Let’s talk about what freedom of speech and expression really means.
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers,” according to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
For the past few years, I’ve seen headlines of journalists being attacked and murdered, and it is shocking to see this happening to the “fourth pillar of democracy”.
Journalists have and are being killed for writing and reporting things that are hidden from the public eye, and what is the price they pay for this?
Violence against journalists in India
The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that since 1992, 1310 journalists from all over the world have been found dead either by murder or due to being in dangerous pursuits. Of these, 48 are Indian, and 34 were murder targets.
Silencing these journalists is a clear violation of the Fundamental Rights that we are given by the Constitution of India , specifically Article 19 (1)(a), which is the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression.
Many of the journalists who have been murdered wrote about corruption in the country, and were probably killed because they were exposing harsh and sad truths about politics in our country, about the people whom we as citizens are supposed to trust enough to allow them to run the government.
Why were these people were killed? For making the public aware about the immoral people that run the government?
There will be people who will wonder why I chose to write about this even when many of the killers in question have been found. At the end of the day, sadly, it doesn’t matter if the killers were found or released. Lives were lost and these lives cannot be brought back.
It is a journalist’s job to report the news, to cover happenings all over the world for people in their country.
Gauri Lankesh, Shujaat Bukhari, Vikas Ranjan, and Narendra Dabholkar are just four out of the 34 journalists who were murdered for doing their job.
As an aspiring journalist, I am not afraid
I aspire to be a journalist someday. If I were to be honest, these events only strengthen my passion to join the profession, and to be out there to give the public real news.
I believe that if I want to get into journalism, I shouldn’t have to be scared for my life. I shouldn’t have to be afraid of putting out articles that tell the people the truth. I should be able to roam the streets in search of information, without the fear of being shot, assaulted or kidnapped.
The impact the media has is extremely wide in its scope. It plays a role in how we form opinions, from our wardrobe to who we deem suitable enough to run the government. That is why freedom of speech and expression is essential.
It is time for politicians to realise that journalists watch their every move, not out of personal slight but because it is their job to. Having power isn’t reason enough to abuse it.
In the 21st century, we shouldn’t be in a place where our fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression is an uncertainty. Especially not when we claim that we live in a democracy.