist and the heart and soul of Democracy Now, is being singled out for her reportage from the Dakota Access Pipeline protest in September. That protest revolves around a pipeline project in North Dakota that threatens tribal land of the local Sioux population. Environmentalists and eco-activists joined the protests in harmony with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe over fears that the project could lead to environmental damage or contamination to the nearby Missouri River.

Thanks to the work of several netizens as well as Democracy Now, people who have followed the Dakota Access Pipeline story have seen protestors attacked by militarized security forces. Dozens have been arrested for “criminal trespass.” In one shocking confrontation, guard dogs are seen being used against the peaceful and unarmed masses.

Goodman went to North Dakota to cover the Standing Rock protest in her role as an investigative journalist, something few of her peers bothered to do. Democracy Now, unlike it’s MSM counterparts, has been covering the Standing Rock protest since the movement began in April. Even before her arrest, Goodman’s work was shaming the press for their inattention of the events in North Dakota. Sadly, it took celebrities like Neil Young (who recorded a single in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe) and Shailene Woodley, (herself arrested for peacefully protesting on October 10th) for the MSM to broaden their coverage of Standing Rock. And while the track by Young and Woodley’s live-streamed arrest garner decent pageviews and Social Media trend fodder, it’s a stretch to say either episode has lead to any deeper dialogue about the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, nor have they put fossil fuels on the agenda during the head-to-head campaigns of Hillary Clinton and some rich asshole.

There is no room for debate about pipeline projects in today’s media. To protest them in North Dakota, British Columbia, or anywhere is the single most radical action a citizen can take today. Lord knows, the MSM will not question the corporate motives or heed the concerns of aboriginal activists. (In BC, Global has done its share to push the LNG hopes and dreams of Premier Christy Clark. While The Tyee offers reasoned discourse about the project, the majority of the provincial press flogs Kinder Morgan, Enbridge and other pipeline projects in a gutless manner. But I digress.)

Now, for simply doing her job, a job so many talking heads are seemingly unconditioned, or unwilling, to do properly, Goodman is being made an example of. She is set to turn herself into authorities on Monday, October 17.

UPDATE: Mercifully, on October 17, the charges against Goodman were dropped. According to Democracy Now

“District Judge John Grinsteiner did not find probable cause to justify the charges filed on Friday October 14 by State’s Attorney Ladd R. Erickson. Those charges were presented after Erickson had withdrawn an earlier charge against Goodman of criminal trespass. Goodman had returned to North Dakota to fight the trespassing charge.” (Read the article here.)

Goodman herself says she feels “vindicated” about this turn of events. Kudos to Grinsteiner, raspberries to Erickson.

Other sources:

For more on the Dakota Access Pipeline, go to the horses mouth here. For more on the opposition to various pipeline projects in British Columbia, visit this page from the Council of Canadians.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Anna Politkovskaya Remembered

The late Russian journalist, Anna Politkovskaya

Anna Politkovskaya via Wikimedia Commons

To mark the 10th anniversary of the assassination of Anna Politkovskaya, Russian journalist and author, noted for her criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin, I leave these words of hers here as a dual reminder of both the need for and the frailty of the freedom of the press.

“People sometimes pay with their lives for saying aloud what they think. In fact, one can even get killed for giving me information. I am not the only one in danger.” (2005).

Violent suppression of the press is by no means a purely Russian problem. (As of this writing, however, Russia ranked 148/180 for press freedom, according to Reporters Without Borders.) So far, in 2016, 46 journalists (as well as seven netizens and eight media assistants) have been murdered around the globe. The enemies of the media have a taste for blood. The open suppression of the media is an on-going war. Another “perpetual war” with no limit to the coffers. And it’s a war fought within the boundaries of all nations from North America to China, Africa to Australia, South America to the Euro Zone. See Wikileaks, see Edward Snowden. Ask Amnesty International about their campaigns for press freedom and other activists who are being jailed, tortured, or “disappeared” for questioning their respective governments. See Democracy Now for a look at what some rich asshole could mean for the press were he to become the next POTUS.

Writers, activists, bloggers, and journalists (independent or otherwise) who uncover an ugly truth, are all too often met with brutal retaliation. This cannot stand. Writers of all stripes must be free to do their work without risk to their personal safety and security. The naivety of this sentiment does nothing to blunt the sting of the truth: investigative writers are a targeted group. Anna Politkovskaya is only one of countless many that has paid with their lives to spotlight government abuse and corruption, and to question official narratives in and out of wartime. We should be honouring Anna and her brethren, not mourning them. Writers of her ilk should be lauded, not hunted down and shot to death in an elevator shaft just steps away from her home.

All writers, bloggers, journalists, authors, and critics regardless of their ideology, political leaning, and involvement in politics should take the time today to remember the sacrifice made by Anna Politkovskaya. In the name of truth, justice, and freedom of the press,

I urge you all to do something today to honour Anna and all of her fallen comrades. Get in touch with Reporters Without Borders or Amnesty International today to contribute in whatever meaningful way you can. Urge your elected representatives to do more to protect not only the integrity of press freedom, but to do something tangible to preserve and secure the rights, and the lives, of those in the media. And above all, hold those elected into positions of power accountable … even though by doing so you could be endangering yourself.



Image: Wikimedia Commons

Reporters Without Borders:

Democracy Now: