Murderers of Journalist Khashoggi must be brought to justice

first_imgDear Editor,We read of the ghastly murder of well-known Saudi Journalist American resident Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey. It would seem that the pen is mightier than the bullet or sword. Or is it? Clearly, a journalist has been silenced and only a few countries are speaking out against it. The weak response to murder may send the wrong message – don’t mess with powerful authoritarian leaders? Or will the world act against dictators and send a message that there would be serious consequences for attacking or murdering Journalists?Dictators or strong men rulers hate journalists. We had our own experience in Guyana where reporters were killed or violently attacked as a routine policy during the period of the dictatorship; as is widely reported, the Burnham/Hoyte regimes identified opponents and dealt with them ruthlessly with incredible brutality. We all remember Father Bernard Darke and the many attacks against Father Andrew Morrison, Moses Nagamootoo, Lionel Peters, and Rickey Singh and so many others during the period of the Burnham/Hoyte dictatorships. Burnham openly defied the world in killing opponents, including the great Walter Rodney, and attempted to kidnap Clive Thomas and shot at Yesu Persaud. There was also the attempted murder of Dr Josh Ramsammy and the framing of Dr Rupert Roopnaraine and Omowale. These were violent acts of defiance, but Burnham knew he could get away with them, because the US and UK were on his side. And most recently, Lincoln Lewis and David Hinds were removed from the State media.Many Journalists are killed every year because they speak out against and expose human rights violations. Dictators see reporters, advocates for democracy, and human rights activists as trouble makers. The Saudi Government is accepting responsibility as an operation that went wrong. Did it? Khashoggi was literally physically liquidated without a trace. His murder was gory and gruesome. Pieces of his body were recently found.Authoritarian regimes know how to send fear to even courageous Journalists and champions of democracy – maim them or terminate their employment or target their families or threaten them. But it does not have to be that way if the democratic world and the great powers stand with Journalists. Dictators will shiver if powerful countries like the US, UK, Canada, Germany and India take measures against rulers who attack Journalists. Had the ABC countries stood with Guyanese, Father Darke would not have been murdered, Dr Josh Ramsammy would not have been shot, Dr Rodney would not have been blown up to pieces, Minister Teekah would not have been murdered, and Ohene Koama, Edward Dublin, etc, would not have been killed.Clearly, the written word scares regimes. But there must be a limit to how far a dictator or even a democrat would go to silence critics. Silencing critics, regardless of the method, is plain unacceptable. Killing or maiming citizens or silencing critics or firing Journalists should have no place in a society. No matter what the writing, a journalist must not be murdered. There must be ongoing Government international condemnation of what happened in Turkey even “if it was an interrogation that went awry” as the Saudis say. No amount of money (not even US$110 billion) should be used as a reason to avoid ostracising killers or holding them to account. But sadly, the world is not coming out against killers of Journalists like Khashoggi (except Turkey) and this kind of silence is sending a wrong message – it is an unambiguous message to all reporters that dictators will get you if you report on the bad things they do.Unless the world comes out against what happened to Khashoggi, dissidents will be discouraged on speaking out against abuses meted out to Journalists like me who are championing human rights. And one should not tie the life of a person on business consequences. Dictators also need business – they have goods to sell. Economic sanctions can be used as a weapon like what was done to South Africa during apartheid.Foreign policy is about promoting national interest, but sanctioning murder or being silent to State murder can never be a foreign policy goal.One cannot stand by and allow people to be murdered. It was this type of view of national interest that inhibited the US, UK and Canada from confronting the dictatorship in Guyana about killing opponents in the 1970s and 1980s and rigging elections.Justice must be served when people are murdered. Whosoever gave the order to kill Jamal Khashoggi and whoever carried out the order must be brought to justice.Yours truly,Vishnu Bisramlast_img read more

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